Needed Skills Survey

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JAG's picture
JAG
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Needed Skills Survey

Hi Everyone,

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....

propamanda's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

It's helpful if someone in your household knows how to knit / sew / make clothes.

Gungnir's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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...

 

PlicketyCat's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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!

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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)

Jim

JAG's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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

Gungnir's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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.

 

Woodman's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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?

 

 

PlicketyCat's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

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.

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

Please remind us of where to find Gungnir and PlicketyCat's Blog.

Thank you.

Ken C's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

I found it by doing a google search on "gungnir plickety blog"

 

http://www.jenninewardle.com/

 

Ken

 

Septimus's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

Thank you!

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

My 2c

While i admire Gungnir's and Plickety's skills, endurance and fortitude, I would put hunting skills and equipment a ways down the list. What we seem to be discussing is a shtf situation in which the legal system and societal norms have completely broken down and we no longer have conventional sources of power and transportation. If it comes to that my guess is that game animals are going to be depleted pretty quickly, unless you live in remote areas of Alaska or Canada. You won't have to worry about game wardens (or whatever the euphemism is these days) except that they will probably outcompete you for the remaining game. If it comes to living off the land, I suspect that foraging and plant ID skills and knowledge will be much more important because it doesn't take a whole lot of knowledge to be far better informed than the vast majority of people, and there are a lot of edible species out there. Of course, then you have to get through the winter.

Doug

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

Woodman

 "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?"

You could have lit it with a match or cigarette lighter and saved yourself some time.

PlicketyCat's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

I think the real key to long term survival, especially if TSHTF, is to have a wide range of BASIC skills and knowledge rather than specializing in one or two advanced things. At least get the basics down first. I see a lot of people jumping into advanced stuff before they've got the basics covered on it and other things. I get worried for them.  Things like jumping right into solar panels before mastering basic electrical, or water catchment before mastering basic plumbing and filtration, or hydroponics before mastering basic gardening.

I often see people who have amazing knowledge of, say, carpentry but they couldn't find food if they were standing in a field of fiddleheads and blueberries. If TSHTF, we won't be able to necessarily rely on trading our specializations for basics like we do now. Having a wide range of basics under your belt will keep you alive long enough to trade specialities for more advanced stuff (if you even need them). Plus, knowing the basics makes it tons easier to learn and figure more advanced stuff on your own. 

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

I like the skills list thread, JAG.

Propamanda, I agree on the sewing idea.  Related to that, I am frequently reminded of how my mom used to darn our socks when I was little.  Money was tight, so she had a wooden egg-shaped tool with a wooden handle attached, that you'd use for mending worn socks.  You slip a sock on it, so it is easier to mend the sock.  Then she used thick darning thread to patch up worn sock-heels  by darning (sewing) back and forth across the hole in one direction, then going back and forth across that (and over and under threads to build a weave).  It really is a pretty simple thing to do, but you need the right tools (wooden darning thingy-whatever-you-call-it, darning needle, and darning thread).

One other thing I can think of to add to your list is:

- Food preservation: I am just starting to learn how to can, and I know there is so much more to learn about preserving food of all types.  Especially if refrigeration is not available.  I also still need to learn how to root cellar as well.  My store-bought potatoes and onions start popping out sprouts within a couple of weeks as it is now...when I think of needing to preserve the harvest from our garden all winter long, the thought of losing food that quickly is a little scary.  That's not survival-quality food preservation!

-

Woodman's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

Greg, if it was a simple pilot light i could have just lit it with a match as you say, but as I understand it the gas valve won't  open unless the ignitor reaches a certain electrical resistance indicating it is glowing hot.  That's a safety feature  to make sure no gas comes out unless it will burn.  Without a good ignitor, the oven wouldn't cycle on and off as needed to maintain temp. 

Tom

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

"Greg, if it was a simple pilot light i could have just lit it with a match as you say, but as I understand it the gas valve won't  open unless the ignitor reaches a certain electrical resistance indicating it is glowing hot.  That's a safety feature  to make sure no gas comes out unless it will burn.  Without a good ignitor, the oven wouldn't cycle on and off as needed to maintain temp. 

