One area of prepping that seems a little under-covered is that of personal skills. To be fair, the “Usual Suspects” of the Prepper world (Rawles, etc.) do go into the concept a bit: in the event of a full-on Big Collapse, complete with zombie bikers and the like, I definitely want my “team” to include several people skilled in emergency medicine; hunters, scouts, trackers, gunsmiths, and so on and so on.
The part that I think is less-represented is the “normal,” day-to-day skills. Things our parents or grandparents (or, dare I say, great-grandparents) knew how to do as a matter of course. How to prep a plot for planting. How/where to dig an outhouse. Window’s broken–how to repair it (reglazing). Plumbing repair. Minor electrical repair. Basic carpentry. In short, how to take the stuff you *have*, and make it keep working–and how to fix it when it breaks.
I’m put in mind of this by some of the renovation I’ve been doing around the homestead the last couple of weeks–the reason I’ve been posting only briefly. In the course of three days, over the holiday weekend, I had to do the following:
- Dismantle a room’s interior, down to the studs and joists;
- Repair ceiling joists (“sister” new ones, cut out bad spots);
- Repair old plumbing (cut one portion & solder a cap; cut & replace another portion);
- Repair old electrical (remove some *ancient* wiring, replace with new–appropriate connectors between aluminum & copper wiring, etc.);
- Remove & replace non-structural dry-rotted joists, correcting floor level to achieve, well, level (there was about a 3″ difference from the high corner to the low corner of the old floor, across a 6’x12′ room);
- Insulate between joists (the new, whitish fiberglass is much less irritating than the old pink stuff);
- Re-lay sub-flooring and underlayment in anticipation of tile.
There’s still work to be done: re-insulating the walls, and putting up new “facing” material, better than the old “1970’s basement” wood-paneling that had been there, plus a little more electrical down in the crawlspace. Still, that’s a good bit of work–and had I had to hire someone to do it, I shudder to think what I would have had to pay. Plus, the joys of living in an old house: I’ll get to repeat the process (some of it, anyway) in at least one more room, possibly two, before I’m done…
How did I learn how to do all of that? I’ve been fortunate in my life experiences, for one thing. My father, brother, and I renovated a barn into a living space when I was in High School, and I learned much about basic carpentry then–how to hang joists, do flooring, put up drywall, and the like. Most of the details I’ve since picked up from books–the basics of plumbing and electrical, for instance. (I recommend pretty much any book on the various systems that can be found at your local hardware store or library–the content tends to be pretty uniform, and aimed at those of us who don’t necessarily know what we’re doing…)
On top of all of this activity, I’ve also been working in the yard and the garden, dealing with the livestock (dogs and children, at this point, but eventually more), and renovating an old barn (some things never change), on top of a full-time job. The list of skills one will probably need (or need to be able to find) during/after a collapse is a long one, and doesn’t fall so very neatly in the strategic/tactical mindset of the militant preppers. How many survival kits have you looked at that included “survival seeds” for gardens, post-collapse? How many of those plants have you grown in the past? Do you know the type of soil they like? Full or partial sun? Watering how often? How long until harvest? And (perhaps most important) do you even like the produce you’ll get out of them, and know how to prepare and cook it? It does you no good to grow a bumper crop of eggplant if you don’t like eggplant, or don’t know what to do with it once you’ve harvested it.
So, in between taking care of your “survival” skills, don’t forget to brush up on your “day-to-day” ones, as well.
And if you should decide to “fix up” your house, for the love of all that’s good, brush up on your DIY. Folks like me will thank you, 50 years from now. 🙂