5 Essential Homestead Machines to Have When the SHTF

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Do you intend to someday solely depend on their little patch of land to provide for yourself and your family? Rest assured, these 5 essential homestead machines will be beneficial for those who (like me) have these plans. These are not high-tech devices.

These simple homestead machines will reduce your physical workload during hard times.

5 Essential Homestead Machines

These are homestead machines I find to be quite useful, I will be adding these devices to my homestead for sure.

  • Shredder
  • Windmill Water Pump
  • Grain Mill
  • Waste Oil Burner
  • Wood Fuel Generator

Here’s why I think everyone planning to live self-reliantly should consider these homestead machines.


A shredding machine shreds things like PET bottles and all sorts of plastic stuff. It can crush aluminum cans and reduced them to shreds. If you are skilled (or even if you want to become skilled) in recycling metals like aluminum (like I know I will have to do in the future), this is something you will need.

I like the versatility, as it can reduce the size of large pieces of whatever you need to crush and is soft. I wouldn´t use it to shred anything other than plastics, soft metals (like aluminum cans), and bones.

Aluminum has a good resale price in economies like ours. Being a metallurgist, I can makeshift a model of some part and cast it.

Note: This is not something a novice should be doing as there are some considerations.

Maybe this shredder needs to take care of some dry cattle bones previously chopped. Make sure to reduce the bones to a proper size beforehand. A shredding machine can crush and cut wood or cardboard debris for briquettes preparation, optimizing our usage of anything combustible. If you have a wood gasifier attached to your generator, this will be a great tool.  

Windmill Water Pump

A relatively simple device, the Windmill Water Pump can be made with a bit of tinkering here and there and some recycled materials. The most common practical uses for a windmill are to irrigate pastures and gardens, water livestock and supply, and aerate ponds.

The good thing for me is that it’s usually windy on my mountain. This device will be pumping water 80% of the time. If your pumping needs are moving your water source anywhere from 50 to 250 feet underground up to the surface, a windmill water pump is just what you need.

Grain Mill

Milling our grain for our meals on the homestead requires a machine. I’ve tried pizza with yucca flour, and it’s excellent! Tons of fiber, too. Venezuela doesn’t produce wheat, by the way. Nor oatmeal, as far as I know.  Grain mills are absolutely essential homestead machines.

I like two kinds of grinders. One of them is the standard kitchen tabletop grinder. The other one is the rotary balls mill. (Maybe I will build one) You load the product into a cylinder that rotates on its horizontal axis. Hardened ceramic balls inside generate friction with one another and ground the softer material. We use it extensively in the metals industry to grind ores, and the results are excellent. If you are only grinding organic materials, the ceramic balls should last for generations. A very popular manual grain mill among preppers is the Victoria Cast Iron Manual Grain Mill.

Waste Oil Burner

These last few days, I noticed the problem with the diesel supply is now really peaking. Over 300 loaded semi-trucks and mid-sized trucks are in Merida State, where most of the vegetables in the country are grown and transported from to the capital city, Caracas.

But there is no fuel. No Bueno.

Depending on an external source for fuel and surrendering the capability of getting on our truck for any profitable activity to external events is a big NO. After some research, I found that you can process regular plastics with a small setup and a good flame and get diesel by a process called pyrolysis. The process is not that simple, though, and should be done carefully and with some equipment and knowledge of the pyrolysis process. 

Wood Fuel Generator

Believe it or not, you don’t need extreme building skills to build a wood gas generator. Wood gas generators designed in WW2 supplied fuel for agricultural production without affecting the fuel supply to the Army. They are one of the most simple homestead machines that will be worth their weight in gold

In this video, you can admire some designs of wood gas generators, including some aesthetically pleasing for the picky. (Those looking for designs that don’t look like a moonshine refinery attached to your ride. LOL.)

There are some disadvantages, as with many things. Due to the nature of it, careful handling is crucial. Nothing a bit of time and work can’t resolve. The good thing is, these things are simple technology. The basic principle is using the gas as a byproduct of wood pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is the process that gets out of the wood the combustible gas with heat instead of burning it in a chimney. Filter the gas. Once it’s cleaned, it can be consumed by your engine just like gasoline. 

These homestead machines are not difficult to build.

