What I Did This Week To Prep

Taking my own advice, I bought some new heavy hiking boots. I needed to replace my old Danner boots that I have owned for over 14 years – since I was in the military. I knew they had finally given up the ghost when the Danner Refurbishing Department said they couldn’t rebuild my boots again (they had been rebuilt once and resoled three times – I loved those boots). So I went to a local shop and got them repaired and resoled as best as they could, and passed them down to Ryan. When Danner said they couldn’t rebuild my boots, they did send me a 25% off coupon for a new pair. For a late Christmas gift we ordered me a new pair of Danner Rain Forest Plain Toe Work Boots. They arrived in the mail this week. I was thrilled to have them, but not thrilled to have to break in a new pair of boots. It’s much easier to talk (or blog) the talk, then walk the walk (pun intended). Fortunately today’s genre of hiking boots is far better and easier to break in then they were a generation ago. But they sure felt stiff when Kate (our Border Collie) and I went out for the first three-mile walk. Now, I no longer have an excuse when it’s time to take her for a walk.

We visited Costco this week. (For the record, this month’s coupons sucked; nothing in the way of good prepper stuff.) We purchased a cross-cut paper shredder to be able to ‘create’ more browns for our compost pile (reference last week’s What I Did This Week To Prep). We also got a three-pack set of basic utilities knives for $10 to put in our BOBs*, they’re not as cool as the Gerber EAB, but at 1/3 of the cost they’ll work just fine and they–the utility knifes and the Gerber EAB–all use the same blades so we’ll only have to stock one type. Also, interesting to note, peanut butter (that went up in price in November, see What I Did This Week To Prep 10/21/11) is still $2 higher than it’s price last fall. We’re glad we had our SWYE all stocked up with plenty of PB and don’t need to buy it now at the higher price.

I also ordered the book, The Eagle Has Crashed by Ted Lacksonen. A novel about an economic meltdown and how society collapses in the aftermath. I heard him interviewed on The Survival Podcast (Episode 814) and was impressed with his insights and attitudes. I look forward to reading his book and plan to write a review of it.

What did you do?

(Monday: Adding New Page: My Reading List)

*For my list of abbreviations and other information, open the above ‘Check Here…’ page tab.

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Self-Reliant vs Self-Sufficient

We tend to use these phrases interchangeably, assuming they mean basically the same thing.

Recently on TSP (episode 754) Jack clearly defined and delineated them. I did a quick Google search and–even though these words previously existed–I believe Jack has created a new prepper definition of these words; Jack Spirko originals, if you will.

Self-Reliance is having stored preps; it’s like having money in a ‘rainy day’ account, or an insurance policy; it just sits there, available if we need it. Jack defined self-reliance as: “a finite resource that’s held in reserve in case another system fails”. We preppers understand this. We all have stockpiles of stuff that we don’t want to use unless we have to; we will only use enough to keep things rotated. In a total TEOTWAWKI most of these items, once they were used up, would no longer be available in their modern forms. Examples, organized into bullets of our five basic needs, include:

  • short and long term food storage, factory canned food, food not locally produced
  • bottled water, chemicals used to purify water
  • toilet paper, clothes, plastic bags
  • ammunition, most pharmacological medicines including antibiotics
  • batteries, flashlights, fuel, light bulbs

Self-Sufficiency is sustainable. Jack defined self-sufficiency as: “it’s own independent system that’s not dependent on someone else’s system . . . even when the system of support is currently available.” This describes the portion of your needs you are able to produce, and use on a daily basis, whether the current systems are in place or not:

  • gardens, livestock, canning and other food preservation
  • wells, septic systems, water filters, rain barrels
  • handmade furniture, handmade quilts
  • bows and arrows, musket balls and powder
  • solar, wind, and/or hydro power

A defining characteristic is how they are measured. Self-reliance is measured in time, it is “finite, it’s wholly self-limiting,” e.g. you have enough food stored for six months, enough batteries for three months, enough water for 30 days. Self-sufficiency is measured by percentages, it is essentially indefinite (for the sake of a human life-cycle), e.g. you can produce 20% of your food needs, produce 30% of your energy needs.

This is not to say that one is better than another, just different. Both, in our typical current worlds, are necessary. Right now the systems are in place; use them, enjoy them, just don’t become overly dependent on them being there forever. Self-reliance is typically the main thing people focus on when they initially move into a prepper mentality. Self-reliance is about stockpiling needed stuff. As we’re building our preps, look toward the goal of self-sufficiency and developing and using skills to produce needed items. Remember to view self-sufficiency as a percentage of our needs, not our wants.

Being self-reliant will give us a buffer to get our self-sufficient skills up to full speed, i.e. using our food storage for the winter and spring, until the gardens begin producing.

As preppers, if we understand these concepts we can use them to help us define our plans and set our goals. As we know–and I discussed in Buying Stuff Is Easy–stuff can be destroyed, taken, left-behind, or lost. But knowledge and skill sets exist as long as you maintain proficiency with them.

(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)

P.S. I was using these words interchangeably myself when I initially started my blog. My subtitle under the name ‘Trace My Preps’ said ‘A Prepper / Self-Reliant Blog’. I have now changed it to: ‘My Journey through Self-Reliance into Self-Sufficiency’.