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10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten)

Image source: cbhistory.wordpress.com

Image source: cbhistory.wordpress.com

Our modern society is highly dependent upon we’ll call the “system.” Not only do we rely upon utility services to bring us electricity, water and natural gas, but also on an incredibly complex supply chain which provides us with everything from food to computers. Without that supply chain, most of us wouldn’t know what to do.

This situation is actually becoming worse, rather than better. When I compare my generation (I’m in my 50s) to that of my children, I see some striking differences. In my generation it was normal for a boy to grow up learning how to do a wide variety of trade skills from his father, and seemingly everyone knew how to do basic carpentry and mechanic work. But that’s no longer normal.

If we extrapolate it back, we can see that my father’s generation knew even more – and my grandparent’s generation even more. Those older generations were much more closely tied to the roots of an agricultural society, where people were self-reliant. There are multiple skills they had which modern society no longer considers necessary.

But if we were to have a breakdown in society, those skills which we never bothered to learn would become essential. Those who don’t know these skills would either have to learn or die trying.

Here are 10 skills our grandparents knew that most of us have long forgotten:

1. Gardening for Food

During World War II, there was a campaign for people to plant “Victory Gardens” at their homes. These vegetable gardens were needed to alleviate food shortages, because so much of the nation’s produce was being sent overseas to keep our troops and those of our allies fighting. With fewer men available to work the farms, there was less produce available.

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This custom of having a vegetable garden in one’s backyard survived for many years after the war was over, but it gradually died out. Today, when many people think of gardening, they are thinking of a flower garden. While those are nice to look at, they don’t give you much to eat.

Starting and growing a vegetable garden can be harder than most people think. When I started gardening, it took me three years to get more than just herbs and a smattering of produce out of it. I’m glad I didn’t wait until I needed that garden for survival.

2. Animal Husbandry

Image source: stylonica

Image source: stylonica

Although the industrial revolution took place more than 100 years ago, many people continued to raise at least a small amount of their own livestock at home. This led to cities enacting ordinances limiting what animals people could keep within city limits.

Raising dogs and cats is much different than raising chickens, rabbits and goats for the table. A large part of being able to raise these animals is recognizing their needs and being able to diagnose their sicknesses. Farmers don’t depend upon the vet for most illnesses; they take care of it themselves.

3. Food Preservation

It’s rare to find people who preserve their own foods, but in our grandparent’s generation, it was common. Canning food, smoking meats and even making one’s own sausage were all common home tasks, which ensured that people had enough food to get through the winter. Today, it’s rare to find people who know these methods of food preservation, let alone having the equipment needed.

If we go back very far in American live, pretty much every middle class home had a smokehouse for preserving meats. I’ve seen some homes where the smokehouse was actually in the kitchen chimney. Instead of building a normal chimney, they had a very wide one, with enough room to hang sides of beef in it for smoking.

4. Blacksmithing

You might think that blacksmithing goes all the way back to the Old West, but in actuality it is a skill that stayed around much longer than that. My dad was a blacksmith in his later years, although most of the work he did was ornamental.

I remember traveling in Mexico about 20 years ago and having a spring on my car’s suspension break. A local blacksmith fashioned me a new spring, tempered and shaped exactly right for my vehicle. Blacksmiths can make or repair just about anything out of metal. Yet few today know this valuable skill.

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Maybe we don’t need blacksmiths today, but if an EMP hit the country and we were without electrical power, the skills of a blacksmith would allow people to have their tools repaired — and new ones fashioned. Since the manufacturing plants presumably would be shut down, that ability would be essential for rebuilding America.

5. Basic Carpentry

Image source: cauthencarpentry.com

Image source: cauthencarpentry.com

Everyone should know how to make basic repairs to their home. Without the ability to repair damage from a natural disaster, it might not be possible to use the home as a survival shelter. Woodworking skills also allow one to make furniture and other items to help survive.

6. Basic Mechanical Repair

Depending upon the type of disaster that hits, the family car may just end up being a large paperweight. But there are many survival scenarios where it would be useful to be able to fix your car, keeping it running for general use. As long as there is gasoline, that car would be useful.

The ability to diagnose and repair an engine is useful not only for keeping a car on the road, but also for fixing lawn mowers, chain saws and other power tools.

