Do You Have the Skills You Need to Survive a Depression?

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Do you think you have the skills to survive a Depression?

Let’s face it. We may say we’re preparing for winter blizzards or freak hurricanes, but down deep, if you’re a prepper, what you’re really preparing for is a collapse of America’s economy.  It may happen within a few days, or it may be a continual downward slide over many years. Its causes may include numerous Katrina-size natural disasters, a toppling federal government, chaos on Main Street, and the odd meteor or two.

Regardless of the causes, we want our families to be as secure as possible for the long haul.

So, the question that naturally arises is: How do you prepare for a Greatest Depression?  Is it even possible to prepare for something that may last a decade or much, much longer?  Is it better to be a homeowner, even if someday you’re unable to make your mortgage payments, or is it better to have mobility and rent?  Should you leave your life savings and retirement funds where they are or take the tax and penalty hit and invest in land, or gold, or a year’s worth of food?

While there are no definitive answers to these questions, you can take stock of your level of preparedness, see where the gaps are, and work to fill them.

image: hands sewing a button on shirt

Assess Your Depression Survival Skills

Let’s begin by evaluating your skills that would help you survive a depression. Answer yes or no to the following questions:

Easy skills level: 

  1. Do you know how to sew on a button?
  2. Do you know how to use an oil lamp?
  3. Do you know how to boil an egg?
  4. Do you know how to ride a bike?
  5. Do you know how to keep houseplants alive?

If you answered yes to all five, move on to the next level.

Medium skills level:

  1. Do you know how to cut up a whole chicken?
  2. Do you know how to hem or fix a rip in clothing?
  3. Do you have a stocked first aid kit in your home?
  4. Do you know how to build and maintain a fire?
  5. Do you know how to cook and season dried beans?

If you answered yes to any of the five, move on to the next level.

Hard skills level:

  1. Do you know how to grow your own vegetables?
  2. Do you know how to use a pattern and sew your own clothes?
  3. Do you know how to can fruits and vegetables?
  4. Do you know how to start a fire without matches?
  5. Do you know how to raise chickens?
  6. Do you have a fully prepared emergency kit in your home?
  7. Do you own and know how to use a gun?
  8. Do you or someone in the home know how to fish and hunt?
  9. Do you have a well-stocked pantry?
  10. Do you know how to make a quilt?
  11. Do you know how to bake bread from scratch?
  12. Do you know CPR and basic first aid skills?
  13. Do you have the physical ability to ride a bike?
  14. Do you know how to purify water for drinking?
  15. Do you know how to cook in a dutch oven with charcoal?

If you answered yes to all in this level, congratulations! You will survive.

If you passed the easy and medium levels but failed the hard level, not to worry. You are teachable. A Boy Scout learns 99% of these depression survival skills! Select a skill to learn, make a plan, and then work the plan! Rinse and repeat.

Now, let’s consider a question.

Readers Respond: How Should We Prepare for a Greatest Depression?

If we could talk with survivors of the first Great Depression and ask them, “If you could go back to 1925, how would you have prepared for the Great Depression,” I wonder what they would say.

We’re preparing for something on a worldwide scale, so I asked Survival Mom readers this question: How should we prepare for a Greatest Depression? Here is a curated selection of those responses.

