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Skills from 100 years ago - Page 5

post #81 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowers View Post
I'm serious. I am still absolutely shocked that schools don't teach basic survival.
Why shocked? If they've ever taught that, I've never heard of it.

Quote:
The idea of ppl loosing electricity and being totally thrown off is a bit weird to me. (I understand...but still weird). During that last storm I read about a restaurant who lost $600 of premium meat. Except it is winter and all they had to do was bring it outside. They just let it rot in the fridge and then complained.
In fairness, it's possible that they could have ended up on the wrong end of health department regulations or some such if they'd actually taken it outside, then served it to customers. Regulations about that kind of thing don't always make sense. (I'm not saying that would happen, but it's possible.)

Actually, there are lots of rules, laws and regulations that get int he way of self-sufficiency. We have a municipalities here that won't allow clotheslines, for example. And...how many urban/suburban areas ban the keeping of even a couple of chickens?
post #82 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
*excuse the geekiness of making a D&D reference in real life.
I think I love you, too. Especially since both our DS's are named Toby

I'm loving this thread, even though I don't have a clue how to do hardly anything mentioned here I can knit hats. And um, that's about it. Pretty sad. I got a sewing machine for Christmas but it's totally intimidating me so I have yet to use it. I ordered a Back-to-Basics type book and it should be coming here soon... hopefully I will learn to do more! I don't even know how to make a tomato sauce you guys... it's really sad. I'm so lame

At least I have awesome diplomacy skillz (in D&D )
post #83 of 126
I need to learn to knit, crochet and sew. I have no talent for that stuff, but even being textile-challenged, I'm sure I can manage the basics. My mom does such amazing stuff with crochet (Barbie clothes, afghans, earrings, scrunchies, Christmas tree decorations, dollhouse rug, etc.) - it would be cool to be able to do that, too.
post #84 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
Why shocked? If they've ever taught that, I've never heard of it.
My jr high school in Alberta in the eighties had an option called "Hunter Training" if I remember correctly. It involved some wilderness survival training and a winter overnight camping trip, but I don't think there were actual weapons involved.

I took band instead, but in retrospect, should have taken the Hunter Training course and suffered the campout.
post #85 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by p1gg1e View Post
Back to Basics by readers Digest is an awesome book to have if you can find it.
I just wanted to mention something about this book. I work in a library. We just replaced a 1980's edition of this book with the most recent edition. I was able to buy the withdrawn book for $1 : but I checked out the new book to compare them... no difference except in the pictures.

So if you can get an old edition cheaply, do so. It makes sense, since traditional skills haven't changed in the past 20 years. They can't really update old-timey skills.

I haven't read the whole thread, so I apologize if this has been mentioned. I also recommend the following books:

- Storey's Basic Country Skills (and Storey published a BUNCH of back-to-basics books)
- Encyclopedia of Country Living, Carla Emery (THE bible of homesteading)
- Country Wisdom and Know-How
- Survival Wisdom and Know-How
- The Big Book of Self-Reliant Living

As an aside... I make our soap because we have skin issues (eczema and I have rosacea). It's simple lye and lard. For about $5 worth of supplies I make enough soap to last us a year. Simple skills save so much money and they really are healthier in some ways!

Sewing doesn't seem to save money much anymore, but I enjoy it as a hobby. I just sewed a couple of skirts for dd. The zippers alone were almost $3, and after the material and thread they were not very frugal in the end. I didn't even use a pattern, otherwise it would have been SO much more expensive. However, dd wanted a long skirt and we could not find one anywhere, so it was nice that I could bust one out in a day. She is 7 and has always been very modest in the way she dresses... she would rather have a calico dress from 1880 than to wear the clothes that are manufactured for girls today. So the benefits of sewing, IME, is repairing and making clothes that cannot be found on the shelves.

As for other skills... another skill that I saw mentioned but not elaborated is being able to cook with alternative sources. Here in the midwest we have power outages... sometimes for weeks. My woodburning stove is something I would never give up without a fight. I can both cook on it and bake inside it. I love cooking over an open fire, too. Of course, I have all the equipment, including a full range of cast iron cookware.