7. Herbal Medicine

The roots of medicine were herbal medicine. While doctors have existed for millennia, it hasn’t been until recent times that those doctors had such a wide range of pharmaceuticals to work with. Before that, doctors made their own medicines.

Many women also learned to use what nature provided for medicine. It was not uncommon a few generations back for mom to take care of her family’s medical needs, using recipes that she had learned from her mother. Today, that sort of medicine is called “old wives’ tales” but it works just as well as it always did.

8. Horseback Riding

This may not seem like much of a survival skill, but in the Old West, stealing a man’s horse was a hanging offense. That’s because being stranded without a horse was generally a death sentence. While horseback riding today is only done for sport, if the automobile becomes no longer usable, people will be looking for horses once again.

Riding a horse is actually more complicated than the movies make it appear. Breaking a horse is a skill that few know. Likewise, there are few today, outside of the drivers for the Budweiser Clydesdales, who know how to hitch and drive a team of horses. But in America’s past, our ancestors drove teams with as many as 40 horse or mules in them.

9. Hunting

Now, I know there are a lot of hunters out there, maybe even some who are reading this. But I have to say that a lot of what we call hunting today and what I learned as a kid are nothing alike. I have a hard time calling it hunting when corn is put out as bait and the hunter hides in a blind, waiting for their choice deer to come to eat.

Real hunting, at least what they did in the past, involved knowing the animal’s habits and staking out a place where the animals were likely to come. It required patience, understanding of the animals being hunted — and a pretty good shot with the rifle.

10. Butchering an Animal

Raising an animal is one thing, butchering it is another. Few hunters even know how to properly butcher an animal, as most take them to a butcher for cutting up and packaging. Yet, an animal which is not properly cleaned and butchered can cause disease. You can also waste a lot of good meat by not doing it correctly.

What would you add to this list? Is there anything with which you disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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81 comments

  1. Good article with one exception. Horses are still used today for more than pleasure ridding. Ask anyone who owns more than a few cattle. I happen to live in Texas, a big cattle raising state and we still use our horse’s for roundup. Most cattle at lest in my area are free range and when its time to brand/tag or take to market we still do it with horse’s and cowboys. I am more than certain that other states still do this as well.

    • Agreed, now add to that, the draft horse. Pulling, hauling, plowing, logging, and pretty much every thing you can do with a vehicle. And they eat grass and grains, versus petroleum based fuels. Last time I heard, the draft horse was EMP proof too.

    • The author, I’m pretty sure didn’t mean to imply that these are completely lost skills. There are still blacksmiths and even schools for such, still working horses and cattle ranchers who don’t call a vet for everything, still people who can food, etc. The point the writer was making is that they aren’t common place anymore. It is the exception rather than the rule, as it use to be.

      • So… they will be the “in demand” people. They will be V.A.L.U.A.B.L.E.

        Without them society would collapse totally in a very short time frame. Blacksmiths in a city? Lucky if you could find 1 or 2.

        Butchers? Of the live animal in a rural environment type, not the chain slicing 1 cut of meat for 8 hours a day. Not too many of them either… and the list goes on. And on. And on….

  2. How about sewing, shoemaking, other leather crafts and, eventually, working fiber from fleece or plant fiber to finished cloth? My grandfather wove rag rugs and grandma made all the clothes for her 12 children, pieced quilts and crocheted. Mom made many of our clothes. Although I learned to sew, I would have to refresh my skills considerably to make a dress today.

    • Definitely add sewing and other textile arts to the list. Including knitting, crochet, rugmaking, weaving, etc.

    • I agree that leather crafting is a vital tool. I work as a leather crafter and can say it is one of the most versatile materials to work with. Everything from saddles, clothes, tool sheaths, bags, etc can be made from leather. Not to forget tanning also, which is a skill unto itself! Both are handy skills to have in a survival situation.

    • But you have knowledge of what it would take to make that dress, Laura! I haven’t done major sewing for many years, either. But my hands are quite comfortable with a needle and thread for mending and embroidery. I’m sure our hands would recall how to make a dress once put to the task…;)
      My mother even taught me how to make patterns from newspaper or to just blind-cut material for sewing a piece. She made me the first maxi skirt in town that way back in 1972!! Butterick didn’t have a pattern out for them yet…LOL!