  • Is it possible to prepare for something that may last decades? Yes, but it’s not easy. I think it involves home ownership (not a mortgage, which means the bank pretty much owns your home), enough land for self-sustainability, and the skills to utilize that land. I see prepping as something that will help me get through lean times. Hopefully, we never have to survive totally off our food storage. Instead, our food storage will just help us stretch our budget if things get hard. (Bitsy)
  • I remember my grandparents and uncles talking about the Great Depression and WWII rationing; honestly, I don’t think they noticed a huge difference in their lives. They lived very simple lives in eastern Kentucky, my grandfather quitting school at 7 to go to work. But they also had skills that most of us preppers can only dream of. Inflated food costs were no big deal if you were growing most all of what you needed. They kept gardens, orchards, chickens, and cows. Made their own clothes. Mended their own shoes. Never really strayed too far from home. If we’re going to survive something long-term, we HAVE to relearn those basic skills and learn to take care of ourselves. (Andrea)
  • The way I look at it, my food storage and other preps are giving me OPTIONS and increased flexibility at a time when we might all need to be extremely creative to thrive. I won’t be nearly so dependent on a steady paycheck, so even if I lose my job, I can make it for some amount of time without facing utter hopelessness. If I’m fortunate enough to have a job and steady pay, I can use my money for needs other than food. All I’ve stored is insurance and wealth for bartering. (Linda)
  • We know how to can, dehydrate, and we are saving many staples, but do we know how to fix and repair? Can we stitch a wound or have an understanding of herbal remedies for when doctors are not in the budget? The preparation we need to do is on every single level of our lives. (Kris)
  • I think of food storage as a supplement if things somehow manage to limp along. If things completely collapse, then food storage becomes not a supplement but a bridge to tide us over while new ways of growing and transporting food are worked out. Keep in mind that there are basic differences in types of food. Grain is relatively easy to transport for long distances and is more likely to be at least somewhat available. Perishable items like meat, eggs, and fresh vegetables are likely to only be available according to what is locally produced or from your own backyard. Basic gardening skills can be ramped up fairly quickly, but those basic skills take years to learn. If you anticipate the need to produce your own food, get started now. Even if it is on a very small scale, you need to learn by experience what works and what doesn’t for your situation. Once you’ve got the basics covered, expanding the output is just a matter of doing more of the same. Buying a can of “survival seeds” and thinking that you’ll just plant them if the need arises is not a plan – it is almost guaranteed to fail at a time when failure could have very serious consequences. Can we prepare for something that will last for generations? That is really the question in a society such as ours, where the same systems that make us so efficient and wealthy are extremely fragile and interconnected by their very nature. Our system has no resilience, so if one part collapses, it can take everything else down with it. My preparations for a multi-generational collapse take a different approach than the typical prepper. Long-term preparations include a home-schooling library for our grandchildren, an extensive library on a wide variety of topics, “obsolete” technology in the form of slide rules (they were used for all the calculations that put man on the moon and built the Boeing 747), and quality basic hand tools and fasteners of various types. The worst thing that could happen in this regard is for our society to lose the basic knowledge we have built over the past 6,000 years. (Stephen M.)
  • Before the Great Depression, most Americans did not live the life of affluence, that is the middle class and above standard of today. They were not poor by that era’s standard. As a matter of fact, compared to their immigrant parents’ life in the old world, they were very well off. Go look at a middle-class house built around the turn of the last century. Rooms are small to conserve heat. The closets are tiny because that’s all the room they needed. Few people had more than two or three changes of clothing. My Grandmother rarely owned more than four dresses at any one time. The newest one for church and special occasions. The next older one is for going out in public, such as visiting and going to town. The next older one for everyday wear. (and I mean every day, the same dress.) The very oldest one, oft mended and patched, for doing dirty work. The house I live in now, built in 1920, originally had a total of only four electric sockets. Nobody thought someone would have enough appliances to need more. My point here is that many people like my grandparents didn’t feel much difference once the Depression hit because they didn’t have much to lose. They were accustomed to a life that we consider austerity. Modern Americans are more spoiled than they think. $8 a gallon for gas is no big deal when you don’t own a car and never did and only dreamed you ever would. (Barbara)
  • I think it will be a different type of depression than it was back in the 30’s. People were closer to the earth and didn’t count on the government as much. They also “networked” alot and used barter with friends and neighbors even in the good times before the depression. This is one thing I have been working on myself. (Woodnick)
  • Zero DEBT!!! (George)
  • I would consider every purchase NOW in light of how it would be viewed if LATER we were in a Depression. For instance, would your child benefit more from a pocket knife or a new video game? A book or a plastic toy? An emergency radio that doubles as an MP3 player or an iPod? Buy things of quality, too. I would replace things now that you can. (Katy)
  • I think learning skills to survive a depression and teaching those skills to your children is important. My daughter can knit, sew, and crochet better than I can. In fact, my son can sew better than I can. We homeschool, so we have lots of books, including stockpiled curriculum for grades my children have not yet reached (in case we can’t afford to buy a math textbook then). Textbooks get low priority compared with food. I guess I am looking at a scenario where life is likely to get much harder and everything but food and shelter is considered a luxury. (Katy)
  • You get comfortable with populations shifting around, little or nothing in the way of government public services, and surviving without a job. You get used to using absolutely every part of everything you have. You “fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” You learn how to plant and harvest and butcher and shoot. (Sunshine)