This may seem like an intimidating task. It’s not. You may need to enlist the help of someone who can weld a decent bead and use an angle grinder, but that should be enough. There are several step-by-step guides in varying degrees of difficulty. This system feels like something I could use long-term, and it’s flexible enough. 

I learned a few things when researching wood gas generators:

  • This fellow made a wood gas generator. The video is not exactly the best quality. He’s a college engineer, not a movies producer after all.)
  • Here is an article written by researchers, rather than tinkerers, that covers a good part of the technical aspects: Fabrication of a wood gasifier. Some woods can get the engine components dirty with tar goo, a resin product. Not sure how this could result in the long term. The writers of this article mention that a gas cooler is needed to keep the tar out of the engine, which will avoid maintenance problems in the long term.
  • Here is an old FEMA classicsimplified wood gas generator for petroleum emergencies. I suggest you check this out just for a starter. You don’t need a degree in chemical engineering to build a running engine with this.
  • This kid made one, and it worked to run his old three-wheeler.

Depending on the design, building a wood gas generator could require a bit of an initial investment. However, you can use recycled materials to help offset the price. There are many more instructional videos out there. Some of them even show a car running at the end.

NOTE: I haven’t found a reliable source to verify if the syngas can be safely stored. It’s probably better to store it as intended. Handl flammable, explosive gas with great care.

These homestead machines will make life far easier.

This is not exactly the change I was expecting. Sometimes your destiny isn’t what you expected.

The prospect of collecting a payload of plastic, taking it to my hutch, and distilling it to get a 25$ jerry can worth of fuel, three times a week, with no rent to pay, no water/power bill, 3-4 days worth of food per week produced by kiddo and me and having fuel is appealing. Clean mountain air and no crime are something to be appreciated until the rest of the world looks like a pleasant place to live in once again. 

Thanks for your reading, and God bless you all!

What about you?

If you already homestead, do you use any of these tools or machines?​ Are there others you would recommend adding to this list? Do you have questions about the machines? Let’s discuss getting the most out of our land (and bodies) with simple machines in the comments.

About Jose

Jose is an upper-middle-class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle-size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

J.G. Martinez D

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

Leave a Reply

  • Usefull hand tool I use a lot around my place is a European style scythe.
    I have three different blades: A brush blade, a ditch blade and a grass blade.
    Takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it is actually kinda fun.
    The grass blade, 32 inches in length, is just as effective as a gas weedeater.
    You do have to keep it sharp to be most effective, use a water whetstone.

    • Dear Marine,

      My kiddo just saw one of those scythes and now he wants one. Jeez. I told him he could make a side income dressing as the Reaper for some Mardi Gras ride or something. LOL. But told him we should make a cardboard blade better…
      If we decide to test with some milk goats, this is definitely something we go to need. I had a gas weedeater, and it was great, but sold it almost new. These are very very looked for in Venezuela, as people will pay someone to cut their grass and you could make some bucks per week, provided you find gas. Once I can make a few improvements up at the mountain hutch, I will get another one, but electric, and get a couple of cords.

    • I wish I still had mine. I loved using the sickle and the scythe. They were build and shaped just right for the job.

  • Other gadgetry that comes to mind could include these ideas:

    Until the Prohibition Amendment went into effect in the US about 1919 it was very common for families to have distillers to make alcohol. Henry Ford’s Model-T engines up to that time were flex-fuel, meaning that the driver could switch back and forth between gasoline or alcohol … depending on what was locally available.

    Other historical uses for alcohol besides “recreation” included medicine, cooking fuel, and and even as a money substitute.

    David Blume’s book, short titled “Alcohol can be a gas…” is a superb reference for production and use on home and farm. See the extensive description and reviews here:


    It’s not difficult to make a passive solar distiller to get clean drinking water (even if the water is salty). One of the best designs is covered in the Sharon Buyden’s book here:


    Lots of families along the US-Mexico border use these. It’s a perfect use for discarded sliding glass doors.

    There are multiple designs available for making passive solar dehydrators for vegetable produces and meats.

    One of my grandfathers made a small smoke house for preserving butchered pork.

    The home grain mills previously mentioned have lots more uses. Do you have a health preference for gluten-free grains and the flour from them? There are at least 9 such grain types for this.

