Skills from 100 years ago - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-20-2009, 05:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
FTR, I do to. Always have. This is just a checklist, and not a commentary on how ......... whatever......... today's society is.
very very way off topic but the link to your baby laughing and splashing hysterically in the pool is SO funny. I about peed my pants! So sweet.

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Old 02-20-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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@Baking bread:

How do you bake bread if your oven doesn't work? Does anyone know how to build a traditional stone oven?
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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very very way off topic but the link to your baby laughing and splashing hysterically in the pool is SO funny. I about peed my pants! So sweet.
Aww, thanks.

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@Baking bread:

How do you bake bread if your oven doesn't work? Does anyone know how to build a traditional stone oven?
You can bake bread in a dutch oven placed in a fireplace or campfire, or you can try to construct something out of bricks.

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Old 02-20-2009, 06:19 PM
 
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Aww, thanks.



You can bake bread in a dutch oven placed in a fireplace or campfire, or you can try to construct something out of bricks.
Thanks, I'll have to look into it.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:28 PM
 
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Sometimes I think I'm the last person on earth who knows how to darn a sock. Or darn anything. I know plenty of people who can sew on a patch or hem something or sew on a button, but darning is definitely a lost art.
I can darn! I don't bother darning socks, but I do darn sweaters.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:40 PM
 
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Learning how to store vegetables properly without refrigeration, eg. don't store potatoes w/onions, that type of thing.
Ok, how do you do that?

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Knowledge of how to treat without pharmaceuticals is another biggie. Homeopathy, essential oils, herbs, medicinal foods, etc...
I'm in the midst of a community college class on all of that. It's called "Holistic Healing."

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Old 02-20-2009, 07:03 PM
 
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You can also make a solar oven, which in some climates works only part of the year but it's worthwhile.
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Old 02-20-2009, 08:48 PM
 
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Of course I know how to do basic things like those on the OP's list... but I'd love some more book recommendations on self-sufficiency topics I've got some books already but would love to know what other people like the most!
DH was recently given the book "Country Wisdom and Know-How". Very cool book. It's huge, so I have yet to read the whole thing. But anyway, it covers gardening, preserving food, animal care, butchering, and probably lots more that I have yet to skim.

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Old 02-20-2009, 09:02 PM
 
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Sometimes I think I'm the last person on earth who knows how to darn a sock. Or darn anything. I know plenty of people who can sew on a patch or hem something or sew on a button, but darning is definitely a lost art.
YouTube Video - How To Darn A Sock

Now you can learn how! Oh, and I've never seen a darning egg or mushroom; everyone I've watched darn (no, I've never done it myself....I usually turn sock with holes into rags, but I know how in case I ever need the info) has used a lightbulb.

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Old 02-20-2009, 09:18 PM
 
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YouTube Video - How To Darn A Sock

Now you can learn how! Oh, and I've never seen a darning egg or mushroom; everyone I've watched darn (no, I've never done it myself....I usually turn sock with holes into rags, but I know how in case I ever need the info) has used a lightbulb.


I seriously just left this thread and watched that very video, d/t my sudden embarrassment at realizing I did not know how!

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Old 02-20-2009, 09:41 PM
 
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YouTube Video - How To Darn A Sock

Now you can learn how! Oh, and I've never seen a darning egg or mushroom; everyone I've watched darn (no, I've never done it myself....I usually turn sock with holes into rags, but I know how in case I ever need the info) has used a lightbulb.
I have my Grandmothers. I have no idea how old this is.

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Old 02-20-2009, 09:46 PM
 
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I would love to have something like that of my grandmother's! Maybe I should ask her to leave me her darning light bulb in her will?

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Old 02-20-2009, 09:58 PM
 
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Oh wow! My grandma had one of those too and I never could figure out what it was for. Huh. That is pretty cool.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:00 PM
 
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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.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:18 PM
 
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I would love to have something like that of my grandmother's! Maybe I should ask her to leave me her darning light bulb in her will?
I also have her 1916 Singer push pedal sewing machine (we think this is the date. I need to verify with Singer and have been wanting to do this.) The belt for it is leather and needs to be repaired.

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Old 02-20-2009, 10:19 PM
 
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Oh wow! My grandma had one of those too and I never could figure out what it was for. Huh. That is pretty cool.
By the condition its in, its well used.

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Old 02-20-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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I also have her 1916 Singer push pedal sewing machine (we think this is the date. I need to verify with Singer and have been wanting to do this.) The belt for it is leather and needs to be repaired.
That is cool. My grandma has one in her basement right now that was my great-great grandmother's. I think it is circa 1890? It is in good condition and I will be getting it this spring. There is a guy in my town that does leatherwork so I am pretty sure I will be able to have the belt either fixed or replaced.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:57 PM
 
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I also have her 1916 Singer push pedal sewing machine (we think this is the date. I need to verify with Singer and have been wanting to do this.) The belt for it is leather and needs to be repaired.
My dad is a quilter and collects old Singer machines. I don't know if any of his are push pedal, though. I think they are all electric except for the toy machines which are hand-crank.

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Old 02-21-2009, 02:33 AM
 
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But that doesn't mean that your mother and your neighbor CAN'T cook or mend, it means they choose not to. It's not like cooking and mending are lost skills.
I can only mend, because being broke forced me to it. I'm not good at it. I'm 40.

My mom hated sewing, and when I was resistant to learning how, she didn't push it. I took industrial education (metalworking, woodworking, basic drafting and electronics) in high school, so that I didn't have to take Home Ec...and that was solely because I didn't want to sew. I have several friends who have never picked up a needle and thread, to the best of my knowledge.

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Old 02-21-2009, 02:36 AM
 
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If they can't be bothered, that implies that they could manage to do it if they had to. Likewise if they can sew a button, they probably could manage to figure out how to sew a hem. This still is about inclination rather than ability.
Oh, I can't do hems. I have absolutely no clue how...but I don't throw stuff out. I just wear it with fallen hems...

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Old 02-21-2009, 02:41 AM
 
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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.

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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?

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Old 02-21-2009, 02:57 AM
 
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*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 )

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Old 02-21-2009, 03:47 AM
 
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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.

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Old 02-21-2009, 04:24 AM
 
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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.
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:02 AM
 
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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.
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Old 02-21-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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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!

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Old 02-21-2009, 01:26 PM
 
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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!

New endeavor coming soon...
Raising Alice in Wonderland (DSD, 17), and in love with a Superman
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Old 02-21-2009, 02:12 PM
 
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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.
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Old 02-21-2009, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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Old 02-21-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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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....

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