Saturday, September 8, 2012


I often think what the world would be like in a TEOWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it) scenario. Whether it's a pandemic that takes out a good portion of the world’s population, an economic collapse or an EMP type event that turns the lights out, there are certain skills that will be needed that can be bartered with in order to get things you may need for your families survival. There are too many to go through but I will spotlight a few that I think would be most helpful. Divide them up with your family members according to skill sets after all if you kill everything you try to grow you don't want to be in charge of the garden.

Imagine power grids have failed, the trucks have stopped bringing food to your neighborhood grocery, the dollar is not worth the paper it's written on and the big cities are being torn apart by rioting.  You have managed to protect yourself and your family at your bug out location or prepper community or even managed to stay in your home in the city and avoid the looting.  Soon society will put itself back together although nothing will be the same.  What skills do you have that you can offer or trade for needed supplies or work?  Are you a carpenter?  Maybe you know how to whip up an herbal tonic that will bring down a fever?  What ever it is you need to make sure you can do it and that you can do it well.

Preserving Food:

Maybe you already grow your own vegetables during the summer for your family, friends and neighbors to enjoy but do you know if you can your tomatoes with a water bath or do you need a pressure cooker?  What about green beans, peppers or strawberries?  And how long do they need to process before they will be considered safe to eat down the road.  Does it jar well or would it be better dehydrated?  How long do they last after they have been preserved?  How can you tell if it’s still good to eat or if it should be thrown away?

If you can put away your food you have the one thing everyone will need in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.  Have you ever seen Little House on the Prairie?  Did you notice that when people went to the doctor in town that he often got paid in eggs, chickens and jarred vegetables from his patients?  A busy man like that doesn’t have time to grow his own food and there weren’t restaurants or grocery stores to buy it from, to be able to exchange his service for food was a logical plan of action for him and being able to trade food for services will be a logical plan of action for you.
By preserving your harvests you not only ensure that your family does not go hungry but you also ensure that your family will have other things they need to get through.  Maybe a neighbor knows how to repair clothing or make shoes from deer hide.  Trading a few jars of vegetables and a side of salted meat may get your families feet covered for winter.

Seed Saving:

You teach a man to grow a garden and he eats for a season, if you teach him to preserve his food then he eats through the winter but if you teach a man to save his seeds he will eat forever. Saving seed goes with the preserving food skill but I am highlighting it alone because of the importance of it. 

Monsanto and other companies are destroying our food by genetically modifying with other species’ DNA.  By doing this they make saving seeds impossible because the next generation of these seeds do not grow true.  When you garden be sure to buy heirloom seeds.  These are seeds that come from original fruits before they were hybridized or modified genetically.  These seeds will grow true year after year.

By learning to save seeds you have set yourself up to keep a full tummy for a very long time.  These seeds can also be traded.  Maybe you have some great squash seeds but your carrots didn’t do so well this year, find another seed saver and trade.  You don’t even have to wait until the world ends to do that.  There are tons of seed exchange groups you can get involved with.  Saved and stored properly they can last a year or two.

A great resource to save and learn from.  I have gotten a lot out of it myself. A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty
Free download: 

Soap Making:

They say cleanliness is next to Godliness.  I don’t know about that but I do know that clean people are healthy people and I enjoy my good health.  I personally have about 50 bars of soap and jars of shampoo stored in my closets to make sure I have germ free body parts but I also know I will run out eventually either by using it or trading it for other supplies.

Making and using lye for soap would be the easiest to learn.  Lye is very very caustic so make sure you are safe while you are using it.  It is as easy as putting wood ash (hard wood, not like pine or fir) in a barrel and covering it with rain water and waiting. There are a ton of sites on the web that will tell you how to make lye and lye soap so I am not going to go over it in this article but it is something you should learn to do.  It’s also another one of those things you don’t even have to wait until the end to do.  It would make a great hobby and even possibly something you could sell for a few extra bucks now.

Bicycle Repair:

In an SHTF future there may be a shortage on gas, maybe there just isn’t any gas left or maybe it was an EMP and cars in general won’t run.  How will you get around?  A lot of people will turn to bicycles.  They will be hooked up to carts to allow for carrying large amounts of supplies and used as main forms of transportation probably in the cities or larger towns.  Do you know how to repair a broken chain or a flat tire?

One of the things I made sure when I bought my boys bikes is that they knew how to do basic repairs on them.  They are both now very good at it and even help friends fix theirs. This will probably be a more useful skill if you are still part of a city or a town than if you were bugged out in you undisclosed location.  In any of those places it would still be a highly barterable skill.  Keep a list of things you need, want or be willing to trade for and do a good job with the repairs and you could have yourself a very lucrative career.

Herbal Knowledge:

Back in the day there was always someone close by who was knowledgeable in the healing arts.  An old lady who’s  always searching the forests or river banks for the perfect root or the tribal elder who knew the right combination of herbs, bark and moss to apply to a wound to draw out the infection.  These people were highly sought after for their knowledge and were cared for by the other members of the community.  In today’s time it has been making a comeback as more and more people are searching for alternative ways to stay healthy besides popping pills that offer some relief but some very unwanted side effects.

Classes are found everywhere.  A simple Google search will find you some in your area.  Books on the subject can be found in any bookstore and are available for downloading on your ereader. Having a basic understanding of herbs and their medicinal uses can mean the difference between life and death. Knowing whether the herb works better in a tonic, tincture or compress is a skill that will be sure to keep you healthy and busy helping others.

There are of course a lot more skills that would be handy to have such as carpentry, actually being a medical doctor or dentist, solar knowledge, engineering, electrician etc, but since my blog is mainly aimed at women I wanted to focus on skills that we could learn by taking classes or from books in our spare time.  If you have a medical degree then you are already going in with a skill, but for those of us whose main talent is being able to pick out a Jimmy Choo shoe from a crowd, it gives us a place to start.

Google is your friend.  Nobody is there to help you 24/7 like Google is.  Set aside some time each day or on the weekends if you are busy to browse the internet and pick the brains of the people who already have the information you want to learn. Knowledge will never go out of style.

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