Lost Skills That Used to Be Common
Dependency - The Way Most People Live Today
The way people live today is to be dependent on others. We depend on others to make and mend our clothes, to heal us when we are sick, to grow food for us to buy, to repair our homes and cars, to protect and defend us.
Is there anything we actually do ourselves?
It really is unfortunate that we do almost nothing to sustain our own life. We have lost the skills that it takes to make it on our own; to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, heal ourselves or take care of ourselves in most ways.
How did this happen?
That can be summed up in two words: time and convenience. We stopped doing things ourselves because it took too much time. It became easier and more *convenient* to pay someone else to do these things, so we could move on to work more and play more. After a while another ingredient was added to our demise: laziness. We got used to doing everything the quick and easy way, and we have become lazy. Why bake bread when you can buy a loaf at the corner store for a couple bucks. Why repair a pair of underwear when you can go to WalMart and pick up a six pack for $5?
I hope you will know why, by the time you finish reading this page.
Cooking From Scratch
Do you know how to cook from scratch? I mean real cooking like baking your own bread or making cookies and cakes without a mix. Can you make pasta without a machine? Can you make homemade gravy? People used to cook every single meal from scratch with real food like potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, milk and real butter. They did not get up and pull a Jimmy Dean's breakfast bowl out of the freezer. They made real oatmeal from oats and toast from home baked bread.
The practice of cooking from scratch is pretty rare these days. You will not find too many people that do it, but the people that do will generally be healthier and happier. If you don't know how to cook, it is a very good idea to learn because that breakfast bowl may not always be available for you to buy or you may not have the money, in the future.
Cooking from Scratch Cookbook
Food Preservation - Canning Dehydrating, Freezing
Food preservation used to be a part of everyday life, in most families. This was before we had stores on every corner with all kinds of food trucked in year round......and the money to buy it. Used to be that the end of the summer was the busiest time in any household as the family canned, dehydrated or froze the fruits (and veggies) of their labor, so they would have food to eat all winter.
What would you do it someone gave you a whole bushel of tomatoes, green beans or corn? Would you have any idea what to do with the excess that you could not eat before it spoiled?
Furthermore, what would you do, if something happened and all those corner stores could no longer get any food to sell you? What if all the sudden you were unable to buy food anywhere? What would you do?
These are questions that help you understand why it is a good idea to learn how to preserve food for yourself and your family. Canning, dehydrating and freezing food is not terribly difficult to do, but it is a skill that must be learned and done right, if you want to be prepared. Prepared for what? For an earthquake, flood, or any type of disaster that will disrupt the delivery of food to stores. It is also good to have extra food on hand for other reasons, such as unexpected company, job loss of the primary provider, or the dreaded ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!!! (yes, I am kidding ;)
Learn to Can
Mending Clothing or Sewing Garments from Scratch
What would you do, if you put on a pair of socks, and your toe poked through a hole? Or if a belt loop ripped off your favorite jeans. What if you got a gorgeous dress for a great price, but it was three inches too long? What would you do?
I can tell you what most people, today, would do: throw the sock away, safety pin the belt loop, and take the dress to the alteration shop to be shortened.
Fifty years ago we would have darned the sock, sewn the belt loop back on, and shortened the dress ourselves. When did this change? Why did it change? Sewing and basic mending used to be taught in school. When I was in high school in the late 70's, we took Home Economics as a basic part of our education. I am not sure if it is even offered as an elective, today and considering the price of clothes, it is a real shame that so few people know how to perform even the most basic of repairs. Imagine the money you could save, if you could mend small holes in sock, underwear, jeans and pants. You could save even more if you knew how to sew from scratch and could make some of your own clothes for yourself or your kids. Sewing is very worthwhile to learn!