  3. I agree with Laura when it comes to clothing….textiles. Also, soapmaking. If one doesn’t have lathe experience in their woodworking skills to make bowls etc. for eating out of, what about pottery? Or basket weaving for when one gathers food from the garden or wild? And candlemaking…AND working with stone and making own cement?

    • Sewing is a skill that isn’t used much today clothes are rarely mended. I grow herbs but apart from parsley, sage thyme and maybe basil and rosemary people know very little. A lot of women do keep up old skills making jams . pickles and bread making plus they also have told old fashioned skills making butter and cheeses

  4. I am 71, and as a child on the farm, I learned to plant, care for and harvest a garden. I also learned how to hitch up and drive a team of Belgians, as our landlord used horses almost exclusively to farm his land, and the fields on our farm. We raised our own chickens for eggs and meat. My mom and I canned most of the produce from our garden, so that we had food in the winter.
    When I got married, my father – in – law taught me how to do automotive repairs, carpentry and roofing. As a homeowner of over 40 years, I rarely have to call in a tradesman to do anything other than for the furnace/air conditioner, and to power clean the sewers periodically. i can do basic auto repairs, but anything related to the computer on board requires a knowledgeable mechanic.
    My son and his wife have no idea how to be self sustainable, other than household tasks. They rely on the systems in place today. They think I am crying wolf because I am prepared for a grid meltdown.

    • I agree with you 100 % that most people don’t have the basic survival skills to survive if the modern day grid and system where to go down. Its sad that most kids never learn an important trade or skill anymore. Its sad that we all rely to much on computers and such. But if the grid did and system as we know it did go down….. people would be fine. While some wouldn’t make it. I do believe the majority would. Human nature would kick in and we would learn to survive. Carpentry, hunting and butchering animals, preserving food, etc. Would be learned trough trial and error. Remember at one time man didn’t posses these very skills. They had to be learned. Plus we also would still have books to referance and learn some of thse very skills from. The one thing we can always count on more then anything is mankinds instinct and self preservation. Man has always had not just the will to survive no matter what the odds or situation maybe. But we’ve always seem to fiqure it out. And that’s one skill that thrives in all of us. The will to survive above all else is by far mankinds greatest asset. And at times our greatest weakness.

      • Well put. I’m not much of a writer on forums, however I must say, very well put sir!

      • The Amish would be here to carry on the human species. lol

      • well it wouldn’t matter because if we lost electricity the U.S.A. wouldn’t be livable because all nuclear plants require electricity to maintain its cooling system so they would blow up within 2 weeks and we would all be dead from radiation.

    • Good for you, people are turning back to some basics today. I make my own deodorant and use some other natural items. Try not to use pharmaceuticals and do not get vaccine shots as they are poison to the body. Keep on going, obviously you are doing a great job. Hugs.

      • Yeah, don’t get vaccine’s. Instead, get diseases we pretty much destroyed in the West in the past like measles or polio!

        • The Amish don’t get vaccinated and also don’t have Autism. What they put in vaccines these days are killing the kids and the flu shots are no better. When I was a kid mothers couldn’t wait for someone to get the Measels, chicken Pox etc., they would put us kids together with them so we got it and got it over with. But if you are so convinced vaccines are the way to go then why worry about who is not vaccinated after all you are covered right? Wrong – most outbreaks come from those that are vaccinated because the disease is in the vaccine.

      • “poison to the body”? I can see who we’ll be thanking for the first epidemic illnesses that are likely to sweep through the bravely-struggling survivors of the technological meltdown.. Thanks! I’m sure you and your disease-ridden family will be remembered in song and story for generations for your insightful grasp on reality. *sigh*

  5. Between the 5 people in my close group of friends we cover all 10 items. Plus needle work, spinning fiber to make yarn. Don’t weave, yet, don’t have a loom. 2 of us crochet, 1 knits, 3 have car repair knowledge, 3 can scratch cook quite well. Add it mean our children’s talents in brewing & computers & machinist abilities & my mom’s knowledge, we are good. But we are unusual. Most people don’t have close to our level of knowledge. We are lucky to have been taught.