    Additional uses for such home grain mills might include the optional cutter to make flour from dry beans. Such attachments can even grind many kinds of nuts into nut butter — and not just peanut butter. A Country Living grain mill with the optional “bean auger” can do all of that, and can be run either by muscle or motor power, but there will be multiple brands (and features) depending on what country where one is shopping.


    • Lewis,

      We were gifted a grain mill for Christmas and it’s great. Only thing is whatever you grind must be dry.

    • Dear Lewis,

      Your comments are a great complementary work to my articles. LOL.


  • per GhostViking:

    “We were gifted a grain mill for Christmas and it’s great. Only thing is whatever you grind must be dry.”

    Whenever I crank up mine (with the bean auger option installed) and run some seemingly dry peanuts through it, the peanut butter it produces comes out as yummy and gooey as you might expect. It is certainly a gooey mess to clean up as you might expect but well worth that effort.

    When you run other nut types (or type combinations that are not available at retail) through it, don’t be surprised at either your tasty reward or the similar gooey cleanup mess.

    BTW, some styles of baking are amazingly receptive to gooey ingredients. If, for example, you bake gingerbread over rising steam while using freshly ground ginger in the gooey dough, You will likely be stunned at how good the result can taste.

    Jose, your narratives about escaping tyranny and economic collapse to restart in a foreign land ring many bells of memory with those whose ancestors fled similar catastrophes centuries ago to eventually arrive here in the US. I have several such stories of desperate flight over the centuries in my family history One ancestor escaped shipboard POW status during Sweden’s Great Northern War circa 1700. Two escaped the genocidal food blockade that England had imposed on Ireland during the so-called Potato Famine (that didn’t affect Scotland because the Brits were not blockading incoming food relief supplies being shipped to Scotland). Some fled Switzerland for their lives over conflicts with Catholics. Some of those later had to flee Volhynia (today called Ukraine) in the 1870s when a change of the Russian Czar threatened to draft them into the Russian army. Some who didn’t flee were starved to death during Stalin’s 1932-33 Holodomor of the farmer peasants (called kulaks).

    For anyone who thinks that such history could never happen in this country, I would answer by saying that it already has happened. After our 1861-65 unCivil War, many of the surviving Southerners were treated so badly that some fled to Mexico. Some shipped out to Cuba, but some in ships went down in storms. Others made it all the way to Brazil where they founded a new city, today still called Americanos.

    Daisy’s readership of TheOrganicPrepper.com comes from many countries — each with their own churning state of politics and challenges. Jose, your stories of why you had to become a refugee, how you were able to flee Venezuela, and what choices and strategies you had to sort through to settle on what works in your replacement country are I believe highly enlightening for anyone who might ever face a similar upset from their established lifestyle and location. The least I can do is to add a few options to the choices your writings have so graciously presented.


  • there are alllll kinds of info available about the various alternative power sources >>> for some personal interaction with the users and builders on a practical level try Facebook – before FB there was a vibrant social organization on the old Yahoo social group network >>> those people are still around – a matter of finding out what corner of the internet they chose to hide ….

    decent enough FB site to start >>> https://www.facebook.com/groups/woodgasifiers

  • Jose, thanks for another inspiring post. Your enthusiasm and go-for-it attitude are infectious, in a good way!

    For myself, not being an engineer and having technical know-how, I go another direction on my homestead, which is to be as machine-less as possible. I am a 52-year old woman, lived 5 years off-grid in Eastern Ontario, Canada, on my own. Water by hand pump from 100 feet down into my spring fed well. I can even pump with a 100 foot hose right to my garden, into a large barrel for a gravity fed drip irrigation system.

    My small eco-cabin (18 by 24 feet) is so well-insulated that I can heat it with an armload of 11-inch logs for a whole day even in the dead of winter. Grid totally down? I can create a fridge in the summer with jugs of super cold water from my well, just by sticking them in a well-insulated cooler in the shade.

    However, I do use one machine on your list. I have a wonderful hand-powered flour mill. It is still a lot of work – I just ground 4-5 cups of spelt grains over a couple of days by doing short spurts of grinding whenever I thought of it. My homestead project this season is to experiment with producing my own flour from different plants in my garden: pinto beans, corn, and potatoes.