My father was a young boy during the depression (on a farm) and thankfully he learned a lot from his mother (who passed when I was 11) and has passed on these skills to me as well.
post #86 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
Ok, it's a weird title, but I'm wondering about simple stuff that people probably knew how to do 100 years ago that have almost been completely lost. Little things that can save you money and dependence on others. We need to become more practical as a society, and I hope little things like this can help.

1. Bake a loaf of bread. Recipe here, from Mother Earth News

2. Cook for yourself. Even if it's scrambled eggs, find some recipes you're capable of making. Especially if you're the take-out queen. Try to use canned goods or fresh foods - remember to shop the outside of the grocery store (produce, meat/fish, dairy) and ignore the inside. And to add onto it...

3. Eat seasonally. It's important to adjust our eating habits to what is readily available. As local foods become the most likely foods for us, we should know what's in season and use it.

4. Simple mending. If you've never picked up a needle, you may want to. You don't need to really learn how to make your own clothes - just patch holes and darn socks. It doesn't even have to look very pretty - you can just patch up the hole or sew a cute fabric patch over it. Maybe repurpose things when they get too bad - remember almost every piece of fabric works as a rag, and it's cheaper than paper towels, so don't throw ratty clothes out!

4. Simple woodworking. Learn how to use a hammer, a tape measurer, a level, a screwdriver (phillips and flat), a handsaw, and a hand sander. Things might take longer without automatic tools, but they use less electricity and are CHEAPER. It also means you don't have to pay anyone else to do it.

5. Basic first aid. Get certified in CPR and make sure you know how to treat cuts and burns, and when to take someone to the ER. Also, make sure you have papers on file for emergencies.

6. Learn to stockpile. Not a panic stockpile, but bit-by-bit, a couple cans a week of things you eat all the time. Have emergency kits for everyone in the house that hopefully will never come out of the dark corner in which you put them.

Anyone else have other ideas?
I haven't had time to read the thread yet, but these are things most people knew how to do up until the 1970s or so. You might check with your parents or grandparents who may still remember how to do these things, though they don't have a need to do them anymore or choose not to do them anymore.

The only thing on the list I see that might not have been done up until the 70s is eating seasonally and locally. But even that...there are some places where people still forage, garden, hunt and have a cycle of food even though everything else is available from a grocery store. They just use the local stuff to supplement now, instead of it being the main form of food like it may have been farther back in our history.

There are sometimes adult education classes that teach skills like sewing and woodworking or you can learn some things from books if your family members do not do these things.

Good luck!
post #87 of 126
I know how to milk a goat! heh... I know how to make a thread from wool, as my grandparents kept mountain goats, and my grandmother taught me how to spin the thread with a simple spindle my grandfather made.

I don't think this is lost:

If necessity called for it, I doubt that any willing adult couldn't figure out how to work a needle and a thread! So simple mending seems too... well.. simple! So I don't think that's truly lost. Of course a few mistakes can be expected, but a needle pulling thread to connect fabric is simple enough concept that I'm convinced people can do if they have to.

Making clothes from scratch is certainly a skill, but I bet not everyone was able to make gorgeous dresses and well-fit clothes in the past either. Some people were better than others, and I'm sure it's the same way these days, some will be more able to pick up this skill than others.

I also don't think that cooking without frozen packages is out of question. The idea that you can use fire to cook is pretty simple. Make fire - fry things! That's not that hard, and even kids can make "fire - food" connection. We are not talking gourmet meals, right? We are talking about survival, so I'm sure people can figure it out. As far as ketchup goes - I grew up without it, so to me it's just a recipe that you either know - or you don't. I'm sure people in the past didn't know every single recipe, so I'm not sure the ketchup argument holds for "skills from 100 years ago". I'm sure we can find recipes that are lost skills, but I think cooking is kind of like language - always changing, and we wouldn't consider talking as a lost skill just because we use different words these days, kwim?

As far as baking bread goes... once again... I think "flour, water, yeast" = bread is not that tough. It won't be tasty (I can't make bread you'd want to eat ) but it will be bread, kwim?