  • For a large-scale long-term Depression, I’d continue to store food and basic necessities as there may come a time when we have to completely rely on them. However, if there is no telling how long it would last, then money and storage would eventually run out. I have written about coming up with a personal economic crash plan to fall back on if or when a worst-case scenario happens. Not pretty to think about, but it may have to include moving in with family to pool resources, selling off belongings, possible bartering, etc. The main thing is survival and learning to live on less now. Imaging the worst-case scenario would help in preparing and not being in a state of shock if it happens. (Bernie)
  • Lately, every time I shop and buy something, I ask myself, “What would I do if I couldn’t buy this thing? How would I make do ?” It’s really made me think and has caused me to stockpile some items I hadn’t previously thought about, like repair supplies for water hoses and shoes and iron-on repair patches for clothes. Sometimes, I’ve gone to the internet and printed off recipes for homemade cleaning products, vinegar, fruit pectin, and instructions for darning socks, making paper and homemade ink and glue, etc. I don’t have time to learn to do all that stuff right now, but I want that info in my survival notebook for later, just in case. (Linda)
  • My mother will soon be 88. She was young during the depression. She said there wasn’t a change in their living standard. They lived in a rural area on a working farm. If they didn’t raise it or make it, they didn’t need it. They never had much to begin with, and when the depression began, they couldn’t tell any difference. I suppose somewhere in that story is our lesson. I am afraid that we may have lost enough of our morals and skills and have grown so used to our creature comforts that perhaps a depression could be much harder on us than the last one . . . much harder. (Reggie)
  • I advise stocking up on tools and tools and more tools. Especially consumable tools. A bow saw with a dozen extra blades. Extra drill bits. My cordless 14.4 drill is going on 12 years. I advise a solar panel for recharging. If you have the motivation, tools will help you tremendously in building what you need. I think that there will be an abundance of emptied structures to strip for raw materials. We will be pulling screws and nails from buildings. Every one will have value. But stocking up on extra boxes now is not a bad idea. (Sierra D.)
  • We are concentrating on learning skills to survive a depression. This year we are learning to save seed from our garden produce. I learned to knit this summer and have gotten some yarn on clearance from different places. I just watched videos on how to make tallow candles and pemmican….we have never saved the tallow from the deer and elk that the boys harvest each fall…now we will! Hopefully, the skills we learn will help fill in the needs as they arise as times get harder. (Sheri)
  • I think we’ll be seeing high prices and scarce commodities (if only because fleets will be grounded for lack of fuel or too-high fuel costs) and an actual lack of petroleum-based products like gas, plastics, and rubber. So one thing we’re doing is stocking up on spare tires for our biodiesel vehicles and bicycles, tire patching kits, plastic bags, etc. – anything made from petroleum that we think we need during a major transition to a different lifestyle. Oh – and fabric, thread, needles (besides food & seed). (Mary)
  • This is why I’m learning skills: gardening, animal husbandry, repair, crafting (practical things like knitting socks), cob building, and the like. I think if you already know how to do these things, it will be much easier to make the transition. (Herbwifemama)
  • My mom lived in a NYC tenement during the depression, and it was pretty bad. She said the only time she got enough to eat was when they went to my great-aunt’s farm in the summer to work. Sickness was everywhere and you couldn’t afford medicines. My grandmother lost her hearing due to ear infections. All my mother’s teeth were cracked and broken due to poor nutrition and illness. (Vicki O.)
  • My parents both lived through the depression before they married. My father, at times, nearly starved and worked at any job he could find. My mother’s family owned a farm and always had food. They didn’t have extra money and were very frugal, but they were able to eat well. I think preparations must include knowledge….how to grow food, both animal and vegetable. (Bernadine)
  • Practical, hands-on knowledge is, by far, the best thing we can do for ourselves. What good is an emergency seed bank if we don’t have the proper soil for it and don’t know what to plant when? How do you can your produce and meat over a campfire? Do you know the medicinal properties of the common herbs we use for cooking? (I didn’t know that Thyme tea is excellent for upper respiratory problems–specifically the ears!) What about hunting without a gun? Butchering what you’ve managed to kill? Get past the squeamishness and learn how while there is time to make the necessary mistakes along that learning curve. (Patty)
  • Has anyone thought of blacksmithing? Back in the day, every village had a blacksmith. I figure we’d need at least one skilled blacksmith for every few hundred people. (Chandra)
  • Interestingly enough, I had a grandmother and mother who lived through the Great Depression with lots of info! My grandmother lived on a farm, worked hard, lived frugally, and wasted nothing ( even cooking water went back to water the gardens…and amazing gardens she had!). She reused paper towels and foil later on in life, composted, and never bought anything without purpose ( big lesson there!). She spoke of hard times but not starvation. My mother grew up in New York City and painted quite a different picture: standing in food lines for bread every week, no heat or electricity ( too expensive), cooking potato soup on a potbelly stove, clothing from the Salvation Army, quitting school at nine years old to work in a pencil factory for food for her family, getting Christmas presents from the local church ( one gift, a wooden cradle, her father promptly broke up and burned to keep his children warm…heartbreaking). While hard times are ahead, I think the standard of living is so different now that we have many ways to downgrade and still live very well. It goes back to living intentionally, shopping with purpose, and planning ahead. We do need to learn to provide for ourselves and learn long-lost skills should our modern conveniences ne’er return. We also must return to forming communities, getting to know our neighbors beyond a wave of hello at the mailbox as we hurry inside. (Doctorb)
  • I used to have a class in a large city teaching people skills and urging them to make the move to the country. We had a very interesting large panel discussion on the depression. We invited people who had lived thru the depression and could relate stories of what they went thru. I’m glad we filmed it (quite amateur but a good record). It was fascinating! One consistent thing was that those who had lived in the country had gardens and lived like “kings and queens” compared to those who lived in the cities. They often said that as children, they didn’t know they had it bad. They ate well, played outdoors with siblings, cousins, etc. People in the cities often went hungry, stood in bread lines, and made meals out of the most meager ingredients. (Jan D.)

