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8 Survival Skills Our Great-Grandparents Knew But We’ve Mostly Forgotten

Sam Dickson

For better or for worse, our modern society has made us dependent upon what many of us call the system. We go to the store and there’s our food. We go to the local hardware store and there’s our tools and wood. We pay a bill and expect our homes to be warm. But we didn’t always live like that. There was a time before this supply chain existed where we did a lot more for ourselves. I’d like to talk about 8 survival skills you should relearn.

1. Gardening for food.

This is an important one. On an individual level, we become more self-reliant and healthy. In the larger scheme, locally grown food, and that includes food you’ve grown yourself, is a key part of poverty reduction and being able to effectively feed 7 billion people or more. But how is it done?

It’s not terribly difficult. At its most basic, all you need is sun, seed, dirt and water. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, and this primer will help you navigate the process of starting your own garden.

2. Animal husbandry.

This one is a little more complex than just starting a garden. People used to own their own livestock at home. They still do in many places, but cities under the thumb of big ag have forced that out of us. We should be allowed to keep small farm animals at our homes, even in cities. If you can keep a few dogs, I don’t see why you can’t keep a few hens for eggs, or a goat for milk.

If your city doesn’t allow any kind of backyard livestock, write a letter to your mayor asking them to change the ordinance. If your city does allow livestock, chickens are a great animal to begin with. They’re lower maintenance than a cat and you get delicious eggs from them. Find out everything you need to know about backyard chickens here.

3. Preserving food.

Go to the store and there’s food on the shelf, right? Why bother with preserving good? Because you never know what’s going to happen, that way. Canning food is the process of taking vegetables and jarring them for later use without them going bad. It’s rare today to find people who know how to preserve food, but you can be one of them.

4. Blacksmithing.

This one’s a little bit harder than the others. It’s one that you may have difficulty learning from a youtube video. You’ll want to find a fellow blacksmith to teach you how. It may seem unnecessary, but if the electricity went out, the only people who could repair anything metal are blacksmiths. Might as well know the trade!

5. Carpentry.

And I mean basic carpentry. How to measure things. How to use a saw. How to hammer a nail into wood properly. We should be able to make repairs to our homes and furnishings.

6. Mechanical repair.

Again, basic repair. In a disaster, if you don’t know how to repair your car, it had might as well be a big paper weight. I’m not really going to be able to instruct you on mechanical repair. I seriously recommend that you learn to repair basic things on your vehicle.

7. Herbal medicine.

Modern medicine is rooted in what we call herbal medicine today. Medicine really is just messing with things found in nature and figuring out how we can use it to treat and cure different things. Doctors learned to make their own medicines once upon a time, and in case of a disaster, you may need to know the same skills.

8. Horseback riding.

This is another one that I can’t exactly instruct you on on the internet. It takes going out and riding horses to learn! It used to be that horses were the most important part of a man or woman’s life. Stealing a horse was a death sentences. Being stranded without a horse was a death sentences. We needed horses to survive. You never know, that time may come again.

Image credit: CBS History


Sam Dickson

Sam Dickson is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News