I have not decided “where I’m taking this blog” yet. Will it be geared for folks who are just getting started in preparedness, or for folks who are hard core survivalists and who just want to “tweak their preps”? A friend recently told me his plans for developing some additional skill sets and asked for some advice - this is basically what I told him.
Skill wise I look from inside out. I envision long term survival scenarios -TEOTWAWKI, TSHTF type stuff. I try to figure out what I need to know to live for the next 5 minutes, then the next 5 hours, days, months, etc... It is important to note that along with skills, one needs to have the necessary supplies and equipment to practice those skills.
Here are the skill sets I think most of us who plan on pulling through to the other side should possess:
1. Basic Tactics – Defense being primary. You must be able to protect yourself, your loved ones and your place. From what? From the most dangerous threat you assess as likely. This could include everything from martial arts to Ranger skills – you decide.
2. First aid to Trauma Management - When 911 is not working, hospitals are closed, and your loved one gets injured – it’s up to you to save their life. I don’t think one can ever have too many medical skills.
3. Food Production - Like anything else, until one has done it – it ain’t as easy as it looks. I have had a large garden for the past couple years – but it hasn’t been large enough. Or varied enough, or well thought out enough, or well maintained enough.... I think “Trained” on gardening can only be awarded when one buys no veggies for a year – one produces them all (and stores the needed ones through winter) and saves the seeds and gets another garden going the following spring.
Additionally – one needs to think about protein production. I don’t think hunting is where it is at. First off, it takes a lot of time. Trapping and poaching techniques are better – but one must practice to be good. As far as poaching goes, this is not possible to do legally. Secondly, historically (Great Depression, other countries’ economic hard times – like Korea) wild game quickly disappears. Gone. Chickens produce eggs and meat. Goats produce meat and milk – from which one can make cheese. We have been working with both for some time and they are relatively easy to raise. Relatively. Rabbits are supposedly good as well – they are next on our list.
4. Basic Building/Construction When we want something – we are gonna have to do it ourselves. I learn more every time I build something. Lately that has included – my garage addition, stone walls (yuck), hand dug well, flooring... I think Masonry would be a good skill to learn – we sent my wife to a community college course on it a few years ago so we’d have this one in our kitbag.
5. Transportation Maintenance - Car, truck, bike, horse – whatever it is, we need to know how to maintain and fix it.
6. Nursing – This includes long term care of the sick, the old, the injured.
7. Tinkering – The ability to use, maintain, repair all homestead tools and equipment – fix the chain saw, sharpen the two man saw, replace the axe handle, replace that window, patch the hole in the roof, etc.
I think the above takes care of the homestead. In the initial stages of any long term catastrophe you will (you should) stay home and “hunker down”. You could even earn some extra money or barter with some of those skill sets – but I suspect most who “make it” will have mastered much of them. Other useful things to learn may include:
Heavy Equipment operation
I don’t believe there will be many “jobs” right away – (e.g. Tinker, tailor, baker, soldier, spy) so learning a skill to barter with may or may not pay off in the near (couple years) term. I don’t know... So many will perish and they will leave behind a lot of stuff. For example, I don’t think knowing how to forge knives will be too valuable when there will be thousands of empty households with multiple thousands of knives laying around the kitchens.
Knowing how to make simple repairs to firearms may be useful – but will mostly consist of switching out parts. I don’t see a lot of call for bedding, zeroing scopes, lathing and what not. I think there will be a surplus of firearms too...
Reloading popular calibers may be a valuable skill barter wise... not sure here either though.
There are some skills I think you could barter in the early times:
Herbologist -Grow your own, pick your own, make your own tinctures, salves, etc and know how to use them.
Candle Maker - learn this along with bee keeping
Merchant - Being able to set up a barter store or market or some such – merchants always make money and have throughout time.