    • I find it really strange that only 3 people of 10 can scratch-cook. I didn’t even know such a phrase existed and that it was a special skill. Sure, you have to be an experienced cook, to make all sorts of delicious food, but surely- couldn’t almost everybody feed themselves, given the resources to make the meal? Whether it would be tasty or pleasing to the eye is another question.

      • Not necessarily. I know many people that are lost if their meals aren’t prepackaged and microwavable. Think about if there were a meltdown and over time, probably a pretty short period of time considering looting, The fresh foods in the grocery store would be gone or spoiled, and the canned goods shelves would be empty. We’d not only need to know how to hunt, farm & preserve, but how to do so over an open fire. I agree, of all skills, cooking has the shortest learning curve – to at least achieve ‘edible’ status, especially since it would be survival mode where the goal is to simply feed rather than ticking off every mark on the food pyramid, but it would still need to be learned by many many people.

      • I am 60+ years old. In my lifetime I have had to teach 7 people (not including family) how to feed themselves. My first experience was with a newly-wed woman who’s own parents knew nothing about it. I had to take her to the market and show her each fruit or vegetable and explain what it is. The canned section was a real eye-opener for her because I made her read the labels and I defined what those “ingredients” were. She was really upset at the meat market. Decided to become a vegetarian, but her new husband put the kybosh on that. When you are raised with someone else doing all of the cooking, cleaning, etc. and NOT being taught how or what or why, you will have a much more difficult time trying to learn.

        My daughter had to explain to her husband why you wash the back of dirty plates (because you stack them) since he grew up in a house of hoarders and never saw anyone wash dishes or clothes or even pick up after themselves. He never learned. My Daughter had to teach him, and it was a fight every step of the way with her explaining why something needed to be done.

        Needless to say, no, not everyone would be able to figure it out. Not because they are incapable or useless or lazy, but because they have no frame of reference.

        Learning NOW is the only way to go.

      • Scratch-Cooking is easy if you now how. the test is to get all the fix’ens and none of it can be boxed or canned (unless canned by you) and fix meals for a week at least 3 will need to be chicken based as that was the meat used most.
        Also needed is knowing how to tan hides so they last for years.

      • Scratch cooking is a term my grandmother used. It means to make the meal without store products for the most part or with very little. She even showed me how to make flour out of acorns which she used to do during the depression, and sugar from maple sap. Plus how to can and salt meats vegetables an so much more. I have tried to show my girls however they feel it takes to much time and why learn they can get everything from the store.
        This Thanksgiving we are having fresh Turkey that we raised and I butchered with my son. He know has a different outlook on things and did very well.

  6. Got 9 out of 10 list covered. What I’m lacking is herbal medicine, but I’m working at it. Hoping to pick the brains of a Chinese herbalist in China town some time soon, later this year. Just to many things to do in my daily routine & not enough time in the day. Lol.
    I’ve done some sewing when I was a kid, mending socks, fixing buttons & shortening pants & sleeves. Made things out of leather in the past, still do nowadays . What I feel is that some people do not know how to read weather patterns that coming from the horizon in your immediate area.

  7. you would need to know how to tan hides, make rawhide, leather, if you wanted to keep warm that is.

  8. I don’t drink alcohol, but a lot of people do. Alcohol also has medicinal purposes as an antiseptic and to numb pain. So being able to distill would be very important. Also, from my understanding, beer brewing was vital for sanitizing water. Beer of two hundred years ago was less potent than today and the alcohol content was just high enough to kill the growies in the water. Remember, this was before the microscope so there was no knowledge of microorganisms. Also winemaking served the same purpose as making beer, but from different regions. Food for though.

    • Actually, it was heat that killed the bacteria. Boiling the water would do the same thing. Beer also had a lower alcohol content because less grain was used and the sparging process, which makes the wort (unfermented beers essentially grain and hop water) had a lower efficiy.

  9. How would someone know where to go to find resources if they wanted to gain skills they did not already have?

    • A good article but all you will try to do you will need water so if you live in a city you would need a friend in yhe country.

    • Fox Fire books are wonderful. Problem is I loaned mine out and never got them back!LOL.

    • I would recommend looking first at the library for hard copy books that you can borrow for a few weeks.

      You can download the Amazon Kindle App to your computer. There are a great number of books that are free or relatively inexpensive for Kindle that cover much of this information.