What is lost:

Now, hunting, tracking, knowing plants is a whole other story. You can't just pick it up through trial and error, someone has to take you out and teach you what plants are edible and which ones are not. Knowing herbs and how they can be used to heal is a craft I wish I had! I think while some people certainly knew more about it than others, it seems to me that an average person was very well versed in basics. My grandmother wasn't a healer, but just from her childhood she knew certain plants and their uses, and it seemed to have been part of general knowledge. (makes me want to go out and find a good book on herbs... )

P.S. I am putting the recommended book on my wish list. Thanks for the recommendation!

P.P.S. I really like the D&D reference AND the perfecting what you are good at recommendation!
post #88 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

Sewing doesn't seem to save money much anymore, but I enjoy it as a hobby. I just sewed a couple of skirts for dd. The zippers alone were almost $3, and after the material and thread they were not very frugal in the end. I didn't even use a pattern, otherwise it would have been SO much more expensive. However, dd wanted a long skirt and we could not find one anywhere, so it was nice that I could bust one out in a day. She is 7 and has always been very modest in the way she dresses... she would rather have a calico dress from 1880 than to wear the clothes that are manufactured for girls today. So the benefits of sewing, IME, is repairing and making clothes that cannot be found on the shelves.
This is not frugal unless you can get a great price for used ones, but the American Girl copies of historic clothes would work for her.
post #89 of 126
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure I'm really talking about "just survival" actually.

I'm talking about living a quality life on less. Sure, if I was starving, I could figure out fire + something relatively edible = food. I'm talking about things to learn to live smaller and more independently. Learning to cook some of your favorite foods so that if you can't afford to go out to eat and eat it, you can do it at home.

I'm not talking about the collapse of the world - I'm talking about the fact that lots of us are learning to live on less, whether by job loss or by frugality itself. What can we do to maximize that?
post #90 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowers View Post
I am still absolutely shocked that schools don't teach basic survival.
Why shocked? If they've ever taught that, I've never heard of it.
I've never heard of it either, but I'm still shocked that schools don't teach a lot of the basics - not academic basics, but life basics: survival, gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing/mending, auto maintenance, financial planning, basic construction/plumbing/wiring/etc. That sort of thing.

Sure, there are still a few home economics and woodworking classes scattered around, but I don't think they've ever really taught what was necessary, for the most part.

This has always amazed me. Seems like offering classes of this sort would be a no-brainer. But, maybe that's just in my world....
post #91 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
Making clothes from scratch is certainly a skill, but I bet not everyone was able to make gorgeous dresses and well-fit clothes in the past either. Some people were better than others, and I'm sure it's the same way these days, some will be more able to pick up this skill than others.
Which is why a seamstress was a realitively lucrative trade for women in the past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
As far as baking bread goes... once again... I think "flour, water, yeast" = bread is not that tough. It won't be tasty (I can't make bread you'd want to eat ) but it will be bread, kwim?
[/QUOTE]

Or even easier, wholewheat flour, buttermilk, baking soda, maybe an egg...Irish brown bread, takes all of 5 minutes to prepare. My mother, who is 85, used to bake it when she was young in a dutch oven on an open fire. I have the convenience of an oven, and make it at least a couple of times a week.

My mom grew up in a cottage with no running water or electricity. She would be the first to tell us that most of our "necessities" are just luxuries.
post #92 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhiandmoi View Post
I wouldn't darn a hand knit sock, I'd knit in a new heel or toe . The darned spots don't ever fit right. A re-heeled sock is like brand new.
In general, I think you're right. Mine, however, wear out in the sole of the foot (from sliding around on hardwood floors with no slippers on ), and it's a lot more work to re-knit that part.

I darn the knees of kids' pants, too. Not like jeans or cords-- those get patched. But sweat pants and knit pants.

