Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Walking the Walk

Have you ever noticed that it is easier to talk about something than it is to actually do something?  It is one thing to talk about "going solar" and another entirely to take the plunge and put your money where your mouth is. It is by far harder to walk the walk than it is to talk the talk.

Over the years, we have spoken with numerous people who want to live off-grid.  The interesting thing is, that most of them know how to live an off-grid life better than we do.  Sir Knight and I have politely listened to more people than we can count, tell us that our system is all wrong, that our wind turbine would have produced more power if we would have wired a 9 volt battery to the guy wires and that really, we could make more power than we could ever use if only we would put tin foil antennas on top of our solar array.  They mention that they would never use two Xantrex inverters, because Bob's Solar has a super-duper all-in-one unit that makes solar panels obsolete and all you have to do is rub your hands twice a day in close proximately to the unit and you can run your electric forced air heater and hot water tank and still have power left over for the air conditioner.  Foolish us, we have just lived off-grid for the last 10 1/2 years - they have taken that time to study, read and talk, and we are the lucky recipients of their acquired knowledge.

Now don't go getting the idea that I think we know everything about living off the grid.  I love hearing how other people do things.  It is amazing how creative people can get.  One of my favorite pastimes is to trade notes with other off-grid types.  The school of hard knocks has come calling to us all and we are the better for it.  It is the all-talk no-action crowd that drive me nuts.  It is amazing how much these folks know, but how little they can actually do.  And it is not just off-grid living that attracts these folks - it is preparedness as well.

One of the hallmarks of a hard-core prepper is the determination to make sure that his preparations will not be in vain.  The prepper that will actually survive the end of the world as we know it is the prepper that has tested his preparations.  He knows that his food is fresh because he rotated it faithfully.  He knows that his generator will run with a load because he regularly load tests and services it.  He is confident that his oil lamps won't burn his house down, because he field tested numerous lighting methods and settled on the one that would best serve his needs.  He is the go-to man in a medical crisis because he didn't just buy all the neat little gadgets, but he acquired the knowledge and skills required to effectively use those gadgets.  He will survive the end of the world because he walked the walk.  He didn't just talk about it.

Walking the the preparedness walk requires effort, commitment and inconvenience.  You will be in for an expensive education, but an education that will serve you well when the grid goes down.  Don't be the smartest guy in the room - the guy telling everyone else how to do it - with no real life experience backing you up.  Be the guy who has done it.  Be the guy who knows how to do it, not because you have read about it but because you have lived it, because you have practiced it.  Be the guy who walks the walk - not the guy who talks the talk.


  1. Enola -

    We have always planned to "bug-in" mostly because we don't have a place any better than our house to bug-out to. Therefore until recently we mostly had "get home kits" and not any real bug-out kits. However, I was recently convicted that I needed to put together actual bug-out kits. Putting them together, finding all the things needed that I thought I had, and lastly testing everything has been an eye opener.

    For one small example, I was planning to use a couple of the Sterno stoves we owned from our camping days. I found them and the new old stock cans of Sterno we had, and put them in the Kits. But then I tested them. Ooops! The never opened cans of Sterno were only about half full. Who knew that Sterno can evaporate out of never opened cans? Then I found the Sterno cans were the wrong size to fit our stoves. Once I made adapters out of some emptied salmon cans (salmon salad - Yum!), I found the Sterno would not bring water to a boil. The cans I had will be just fine for keeping dishes warm when we have company over, but forget it as a way to cook a simple meal in a bug-out situation.

    Searching through our old camping stuff I found a Coleman backpacking stove and tried it. It worked great, and brought water to a boil in a few minutes. We only had one and the Walmart near us did not carry anything similar. A Walmart some distance from us did have a very similar stove, and some small bottles of Coleman fuel. Again I tested the stove and it too worked great.

    I also learned by trying it today that the folding solar panels we bought for recharging phones, iPods, etc. while they work great is direct sunlight, did not work if behind a pane of glass. If I had not tried them ahead of time under a no pressure situation, I would have gone nuts trying to use them under pressure in an actual emergency.


  2. lol! Funny how people love to do that! :D I also find that people like to tell me how to run my business and also how to raise my children when I have about 5 more than the average person who is giving the advice! :) People are always full of unwanted advice. You are much more gracious here than I might have been...*sigh*...I'm praying about that though! :D Thanks for sharing! ....and KEEP sharing!! We are learning from those of you who ARE the walkers and not the talkers!!!! :D You are saving people from lots of mistakes!!! ;D Thanks!!--S

  3. I got a knee injury when I was in the military and a doctor at a VA clinic told me to get a 'excersise bike" to work my knee.
    Two weeks later I found an almost brand knee $600 excersise bike on "craigslist" for $120.00 that had the resistance fan replaced with a "Generator" that can recharge a car battery in one hour. I use it every day for my bad knee and in a pinch, I can recharge a 12 volt car battery in one hour. Crigslist is a great site for equipment for beginners.

  4. I love this post. We are working towards off grid ourselves. We are marvelous in some area and have not enough in others. But, reading this made me think of this person or that person who told me how to do things. I recently told me mother in law who told me she has all the wheat they need in storage under the stairs. I said yes but, you do not know what to do with it, cook with it, and your bodies will have a very hard go of it if you suddenly had to eat it. She was very offended and I tried to soften the blow. Yes you know how to make the bread with wheat once you grind it with your electric grinder, mix it in you nice mixer and bake it in your electric powdered oven. BUT, if you have no power then what? No back up plan. I wish folks would not take offense to our crazy life style. Thanks for the talk. I am proud you stay polite. Sometimes I feel like just walking away or saying something foolish.

  5. I'm trying to transition from one group to the other. I'm signed up for six classes this summer- cheese making, CPR, nursing skills, first aid, medical terminology, and the concealed carry license class. This fall I'm taking the EMT basic course. I really want to get at least a small solar array, but first we're checking off our to-do list for buying our own place. Even though we're renting, we have 2 raised beds and some fruit trees in large pots. I have 6 chickens and in May I'm going to a local farm to learn how to slaughter and pluck them. I've started feeding my kids beans and rice, but I also store mac and cheese. I really need to get over my silly fear of ruining bread dough and take out my nice grain mill and start practicing making bread, though. I really like your blog and am right here behind you!

  6. Hey Mama4x,don't worry so much about ruining the bread dough.If you do ruin it, just fry it up and enjoy it.Then keep trying till you get it right.

  7. This is a wonderful post, thank you!

    It reminds me of a lot of college professors that have never worked a day outside of academia.