    One simple “machine” I could not live without on my homestead is my collection of mortars and pestles, which I use to grind medicinal herbs and dried meat to make pemmican from sun-dried venison and my home-rendered tallow. I particularly love my metal ones, which grind dried meat into a very fine powder quite easily.

    Wishing you all the best on your own homesteading adventure with your son!

    • -Happy Homesteader,
      You just gave me an idea for how to use my spring fed over flow to cool things.
      Thank you!

      • 1st Marine Jar Head please look up spring houses since your blessed with a spring to use.

        Running your drinking water through some extra pipes through a well insulated cooler is using that pumping energy twice. A good thing 🙂 Works well in NH.

        A solar dehydrator for your food preservation is an easy project and very useful. If you need firewood as most of us in North America do you can install a double layer tin roof over your firewood “ready rack” keeping the two layers apart by a 2 X 4 and build screened racks to fit between for food dehydration. Ever hear of the “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” well…it works well with a minimum of a 20 degree pitch and about 4 feet of tin wide for air flow. PLEASE don’t use Fiberglass screen materials. I found that sticky foods tended to have glass fibers in them from the screens. Aluminum is what I went with.

        You can get fancy with top and bottom screens to keep bugs and more likely curious kids and happy chickens out of the goodies.

        Got lots of leaves? Not OAK as they are allopathic to other plants but dislike how they mat up and act like shingles keeping the soil under the leaves dry? That helps the Trees be the apex plant there but hard on gardens.

        Build a shredder for those leaves. Excellent Mulch full of deep tree roots minerals for your garden and keep the weeds down and moisture in your garden soil. Some new research has been done USING shredded leaves as mulch for Wheat and other grains. Suppresses the weeds so well that Roundup wasn’t needed AND feed the soil. Not useful for large commercial farmers but a Maine farmers Co-Op found (cut and paste)

        How much area would you have to plant to grow enough wheat for a loaf of bread? Consider that roughly 10 square feet – about the size of the average kitchen table – will produce about a pound of wheat, which makes a pound of flour; and 1 cup of sifted flour weighs about 4 ounces; and a small loaf of bread can be made with 4 cups of flour. So that kitchen-table-size plot should grow enough for a loaf of bread.

        Bread is the staff of life. With a sharp scythe and shredded leaves to keep the weeds down it’s a doable thing.

        • Hi Michael,

          Wow! This post is full of helpful ideas. In fact, I am planning on growing 100 square feet of Painted Mountain corn this year. This is my first foray into trying to be more self sufficient in grains. I will keep the shredded leaves idea in mind. As well, your idea for turning my woodpile into a solar dehydrator is very appealing. I will add this to the homestead project list.

          Near the start of COVID, I remember my city-dwelling sister told me she was bored. BORED?!!?? That is one thing I am never feeling….I told her I am continually in the process of working down a list of about 100 homestead projects, which starts with “pump water for today.” Thanks for your suggestions to add to the list!

      • Fantastic, 1stMarineJarHead! I have sure benefitted from many of your posts. Glad to return the favour!

    • Dear Happy Homesteader,

      You just gave me too another great idea for a fridge-like system, very needed in warmer tropical climates like mine!
      You’re right, having less machines will minimize your chances of some of them breaking. As usual in prepping, it all depends on your process and production levels.
      Thanks for that wonderful comment!

      • Dear Jose,

        That is great! I could not be happier that you have found some inspiration in my comments when I find so much in your posts. Yes, I think it is so beneficial for a diverse group like us to be sharing our preps and methods. I have learned a ton from this post and everyone’s comments. I hope that you will write a post in the future about this fridge-like system you are devising. I’m looking forward to learning more.

  • re: Happy Homesteader

    “…I have a wonderful hand-powered flour mill. It is still a lot of work – I just ground 4-5 cups of spelt grains over a couple of days by doing short spurts of grinding whenever I thought of it. …”

    When I first acquired my hand-crankable grain mill it was a quick discovery that the optional extra length muscle-driven cranking arm the factory made available was NOT long enough. So to bring that cranking muscle effort down to something reasonable I made a longer extension arm from a piece of oak to give me a 15-inch cranking radius. That was sufficient so I’ve never needed to use the motor and pulley system. A few minutes and some really basic woodworking skills was all that was needed. Does that give you any ideas….?


