Monday, October 15, 2012

107 Skills You Might Want or Need After TEOTWAWKI

When many people think of "preppers", they usually think of people stockpiling mass quantities of canned goods, MREs, and guns, maybe holed up in a bunker somewhere, but true preparation is far more mental than a collection of goods stored up.  Someone who is truly prepared will possess the skills needed for survival, skills that will last a lifetime, as opposed to the "preppers" with just stuff that will eventually run out.  What happens to them when it does? 

Together with the fans of my Facebook page, I brainstormed a list of skills and abilities that one might want to have after TEOTWAWKI, the end of the world as we know it.  Some of these will just make life nicer, like being able to have electricity or cheese, but others are absolutely crucial for survival, like ways of obtaining some kind of food or water.  I encourage people to learn as many as possible, but it is unlikely that any one person will have mastered all of these in a lifetime, which is why the skill of barter is so important, to be able to obtain those goods and services that are beyond our personal skill sets.  Because there is not necessarily one skill that it is more important than another, and there are those that will vehemently disagree as to what order they should be in, I more or less am putting these in the order I wrote them down in.

  1. building temporary shelter
  2. building a fire using several methods
  3. finding a suitable preexisting shelter
  4. putting up a tent
  5. electrician skills
  6. tool making
  7. welding
  8. mechanical skills
  9. carpentry and woodworking
  10. sewing
  11. knitting/crocheting
  12. spinning yarn
  13. tanning hides
  14. candlemaking
  15. building/using a rocket stove
  16. reading weather patterns
  17. building/maintaining a solar array
  18. building/maintaining a wind turbine
  19. cobbler/shoe repair
  20. knot tying 
  21. keeping a house warm (even if you don't have a woodstove)
  22. rope making
  23. weaving
  24. water gathering techniques
  25. finding water in the home (refrigerator ice maker, toilet tank, pool, water heater)
  26. draining water heater
  27. finding water outside the house
  28. filtering water
  29. how to make a water filter
  30. purify water with boiling
  31. disinfect water with bleach
  32. disinfect water with iodine
  33. distilling water
  34. making a solar still
  35. making a vegetation still
  36. disinfecting water with sunlight
  37. identifying wild edible plants
  38. dumpster diving (or full on looting of abandoned areas after TEOTWAWKI)
  39. capturing wild yeast for sourdough
  40. gardening
  41. canning
  42. dehydrating food
  43. making a solar dehydrator
  44. sprouting/growing microgreens
  45. cooking without modern appliances
  46. cooking from scratch
  47. hunting
  48. butchering/cleaning animals
  49. lacto-fermentation
  50. fishing
  51. making fishing equipment
  52. making solar oven
  53. raising animals
  54. veterinary skills
  55. making baby formula (for orphaned infants if no lactating mother around)
  56. milling grains
  57. saving seeds
  58. making vinegar
  59. making cheese
  60. making butter
  61. making yogurt
  62. milking animals
  63. how to tell if canned or other preserved food is still good to eat
  64. how to store food properly without refrigeration or freezing
  65. organic/natural pest control
  66. tap trees for syrup
  67. beekeeping
  68. how to care for fruit trees
  69. making stock or broth
  70. making natural cleaners
  71. hand-to-hand self-defense
  72. knife fighting
  73. archery
  74. proper use of firearms
  75. feminine hygiene
  76. basic first aid
  77. advanced medical skills
  78. what herbs can be used for medicine
  79. how to make herbal tinctures
  80. how to make herbal poultices
  81. how to make herbal salves
  82. soapmaking 
  83. making lye from wood ash to make soap
  84. digging an irrigation system
  85. distilling alcohol (for medical use at least)
  86. composting
  87. how to dispose of human feces and urine
  88. evading bad guys
  89. camouflaging one's shelter or self (stationary evasion?)
  90. making gunpowder
  91. making bullets
  92. blacksmithing
  93. trash disposal
  94. upcycling
  95. making/maintaining a grey water system
  96. using a knife safely for carving, etc
  97. washing clothes
  98. moderating disagreements
  99. human body disposal
  100. navigating by the sun, stars, or anything else that isn't a GPS
  101. using an amateur radio
  102. physical strength and endurance
  103. horseback riding
  104. bicycle riding
  105. bicycle repair
  106. auto repair
  107. barter
I'm sure this isn't a complete list and I'm sure there are those that would group some things together that I separated out or separate out things that I grouped together, but it is a starting point.  Some of these things can be learned in an afternoon and some take a lifetime to master, but either way, the time to start is now, not after things get bad.  With the economy the way it is and this year's drought likely making it far, far worse next year, there may not be any time to waste.

What skills do you have and which from this list or others do you intend to learn soon?


  1. I have a pretty good grasp of 70 of the 107 skills you listed - some much better than others, but I'm comfortable that, in a pinch, I could do those 70 things efficiently. The one thing with which I have no experience or skill that I would like to learn is how to fish ;).

  2. Great list, by the way! And all of them are incredibly useful skills - even if nothing happens.

  3. One that isn't there which ought to be, imo, is "community building." 20 years ago or more, it was just assumed people knew how to do that. I don't think we can make that assumption anymore. People aren't used to communities. They're used to electronic devices and CNN. No one person is going to be able to be fully self-sufficient after the SHTF, as it were. You have to be able to be in a community. As a great example, you have both blacksmithing and advanced medical skills on your list. While I do know a man who is both a surgeon and an excellent general blacksmith, that combination of skills in a single person is not likely (surgeons generally don't want their fingers that near things that might crush them... heh). That means you have to have more than one person.