I do my darning on the bottom end of a very old Coca-Cola bottle that DH found in the foundation of an old house on his grandfather's land. It's shaped just exactly right. I've seen darning eggs and all that for sale, but they're sold as novelties and cost a lot of money. And a lightbulb works great, but it's too delicate for me to use around multiple toddlers. I do my darning, often, with a baby draped over my chest and another one climbing my legs....
post #93 of 126
subbing to come back later and read
post #94 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
I do my darning on the bottom end of a very old Coca-Cola bottle that DH found in the foundation of an old house on his grandfather's land. It's shaped just exactly right. I've seen darning eggs and all that for sale, but they're sold as novelties and cost a lot of money. And a lightbulb works great, but it's too delicate for me to use around multiple toddlers. I do my darning, often, with a baby draped over my chest and another one climbing my legs....
When Easter passes you can get decorative eggs pretty cheap in various sizes. Or you can fill a plastic egg with plaster.
post #95 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
What is lost:

Now, hunting, tracking, knowing plants is a whole other story. You can't just pick it up through trial and error, someone has to take you out and teach you what plants are edible and which ones are not. Knowing herbs and how they can be used to heal is a craft I wish I had! I think while some people certainly knew more about it than others, it seems to me that an average person was very well versed in basics. My grandmother wasn't a healer, but just from her childhood she knew certain plants and their uses, and it seemed to have been part of general knowledge. (makes me want to go out and find a good book on herbs... )
I don't think these are lost at all. At least not in our area. I am going to be taking a month long class on the plants and herbs soon through our local UW-Extension school. These things are very popular here.
post #96 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangled Hill View Post
I've never heard of it either, but I'm still shocked that schools don't teach a lot of the basics - not academic basics, but life basics: survival, gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing/mending, auto maintenance, financial planning, basic construction/plumbing/wiring/etc. That sort of thing.

Sure, there are still a few home economics and woodworking classes scattered around, but I don't think they've ever really taught what was necessary, for the most part.

This has always amazed me. Seems like offering classes of this sort would be a no-brainer. But, maybe that's just in my world....
This is one reason why we homeschool, FWIW. I feel that the world school prepares kids for is not necessarily the world they will be adults in. Growing up, school prepared us for college, and most of us went, but I think in my kids' generation fewer will go to college and it will become less important to have a degree. Some academics are basic and helpful, of course, but so much time in school IMO could be spent on useful skills (self-sufficiency stuff) but isn't.

For example, I took home economics for one half of a year in junior high. The class turned out to be "fifteen different things you can make with tube biscuits." I kid you not. We never made anything else. We used tube biscuits (you know, poppin' fresh dough?) to make doughnuts, rolls, cookies, etc - a different variation every week. Such an insulting waste of time. I was 13 or 14 and it would have been so much more helpful to learn how to make soup or casseroles or something.

And even just the financial stuff. Most kids leave high school not really understanding the banking system, credit cards, balancing a checkbook, etc. We did one project in 8th grade where we learned about stocks, but nothing on how to manage and pay the bills. Nothing on how NOT to get caught in the credit card trap (which I promptly did, my freshman year of college).

I want my kids to have those wilderness skills, though I can't afford to pay for them to do the wilderness school that their friends do (one day a week, full immersion in the woods). But it is still a priority for me for my kids to learn those basics. Just as much of a priority as long division or good handwriting (or simple gardening or meal planning).

Sorry for the tangent, but I think the need to acquire useful skills extends to our kids and I wish that schools would make teaching those things a higher priority.
post #97 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by tayndrewsmama View Post
I don't think these are lost at all. At least not in our area. I am going to be taking a month long class on the plants and herbs soon through our local UW-Extension school. These things are very popular here.
I think though if you talk to the leaders/teachers in these movements they will tell you very strongly how close it was to being lost. Their are certain areas that are strongly keeping the knowledge alive and some areas where it is none existent.
post #98 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowers View Post
I think though if you talk to the leaders/teachers in these movements they will tell you very strongly how close it was to being lost. Their are certain areas that are strongly keeping the knowledge alive and some areas where it is none existent.
True. But, I don't think hunting skills in this area have ever been anything close to lost. I think maybe I am just looking at things in a more local way and I should be looking wider than that.

I find it quite humorous how many threads there used to be on MDC about how unsustainable it supposedly is not to live in a major metropolitan area and now here we are talking about these things. It's good to see things finally come around a bit to more realistic things.
post #99 of 126
I thought this might be of interest to some.
post #100 of 126
I don't think it is the schools job to teach these sort of life skills. You learn them from, yk, life. Kids didn't used to learn them from school other than some basic homemaking skills. They learned them from scouts, 4H, FFA, FLBA and the like. All organizations that sill exist and are still teaching youth those life skills.
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