    • Lewis!!! This sounds amazing. I do have some basic woodworking skills, but might need some more specifics before I get started. I am not sure if you can post a photo or drawing on this comment format, but perhaps we could somehow meet up on the forum, if it possible there? Thank you so much for taking the interest in helping me with this very real issue on my homestead.

      Signed, VERY Happy Homesteader

    • -Lewis, thank you for chiming in like that with a good idea.
      Good to see preppers sharing info! 🙂

  • To Happy Homesteader, and anyone else with the same challenge regardless of whatever brand, design dimensions, and cranking effort that could benefit from a longer cranking arm:

    The odds are that most people with a manual cranking system on their home grain mill will have a different brand, a different cranking effort, a different cranking radius, and different bolt and hole dimensions to cope with. My Country Living grain mill came with a lathe-cut wooden hand grip that bolted into the outer rim of a large (and optionally motorizable) pulley wheel. I just unbolted that reusable wooden hand grip so I could measure the diameter of the holes I had to make (with a drill press, to make a perfect 90° hole on each end of my replacement cranking arm). You (and anyone else) may or may not have an easily reusable hand grip design to work with … to minimize the parts-chasing effort to make this idea work. While I do have have a wood lathe capability (if the reusable cranking hand grip was not available), most people may not have that and would need to chase parts.

    Even the cranking radius one might need from a replacement DIY cranking arm might be different from mill to mill … depending on the cranking effort needed (as the diameter and pressure of the grinding wheels might vary, and might even be adjustable for different grain/nut/bean loads and individual muscle strengths.

    The point is that this is a DIY project that needs to accommodate whatever uniquenesses there are that came with whatever brand of grain mill one acquired. That’s why a photo or design drawing of what worked for me might be a non-fit for anyone with a different brand, different design dimensions, different produce effort loads, and different muscle situations (that might even include different kiddo or elderly muscle variations). Even the 15 inch cranking radius that works for me might need to be a little different for someone else’s circumstances.

    What might be the easiest way to learn what cranking radius is most appropriate could be to drill several different center position holes in that cranking arm to test what cranking effort works best for not only the primary mill user but perhaps different radius hole mounting positions could work better for alternate users … if needed. That way with a wrench and a quick change of center hole mount positions … that new cranking arm could quickly facilitate.


    • Thanks, Lewis. This is super helpful. I have been taking a look at my cranking arm and have come up with a couple of ideas. I’m looking forward to experimenting. I appreciate your taking the time to explain the factors and different issues involved. Many thanks!

  • My second well has a manual winch on it.
    I have 2 grain mills. One electric and one hand cranked. Also a manual coffee mill.
    Waste oil isn’t particularly available here.
    I’ve looked at videos of building a wood gassifyer. Since a surgery my hands are too awkward to do many new things.
    I still sew, make my paterns, knit my sweaters and hats and neck scarves for friends. I have a lot of old kitchen tools, that go back to great grandmothers. Old meatgrinders and such are still used.
    I garden, can and sun dry food from harvest to harvest.
    Grandpa made both hot and coId smokehouses. He also salted down
    A pig and a yearling calf he raised each year. Grandma had built a stone springhouse to keep eggs, milk, and apples from the farm
    till shipping time. Mom and Dad were both adults helping support parents and younger family members during the Depression. They passed on much of what they learned.

  • I would add a hand meat grinder, as you get older eating meat becomes an issue.

    Ice house if no electricity an ice house is way to go.

    A hand cobbler sewing machine with spare needles and synthetic sinew thread… anything from blue Jean’s to multi leather layers.

    Look for a tri fuel engine old 1980 6×6 military vehicles have them can run on all of the mentioned fuels with no carburetor changes.

    A whet stone with a pedal…. old fashioned grinder…

    A seed press… oil for cooking will be at a premium.

    Block and tackle lifting without mechanical equipment will be tough without, cheap now.

  • I’m thrilled to see the direction this article gave to the comments. GREAT!

    So much commenting and valuable information provided is a blast. This really encourages one to keep writing.
    Stay tuned!

  • Just catching up on my reading, great article and the links are super helpful. I agree best get to my welding skills. My father brought a new welder to teach me and my adult son to weld before he gets too old he said. I’m so lucky my dad has loads of skills to share after welding will be butchering.

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