For the sake of discussion lets say that some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI event has happened. What essential survival skills may you and your family need to know in order to ensure their long term survival?
Survivalist should know the basics, such as beans, bullets, band-aids, shooting skills, water purification,,, etc. Lets think outside the box. During a long term complete collapse of society what skills will people need to know?
Lets assume that you and your family have a source of safe drinking water. This should be some kind of water well with a pitcher pump, or maybe a solar powered water well. For this article lets say that water is a given. Saying we need safe drinking water is like reminding people to breath, access to safe drinking water should be that important.
Now that water is out of the way lets move forward.
Gardening – Raising your own food is at the top of the list because we need a renewable food source. Survivalist should know the nutrients that each type of plant produces, sunlight and water requirements, and fertilizer requirements.
Lets use squash and cucumbers for an example. What type of nutrients do cucumbers need that squash needs only a little of?
The answer would be nitrogen. What is a good source of nitrogen? Chicken manure.
While squash needs a balanced fertilizer (or compost), cucumbers need a fertilizer high in nitrogen.
What plants grow well with beans? Any plant that needs nitrogen.
What crops should be planted the next season after potatoes? Beans and/or peas.
Peas and beans take different nutrients from the soil then potatoes. Beans and peas also return nitrogen to the soil.
What plant should people taking blood thinners NOT eat a lot of? Greens. Certain types of green leafy plants are rich in vitamin K. Vitamin K thickens the blood. In other words, eating certain leafy greens may counter-act the effect of blood thinners. Explains of leafy greens high in vitamin K include collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, onions, cabbage and mustard greens,,, only to name a few.
What plants are easy to grow are are rich in vitamin C? Peppers and dark leafy greens.
It is this knowledge of not only how to grow a garden, but also what plants should be grown in order to provide a balanced diet.
Livestock – What livestock is going to give you the best return on your investment?
In a previous article we talked about meat production after SHTF. If you have not read that article, please do so. In the linked article it is estimated that each person of the group will eat their body weight in meat over the course of a year.
What livestock is easy to raise, good at foraging for its own food and reproduces well.
Chickens are an excellent source of not only meat, but also fats through the eggs. What breeds of chickens go broody (sit on their eggs to hatch them), lay a lot of eggs, cold tolerant, and deal well with confinement? Some examples would be the Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, Dominiques, Rhode Island Red and Australorp.
What are some good breeds of rabbits for meat production after SHTF / TEOTWAWKI? How often can you breed rabbits? How many kits does the average doe have?
Which goats have the highest milk production? How often can you breed goats? Would be better served by sheep or goats? What is the difference between raising sheep and raising goats?
What role will pigs play during a long term SHTF situation? Do you have a way to catch wild pigs?
Are cows worth the effort? Do you have enough land to raise cattle?
What are some of the common predators of your livestock? How do you plan on dealing with those predators?
The answer to those questions should be answered before SHTF / TEOTWAWKI rather than afterwards.
Preserving food – You raised some beans, butchered a couple of chickens,,, now what?
One of the corner stone essential skills to surviving a long term SHTF event will be preserving food.
Survivalist prepping for SHTF should learn how to use a pressure cooker and dry whatever foods they can.
Do you know how to build a solar-dehydrator? How long does it take to pressure cook certain foods at your altitude? What foods need to be pressure cooked and which ones can be dried? Do you have a smoker for smoking / dehydrating meat?
Hunting and trapping – Not just hunting large game, but also hunting small game such as rabbits and squirrels.
Hunting and trapping were grouped together as they basically do the same thing. You need to know where the animals are moving to either hunt or trap them.
Have you acquired traps, or the needed material to build snares?
The importance of obtaining wild game is to supplement butchering a chicken, rabbit, goat or pig.
Wild rabbits eating your peas? Maybe it’s time to have a rabbit stew.
Raccoon raiding your chicken coop? Maybe its time to set out a trap and have some barbequed coon.
Not only is hunting and trapping a means of providing food for your family, it is also a means of protecting the garden and livestock.
Fishing – Mankind has used fish as a food source for thousands of years, maybe even tens of thousands of years. To ignore fishing as an essential TEOTWAWKI survival skill would be ludicrous.
What kind of fish are in your area? What kinds of bait do those fish go after?
Are you stockpiling fishing supplies and equipment? Do you go fishing on a regular basis? Are you teaching family members how to fish?
By using fishing skills such as trotlines, noodles and juglines we can have hooks in the water while working on other projects.
Lets be honest, everything listed in this article is subjective and debatable. Some people may say that the article should have focused more on water purification and less on fishing.
Do we “really” need to harp on the importance of safe drinking water, first aid or being able to cook in “every” article? If we focused on the same topics over and over, after awhile we reach a point where nothing new is being discussed.
If there was one thing I learned while building my rabbit hutch and chicken coop, it is that the vast majority of people underestimate what it is going to take to get a homestead up and running after a SHTF event. A good number of preppers think resources are going to be abundant and easy to obtain. If anything resources are going to be scarce and difficult to come by.
Do we honestly think people are going to sale their chickens, goats, pigs, cattle, horses and sheep when thousands of people are scavenging resources? When people are starving, what do you think a single laying hen would be worth? Much less 3, 4 or 5 year old laying hens?
The five survivalist skills listed in this article are stuff we can be working on now.
Have a spare flower bed? Plant a garden in it.
Does the city where you live allows chickens? If so, have you considered getting a couple of hens?
Have anywhere close you can go fishing? If so, you could be practicing an essential survival skill.