April 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm #48495
We’ve spoken of this before and I thought to start it’s own thread. What prompts me is I’m currently in the process of repairing/restoring a roughly 600′ section of old stone wall. This is certainly a task that would never be undertaken post-SHTF being it is purely aesthetic but the sheer physical labor involved is a reminder that folks worked pretty hard in days of old. My neighbor comes over with his small bucket loader to move stones that are just beyond moving manually. There have been a few that he couldn’t lift but rather could only push, yet 200 – 250 years ago the farmers that built the wall somehow managed to move these stones. Oxen could drag them in from the field, but the rest was up to the farmers.
So as not to impose upon my neighbor any more than I have to, I put everything I have into wrestling stones into place using nothing more than muscle, a 5′ crow bar, and a very sturdy long handled shovel. After a few hours I am exhausted.
I recently cleared a couple areas (another non-necessary aesthetic project) of brush and weed trees that was as well utterly exhausting, but I had chainsaws at my disposal. Chainsaws will still work post-SHTF so long as there is fuel to run them and so I have set aside 5 or 6 extra chains for each of them plus a lot of the chain lube and gas-oil mix. I’m too lazy to sharpen chains and just throw on new ones, but I do save the old chains for re-use if it came to that. The critical link would end up being the gas. What’s needed when the gas runs out is a good crosscut saw and a lot of muscle because we’ll all be going through a lot of wood. I buy myself some time however by having a couple year supply of cord wood set aside.
Rototillers are a huge labor saver, but again are only good for so long as you have fuel to run them. Towards that end now is the time to prepare a large garden area if you have the land even if you don’t use all of the garden space. The initial breaking up of sod would be a back breaking manual job otherwise.
What tools or actions would be good to take in advance when stores are open and fuel-operated tools are available?April 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm #48496
I would complete any major renovation that was required for living in the post modern era. Or at least have all the tools and materials on hand and ready. Out houses will be back in vogue, How many people have that in their list of supplies and ready to go. In today’s world it will be hard for suburban dwellers to get ready.
I suggest buying all the hand tools possible used in the building trades.
Having ten children in the post modern era will be helpful, all boys if possible. 100 acres of good farmland too.April 25, 2016 at 8:41 pm #48497
I’d say it’s a tad late for me to have 10 sons but it certainly was an advantage in the days of manual labor. With 5 boys (& a girl) in my family I don’t recall my Dad having to do any of the outside chores once he had sons old enough. We got the inside chores too.April 25, 2016 at 8:54 pm #48498
On the outhouse issue, you can still have indoor toilets if you on are your own septic and have a ready water source. When I was looking to relocate my preppers eye saw that reality in the property we bought…..septic & large pond in the backyard.
If you have your own well, now is the time to add a hand pump. This is a whole lot less labor intensive than hauling water from a water source such as a stream that is further away, not to mention well water is going to be cleaner than surface water.April 25, 2016 at 9:57 pm #48499
Ya the truth is don’t want to raise 10 boys either, but if I was making a living off the land, needed to get crops in, hay the barn, build the barn, build a dam, dig a well, or the 2 holder. I would like free labours to help. As you know, all those rock walls were made from rocks in the fields. Horse drawn equipment can’t handle hitting those rocks and the plow shears were expensive. In fact replacing them after shtf will be difficult. Building a smelter for casting iron might be a good idea.
Back to your original idea of the post; I would buy the best non motorized tools for gardening-farming I could afford. Horse drawn if I had the space.
April 25, 2016 at 11:45 pm #48501
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by 74.
Building a smelter for casting iron might be a good idea.
