Needed Skills Survey
I’m seeking feedback on what types of skills do you think will be needed in our uncertain future. As I look over this last year I am pleasantly surprised by how many new skills that I have acquired. But its almost overwhelming to ponder how much more I need to learn in my effort to become more self-reliant. I firmly believe that best education/preparation for our future is the “Jack of All Trades” approach.
With new year resolutions looming in the near future, what skills do you hope to acquire in the coming year?
For me personally, this is my list for 2010:
- Continue developing gardening skills and capacity.
- Learn how to can my produce (I currently just vacuum seal and freeze whatever I can)
- Extensive rainwater collection, storage, and treatment.
- Finish the aquaponic project and see how many fish I can kill :).
- Construct a large residential vermiculture system (worm farm).
- Learn how to repair my own freaking appliances and electronics.
- Learn how to brew beer and make cheese.
- Develop my “old-fashion-from-scratch” cooking skills.
- Firearm training.
- Learn small engine repair.
- Develop a gold and silver trading strategy (seems like I might be a little late on this one LOL)
- Install a Natural Gas/Propane Generator back-up power system (this would be great during Hurricane season).
Whats on your list? Thanks for your input…Jeff
So little time and so much to learn….
It’s helpful if someone in your household knows how to knit / sew / make clothes.
Couple of thoughts from my current experience, these are things I know from painful experience, but I thought that I’d share them simple as they are.
1) Tree Felling, woodlot management, chainsaw use and maintenance, and how to properly select and use axes. These sound pretty simple unfortunately (other than the chainsaw maintenance) they’re not quite as simple as that. Axes for instance are fantastic tools when selected correctly used correctly, but incredibly tiring and dangerous when not right for you and used incorrectly. Similarly felling a tree seems simple, but if you’ve never done it before it’s not quite as simple as it looks, where will it fall, will it get hung up, or break it’s trunk when it falls, etc. etc. depending on what you want the wood for, if it’s for a 40′ post, then breaking the trunk would be a big issue. One good thing about trees is that as long as they exist you have a building material and fuel for cooking and heating.
2) Carpentry skills, to use the wood from 1 above and to fix a broken chair.
3) Fishing and Hunting skills, unless you plan in the worst case scenario to be a vegetarian, you might like to think about getting some hunting skills, even something as relatively “simple” as dressing and butchery.
4) Firearm repair and maintenance is also a good thing to have, what happens when your trigger spring breaks or weakens and no longer works as expected?A lot of people (including many firearms owners) don’t even know what a disconnect hook is.
5) First Aid and health care, seems like a no brainer, but it’s something that many people are not really prepared for. What do you do when a friend or loved one has a spiking fever, a broken arm, or has fallen on a broken branch and been stabbed by a broken twig and there is no immediate medical assistance.
I could go on…
I’d have to say that learning basic construction skills should be high on everyone’s list. You don’t need to be a master carpenter or electrician or anything… just able to throw together a decent small shelter, build rustic furniture & tools, wire sockets & lights, and run some plumbing. The proper use & care of power tools and hand tools is also a good idea.
Basic mechanics & electronics would also be a good idea. As would a decent working knowledge of basic chemistry.
In addition to “from scratch cooking” add “open fire cooking” to that list. Can you cook in a fire pit or on a wood stove… or are you reliant on dial-controlled precision burners, convection ovens and microwaves?
Which leads to knowing at least 10 ways to start a fire. Your lighter is out of fuel, the matches are long gone, you lost your steel when you fell in the river… so what do you now?
Along with hunting, fishing and basic field dressing and butchering… you should be really knowlegeable about the flora and fauna in your area. Which berries are edible? Which flowers have medicinal properties? What is poisonous and what do you do if you’ve been poisoned by it? What fish are in your streams and what’s the best way to catch them? What critters are around you and is it best to shoot or trap them? Do you even know how to set a trap for small game? What about larger game? (I stress local knowledge because a lot of the knowledge I have from other areas isn’t 100% applicable to where I’m living now… we don’t have any deer and hunting moose & caribou isn’t exactly the same; and fishing salmon isn’t like fishing steelheads)
The use and care of firearms and ammunition is good. But knives, spears, axes & traps don’t need to be reloaded and aren’t as complicated. You should also be well-versed in the basic use & care of those tools — both for hunting and personal defense. If you’re feeling froggy – learn archery, how to make your own bows and fletch your own arrows.
