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My father lived by what he called “The Junkyard Principle” meaning not that he wanted to live in a junkyard, but that virtually everything that people tossed out so readily, had some merit and certain pieces and parts that were deemed by him to be worth saving. Far from being a hoarder however, as the name may imply to some, my dad was extremely well organized and would salvage just about anything worth salvaging.

If only I had a dollar for every time he told me not to throw something out, which I invariably would anyhow, only to discover days or even weeks later that I now found myself in need of that which I had thrown away … and generally I would have to go to the store to replace it merely so I did not have to face my dad and listen to his most unpleasant rendition of “I told you so!”

 SimpleLifeI seriously doubt that the thought of living in a junkyard is exceptionally appealing to very many people in the world today. Neither should it be totally disregarded that the junkyards are … or at least should be, a very good friend to the homesteader and the prepper. There are so many products, including a great many “pocket-products” that can be had for an extremely cheap price.

I have become so well known at some of the local junkyards that, when presenting a pailful of 1156 and 1157 tail and brake light bulbs, that they just laughed and waved me through without even charging me anything for those particular items.

They knew full well that I used them for lighting my house and the outbuildings at night, though I also added a few around the garden, some walkways … and of course in my outhouse itself. My very first wind generator was made with the rear end of an old car and an alternator picked up at a local junkyard of a sort as well.

Like those junkyards, there needs to be some methods for the madness, lest the homestead itself become overrun with junk, not only looking bad, but also attracting unwanted attention from local (and potentially even state and federal) authorities. A small part of this means actually breaking down the items being saved into components that will likely be needed … and then storing them properly in a suitable location, not just leaving them lying around to collect dust, rust and become ugly homes for spiders and other such critters.

A full vehicle can generally be broken down in a single day with just a couple of motivated workers, some wrenches and a good cutting torch. My dad and I used to buy old junk vehicles for fifty or a hundred dollars just to strip them down and cut them up.

We amassed a vast collection of leaf springs that was ideal for knife blades and cleavers, alternators for reserve power supplies, headlights and other 12-volt lighting that needed no inverters, sometimes the seats if they were in good shape, glass for windows, the rear axles because you never knew when you were going to need something, an ample supply of nuts, bolts and other levers, arms, cradles, rockers and attachments of one form or another … and then just junk the scrap that was left when we were done, generally getting our initial investment back just from the scrap yard.

Electronics are full of transistors and resisters and transformers that can often be utilized in other items, though my dad was more of the electronics guy than I was. There are also frequently small nuts, bolts, screws and other materials that did admittedly come in quite handy on occasion.

Though we also made a fair living out of repairing firearms, clock repair … again a specialty of my father … most notably with his grandfather clocks and cuckoo clocks we would bid on any time we found one at auction.

Working as we did, repairing equipment and knick knacks and virtually everything in between, a lot of those little parts often came in handy, even when I would normally have thought nothing about tossing out an old clock or television set, much less considered taking the time to part them out when I was living in the city.

The proper prepper should never run short of storage containers. Drawers, bins, cabinets, tupperware and virtually everything in between should be readily accessible on the homestead. We kept small, desktop type drawer stands to house many of the smaller items, each labeled and all the parts neatly separated and divided. I have never been quite that well organized in my shop, but my dad would get notably upset anytime he discovered something out of place, so I would endeavor to put it back.

Oddly however, one never had to worry about tripping over obstacles or bouncing off objects or even stepping on anything inadvertently in his shop. With everything properly stored away, it looked absolutely no different from virtually any commercial machine shop located in any urban population center in the heart of “civilized society”. The first key to avoid even the appearance of hoarding or being a hoarder, is to keep everything fairly well organized.

Once the more useful parts are removed, the rest of the item should be dumped into the garbage where it belongs. In our case, this often meant tossing the remnants into our trash trailer which, when full would be taken down to the local landfill. I tried to make this trip alone however, as my dad would occasionally go shopping for more while we were there.

While I was not so bothered by that little fact, it still remained that it was largely illegal and in my view at least, not very tactful. I much preferred the auctions, the flea markets and the many yard and garage sales for my prepper shopping sprees, though I do have to admit that he did find some amazing items at the landfill as well … including an old Honda Dream we rebuilt … but that is a different story.

Old refrigerators my dad tended to keep. Some of these would stand upright and be used as more storage space, while some of the chest varieties would be more horizontally inclined and used for seedlings for their first sprouting. Wire of any sort was always considered to be a good find. It really is amazing just how much good stuff ends up in the junkyard, but why? There will come a day when you will need it!


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