      Also, Project Gutenberg has tons of free public domain publications that you can download in PDF format, Kindle, etc. Things like weaving, tanning, butchering, sewing, military tactics, survival skills, etc. These are usually last century publications (or older) but the information is still viable.

      Survival Mom has the PDF format available, as well, and her information is more understandable because of the syntax.

      I would also recommend (tho I am not LDS) that you download the “LDS Preparedness Manual”. It covers a whole host of topics from food to hygiene to security.

      Just go online and look up several of the key phrases that you want to learn. There are also going to be references to sites that can teach you skills, like you-tube. There are really a great many ways to learn.

      As Nike says: Just do it.

    • There are awesome books on homesteading through out the years. You can buy these on Amazon or in your local Tractor Supply Store. Also if you like computers check out Pinterest. There is wonderful knowledge there on herbs and how to use them for medicine. How to raise animals and butcher them. How to make beer even and use the spent grain to feed the animals so nothing is wasted. Even how to make soap, candles, makeup and so much more!

  10. Great article! A few small additions to the list: fishing (same as hunting with exceptions of technique and processing the meat); bartering / negotiating (my grandfather was a farmer in upstate NY from the 30s to the 80s and trading goods & services was a necessity); and self-defense / fighting (being able to physically protect yourself and your family gives you the confidence to stand your ground without resorting to violence).

  11. I think there is one skill thats need to be added to the list: face-to-face personal communication. Young people especially seem to rely on the Internet and texting on their smart phones. And perhaps being in good enough shape to walk far enough to visit a few friends and family.

  12. how about common courtesy as an interpersonal survival skill.

    • I’d like to think that would prevail, but if it is a worldwide scenario, you’d better know how to protect yourself and loved ones too, not to mention your livestock and produce. People would get desperate pretty quickly and many would try to take by force rather than try to provide for themselves.

  13. a good in depth first aid course would be good to add in there, and i do mean in depth. start with the basics and work from there. there are lots of books out there that teach anatomy. know the bone structure and muscle placement thoroughly. you never know when you might have to ‘dig’ a broken piece of glass, a broken branch, a sharpened rock out of a body part. know how to align and set a broken bone. and for goodness sake, know how to sew a wound closed.

  14. Sanitation, toiletries including TP, deodorant making soap making and laundrying.

  15. Trapping. Hunting takes time and energy. Traps work for you 24/7

  16. There are several other basic requirements that needed to be taught and learned such as I would call Homemaking.
    This is a big subject with smaller sub-subjects such as soap making, which required a basic knowledge of butchering so that the fat could be saved all winter to make the soap. Another would be weaving cloth from either sheep or lambs wool or from flax.

  17. Blacksmithing is one that I didn’t even consider… Most other the others I have covered. …. Well besides the herbal meds. I am a former Army Vet so I have learned many survival skills in my training also.
    As far as hunting goes… I live in Illinois….no baiting no Rifles. It’s either bows or a limited shotgun/crossbow season. We work to improve our deer stands and hunting areas all year long. So there is just the element of good planning and scouting where I hunt in S. IL.
    Really enjoyed the article

    • If you ever want to give blacksmithing a go it’s really easy to set yourself up with a mobile forge, plastic chicken feed bags are great as, bellows connect that to an,old hoover pipe, which in turn is connected to a pipe elbow welded to a oil drum lid, and hey presto one forge, you’ll need a,trivet to place the lid on, and I’ve found a car wheel mount off the axle makes a better/thicker centre for the elbow joint to attach to, and two spars of wood taped to the top of the grain sack make it easier to open as,you lift the bag and close when you want to force the air down the pipe, charcoals ideal to use and a handful of the stuff on this setup will boil a kettle in no time.

  18. I would add fire making. Matches may get wet. Lighters run out of fuel. Magnifying glass may not work do to clouds. Rubbing two sticks together may work in the movies but I never got it to work. What are you making this fire for? To keep warm? you may want a camp fire, but to cook with, you will want something a little smaller and easier to control. I HIGHLY suggest that everyone go out and make a fire without matches or lighter. I’ll even let you use a magnifying glass. Good luck.

  19. The arts of midwifery and breastfeeding management. As a culture, we have forgotten how to assist with labor and delivery and how to nurse our babies. I’m sure you ask can imagine how much of a problem this would be!

