Pioneer skills you may need

Pioneer skills you may need and and why you may want to learn them

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Often referred to “pioneer skills” as, in the US, they are associated with the pioneers that “opened” the West those skills were also common almost everywhere in the Old World in those days, especially in the countryside.

Those skills will not only come in handy when the chips are down and things have failed, they already can make you and yours more independent from the system now. Also, you don't want to be looking for the manuals for those skills after the event and then slowly learn them. Nay, you want to learn them now and become proficient in them.

Here are some of the skills that were very much everyday to the pioneers and to our forefather and -mothers that you may want to learn.

Most of those are skills that will be useful even now, while some may be more necessary in a grid down type situation.

Gardening: Growing your own vegetables and fruits, knowing soil conditions, how to get water to your plants, extending your harvest season, and common garden pests will be vital to having a continuous food supply.

Saving seed: The other end of gardening is being able to plant again next year. Saving seed can be kind of intimidating and mysterious, especially for plants like carrots that don’t go to seed in their first growing season. Start with non-hybrid seeds and a reference book and practice saving some kind of seed from your next garden. This is definitely a learned skill, but could be vital to a continued food supply. The easiest seeds to start with are beans, peas, as it is also the seeds that you eat and store, dried, for use during winter.

Blacksmithing: Being able to make something useful like a horseshoe, tool, a knife or cooking utensil from scrap metal could come in very handy. This is a skill people will happily barter for. Blacksmith work does require a good deal of practice and some “special” equipment, but it’s a skill worth learning.

In all honesty, at least for the learning process, there is not all that much required as far as “special” equipment goes. You can use a short section of railroad line or the head of an old sledgehammer for an anvil and a couple of hammers of different weights. Learn cold forging first before you start with the hot stuff.

Making a fire: Before you can cook on a fire, whether open or in a wood cook stove, you will have to know how to make a fire first and for both open fire and a fire in a wood cook stove the methods of setting up the tinder, kindling, etc., are very much the same. Try some methods without using matches for an extra challenge because matches and/or lighters may be in very short supply.

Cooking over an open fire: You may have other methods to cook your food available, like a solar oven or barbecue grill, but an open fire is the most primitive and one of the most common means of cooking in a grid down emergency.

Knowing and preparing wild edibles: Learn which wild plants in your area are safe to eat and what parts of them are edible. A little foraging can add variety to your diet or even sustain life if there’s nothing else to eat. You can also grow such wild edibles and edible weeds in your garden. Nutritious weeds grow often where nothing else will grow and thus you need less time to look after them.

I purposely grow dandelion, sorrel and lambs quarter (aka fat hen) in my garden and am looking to introduce some more too. And I am also aiming to do the same with healing herbs.

Herbal remedies: If the doctor’s not around, knowing which herbs to use and how to use them to treat common ailments like cough, fever, headache, etc. can be a great blessing to your family or others around that may need the help.

Grow you own drugs, which is also a book by the same title, is better than having to hunt for the appropriate herb when the need arises.

Sewing: Patching, fixing tears, altering hems and waistbands, or creating an entire new piece of clothing or bedding could help you stay warm and keep you from running around half naked or even naked altogether. The kids might enjoy that but...

In addition to that it may be a good idea to learn to shooting your dinner and shooting to protect yourself. Learn how to dress that game that you have shot or trapped. Learn to ride a horse and drive a buggy and wagon. The building a home or shelter, or a fence, or something else is also one of those skills to learn and it will come in handy in so many way.

Besides their obvious uses to yourself and your family, most of these skills can be used to barter with as well. So while you’re acquiring your preparedness gear, remember to add some skills to your inventory also.

To the above list we also must add skills of working in wood and to fashion tools and weapons from green wood and from seasoned wood. Preparing wood for use as building materials and for the making of furniture.

In the aftermath of a breakdown of the way of life as we know it there will be a lot more “raw materials” about than there was in the days of the old pioneers and homesteaders, and the folks in the countryside in Europe.

This “raw material” comes in the form of scrap and waste and we can make use of it now already and we should. Reusing is a must because the Planet cannot be recycled.

Our parents and grandparents and their parents, and not just the pioneers and those in the countryside, were masters in reuse and upcycling but today we have been brainwashed into tossing those things that could be reused into the recycling bin and then going to the stores to buy the very things that we could have reused this or that item of waste for.

We need to change our ways to be able to survive the future...

© 2012