A good reference book if you can find one would a geologic map or description of your area if such a thing even exists. Our Town history published in 1976 when Town histories were all the rage includes a small segment on the geology of the Town and makes note here and there about different deposits that have been mined or otherwise used over the past centuries. Mostly we have marble and limestone but there have been small iron ore deposits, clay beds etc.found and used. Most States have geologic maps too which might come in handy as well.April 26, 2016 at 1:51 am #48502
I was thinking along the lines of recycling cast iron, copper and aluminum. Steel would be nice but those temps are way up there.April 26, 2016 at 9:35 am #48503
I saw an Amish farmer plowing his field this spring. He had 6 horses hooked up to a 2 gang plow. I watched him for awhile. It’s tough on steel hitting rocks he would need access to an arc welder. My wife’s father used to use a no till corn planter built by the Amish in PA. He died a few years ago at 91 and I don’t know what happened to it. It was an expensive item. He tried to use his kids for rock picking but they rebelled. So he bought a claw thing like you see in one of those arcade games. His fields were loaded with glacial till, he really needed it. He didn’t go corporate and remained an old style farmer very knowledgeable about the land.
I have a Troy wood splitter and the splitter wedge cracked along the bolt hole. I’ve used it a lot. Its Cast iron.I took it to a welder and he reinforced it but had to use a special technique. At first he didn’t think it could be repaired. I eventually got a new wedge from China. It doesn’t fit quite the same though.
My next door neighbor has an electric kiln for firing pottery. The temperatures it operates at I think it can melt Al fairly easily and certainly lead. I found a book on making a gingery forge to cast things. He’s got a lot of interesting stuff, including plans for a still. Not that I have any plans to make any with Everclear so cheap and available. You really never know when you might need to have a basic understanding of the tech involved in these things. Engines tools machines, the more you use them the easier they are to use.
On the practical side of doing manual labor. I’ve noticed it’s a good idea to go horizontal every few hours when I use the chainsaw on logs. I’ll take an hour off and rest. And if it’s a big job I won’t start with a long day I’ll do a couple hours first and gradually work up to half a day. All I do is stack the rounds and split them a year or two later. At least they’re a bit lighter by then. My wife likes to help split wood and we can get thru quite a bit in a day. Usually we’ll do a couple of loads every other year
during the winter and spring.April 26, 2016 at 10:22 am #48504
I want to give a warning about steel made in China. We all know they make cheap stuff that came make pricing attractive. When it comes to striking tools like hammers, splitting mauls and wedges stay away from them. The energy created when using these tools can break off shards of the tool that fly off at high speeds. Getting hit with a piece of a hammer can cause severe injuries or death. Unfortunately this happens frequently.
The same is true for old cold chisels with mushroomed heads. Pieces will fly off and strike you or someone near by. It’s no different then shrapnel. If you have tools with mushroomed heads grind them back to the proper shape or throw them away where no one can find them.April 26, 2016 at 10:06 pm #48506
No problem 74, I only use the G Bruks splitting malls and their twisted wedge. I’ve broken knives throwing them. My machete the Bear grylls parang was supposed to have a problem but mine hasn’t broken. Tool steel is tough so always buy the best. You never know with all the forgeries in the world today. Grade 8 that turns out to be grade 5. A hardness rating of what? You’ll find out when you use it.April 27, 2016 at 2:07 am #48507
74, good warning about cheap/misshapen steel flying off when struck. My Dad was working on a big construction job; one of the other men was driving something metallic into the ground using his hammer. My Dad turned around to see the co-worker staring at a spurting stream of blood from the wrist. A chip of steel had hit his artery…and the blood was spurting over six feet away. My Dad had to quickly snap him out of his emotional ‘freeze’ and get him to apply pressure. Apparently they got him to the hospital in time. But it could have been fatal.April 27, 2016 at 2:11 am #48508
Well, speaking of manual labor. Been there, done that. Felled trees with a two-man saw in my youth. And axes. Split wood with a maul and wedge. Heaved hay bales from the field up into pickup trucks. But don’t look forward to it now… Might have to though. I do purchase hand tools and garden tools for the future. And have the knowledge to build wooden structures as done in the 50s and 60s prior to air hammers etc. We shall see what life brings forth…April 28, 2016 at 4:03 am #48524
Was outside doing considerable physical labor today, as I was Monday and last Saturday. I’m realizing just how much I’ve lost even in the past couple of years. I’m sure I can reverse at least some of that, but certainly not all, as muscles do atrophy with age. So my task is probably as much to build up the muscles that I tend to let go over the winter (no snow to shovel here, no grass to mow, and thus not a lot of natural exercise opportunity – gotta create the exercise with nothing in front of me to show for it – boring!). My own fault. Task ahead noted.