What skills do you recommend to survive a depression?

Originally posted January 27, 2016, with contributions by Lisa Todd; updated by Survival Mom editors.

66 thoughts on “Do You Have the Skills You Need to Survive a Depression?”

  1. The only one I would not pass is no. 2 on sewing clothes! Ha ha I could do it but I would look really awful 😉

    Great post! Very informative!

    1. TheSurvivalMom

      I actually know how to sew and am pretty good with it! I didn't realize how few people had sewing skills. I must have been a really good student in my 8th grade Home Ec class!

      1. My aunt Ruth showed me how to darn socks with a light bulb a good depression era adult trick and she gave my family her button collection thousands and thousands of buttons she and my grandmother grew up on a farm in Nebraska so they were pretty well versed for life as young adults during the great depression I don’t believe I have their skill level but I was a Boy Scout with a troop that had a specialty for light weight backpacking and wilderness survival skills my father was our Scout Master U.S. Marine Recon Korea & Viet Nam and our Assistant Scout Master was a Screaming Eagle 101st Airborne Viet Nam Era so we got really good at surviving with very little. One more thing Lisa I love you site and I have seen you here in AZ speaking and have an autographed copy of your book I also have a great respect for you and what you have done for prepper’s and familie’s all over the world thank you so much for bringing information that is responsible to all.

  2. Those of us who know how to sew and cook really need to pass on those skills to others! I am also trying each month to learn a new skill. Last month I really worked on baking bread…put on extra pounds while learning! This month I am working to get more physically fit. If I had to run for my life right now, would not get far!

    1. Hey Lisa….I guess even guys could make a quilt so how about doing a list of what skills would be important for men around the house of a lady with all the skills you mentioned. What would women want these men to be good at?