    When we prep, we look at the "rule of 3" (and I started to post this on FB last night and got interrupted and it got lost *grump*). You can live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food, and 3 months without hope. Going from that list, you can prep at different levels. :)

    In a "get home" bag stashed in the trunk of the car, "3 minutes without air" means a small first aid kit. In our little community's medical kit, "3 minutes without air" means a fully stocked first aid kit including intubation tubes. You look at what level you're at and work with it.

  4. Generally speaking, "3 minutes without air" means first aid at some level. A sucking chest wound can be covered with a plastic bag or saran wrap. Do you have enough gauze and bandages? Do you know how to make more? Did you know plantain, chewed up in the mouth to a soft poultice, will draw out minor to medium infections? :) That's the kind of stuff you want to know and have.

    "3 hours without shelter" again means different things at different levels. In your get home bag, it might mean a strip of paracord and a plastic rain poncho, or one of those foil emergency blankets. In the woods, it means building a shelter with what's available - branches, leaves, sod, etc. In your home (during a major power outage, for instance; no need for zombies hehe) it might mean being able to keep windows from breaking during a hurricane or putting blankets over drafty doors to help keep the heat in. In a long term survival situation, it means knowing enough about building to put together a log cabin or other larger shelter for you or livestock.

    "3 days without water" is easy in New England - we have water all around us. For us, that means mostly good filtration. I know how to make a plastic applicator tampon into a make-shift filter if I really needed to. :) We have some of those emergency filter straws, as well as some hand pump filters that are excellent. We have bleach, which makes pretty much everything potable. We aim to pick up a Berkey filter at some point for household use, but that's expensive and not yet figured into the budget. If you're in Arizona, you need to plan differently, though! Storing water is better in dry areas. Make it potable, put it away in big jugs or 55 gallon food-grade containers. Rain water is fine, but remember to purify it before you drink it. Rotate it - water gets stale after a while (though it's still drinkable technically). Factor in wash water as well as drinking water and cooking water - if you aren't clean, you'll get an infection and won't last long.

  5. That brings us to "3 weeks without food." Rightly enough, MREs are a quick solution, and we usually keep on in the get home bag. There's enough calories in one to keep you going for a day or two if you got stuck in your car, for instance, or had to walk a long distance because you were out of gas. They can also be "cooked" inside the vehicle (which heats up the car btw) because the little heater packs are all self-contained. There's no flame involved. :) But food also means stores at home - what would you do if you lost your job and had six weeks to wait for the next influx of money? What would you do if a massive storm front hit your town and all the stores and roadways were closed and unusable for a week or two? What would happen if the SHTF? We have enough food to last us a while... through most natural disasters of the hurricane or major storm sort. It's varied, too... it isn't MREs, because those get boring real fast. We have beans, dehydrated meats and fish, TVP, canned meats and fish (both commercial and home done), baked beans home canned, wheat berries and the means to grind them into flour, etc. Our major downfall would be dairy, though we do have powdered milk. But... ick. LOL... And one of the biggest things - I know how to and have cooked with every single thing in our long-term storage. Believe me when I say that "during an emergency" is a terrible time to learn how to bake from wheat berries. LOL...

    The last one is the most serious. A human being can only last about 3 months without hope. For us, that means having an easy to recharge electronic reader with as many classic books and survival manuals as we can get onto it, as well as having our house stocked full of books, floor to ceiling in places. We have board games, cards, dice, hula hoops, scooters, bicycles etc. Hope comes from *living* rather than surviving. To live, you need to be able to have something close to a normal routine once you're past the initial emergency. Survival really is a short term thing.

    So ... that's what I was going to say on FB before I got booted. LOL... (and sorry it took me so many posts to get this out!!)

    1. Geez, you wrote a whole 'nother blog post in my comments section. lol Mind if I stick the three parts back together and put it in a blog post of its own, created to you of course? If you want me to stick a brief bio or a plug for something of yours in it, I would be happy to do that as well. There's a lot of good info in those there "comments".

  6. LOL Sorry! :) You're most welcome to do so! Only thing I'd like, if you don't mind, is a link back to my homestead blog:

    If you can't tell, it's something I talk about a lot *grin*

  7. Brilliant article. Interesting, informative and insightful

  8. Love this. I'm kind of obsessing about your blog today. But something that I think needs to be said about the list- well, at least what I believe is that each and every person need not take on the entire list on their own. Like some of your other commenters said, they have a good number on the list down and they are comfortable with that and BEYOND what they know, a few of the skills will come in especially handy with what they dont- number one being Bartering and also prepping by building up a close knit trusted network of loved ones (family and close -also prepared- family friends) that can all work together for one another's good. I understand that we need to be prepared to be on our own if that happens to be the case- BUT I do think that focusing for now on what we do know and TEACHING and one another skills bit by bit we eat away at the things we dont know how to do yet and we all become wholly prepared together. Does that make sense? So... for example I am a MASTER of all of the homemaking hand crafts, I can cobble, sew, knit, weave, and can do a lot of the medical things and scratch cooking, etc.... BUT i need help with my green thumb and preserving and combat and defense skills, etc. One area that my MIL is amazing at and one that my husband can surely teach me proficiency in... see what I mean? In the meantime I plan to teach my husband basic, survival sewing and knitting skills so that if anything happens to me he can at least whip something up in a pinch to cloth or warm our children...

    anyway, another thing I think is vital for the list(which I guess goes along with medical knowledge) is midwifery skills, or basic birth knowledge.