I was watching a documentary today (amazing how many of my conversations begin this way) and they were discussing the lack of basic survival skills inherent in the population over the last 50 years or so (not including 3rd world). It boiled down to the concept that if the technological advantages and societies we currently have were to break down, most of the population would die off, not due to disease or lack of money or roving zombie hoards, but lack of essential skills needed to run say…a small farm or homestead.
This of course started a conversation with me an my girlfriend. If everything stopped tomorrow, if her degree as a graphic designer and mine as a preK teacher were suddenly useless, what skills did we have that could be used either in transit or on a small farm.
The list was pathetically short. What it really came down to was not that we have skills currently on our resume, but rather that we are both fairly adept at learning new skills in a short amount of time. She for instance has the rather impressive ability to reverse engineer the hell out of things! I’ve seen her fix the plumbing under a sink, transmissions, couches… Basically if she can take it apart, she can put it back together again. So while it might mean she doesn’t have any direct knowledge of something, she can gain it efficiently.
Mine (from her words not mine) is that I am a hard worker. I have a strong back and I don’t mind doing the heavy work that needs to get accomplished. Also i am a good cook. i know how to make a meal stretch and how to make things out of basic ingredients. (Whenever I say the word roux and nobody knows what I’m talking about I die a little inside).
So basically I wanted to play a little game with everyone who watches me. A little post apocalyptic scenario if you will. follow along and reply in the comments. Let us pretend that the grid is down. Cellphones, computers, all these modern conveniences we have come to rely upon are now worse than useless. most people are still clinging to the cities, but there are mass riots and rumors of a military crackdown being enforced. Most people who can leave have already done so. You and yours (immediate family husband/wife children) got out as quick as you could and have been motel hopping until you can find a place to stay permanently. You were hoping to make it to (random relative)’s house, but most of the gas stations are played out. You and your wife are trying to figure out what to do next, when a woman approaches you. she asks if you can all talk privately.
She explains that she and her family (husband and two kids) run a small dairy farm (aprox. 75 acres) just a short drive away. After everything started to go down, her workers went to go be with their families and she doesn’t have the hands to help run the place until they get back, if they are coming back at all. Supplies are plentiful, but there aren’t enough hands to get everything ready before the fall and winter seasons head in. she is amiable, but she makes it clear, if you don’t have any useful skills or knowledge, or can’t put in a hard days work, don’t bother coming.
What skills could you bring to the table under such circumstances? Remember, there is now no electricity. The farm has a well but they switched to city water years ago. These are dairy cattle, but they produce the hay in the west field. There is a small garden, but enough room to enlarge it to feed everyone. The south and east fields are flanked by a couple dozen miles of forest land.