As early as fifty or sixty years ago, whether we realize it or not, modern society was learning basic survival skills. On any given weekend a boy usually could be found under the hood of the car with his Dad, changing plugs or replacing a battery.
There was raking and mowing to be done, wood to be chopped and/or piled up near the house. These days nearly all those skills can be hired out and often times they are.
The older generation were far more self-reliant then those of today. Pretty much everyone knew the basics of carpentry, growing plants, or even knew some basic metal work.
It was also a more agriculturally based society. There were very few women, unless they lived in the big city, who did not have a garden in the backyard.
There are many skills that are taken for granted these days that our grand-parents saw as normal when they were a young man and woman. It’s time to go back and take a look at some of those old fashion ideals that can aid a modern day survivalist.
It’s unfortunate, but most of us have limited finances, space and time when it comes to getting prepared. The few minutes daydreaming about an arsenal in the basement, with tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition can be a brief reprise from the humdrum of the day, but it is only a daydream. Click here and watch this video for more info.
It is nice to fantasize about opening the door to an underground bunker to find rows of shelving weighted down with food, blankets,medical supplies, protective suits and masks and full water barrels by the hundreds lining the walls. In your mind and the mind of most people you cannot have too much when it comes to prepping, but again space is limited, and money is always in short supply and time, there is never enough time.
People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how the guys who wandered the west 150 or so years ago did it.
The Best Survival Skills Of Older Generations Used On A Daily Basis
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.
Now, I know there are a lot of hunters out there, maybe even some who are reading this. But I have to say that a lot of what we call hunting today and what I learned as a kid are nothing alike. I have a hard time calling it hunting when corn is put out as bait and the hunter hides in a blind, waiting for their choice deer to come to eat.
Real hunting, at least what they did in the past, involved knowing the animal’s habits and staking out a place where the animals were likely to come. It required patience, understanding of the animals being hunted — and a pretty good shot with the rifle.
3. Preserving food
Believe it or not, it is possible to live without refrigeration. Long before the advent of home coolers and freezers, the problems of food storage and preservation had been solved, but this invaluable knowledge has been largely forgotten by our modern “quick and easy” society. Today, you can learn how to preserve food without refrigeration to save money and have delicious produce all year.
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. Check out this primer on how to preserve your own food without a refrigerator.
You might think that blacksmithing goes all the way back to the Old West, but in actuality it is a skill that stayed around much longer than that. My dad was a blacksmith in his later years, although most of the work he did was ornamental.
I remember traveling in Mexico about 20 years ago and having a spring on my car’s suspension break. A local blacksmith fashioned me a new spring, tempered and shaped exactly right for my vehicle. Blacksmiths can make or repair just about anything out of metal. Yet few today know this valuable skill.
Maybe we don’t need blacksmiths today, but if an EMP hit the country and we were without electrical power, the skills of a blacksmith would allow people to have their tools repaired — and new ones fashioned. Since the manufacturing plants presumably would be shut down, that ability would be essential for rebuilding America.
5. Felling a tree
There’s a true art to properly felling a tree. If it’s not done correctly, that tree can end up landing on your chicken coop or your newly restored ’57 Chevy. Not only that, but you want to do the job in such a way that you waste as little wood as possible. Felling a tree incorrectly can actually cause the tree to split, damaging much of the wood you were hoping to harvest.
6. Turning that tree into boards
Felling the tree is one thing, but turning it into usable lumber is a whole other thing. If all you want is firewood, that’s not such a big deal. But if you want building material, you’ll want to be able to turn it into boards.
Today, just like 100 or even 300 years ago, it’s the job of a sawmill to turn those logs into boards. Before sawmills or in areas where sawmills weren’t available, people used wedges to split the tree’s trunk, making boards out of it. The boards could then be cleaned up with an adze. The adze also was useful for squaring logs into beams or flattening the top and bottom surfaces of logs, making a tighter log cabin.
7. Milking a cow
This one might not seem like a big deal, but it’s amazing how many people today don’t know the right way to milk a cow. It takes more than just pulling on the nipples. You’ve actually got to first close off the nipple with the thumb and forefinger to keep the milk from flowing up into the udder, and then squeeze the nipple to force out the milk. Click here and watch this video for more info.
8. Making butter and cheese
Fresh milk is great, but it doesn’t keep long. Our forefathers and especially our foremothers solved this problem by turning the milk into butter and cheese. Since one cow gives more milk than the average family can use, this was a great way of preserving that milk in other forms.
It was not uncommon for families who owned a milk cow to churn butter once a month and have cheese aging pretty much all the time. Both are fairly easy to make and retain nutrients from the milk. Butter and cheese can both keep for an extended time without refrigeration, although keeping them cool does help them to last longer.