  3. Need to take a CPR and First Aid class and get into better shape…otherwise I'm surprised how well I did!

    BTW ~ I haven't cut a pattern and sewn an outfit since home educ. class, my sophomore year in h.s. I'm sure it would come back to me. 😉

    I do enjoy quilting. It's wonderful for keeping your hands busy in the evenings.
    (My precious husband insisted I stockpile a king size pattern. He even chose the fabric for me!)
    Everyone should stockpile their hobby: quilting, painting, reading, etc. May help keep your sense of identity!

    1. I agree about stockpiling your hobby! I buy books at library book sales but save them for later. I also have yarn and fabric.

    2. Now I feel less guilty about stock piling patterns and fabric and other craft stuff. I can do most of the things on the list. I have never had to light a fire without matches but I know the basics that is one thing I need to practice. Guns are very hard to get here and very very expensive. I work at a library and people donate old books. When ever old text books come in I buy them.

  4. I haven't built a fire in over 20 years, but was VERY active in GSUSA. DH started one in a new fire pit we bought for the patio. After a few minutes I took over when it went out and restarted it. I was actually really annoyed when I tried to use the plastic lighter and went back in for REAL (fireplace) matches. As I was coaxing it to life, I found myself really wishing I had some fir sticks, but it wasn't worth the effort at that point. And the lint filled egg cartons were a definite help! At any rate, my point is that some of this stuff sticks better than you realize. 🙂

    At our house, we can check off a lot of those and are working on a lot of the rest. We'll probably try to get a chicken coop over the summer so we can start keeping chickens. We just planted more berry bushes in front yard and within a few years should (fingers crossed) be getting lots of several different kinds of berries. Veggie and herb gardens to be planted soon.

  5. This makes me soooo thankful I was reared in the country by a mom who could sew and garden and raise chickens and do all sorts of things I took for granted at the time. She tried (unsuccessfully, she thought) to pass her skills on to me. Now she's amazed that a lot of it "stuck". I quilt and sew passably well. There are some great patterns now that don't require doing hard things like zippers. I garden and put up my own produce. I hunt and fish and know how to shoot. I have a flock of chickens and am soon buying rabbits. Also milk goats, for cheese and butter. I make sourdough bread weekly. I have a year's stockpile of food, along with six months of toiletries and cleaning supplies and medicines and stationary items. I have sewing supplies. All this, and I still don't feel ready. It's like a rabbit hole. Once you go in, you find more and more to do, but I'll keep at it because every bit adds more security to my family.

    1. I'm impressed by how much you can do and how much closer you are to prepared than most of us! We're still working on most of this, but at least we've made progress. Unlike too many people out there. You go girl!

    2. I know what you mean about the rabbit hole. The more I know, the more I feel like I need to learn. I feel fortunate too, for having a mother who raised me right.

    3. LInda, what great skills! I hope you’ve passed your skills off to the youngsters in your family and extended family.
      You are fortunate to live in an area where you have the land and resources to accomplish these goals- and parents to share these skills with you.

      I think people are waking up to the fact that the world’s economies are volatile and these old skills may make a difference in our lives.
      I appreciate your post, and has given this small time gal some goals to shoot for!
      Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. I have some ideas running thru my head for the guys in the family….Do you know how to dig a well and hook up a hand pump for water? Do you know how to patch a roof? Do you know how to skin a rabbit? Hmmmm….will have to work on this list.

    1. TheSurvivalMom

      Lisa, how about if I post the question to all the gals reading this blog and see what they have to say. Go ahead and work on your list, we'll post it, and everyone can compare notes!

        1. Nancy in Alberta

          I’d like to learn those skills for myself! I’d like to know about electronics, and small engines, for starters, and how to sub out stuff to fix them.

  7. I don't know much about raising chickens but I think the rest is good. As a kid I learned to sew and crochet as well as most cooking skills. Boy Scouts taught me the rest. I learned as an adult leader. Go volunteer with them, you will not just get to learn the skills but use them too. I won high praises as my patrol cook at Wood Badge. …I used to be and Antelope….