A Book on How to Sew and Mend
First Aid - From Skinned Knees to Heart Attacks
First Aid is a skill that is so important that you can literally save someone's life, if you know it. I find it amazing that First Aid is not taught more in schools. I am not talking CPR, or the Heimlich Manuver, both of which are important to know; I am talking about what to do if someone cuts their hand very badly while chopping vegetables. Or a dog attacks someone and bites them severely. Or you see a bad car accident and people are bleeding and hurt.
Would you know what to do?
Sometimes what you do right after an injury occurs makes the difference in whether or not they keep their finger or limb, or even their life. It is very important to know the basic tenants of first aid for cuts, bruises, burns and trauma. The best way to learn these is to take a class. However, if you cannot take a class, there are many books and videos that can teach you almost as well. It is not difficult to learn first aid, and it could be such a huge help to someone that is hurt.
Gardening - Growing Your Own Food
I was raised in the suburbs, and my parents still had a large garden in the back yard. The thing I remember the most was the luscious strawberries we had every June. We also had a blueberry bush, a green apple tree, and potted herbs on the patio. My parents came from farming families before they moved to the city, so gardening was second nature to them. I can't say it is that way with most people today. Backyard gardening, while it is starting to make a comeback, is still not very common. Many people don't do it because they believe that in order to grow food, you have to have a lot of land.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
You can grow food on your balcony if you live in an apartment. You would be surprised how many tomatoes you get off of just one plant. Same with peppers. You don't need to live on acres of land to have a food garden. Some plants will even grow inside, on your window sill. Vertical gardening is also gaining popularity, if you don't have much space, or even hydroponics, which is growing plants in water instead of soil.
Growing your own food is a win/win situation on many levels:
1. Saves money
2. Pesticide Free
3. Healthier (no chemical fertilizer)
4. Convenient (you don't have to go to the store)
5. Sets a good example to kids, friends and neighbors to be more self reliant
If you have never had a garden, now is a good time to start! If you feel daunted, then try container gardening first and then move on to ground gardening, if you have the space.
Basic Tool Skills - Using Hand Tools and Power Tools
If you aren't already familiar, you need to introduce yourself to tools. A hammer, screwdriver, pliers, measuring tape, wrench and other hand tools are easy to use and with a little practice, you can handle them like a pro. Driving a nail straight, or turning a screw can be mastered with time, all you have to do is to pick one up and go for it.
Power tools, on the other hand, are a bit more tricky and dangerous. You can do some real damage to yourself, someone else or whatever you are working on, if you lose control of a power tool. If you do not know how to use a power tool, I suggest you find someone that does and have them teach you. If you don't know anyone, then try the local Lowe's, Home Depot, or hardware store to see if they have any workshops that teach tool skills. You might want to make it a habit to attend any workshop offered locally, you can pick up a ton of knowledge at them for little or no cost.
Learning to handle common tools is important. Doing simply repairs around the house can save you money. Shingles blow off your roof? Find them and nail them back on. Your downspout fall off your gutter? Climb your ladder (or borrow one) and put it back on. There is no need to call a handyman and pay ridiculous fees for simply jobs you can do yourself. Buy yourself some tools and do it yourself, and if you don't know how, there's always YouTube. :)
Hand and Power Tool Safety Video
One of My Favorite Books
I love learning old fashioned skills, so when I saw this book on Amazon, I just had to buy it. It is a treasure trove of information on living self sufficiently and learning to do things yourself. I find myself going back to it again and again for information on how to do things such as making homemade toys, how to make fabric dye from plants, raising chickens, making jelly and jam.....even how to paddle a kayak and square dance!
This book is 456 pages jam packed with information about how to be more self reliant and self sustaining. If this subject interests you, this is one book you do not want to miss.
Reviving Lost Skills is Important
I hope I have been successful in showing why it is so important to learn these lost skills and to revive the practice of teaching them to our kids and family. If you are interested in learning these arts, please come and join me on my blog Homemade by Jade.On it I share all kinds of articles about gardening, cooking, sewing, crafts and many other useful skills. I hope to see you there!