Technology and self-sufficiency (grain, acres, house, water) | Self-reliance…


Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
A few years back, I used to have some quite heated arguments here about using “traditional technology.” I prefer the simplicity that often comes with the way things have been done in the past. That often involves more physical work and more of a time investment; but as I explored some of that technology and methodology, I found that in many cases, it wasn’t as big of a disadvantage as generally believed. I haven’t really brought the topic up lately because my goals have been “derailed” for the time being. Perhaps conditions will allow me to get back to my goal soon. But, I won’t count on it.

But… since you brought it up, I’ll jump back into the topic a bit. I find that our newer technology can really aid in using old technology as much as it can aid in automation/computerization/electrification. For instance, I have a hand-operated grain “mill.” It was pretty expensive, but that’s because it’s machined to perfection (using new technology such as CNC machines, etc). Yes, it allows me to do it the “old” way, but it also allows me to do it with higher precision and dependability. Of course, milling flour by hand can be quite a workout; but so what? It’s not like our modern lifestyle couldn’t use a bit of sweat thrown in without simply wasting the effort in a gym or running or whatever. This machine does a far better job that a similar device would do, say 120 years ago, but it allows me to still do it as it would have been done before electricity (on a smaller scale, of course).

Also, when I was timberframing a lot, I used only hand tools. I just preferred it. I hate the noise and added requirements when using power tools, chainsaws, etc. True, it took me longer to finish a job that way; but at the same time, it meant more to me. I put a lot more of myself into that building, rather than technology.

Obviously, I’m not a complete purist in that regard, but I lean toward the simpler, more traditional ways. I really think that our modern technology can be used to “upgrade” the simpler, traditional technology, rather than always going for a high-tech, complex solution to everything. For instance, I really wish there were a car made today that is as simple as a Ford Model T or VW Beetle, yet it had our modern higher tolerances and efficiency. I’d love to see a modern equivalent of a Model T. Very simple, easy to work on, inexpensive, etc. I hate new cars that do everything, including wiping your butt. I just never use that junk, and it’s something else to go out and have to pay for.

Keep it simple has always been my viewpoint. If the political/social climate were different and I had unlimited resources, I would still be working toward that small home without electricity, heated by wood, and living via traditional means as much as possible, with modern precision/technology only present for increased efficiency and reliability. I don’t really have anything against our modern ways per se (with a few exceptions), but I’m just one of those freaks that would have fit in better during Victorian times or earlier, regardless of the harder lifestyle and lack of so many conveniences we have now. I’m a “slow living sort of person,” and life was so much “slower” then.

I actually agree with you. Nowadays I make beer by hand and it is a delicate process

In a perfect world, person would be debt free to start with. Then they would have the resources to buy the land all cash, have somewhere to live while they build their small home from the local materials, install solar/wind/whatever to be energy independent (or in your case, not install electricity at all), put in that wood or pellet stove, set up the garden, fence the property for the livestock, build the barn, root cellar etc.

If they were to do the above by hand using only hand tools it would take a long time, even for a skilled person (not that many skilled people nowadays). Most likely this person would be in a community of like minded people of various skills – people that can help with these tasks, barter or just do it because it is a community or family relation in question.

Ironically, today, it takes a HUGE money and time investment to go back in time. A lot of people are not willing to put in the manual labor to do anything of the sorts – you are lucky if they are even willing to use the power tools

We have a small 5 acre property that we have built a lot of stuff on and installed a lot of things all the while working full time. It is easy for someone in that position to “lose it” and for the property to fall into disrepair. If you are in a climate where it rains in the summer and you get busy during that time doing other things like tending to gardens, chickens, building this and that in addition to going to work, you miss a few weeks and all of a sudden your property is overgrown and you are drowning in grasses, weeds etc. One major project that absolutely has to be done could derail you for a while, especially if it was not planned (but still has to be done).

When we bought our property it was overgrown with dead trees or trees that just needed to be trimmed. It took us a few weeks to do it all by hand (and I am proud to say we did NOT use a chainsaw at any point). It was hard work and we did not want to burn fossil fuels to clear up the land. I used my scythe to mow all the weeds on 1-2 acres of the land. The weeds were tall and thick, it was serious manual labor. However, nowadays I use a gas powered trimmer to do most of the weeds and I rented out a diesel powered machine to mulch the trees. To have done the mulching manually would have been impossible and I would have most likely had to burn the trees. Finally, we rented a diesel powered pneumatic drill to drill into the rock that is soil here to put up fencing. I don’t know how the “old timers” fenced in this soil. Or maybe there was more soil before they cut down most of the trees and the cows and horses ate everything down to the ground, don’t know…

Your “request” for a simple car such as the Model T is impossible today. The problem is that cars are produced for mass use and for that reason they need to be efficient and also pollute as little as possible. To do that they need complicated sensors, injectors, computers, converters etc. All that raises the price and complexity at the same time.

My solution is to move somewhere where I would be able to ride my horse to get wherever I need to go. However, that assumes what I said at the beginning of my reply – you have to be at the end of your “self sufficiency road” to be able to do such a thing.

There is a reason why pioneers had large families and even though they staked out claims they all helped each other as much as possible. If you think about it, folks in the 1820s used the 1820s technology, the ones in the 1920s used the 1920s technology and folks today – use today’s technology….

Last edited by LordyLordy; 10-11-2013 at 07:53 PM..

Home Beer Brewing

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