  8. yep – i can do all … had a bit more of a gap on the one you posted for guys (how i came across this blog).

    Great blog, looking forward to browsing through it.

  9. raising chickens: obtain chickens, contain them if needed, provide safe nighttime shelter, feed them and never let them run out of water. I feed my girls scratch and laying pellets. they come running when they hear my voice and give me 3-4 eggs a day ( I have 4 chickens). they perch on top of the 6 foot tall coup I have so I have to clean poop off of it rather than out of it but I can't get them to sleep inside unless I trim their wings. the cat loves to hang out in the back yard and watch 'chicken TV' but the chickens have made it clear who's boss so she doesn't EVEN think of hunting them. lol

    1. TheSurvivalMom

      It's amazing that raising chickens has become something of a fad. Here in the Phoenix area there are classes offered by the Phoenix Permaculture Guild on raising urban chickens!

  10. Survival Girl

    We had to learn to sew in 2nd grade, so I have that down. Thank God for rural schooling. My only 'no' was a dutch oven. My great grandmother can cook on one, though.

  11. survival girl get 1 learn how to use it and you never need a kitchen agin i have 12 of them, love to cook in them.find a boy scout to teach you. its not hard. if you can cook in a kitchen you can cook in a dutch.

  12. Hmmmm looks like I will survive! Maybe "being born 100 years too late" as my husband says, isn't such a bad thing! 100% also….Farmer's daughter!~

  13. My 71 year old wife shoots the 5-10 rattlesnakes yearly around the house. It's my job to feed them to the crawdads. You get used to it. We leave the rest of the snakes alone to eat gophers and rats.

  14. Heh looks like we’ll survive too 🙂 my girlfriend has definitely told me I was born in the wrong century before! Only thing on that list I don’t know how to do is raise chickens (though I really want to, I love chickens! Petting them, eating them :9 ) I’m hoping I could muddle through, tho I feel knowing how to build a fortified chicken coop would be a worthy skill to have first!

  15. Looks like I would be okay but have a few areas to improve on greatly. Starting a fire without matches, canning, raising chickens and sewing these are my down fall.
    I can get started on 3 of these four and need to convince my husband about the chickens. Wish me luck 🙂

  16. Sewing…’s always the sewing that gets me lol;) I can attach a button & that’s about it. I loved home ec 8th grade because of the sewing but you’d never know it because I can’t seem to remember a bit of it. I’ve taught myself to garden, can food, make soap, & many other things I never thought I could do but for some reason sewing absolutely alludes me.

  17. I lack only four items in the hard level. But I think I get bonus points for making clothing without a pattern. And for making cloth “sheep to shawl”.

  18. Sew your own clothes? I have bolts of fabric from the thrift store, boxes of patterns, and spools of thread. What I am lacking is a treadle machine. If I have to hand sew because the power is down, it’s going to be a long, arduous process with a lot of swearing.

    Canning fruit, absolutely. Vegetables? Nooo, not unless I pickle them.

    A fire without matches? Sure, as long as it is daytime. Nighttime, I know how to strike flint and steel but haven’t in a long time. Daytime though is easy with a magnifying glass (even if it is overcast). If you don’t have a magnifying glass handy but it’s winter, you can make a curved dome out of ice that does the same trick. You can pull a chunk from any puddle and roughly rasp it with a stone. To smooth it, you can use the heat from your hand (which I don’t recommend) or a metal spoon. Yep, you can polish ice with the backside of a metal spoon. Fun fact, when I’m casting jewelry a final polish with a spoon is one of the neat tricks to use on silver pieces. It helps take it to that glossy shine.

    Chickens? Nope. Well I have books on how to, but I personally don’t have any on the property nor have I ever raised in any.

    Med kit? Yeah. We have livestock, and live half an hour from the vet and an hour from a hospital. Vet/med skills are a good thing.

    Gun? This is actually my New Year’s Resolution. I have and know how to shoot a bow, but I have never fired a firearm in my life. I plan to change that this year.

    Fish? Yes. Hunt? Not yet.