Gardening, harvesting, preserving & seed-saving should be on everyone’s list. Especially if you don’t have enough time, resources or range to get really good at foraging wild edibles!
Basic first aid is a must. At the very least, find out whether you’re going to pass out or get hysterical when your partner gets a gash that needs stitches. Basic dentistry is also a big plus — good oral hygiene and dental health reduces the risk of many other health problems.
Hide tanning, spinning, weaving, sewing & knitting are all important. Remember your clothes are the first layer of Shelter (the Survival Big 3: Food, Water & Shelter). At the very least, you should know how to mend the clothes you currently have… then move on to altering them, and finally to creating from scratch.
Basic land navigation — with and without GPS, compass and good maps. Start with the tools, and then test your skills to see if you can properly read your terrain and the celestial bodies.
Basic rock climbing, rappeling, river fording, etc — do you know how to safely get from Point A to Point B if there is an obstruction in between? Same goes for the use of pulleys, winches and come-alongs… could you get that heavy load from the bottom of the cliff up to your site, or set a 500 lb timber ridge beam etc?
And if you don’t know how already… learn to swim!
I second everything that Plickety and Gungnir have suggested ………..
And add on my current pet interest in solar power generation. Our total power cost is now running at less than zero with the local power company actually paying us. Something very comforting about that. The contractors doing solar work tend to be pricey, so unless you have a friend in the business, learning about the basics (not too difficult) will make a huge difference in the cost of an installation if you are prepared to put in some sweat equity.
And then my favorite — learn about chickens and get a bunch — feed them a little bit and they will give you more eggs ( and meat if you want) than you can possibly use. Barter some excess eggs for milk from a neighbor and then you don’t have to milk cows or goats (which I really dislike doing)
Gungnir and Plickety Cat,
Thank you for your input on this thread. I took a peek at your blog the other day and I must convey my utmost respect for your lifestyle.
You guys are Bad Asses, pardon my french.
I can’t even fathom -40*….LOL. My daughter and I just played in the Gulf of Mexico on this 70 degree day on the Texas coast. I’m such a wimp compared to you guys..
Kudos to you guys for your fortitude….All the best, Jeff
Well I can tell you that currently the temperature I’m experiencing is a warm 85 degrees, although it is about 0 degrees outside.
So we’re not living at 40 below by any means. The coldest we’ve ever had it where we’re living is 20 degree’s inside when we had to switch out the flue pipe. That was fun, since we splashed water from the water jacket on the heat shielding for the stove and got an instant icerink where we were working.
Working outside in those temps is fine too, I just wear a thin insulating long sleeved shirt, Jeans over insulating long johns (and regular skivvies) a regular Fruit of the Loom sweatshirt, and a insulated hoodie, with a lava wool cap under my wool cap, 2 sets of glove liners and work gloves normally, 2 pairs of socks one medium weight wool one thermal liner, and my 600 gram of Thinsulate boots. Plickety gets more togged up for the cold than I do but we have different metabolisms, although I also eat about 3 times what she does. Main thing is to pay attention to your hands and feet, when they get cold get someplace warm and let them get the blood flow back, otherwise the consequences can be quite nasty.
A good general skill to learn and practice is how to define and solve problems.
For example, Thanksgiving morning my gas oven wouldn’t heat up. Broken gas valve? Bad thermsostat? Out of gas? Without knowing anything about my stove, but by studying the symptoms and taking the oven apart to look it over I was able to diagnose a worn out ignitor in the bottom burner. I swapped it out with the broiler ignitor, which looked the same, and soon my turkey was happily roasting.
How many Americans today would just go the restaurant and call a repairman the next day?
Amen Woodman! With a little practice at problem solving, all your basic skills can take on exponential depth. You can take some basic mechanical knowledge, some basic plumbing knowledge, and some basic agricultural knowledge and all the sudden you’ve designed yourself a spring-fed sluice that rotates and waters a different bed every hour when the bucket gets full… stuff like that.
I think the art of tinkering has slowly been lost over the years… people like us who can look at something broken and fiddle with it logically until it works again are a rare breed.
Please remind us of where to find Gungnir and PlicketyCat’s Blog.