As a preparedness advisor, it’s my life’s calling to talk to people about preparedness and self-reliance. When I talk to folks like you, I’m often curious about where you got your start with preparedness. The answer I get most often? It all started with parents or grandparents. These are the types of things I hear:
‘Dad hunted and trapped most of our meat, the rest we bartered with ranchers and farmers for.’
‘My grandmother grew up in the Great Depression. She got upset whenever we threw anything away that could be re-used in some way.’
‘Mom knew exactly how long our food would last us come November, when the frosts would come.’
Above are just a few examples. These snippets are parts of great stories, but they also contain lessons that we need to ensure we are living up to today.
I think many of us turn to the preparedness and self-reliance lifestyle because we are shocked at how far we’ve gotten away from these traditions. If you feel this way, then you’ve found the right community.
Many of us practice many “lost arts” that keep us free, healthy and self-reliant that the general population thinks are unnecessary, even insane. They will never get it. That’s why these skills are in decline in the first place. No need to speculate on why or lament them. We need only keep them in our hearts and carry them through our actions into the future.
However, the point of this article is not to toot our own horns. It’s to look inward and rediscover the skills that were once practiced by our ancestors. I will list some ideas in a moment.
The point of this exercise is to challenge ourselves. You may already have 6 months of emergency food stored up for every member of your family… but, how’s your garden coming? You may know how to sew a wound…how about a sweater? You get the point. Be honest with yourself.
You want to set a goal. To learn a new skill that has been forgotten, but practiced by your ancestors. Having a personal tie helps motivate you. If you don’t have a personal tie to something in particular, pick the skill you’re most passionate about learning.
Here are some ideas for skills to learn, broken down into a few categories:
Lost Cooking Arts
- “Making” yeast for bread
- Making flour from grown or foraged grains like acorns and corn
- Turning cream into butter without electric tools
- Fresh and cured sausage making
- Cooking over open fires, with dutch ovens, and wood-fired stoves
Acquiring Food Like All Did 3 Generations Ago
- Fishing – (if you haven’t read part 1 and part 2 of our series on fishing, you can click the links to do so.)
- Raising food (animal husbandry)
Preserving Food (without modern appliances)
- Root cellaring
Building Things with Bare Hands (and Hand Tools) – try not to cheat and bring power tools to the game, especially if you’re handy with them. If the stuff hits the you know what, you better not be a power tool-only handyman, or you won’t handy at all.
- Timber framing
- Fence construction
- Building furniture
- How to lay bricks
- How to make cement
Dealing with Things We Just Flush Away – imagine no municipal plumbing, no weekly trash pickup. This was the reality for our ancestors. It could be the reality in a major crisis.
- Build an outhouse
- Transform your waste into humanure (yes, our ancestors did this)
- Reduce food waste. Make vegetable stock. Compost.
- Try to live without single-use items. Paper towels, toilet paper, plastic cups, etc.
Taking Care of Household Tasks
- Using a washboard, basin and clothesline for laundry
- Using a broom, mop and hands and knees to get the floors clean
- Making cleaning supplies like soap
Notice that I’ve tried to phrase these skills as “activities” rather than goals. The reason? It’s easier to turn activities into habits, building a practice that we can perfect over time. Goals are great, but stating them doesn’t give us a clear path to achieving them. Doing does.
Many of these skills involve tasks that are made much easier by modern technology and conveniences. At first, it may seem like a drudgery to learn and practice these forgotten skills. Do not let that deter you; let it comfort you. We know preparedness and self-reliance are not easy paths, but the benefits far outweigh any drudgery or struggle.
Think of it this way: if a major crisis caused “society” as we know it to collapse, knowing these skills means that we return to “normal” much faster. Obviously, we know this picture will not be pretty, but our learned skills will serve us well – it is the best-case scenario.
So I urge you to take on learning one of these forgotten skills as part of your preparedness and self-reliance lifestyle. Which of these skills are you most interested in learning? Let us know in the comments section below and we might develop your idea into a full Survival Scout series.
Have a great weekend, folks! Stay alert out there.
Grant MillerPreparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply