10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten)

[repost: http://www.offthegridnews.com/extreme-survival/10-survival-skills-your-great-grandparents-knew-that-most-of-us-have-forgotten/%5D

Image source: cbhistory.wordpress.com

Our modern society is highly dependent upon we’ll call the “system.” 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.

This situation is actually becoming worse, rather than better. When I compare my generation (I’m in my 50s) to that of my children, I see some striking differences. In my generation it was normal for a boy to grow up learning how to do a wide variety of trade skills from his father, and seemingly everyone knew how to do basic carpentry and mechanic work. But that’s no longer normal.

If we extrapolate it back, we can see that my father’s generation knew even more – and my grandparent’s generation even more. Those older generations were much more closely tied to the roots of an agricultural society, where people were self-reliant. There are multiple skills they had which modern society no longer considers necessary.

But if we were to have a breakdown in society, those skills which we never bothered to learn would become essential. Those who don’t know these skills would either have to learn or die trying.

Here are 10 skills our grandparents knew that most of us have long forgotten:

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. Animal Husbandry

Image source: stylonica

Although the industrial revolution took place more than 100 years ago, many people continued to raise at least a small amount of their own livestock at home. This led to cities enacting ordinances limiting what animals people could keep within city limits.

Raising dogs and cats is much different than raising chickens, rabbits and goats for the table. A large part of being able to raise these animals is recognizing their needs and being able to diagnose their sicknesses. Farmers don’t depend upon the vet for most illnesses; they take care of it themselves.

3. Food Preservation

It’s rare to find people who preserve their own foods, but in our grandparent’s generation, it was common. Canning food, smoking meats and even making one’s own sausage were all common home tasks, which ensured that people had enough food to get through the winter. Today, it’s rare to find people who know these methods of food preservation, let alone having the equipment needed.

If we go back very far in American live, pretty much every middle class home had a smokehouse for preserving meats. I’ve seen some homes where the smokehouse was actually in the kitchen chimney. Instead of building a normal chimney, they had a very wide one, with enough room to hang sides of beef in it for smoking.

4. Blacksmithing

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. Basic Carpentry

Image source: cauthencarpentry.com

Everyone should know how to make basic repairs to their home. Without the ability to repair damage from a natural disaster, it might not be possible to use the home as a survival shelter. Woodworking skills also allow one to make furniture and other items to help survive.

6. Basic Mechanical Repair

Depending upon the type of disaster that hits, the family car may just end up being a large paperweight. But there are many survival scenarios where it would be useful to be able to fix your car, keeping it running for general use. As long as there is gasoline, that car would be useful.

The ability to diagnose and repair an engine is useful not only for keeping a car on the road, but also for fixing lawn mowers, chain saws and other power tools.

7. Herbal Medicine

The roots of medicine were herbal medicine. While doctors have existed for millennia, it hasn’t been until recent times that those doctors had such a wide range of pharmaceuticals to work with. Before that, doctors made their own medicines.

Many women also learned to use what nature provided for medicine. It was not uncommon a few generations back for mom to take care of her family’s medical needs, using recipes that she had learned from her mother. Today, that sort of medicine is called “old wives’ tales” but it works just as well as it always did.

8. Horseback Riding

This may not seem like much of a survival skill, but in the Old West, stealing a man’s horse was a hanging offense. That’s because being stranded without a horse was generally a death sentence. While horseback riding today is only done for sport, if the automobile becomes no longer usable, people will be looking for horses once again.

Riding a horse is actually more complicated than the movies make it appear. Breaking a horse is a skill that few know. Likewise, there are few today, outside of the drivers for the Budweiser Clydesdales, who know how to hitch and drive a team of horses. But in America’s past, our ancestors drove teams with as many as 40 horse or mules in them.

9. Hunting

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.

10. Butchering an Animal

Raising an animal is one thing, butchering it is another. Few hunters even know how to properly butcher an animal, as most take them to a butcher for cutting up and packaging. Yet, an animal which is not properly cleaned and butchered can cause disease. You can also waste a lot of good meat by not doing it correctly.

43 thoughts on “10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten)

  1. Interesting post 🙂
    About the butchering, it is not allowed to do this yourself, because of the risk with sicknesses, in many countries all over our world. Only butchers are allowed so and only in clean butcheries.


  2. Pingback: 10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten) – Howtoprovide | boldcorsicanflame's Blog

  3. I totally agree with all of this! Maria and I are trying to bring back the skills that our parents, grand-parents, and great-grand-parents knew. She sews and preserves food very well…

    And not needing a Blacksmith? Most folks might not realize that they need me…but they will. LOL…to me Blacksmithing is a true passion that I love.

    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: 10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That most of us have forgotten) – The Chicken Web

  5. Pingback: 10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That most of us have forgotten) – The Coinage

  6. 6/10… Not too shabby. Mechanics I just am really disinterested in… It’s hard to find a place to learn blacksmithing, though I have read on the rudimentary ideas behind it. Horseback riding and hunting lessons are expensive. But I have some solid experience in the rest of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You covered food and shelter (yes I have done a lot of canning and some building) but you should also add clothing to these skills, whether it be mending or making clothes from material (or spinning and weaving) or even tanning hides something must cover us especially in the northern climates 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Equality 333

    A fantastic post which highlights some important issues. We have lost so many skills in the last couple of generations, which we need to relearn and sharpish. Just had to share this for all to see 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So many skills and abilities have been lost as we all continue to get older. Now we have those that are trying to get back to basics. A perfect example is tilling your garden… many many years ago we didn’t do it, but as technology grew farmers tired new things. Some worked and some didn’t. But without properly building your soil through as no till garden, your soil will breakdown, erode. We all need to relearn from our ancestors and teach the younger generations. Come on by sometime: https://floydfamilyhomestead.com/

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Very true. I would also add that many do not know how to maintain a house (cleaning, heating) without modern conveniences. Without electricity, carpeting cannot be vacuumed; washing (for dishes and laundry) and drying machines cannot run. How many people today would know how to use a washboard? Wood heat takes more than just starting a fire in a box. Certain wood types burn too hot which can cause several problems such as risk of house fire and rapid use of wood supply. Chimneys must be kept clear of creosote to prevent chimney fires. How many know how to heat safely without electricity?

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Exactly. Started realizing this type of stuff a couple years ago and have been trying to make a move towards off grid lifestyle since then. Not easy to explain in a comment, but life has gotten in the way big time to making that move. Our next move, to a house with land should be the beginning of our more self-reliant lifestyle. My wife and I have read and researched tons… and now we need to start putting it into action before it’s possibly too late. I know that doing something is lot harder than just reading about it. Sharing this post around as I’ve been trying to wake up others to this simple fact in the past few years too.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Pingback: 10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten) | Rifleman III Journal

  13. What you say is so true. As a botanist, I know a little about edible plants and medicinal and my husband and I built our own home. My mom canned fruit and vegetables and I did too until I was in my forties. But that only takes care of three of the ten. I have a ways to go! Jane

    Liked by 3 people

  14. It’s not just the skills, but the problem solving they involve that is missing. The ability to see a problem as a challenge rather than the reason to call in someone for help is something few people of a certain age possess.
    A bus was late – school kids were going to miss their first lessons. They all called their parents to come and drive them. I asked them why? Parents would have to drop what they were doing, and probably not get them any faster than waiting for the next bus. I told them they were old enough to make complaints to the bus company, and to their councillors. They agreed, but had not thought about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I think that this is unfortunately true, and that the newer generations will be much more helpless if they come to be in a situation where the services are taken away for some reason. It would be a pity of these survival got lost altogether.
    Thanks I am sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s