  20. Anyone who lives in the North needs to be able to heat their home. Most homes today depend on the power grid to be heated. We are fortunate enough to have enough land with trees to provide firewood and posts for fencing. We also have two wood stoves. Clean water is another great need. Even deep wells are no good without power to pump the water out of the ground. Water purification methods need to be learned.

  21. How about heating and cooking with wood or coal? Maybe even MORE importantly, the shear amount of back/breaking labor andmental stress needed to live basic homestead life? Some things to ponder: 1 will 12 yo Facebook Frankie want or even be able to do 4hrs of stoop labor in the garden,4hrs of shoveling manure and 4hrs of cutting wood? 2 Will 15yo Twitter Tammy be willing or able to help butcher can,preserve livestock, small game and fish? 3 Will Trophy Wife Tina come unglued at the thouht of cleaning or even Using an outhouse, or hauling water for drinking, cleaning, or bathing? 4 And most importantly, are YOU prepared to make the hard choices? When shirttail cousins and ex inlaws show up at your door wanting refuge can you turn your back? How well do you handle failure? Because you Will! Often and completly. And how well you and your family cope with it. It takes a strong mental additude to fail to provide for your loved ones. But with some frank talk practice scenerios will give you a better idea how your family will survive.Having loads of guns and ammo will do no good when all game is killed or scared off. millions of hunters nation wide know firsthand the bitter taste of tag soup. Be ready to eat rats,possum,squierk etc and lots of corn and beans that are left in fallow fields. In general, be realistic, be ruthless, and and dont be afraid to fail, and come back stronger and smarter.

  22. I suggest to add knitting and sewing of clothes, blankets and other fabrics to keep warm or clothes in general.

    • I agree add sewing. I am cleaning out old boxes/trunks from my great grandmother. It is amazing what they saved and I can understand why. Within an old truck was nothing but pieces of clothes with notes pinned to them. An few examples would be tatted collar mom made still good dress worn out use on Helen’s dress. (Helen was her daughter). Selves still good from Sunday dress, and the list goes on. Even buttons, clasps, and zippers.
      Each item could be reused. She even had a quilt in one truck she made for their bed from all my great grandfather’s favorite winter shirts. I wish my grandmother learned from her the skill of tatting. I will have to figure out how to do this on my own.
      I have hung onto the old spinning wheel and sewing machine with the pump pedal passed down now over three generations. Both still work and look great in my livingroom, and work great.

  23. I would add caring for the sick and dying. Hospitals and the funeral industry have removed us from the final days and arrangements of those we love most. Our elders washed and dressed the dead, laid them on ice in their parlors for friends to call on, and buried them by hand, often in a family plot.

  24. Also on the food note, milling flour and corn is an essential part of village life still in many countries and would be of use. flour can be explosive so doing it right is imperative! Fishing, drying meat, tanning hides, For some people wanting to learn these things i suggest looking for the Foxfire books. back in the 70s we had a resurgence of crafting interests and a lot of these are covered in those tomes.

  25. All of those mentioned are excellent skills, but perhaps most important would be barter and negotiation and other interpersonal skills. Face it, no one is going to have enough hours in the day to do it all. Even a family of four would be hard put to cover all the bases. Your friends and neighbors will be a necessity, as will every family member you can persuade to share with you, and you with them. Yes, that’s it–SHARING and COOPERATION are necessary skills. And every person becomes a RESOURCE for time, labor, and skill. There’s a reason pioneer families tended to be large.

    ‘Bout that scratch cooking–before you dismiss it as just something anybody can pick up–well, of course they can, but that goes for pretty much all of these skills. But cooking is required every day, several times a day, to keep up everyone’s strength for all the other chores. And in the severe emergency scenario, you’re going to need to be able to cook meats, veggies, and even breads and cakes, on a wood or coal fed fire, while keeping the fire at an appropriate temperature. Just keeping the fire going can be time-consuming. And most cooks nowadays (including myself) rely heavily on the microwave, and TV dinners, and haven’t done an entire meal over a fire in years. Badly prepared meals can be so burnt as to be inedible, wasting precious food, or undercooked and dangerous from risk of bacteria. Yep, kitchen duty is gonna be a challenge.

