Looking To Our Past – Part 1

Survival, Survival Knife, Survival Rifle, Black powder

We all know the stories about Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and many more too numerous to list; but how many have studied the skills and everyday chores that these men used to establish the United States as we know it today?

By Regulator5, a SurvivalCache contributor

The books written, except for the Journals of Meriwether Lewis and a few others, normally regale us in their plight to survive an Indian attack and where they rendezvoused for the winter, not the everyday skills used to survive the “wilds” they chose to make home.  The same can be said of the stories of the medieval knights, but we are seeing more books written on the daily lives of the “peasant or commoner” after archaeologists do their digs and publish the findings. We can and MUST look to these if we are to survive a long term society and infrastructure collapse.

There are several resources online and books being written to help explain the skills used by our Colonial ancestors to build The Book of Buckskinningthis country; The Book of Buckskinning series by William Scurlock, A Pilgrim’s Journey by Mark A. Baker, Sons of a Trackless Forest by Mark A Baker, Muzzleloader magazine and the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association with their Muzzle Blasts magazine to name a few, will be great resources to add to the survival library.  The Books of Buckskinning (8 in all) have several chapters written on everything from making soap and candles to building fires and firearms and everything in between.  By studying the Native Americans, we’ll learn skills of a people that survived without the aid of even metal (until the Europeans brought it). The medieval era brought us the metallurgy to make iron and steel, shape it into tools and weapons and living a primitive life on homesteads.  Most of my skills are grounded more in the Colonial/Mountain Man era, as that is the times I study and “play” in the most.

The medieval blacksmiths were very resourceful and paved the way for How to Blacksmithour modern tools and many of the items we take for granted today.  They found that by burning peat moss (with the iron ore imbedded) they would get balls of molten iron for working their trade.  There are natural deposits of iron ore, but will we have the time and energy to mine it?  By burning this peat moss, the iron becomes injected with a high carbon count from the vegetation being burnt with it and now we have a stronger metal.  These blacksmiths did their work without the advanced forges of today but still made tools and weapons that kept society and mankind growing and surviving as a whole.  They found that by adding other metals, they could form new metals, such as steel, and create an even stronger product.  Find books on primitive metallurgy and acquire the skills necessary before they are truly needed.  How much pride will you have knowing you skinned that squirrel with a knife you made, cooked it in a pan you created and used the fork and knife you forged?  Eating and cooking utensils can also be made from wood, horn and bone.

Land Navigation

Land navigation by primitive means may be required.  Compasses get broken or lost and without the local surplus or sporting Navigating the Wildernessgoods store, replacement may be a long wait.  Also, in the event of a military invasion, that fancy tritium compass may pin point your location or path due to the minute radioactive signatures (the nice part that glows may be the same as gives you away).  I do not know nor claim to claim to know enough on this subject to give advice….yet.  I am trying to learn and hope to become proficient in using a sextant and follow the stars.

Self bows (long bows) and wooden arrows tipped with flint arrowheads alternativing hunting methodsfed the tribes of America long before the muskets and fowling pieces of the Europeans.  Preppers should study and become proficient in their use and making these tools.  By heating the wood for the arrows, you can straighten it with a piece of antler.  There are several books written on the subjects of building bows, making arrows and flint knapping.  The type of wood used will depend on your locale. Hickory, Osage Orange and Yew are probably the most common used, but research what the Natives used in your area.  Bow staves can be purchased at first to practice and acquire the skills to build your own from scratch.

Insects are a pest, literally as well as figuratively. There are several options to use that do not incorporate over the counter “repellents” and their chemicals.  I use the large “punks” used for lighting fireworks.  I will light several and place them around my area when fishing or sitting out at night.  You can also burn certain fungi to get the same effect, tree fungus smoldering works very well.

For my personal repellent, I wear a “medicine bag” like the Native Americans.  I use a mixture of many essential oils and plant insect repellentmaterial.  I still get bit, but not often and a lot less than when I used commonly used chemical based repellents.  Unscented baby oil or “Skin So Soft” (Avon product) also works well.  You can also help keep blood sucking insects at bay by eating garlic.  It doesn’t work immediately, but mosquitoes and other “vampire” pests do not seem to appreciate the taste or smell.

Clothes will be another necessary item that people take for granted.  The fact that almost everyone buys mass produced clothing now and no longer makes “homespun” clothes will become tantamount to morale and survival.  A lot of people just throw away that pair of jeans because of a hole in the knee, but if you cannot run over to the local department store and buy a new pair; they will soon be out of the necessary items to survive even the slightest change in weather.  Humans do not have the natural skin and hair to survive the very systems that Mother Nature relies on to survive, i.e. thunderstorms, snows, wind, sun, etc.  We are a fragile species and must rely on our mind for survival.  Being able to patch and sew clothes or make new items from either the hides of our game or domestic animals or produce textiles from raw cotton and wool; this will become a valuable skill.  People talk of stockpiling goods to barter with, which is a good idea, but this is temporary if we do suffer a complete TEOTWAWKI (End Of The World) event and must rebuild what has taken centuries to build.