Tom"

You're right, I can light the stovetop burners but not the oven, it has to spark about three times before the gas will come on, oops!

Greg

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

pinecarr

Quote:

Related to that, I am frequently reminded of how my mom used to darn our socks when I was little.  Money was tight, so she had a wooden egg-shaped tool with a wooden handle attached, that you'd use for mending worn socks.

My mom used a lightbulb.  I did a little of it myself back in the day.  It's not a skill you lose.

Doug

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

JAG -

Great thread and great responses.  It's nice to see topics of utility over futility running again.

Plick kind of touched on it and echoing Gungnir and Heinlein - 'specialization is for insects.'  I think the ability to interact with others in a cooperative and proactive way is important - although I don't think it's a skill set one learns so much as fosters.

What Sager is doing with his periodic "Dudes in the Woods" firesides chats is a good example of what I'm talking about.  The ability to build a network of friends and neighbors with a spectrum of abilities is key.

Along with that is some type of communications plan.  We recently had a severe No'easter that pushed a 7 foot tide surge into SE Virginia - of which about a foot made its way into our friends's kitchen.  The calls went out and the volunteer brigade mobilized - everything from cooking and delivering food to manning the bucket brigade to bail the Lynnhaven Bay out of their kitchen when the power went out and the submersible pumps stopped running.  Then came the generator from another friend to get the pumps back going.  And finally, the cleanup once the storm surge receded and the high tide stopped coming in the kitchen.

But what would we have done if we didn't have email connectivity and cell phones to get the word out?  That's where the emergency comms plan is needed.  Our community of friends is spread out from Richmond and throughout Virginia Beach and NE North Carolina.  We have no way of getting the word out to everyone easily.

Has anyone out there solved a similar comms connectivity problem?  Ham radio, shortwave, semaphore, smoke signals?????

Thanks in advance....

Full Moon's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

  We have church bells that would call the volunteer  emergency crew in if all other means fails.    I am betting people would meet at the fire house  to  get the Low down and make a plan for the community .    But as you suggest I think the CB radio should be on our Christmas list .

Full Moon's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

 Please people , If you think you are really  going to need to use your wheat .   Start now  !  It takes some practice making good bread  especially if you are used to eating the store bought kind.   And if you bought Red wheat instead of white winter wheat  you will take some time to get used to it.     Also try soaking and cooking it like rice  for a breakfast cereal .

Ramen-o-kudasai's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey

I am currently learning how to sharpen my scythe blades with an anvil and hammer (peening).

The idea is to be able to do everything needed without using oil or electricity.

Gungnir's picture
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Re: Needed Skills Survey
DIAP wrote:

Has anyone out there solved a similar comms connectivity problem?  Ham radio, shortwave, semaphore, smoke signals?????

Kinda sorta Dogs.

We have the internet (obviously) running on satellite, powered by our own power (generator or inverter and battery array), we also have FRS/GMRS short range semi-secured radio, and finally, we're getting good old Citizens Band too. I'd like to get a Ham rig at some point, but I'll need to take the examinations. One other mechanism is with the Alaskan DOT post a red "flag" or sign at the end of trail in an emergency, since they drive past daily. We also have a weekly check in email with our friends in the local village, and the postmaster will send someone out if we don't pick our mail up regularly (weekly).

One thing we have learned is that one form of communication is inadequate, face to face is great unless the distance is too great to walk (this can vary greatly depending on the conditions, walking 2.5 miles at -35F is from personal experience not recommended) and your vehicle(s) is(are) out of action, internet is great unless you're out of power or the connection is down, cell phones are great if you're in coverage but useless if the network is down, CB/FRS/Ham are all great if you're in range but can be fragile, signalling and trigger events are effective if they're seen or recognized..

 

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Re: Needed Skills Survey

 This should be on the Homesteading or beekeeping forum but I have not the time to go digging .     The weather has been so warm the last few days that the bees are out scouting for food .   Take the syrup off a jar of your peaches or pears that you canned and take it down to them . They are hungry little buggers now.

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