  26. I was a city boy, growing up in Brooklyn and living most of my adult life in Baltimore. About 6 years ago I moved out to the Appalachian mountains in south western Pennsylvania. Here most folks are farmers and/or Amish. More than 80% of our community’s families are more than capable of hitting all 10 items on this list and then some. I am still learning and somehow doubt I would ever be able to master many of these skills, but it is comforting to live in a community where should things hit the fan, our entire community would go on, hardly noticing any meltdown of the system or the grid.

  27. We must be clothed. Tanning, spinning, weaving, sewing, knitting, shoe making.

  28. I didn’t see coopering (barrel making) or white coopering (buckets and other small items). I have personal experience in gardening (including medicinals), herbal medicine making, wildcrafting, weaving, spinning, sewing, crocheting, felting, natural dyes, food preservation, soap making, woodworking, flint knapping, pottery. I can clean fish but it’s not my favorite activity. I am 62 and there are still tons of things I want to learn.

  29. Sewing. Some people still know how to sew but the skill is not nearly as wide spread as it used to be.

  30. Sewing! We would needed new clothes eventually.

  31. I would add sewing, but also home building. It amazes me how our pioneer ancestors cleared the land with primitive tools, then built a house from logs they cut. They did it sometimes with just a man and his wife. Later they built their own furniture & made their own fabric, clothes, and dishes. My dad learned how to build while working for the CCC as a teenager. He finished out our house and built two more rooms and a huge garage. He died before finishing the garage, so my brother finished it My dad & brother also build cabinets in our house. They just knew how to do those things.

  32. i think the last statement about modern hunters is way off. Yes there clubs and outfitters you can pay to go hunt baited deer but these are for the city people who act like they want to be in touch with nature. No self respecting hunter would bait deer, in fact there are laws in most states outlawing it.

    • Baiting deer by placing salt or any other bait or food to entice deer or hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer, during any open hunting season on deer is prohibited. (Does not apply to hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking: standing crops; foods that have been left as a result of normal agricultural operations or as a result of natural occurrence; or bear bait that has been placed at a bear hunting stand or blind in accordance with bear baiting laws.

  33. Knot tying

  34. Yep, there’s ten skills that kids today have lost!

  35. Baiting deer by placing salt or any other bait or food to entice deer or hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer, during any open hunting season on deer is prohibited. (Does not apply to hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking: standing crops; foods that have been left as a result of normal agricultural operations or as a result of natural occurrence; or bear bait that has been placed at a bear hunting stand or blind in accordance with bear baiting laws.)

  36. preparing shelter for all weather conditions.

  37. these are the skills that have been all but lost… where is the follow up to teach these basics to these skills
    One can go to the internet currently for the how to do’s but it does us no good if we don’t do it & copy
    the info BEFORE the grid has a problem or this NET NEUTRALITY takes over the internet and does not
    permit the information to be accessed! CANNING & PRESERVING food is another lost art. One needs the
    equipment & salt before a problem arises… Also what about OIL LIGHTS along with backup oil? There is
    so much that we have forgotten or have not absorbed that our parents use to do, trusting the “fact” we
    are a civilized nation and have it all… that “fact” can quickly fade… at least make yourself familiar with how
    to survive if the time ever comes…

  38. The skills to handle weapons..knives guns possibly muzzle loaders. People in need are going to stealing killing to get what they need. If anything crazy happens we have to defend whats ours and protect love ones.

  39. What about cooking – things like churning butter, making pies, cakes, bread form scratch, plus having to cook in a fireplace or a dutch oven with no power or microwave. After Katrina hit and we had no power for weeks and because I have a lot of these cooking skills and we were not one of the people on my block who had to visit the restaurants or friends that had power just to eat.

  40. How about navigational skills. Pretty sure your gps isn’t going to work.

    • Maggie Sullivan

      While you all are hunting and grubbing around in the Garden. I also wish to add to the list of things we need and can do ourselves.. Soap Making from the fat of the animals we slaughter, Shearing, washing, carding and spinning, then weaving and dyeing the fibers.. Then sewing Natural dyes are not as easy to make as some think. Many look around and think that oh look green its all around, but it is the hardest colour to get in a dye. Don’t forget that cooking also done over a open fire is something that is being lost. Writing.. omg.. the schools are phasing out the written word. Soon children will barely be able to print.