    Pantry? Stocked, but can it ever be stocked enough? 😛

    Quilt? Yeah. By hand even. Huh, I wonder if I could make a quilt batted with dog hair. We have enough of them (sooo many dogs).

    Bread? Oh yeah. For anyone who doesn’t, I highly recommend trying cornbread first, since you don’t need yeast.

    CPR? Been a few years since I was certed but I should still be good to go.

    Bike? Yeeees, although I’m not sure if we have a bike anymore *cough*.

    Purify water? Yep.

    Cook in a dutch oven with charcoal? No. But I do know how to cook in and on a smoker with charcoal or wood. A wood/charcoal smoker is -awesome- when the power is out.

    I would like to throw a few more out there:

    Do you know how to make soap?
    Do you know how to make candles?
    Do you have basic carpentry skills and supplies?
    Do you have basic metalworking skills? You’d be surprised how easy it is to make a clasp out of a single piece of wire, or file a piece of wire to a point (handy for a lot of things!), or even build a reflector oven out of a piece of aluminum and some wire. I promise, it’s not scary to use pliers and a hammer. There’s a lot you can do without getting anywhere near a forge. Copper wire is cheap and easy to practice with.
    Can you dye stuff using plants from your garden?
    Can you make any kind of medicine from your garden? For example; oregano tea for coughs, aloe vera for burns, yarrow salve for cuts and stings, etc.
    Can you milk an animal?
    Have you ever tried brining and smoking any meat for preserving? Making your own beef jerky and smoked steelhead is delicious and way cheaper than buying it.
    Do you know how to make paper? What about ink? Bonus points if the ink is from your own backyard.
    Have you ever made butter in a mason jar? Yogurt in a thermos? Ice cream in a bucket?
    Can you ride an animal?
    Can you make charcoal?
    Have you ever made pottery? Clay, water, and a bonfire can lead to a lot of fun.

    1. I made many blocks of butter in a mason jar but I also had to get up at 4 am and milk the cow before the cream set on top to be skimmed off to make the butter. I was 12 at the time.
      I can absolutely do the things you have listed. 🙂

  19. Other than raising chickens, I think I have the rest of the lists down. I not only can make my own clothes but I can make patterns if need be. I also make my own soap, candles, I can weave. I have the kids for spinning if we end up with sheep. Both boy children have wood working and metal working skills from Boy Scouts. And all the children can cook on an open fire with cast iron. Medieval Reenactment allows for learning so many useful skills. I think the next one I’ll be learning is beekeeping.

    1. Jen… my husband and I were Civil War re-enactors for 10 years and we have all the tentage, equipment, and cast iron that we acquired. We still use the cast iron every day. I learned to make peach cobbler in a dutch oven one weekend and how to bake a pie in a dutch oven. The cobbler didn’t look like any peach cobbler I had ever seen, but boy howdy was it good. We learned how to make hard tack, and other things. We have a gas stove, so when the electric goes out, I can still cook, just have to light the burners by hand. One of the gals from the The Society for Creative Anachronism taught me how to use a drop spindle and use a table loom. I don’t remember a lot, but I think it would come back. My mom taught me how to can when I was small. My grandmother taught me how to hand sew button holes and darn socks. With all that said, I don’t think I could can over an open fire, nor bake anything special over an open fire either. I would survive I am sure, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

  20. Wonderful list of things to be aware of. Only have one question, I do not understand How CPR is going to help. Face facts, you are in a survival situation, help is miles away, or three days out, are you going to do CPR for that length of time, doubtful, accept the fact that there are things you cannot control. First aid, YES but up to levels, do you have the materials to sew up a wound. YES a boy scout should have learned most of these skill and have enough common sense to improvise.

  21. I passed everything except knowing how to raise chickens – but my husband could teach me. I’m surprised by how many of my friends admit they have never done any of these! Now I’m adding skills, such as making candles and soap and learning how to preserve meat without refrigeration. Good post!

  22. I passed everything except knowing how to raise chickens – will have to get my hubby to teach me that one. I’m amazed by how many of my friends have no idea how to do most of these skills! Now I’m learning new skills such as how to make my own candles and soap. Need to learn how to preserve meat without refrigeration. Good post!

