Old Skills, New Skills and Lost Skills
My mother and sister had come to visit for the holidays and we were discussing some possible delegation of chores in the event of a grid down style collapse. Some of the things we discussed were things that my grandparents generation used to do on a regular basis. They made their own soap and butchered their own animals. My grandmother who will be 100 this year used to make sorghum during the depression. Sugar was rare or too expensive for the average family in that period. The sorghum provided a sweetener for them as well as a form of income. They could sell the excess sorghum or barter with it for other things they needed. People who disagree with the prepper movement because they don’t think an economic collapse could happen are suffering from a syndrome known as normalcy bias. Normalcy bias is what makes us think that something could never happen to us because it has never happened to us before. People in the 1920′s suffered from the same syndrome. They were abruptly jerked out of their false sense of security by the Great Depression. Many people committed suicide during the depression simply because they were incapable of adapting to the change. Others, like my grandmother, used their ingenuity to persevere and overcome the abject circumstances.
An entire subsection of preppers focus on primitive skills like making bows and arrows as well as starting fire with sticks. While I love to watch shows that focus on those skills, I don’t expect things to break down to that level. Those skills are valuable and you never know when you could get lost in the wilderness and need those skills. I simply don’t have time to learn them at this time.
Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast has come up with the 13 in 13 challenge. His challenge is for people to learn 13 new skills in 2013. He has put together an entire website for the 13 in 13 challenge. I think it is an absolutely great idea. You can sign up to take the challenge and see what everyone is doing. I have not signed up because I couldn’t pinpoint which skills I will be learning in 2013. However, I do expect to have at least 13 new ones by the end of the year. For now, my new skills include passing Calculus, passing Oceanography and building an extension to my patio and repairing the patio roof. That’s three new skills already. I have a wish list of several other skills I would like to try this year. I would like to learn to suture a cut, build a solar oven, build a rabbit hutch and raise rabbits. With maintaining a garden, a house, a website, school and a full time job, my schedule is pretty full. If you have the time, I encourage you to push yourself to try to learn some new skills this year, even if you can’t think of 13.
While it is great to learn prepper skills, it is also great to learn current skills as well. I do believe that our country will have to face some troubling times ahead but no one knows how everything will play out. The most likely scenario is something that resembles the great depression or a currency collapse like we have seen in Argentina, Zimbabwe, or Iceland. In any of those situations, it will be great to know how to produce your own food, but computer skills and repair skills will be useful as well.
A great website for lost skills is Pioneer Living.net . A complete systemic meltdown that takes us back to the days of Little House on the Prairie is highly unlikely, but “highly unlikely” is still in the realm of “possible.” While the probability is low, the impact of such an event would be catastrophic. That is why i still allocate some time to think about the skills that would be helpful in such a predicament. Among the skills of the frontier listed on Pioneer Living is how to render lard, how to tan hides, and how to make your own soap. I would love to take a day or two this year to try making soap. Another great homesteading site that is particularly geared towards the ladies is Paratus Familia. They have great articles on frontier style cooking and crafts.
Every guy loves the tacti-cool skills. A recent one I ran across was How to make your own Ghillie suite by USCrow. They have some pretty unique skills listed on their site. Check it out when you have time.
Finally, make this the year that you hone your budgeting skills. The reason our country is in such a s mess is from living beyond our means. The best way we can prepare for anything is by living below our means. If we consume all we earn, there is nothing left for a rainy day.