  41. Mending/sewing – men and women know how to mend clothing and darn socks, as well as basic shoe cobbling and basic leather repair – not to mention basic tanning, spinning and fabric weaving. Oh these were not fancy things, these were basic necessities!

    Some of the extra off-shoots of this was:
    harness & saddle making and repair
    tatting (the making of lace)
    Knitting
    Crocheting
    stonework (stone fences and fireplaces, etc)
    Making their own lard and stuff for not only cooking but for lanterns and greasing axles too
    Making wax and candles
    Making and use of hand tools (including drills block-n-tacikle, brooms, cups, bowls, eating utensiles, etc)
    Soap making

  42. I like the idea of victory gardens. Every time I drive around my neighborhood I see all these yards of just grass that could grow food. Also, everyone should learn to make or purchase a non electric water distiller to enable you to make any kind of water drinkable.

  43. One of the topskills to learn and have is how to find or purify water for consumption hygiene and Medicinal purposes

  44. I always thought that these skills should be preserved and taught in a school. I’m not saying that classes would be the best way to learn these, but I think that there are enough people who would be interested and that there are not enough people who could teach. I don’t mean learning carpentry or mechanics in sufficient depth to qualify as an employee, but sufficiently well enough to serve the purpose of survival and empowered living. Does anyone know of such schools? Who wants to put a school together with me? I wonder if we could be eligible for funding?

    • Yes there used to be classes as mentioned in COmmunity Education. Now most Community Ed programs are extensions of basic core classes and that is it unless I am not aware of some other programs out there. It would be great to have a Homesteading type of curriculum or school. Local archives would have books or journals for us to read too. I will be busy reading. Enough of tv garbage.

  45. I’m 66 and got my first NEW sewing machine. My mother (an Italian farm girl) said “my boys will know how to cook, iron and sew so they don’t have to depend on a wife or girlfriend to do for them”. We never had to depend on the girls to do our chores either. My Dad taught us how to hunt and do wood and mechanics things. I teach my grand daughter what she can eat, heal her and what can hurt her out there. She shoots well with a bow and gun and fly fishes too, she’s 9 ( she prefers young deer because as she says “they taste best”. I’d have to say it’s the parents of the kids now a days that fail the kids mostly. If you ain’t teaching them it’s partly your fault for being as lazy as they are. My kids having grown up with their mother only know skills learned when they were with me. I’m mostly self sufficient and worry about this coming world. I’d say the advertisers and electronic gadgets took away us humans brains.

  46. Cooking and the use of those herbs you planted. Bread making is a valuable skill, as is pasta/noodle making. All of these would be essential.

  47. Total self sufficiency is the rule of thumb for anyone and the family – living outside of – or off – the Grid.
    HOWEVER – no single family could do it all and never need to seek help or products from some other source. People had to know enough to keep things going successfully season after season – and not go broke – so they learned how to maintain the farmstead or ranch with everything well kept, patched up, home repaired, re-purposed, handed down, home made, cobbled, without having to out-lay precious cash. This is also why people bartered and traded with another. They also borrowed things if the trust factor and friendship level was established. Women were the first to form “circles” for helping each other accomplish time consuming home making tasks – so they had various get together’s where ALL generations of females were involved and this is how most girls learned everything they needed to know – because they listened, asked questions, watched, helped, tried, participated. No one was excluded or made to feel unwelcome. By the time most young women were of age to marry – they possessed all of the essential knowledge and skills to begin homemaking – yet they also maintained the social ties they established as children and most farm women stayed involved with each other for life. FOR MOST MEN – they could not function or succeed without a strong, healthy, knowledgeable wife. The women were well aware of this fact too! So taking care of their men was also important. Men thought they ruled the Roost – but it was the clever resourceful wife who made the Nest for him and the chicks.

  48. Sewing clothes or even just mending them. Many people have totally lost that skill. Quilting helps too .

  49. Butchered livestock will into the 1980’s , could dress meat and salt and stretch hides. Had good breeding programs beef and dairy cattle, chickens, rabbits, and horses. Repair barns and fence. Garden and can. Cared for Grandparents, Great Aunt and had full time job off the farm. We did not get running water till 1986. I am now retired and still have my 94 yr old mother to care for. I would hate to have to go back and pull water from barrels at the corner of the house, but know how to do it if needs be.

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