Our modern society is highly dependent upon technology and its comforts. 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.
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.
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. Water preservation
When a ship went to sea, it had no refrigeration and it could be many months before the crew could find fresh water. Water was stored in wooden barrels, but after a few weeks at sea, and as the temperatures rose near the equator, the water started growing algae and bacteria. It smelled horrible and tasted worse, so the sailors discovered a method to preserve water that had a good taste even after years of storage.
The strategies as well as weaponry used by many Native Americans were tailored to meet a specific set of targets in specific locations. They would blend into the terrain near where prey would be present and wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. A blow gun or bow and arrow were very accurate, silent and highly effective weapons. A gunshot wouldn’t scare animals away, and most prey never knew what was hitting them until it was too late.
Indians knew how to set traps, spearfish and even catch certain animals with their bare hands. All of these skills enabled them to have multiple options when looking for prey, and they knew exactly what needed to be done. Little things like standing downwind so that animals would not smell them, hiding in trees or flat against rocks would give them an advantage.
4. Navigational Skills
There’s no question that our early ancestors travelled great distances without the benefit of highly detailed maps or GPS. Archaeologists can get a sense of how far these people traveled from their shelter sites by tracing the sources of the stone used to craft their tools. By the Middle Paleolithic era, humans were capable of travelling or trading within hundreds of miles from the locations where they were living.
5. Cooking from Scratch.
At the most basic level, preppers should learn to cook with bulk foods: bake bread, biscuits and tortillas, make pancakes from cratch, and cook rice and beans. With so many instant rice dishes on the market, it's a wonder people know how to cook bulk rice at all, yet rice is a prepper staple food. And what happens when the cans of beans run out and preppers must make beans from the dried stash? Moving on to more advanced levels, its important to know how to make yogurt and butters; beer, wine, and moonshine.
One of the few memories from my childhood involving my great-grandfather is about us going mushroom picking. Even though back then I didn’t pay too much attention to it, today I understand it wasn’t just a bonding activity. For my great-grandfather it was more than spending time with me, it was about foraging and about teaching me how to find food in the forest. Foraging is the easiest way to procure food when being out in the wild, if you have the basic knowledge of what is safe to eat and what it’s not. It is one of the survival skills you should learn and pass it on to your children.
7. Soap Making
The pioneers used to make soap themselves using the copious amount of wood ashes, a natural result of their homesteading activities, with also a plentiful supply of animal fat from the butchering of the animals they used for food. Soap with some work and luck could be made for free. Soap making was performed as a yearly or semiannual event on the homesteads of the early settlers. As the butchering of animals took place in the fall, soap was made at that time on many homesteads and farms to utilize the large supply of tallow and lard that resulted. On the homes or farms where butchering was not done, soap was generally made in the spring using the ashes from the winter fires and the waste cooking grease, that had accumulated throughout the year.
In a post crisis world, not only will it be impossible to buy clothes, you may also find it just as hard to buy material, patterns, and tools for making your own clothes and shoes. As someone that learned how to knit, crochet, weave, and hand sew by the age of nine, I can safely say there is far more to good quality, long lasting clothes than what you see in the stores. Our ancestors readily turned cotton, wool, hemp, and other plant based goods into textiles by using spinning wheels and looms. By the same token, stretching and tanning animal hides (including brain tanning) also offers a source of fabric from just about any animal you take for food. When it comes to bugging out or preparing for a crisis, you will eventually realize that it does not make much sense to stockpile clothes. Even though modern fabrics are convenient, they can easily be replaced later on using materials that you grow or hunt.
9. 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. This is a great guide for learning basic first aid and this is a great guide for learning basic herbal medicine.