On the subject of chopping wood, IF anyone can find a real 1980s vintage “Monster Maul” (the company that made them went out of business, and it doesn’t appear that anyone bought the rights to that product), get one. Anyone owning one and in their right mind would not sell theirs, so if you can find one, snap it up!! I am very fortunate to have a 33″ (handle is 30″) version of that wonderful tool, and would hardly sell it at any price. It’s quite heavy (solid steel, including the handle). I have what I believe was the original model at 16 pounds. But that’s deceiving – it does NOT require the same motion you normally associate with an axe, or a hammer and wedge, so the weight is not nearly the factor one might expect. Style/technique is everything with the Monster Maul.
Here are a couple of videos of what appear to be the originals at work. Note how both of the individuals in the videos start from straight up over their heads only (the first one does go a tiny bit beyond straight vertical to about 12:30, but that’s wasted return effort). They don’t swing it like an axe, or sledge hammer as if breaking rocks, and that’s the key. Personally, I found that just a bit of a squatting motion as I came down reduced even further the amount of upper body strength I had to use, which then allowed the edge of the wedge to contact the wood closer to parallel across the top of the log. Both of these men remain pretty much straight-legged, using more upper body motion, which also causes the tip of the wedge to contact the wood first. I found that with a slight squatting motion (I ran a lot back then and had great leg muscle development, which helped), I could go quite a while (upper body strength has never been my strong point). Also note that the size difference between these two men is considerable. The fact that the 2nd (much smaller) individual is cutting shorter logs is relatively unimportant – he probably would have had nearly the same results as the much bigger first man despite the significant size difference even if he’d been cutting the same logs the larger man was cutting. I’d cut a considerable amount (sometimes probably at least a ½ cord at a time) in younger years, and only weighed around 130 pounds back then. And for a while I had a good source of orange wood (when we lived in So. Cal.). That is some of the hardest wood I ever had to cut (and MARVELOUS for fires), and the Monster Maul even did a pretty decent job with it as well. Size and strength are not a significant requirement. These things are just amazing. If mine was stolen or somehow lost however, I don’t think I’d get some of the later models (they reportedly made a “ladies model”). The original will give you a workout, but if I was still chopping wood (unfortunately we don’t have a wood stove or fireplace now), I have little doubt that I could still handle it despite my age and strength reduction over the years – I just wouldn’t be cutting a half cord per day, I don’t expect (depending on the wood). No, these videos are not exceptional – it’s not at all unusual to get a clean split in one whack, again depending on the type of wood.April 28, 2016 at 9:21 am #48528
My wood splitting days are over. My left shoulder won’t tolerate it. I do have a great maul for a younger stronger guy to use. I now buy my wood cut split & delivered. I just stack it and haul it. On my property I do cut smaller trees myself and then use the chainsaw to “split” any pieces too fat for the wood stove. As noted before keeping a couple year supply set aside buys me some insurance on this front come SHTF. I’ve presently got 11 or 12 cords neatly stacked in what constitutes my wood shed (a roof extension off the back of the garage, and with a cement floor underneath the wood that keeps it all nice and dry, yet easily accessible from 3 sides so as to maintain my strict rotation scheme.April 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm #48529
Even if, we were young men…. The time it takes to accomplish tasks that are now completed with power is enormous. A post modern era will be very tough on old people. Everyday of hard work makes my body rebel. Yesterday I removed a window and reframed the opening for this door. I installed a new 2″x12″ header and then installed the door. My hands hurt from using a hammer and other hand tools. My arms and rib cage hurt from lifting. I consider myself fairly fit for a man of my age, I did this by myself. But woe to me the ibuprofen doesn’t seem to work.
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