  23. Dang, this is a great list and all the suggestions were great. Chickens are a breeze– you can let them scratch in your garden but buying food for them might be limited.
    Man, I need to get myself some Boy Scout badge books!!!

    I was SCA and making felt from Sherpa wool is easy and quick way to make “fabric”.
    In drought area, water is a factor in growing even a modest garden. Rabbits are great protein – I’d skin it, but please some one else kill it.

    I would love to hear more extensive list so we can challenge ourselves to be the best we can be in any situation. Please keep your suggestions coming!

  24. Using a sewing pattern and quilting are my weaknesses uugg I hate sewing however I would mind learning how to quilt

  25. Some of your questions begin to elude to some of these rather important life-saving questions: 1) Do you know how dispose of human waste properly in order to prevent diseases like cholera? 2) How to dispose of dead bodies in emergency conditions? 3) Do you know how to properly give someone an injection with a hypodermic needle and administer fluids by an intravenous infusion? 4) Do you know where and how to build a shelter in the wilderness if you had to stay over night(s) and prevent hypothermia especially if you happened to get wet? 5) What is the most important thing for you to do in any survival situation? Answer: stay calm. 6) Do you know how to identify when someone is going into shock and how to prevent or control it?

    1. While most of us are planning for a great big type of SHTF situation…let it be known that it’s the rest of life that’s happening that’s likely going to get to you first. I mean things like heart disease, diabetes, cancers and car accidents which are happening to us all the time. As a prepper you must be just as concerned if not more concerned about all of these things as you should be in regards to the “Great SHTF”. Sometimes some of these things are outside of your control or might be a 50/50 sort of thing…just be mindful of your mind, body and spirit.

  26. Shucks! I almost had ’em all! I do not own knowledge of raising chickens nor have I ever sewn a quilt. :-\ My SO wants to get 25 cornish cross chickies so maybe he’ll teach me this year about chickens.

  27. Some people know that I am a bit of a prepper and they laugh. I worry because they don’t prep. Sorry. You ain’t coming to my house

  28. Nice to know that I have about half the list down pat, and most of the rest at least I’ve tried. I need practice and could definitely learn the few I’ve not tried yet, but I at least would not be running around in a panic, naked trying to eat dry beans.

  29. Passed em all….. farmer’s daughter here, back when Home Ec & 4-H were life staples. Can also build & fix fence, build yurt shelters for temporary livestock or storage shelters, put up hurricane shutters. It takes a lot longer now that we are both senior senior citizens, so glad I married Mr. Fixit, ’cause between the two of us, there’s a lot we can share, teach & do.
    I always loved books, worked in libraries in school & college. My home is a library, with everything from reference to textbooks to children’s & adult fiction. I have a lot of cookbooks, especially older from the 40’s & 50’s as those often assumed the reader knew very little, so lots of diagrams & pictures on cleaning poultry, fish or processing larger less tender cuts of meat, lots of pictures on bread making, etc.

    I also have a lot of older ethnic cookbooks as many of those used simple, common ingredients like root vegetables & pantry staples to make hearty, filling meals.

    Be sure to check estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores & even antique shops for hand tools, sewing supplies, yarn, crafts, camping equipment, gardeningsupplies & good cookware.

    1. Yep! I was at an estate sale just today and saw high-quality tools, antique lanterns, a sewing machine and tons of fabric, etc.

  30. I think the societal collapse we may be heading for is not economic, but rather political. Legislation is in the works for hiring 87,000 new tax agents; that’s 1,740 per state. I don’t think we’re looking at something like the depression, I think it would be more like the holodomor, or other similar abuses highly controlled and orchestrated by the government. Simple responses to these things have already been answered by progressive government administrators and other existing and bygone governments. For an idea of what we may be in for, some insightful reading might be “selected works of chairman mao”, and “Gulag Archipelago”. How do you resist targeted economic collapse enforced by an oppressive government? You may have to think more creatively beyond the first answer that pops into your mind, because I can guarantee they already have.

    1. Good points. Learning about the kulaks and realizing that most of us are “kulaks” is another concern, to say the least.

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