The hides of the game harvested or the livestock slaughtered can be tanned from several natural methods.  I know the brain Deerskin to Buckskin Booktanning method and using the tannic acid from hardwood trees.  Every animal has enough brain matter to tan the hide it wears.  The book, “Deerskins to Buckskins” by Matt Richards is a valuable book for this endeavor.  The ashes and wood of hardwoods have a lot of tannic acid in them and can be used to tan a hide.  A hollow stump is great to use, but if still available, you can use plastic barrels. I’d avoid metal containers.  Place the hide in the container and add water and hardwood ashes from a fire.  You will have to continually stir the hide until complete.  Leather clothes will provide protection from the elements and other dangers like thorns (the reason cowboys wore chaps).  A soft deerskin shirt and pants are also very quiet in the woods for stealth. Hides with the hair on are warmer, as the fur provides insulating properties.  Also the fur on can help camouflage you from the game you are hunting (How To Vanish articles).  The warmest of all hides is polar bear, followed by caribou; the Native Americans and many of our mountain men used buffalo robes to ward of the cold of harsh winters.  Please find books to read and research and practice all this before the time you need it.

Making a grist/flour mill will also be of great value. You will need this to turn the wheat, rye, acorns, etc into flour for common items such as bread, cakes (morale booster), pancakes, cornbread, etc.  Grist mills can be powered by livestock, people, wind or water.  A water powered mill built along the banks of a river or stream is probably the most common, but you can create one by using a wind mill to turn the stones as well if you live in an area where water is scarce and wind is plentiful (Great Plains).  Nuts can be ground down to make your own peanut/almond/etc butter or used in batter to add flavor and protein to pancakes or breads.  Flour can also be used for bartering or even the use of the grist mill can be used as a bartering item; you can grind their corn into meal for a percentage of the product to save your garden for other items.  The ideas are only slowed or held back by your imagination, the civility of your neighbors and the ability to protect your preparations from renegades.

Candles

Candles will possibly be the greatest value of a light source we have and learning to make them is simple and fun for the kids. All you need is a string (kite string works well and is cheap) and a bucket of melted wax and a bucket of water. After dipping the string into the wax bucket, dip it in the water to cool the wax, wipe the water off and repeat as often as necessary to get the candle to the size you want. This will form the longer candles normally seen in candle holders. You can use deer antler to make a candle holder for them and really have a rustic looking light source. You can also make candles in jars by putting the wick material (string or whatever you choose) and pouring the melted wax in. Beeswax works well for these and can be eaten in an emergency. Animal tallow and fat can also be used for candles.  You can also add essential oils from sage, marigold and other plants to help keep insects away and adds a nice smell to the Bug Out Location (BOL).

Coming soon – Part 2

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

TINDERWOLF October 17, 2011 at 6:01 am

Basically homesteading 101! Good article Regulator. Sometimes we get so caught up in the more violent/"exciting" aspect of survival and forget about the rebuilding and living day to day aspect. To any boday who lives int he country or has a bit of land I definitly reccommend practicing all these trades along side your modern way of livling. I know if I had the space I would. Not only is it good practice for if you need it someday but it really gives you an appreciation for everything that you have once you understand the work involved in certain tasks.

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Regulator5 October 30, 2011 at 7:44 am

The "mundane" tasks are what will keep us alive if the need arises to implement our plans. I for one hope that if we must use our plans, I have "wasted" my time planning for the defense portion of any scenario. I agree with you that the tendancy is to plan for the "exciting" parts because this is the area that most people are most unfamiliar with while the mundane is taken for granted.
As CaptBart has stated in several comments and articles, plan for the most likely SHTF event(s) and build from there. If it's a blizzard that shuts down our normal lives for a week or two, food stocks, water, candles and the generator will be all that's needed but if it progresses or starts as a major event, perpetual skills, knowledge, and gear will be the answer.
Prepping is probably the biggest juggling/balancing act ever undertaken, with a huge helping of what-if's as side and the uninvited Murphy for a dinner guest.

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millenniumfly October 17, 2011 at 7:10 am

Readers might also be interested in books such as "Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills" and "Primitive Technology II: Ancestral Skill – From the Society of Primitive Technology" both available at Amazon.com.

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Regulator5 October 30, 2011 at 8:25 am

Good books, thanks for the insight.

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JohnDoe1999 October 17, 2011 at 9:49 am

Very cool Regulator 5, I've definitely got to start thinking about TEOTWAKI plans and Homesteading. Great article.

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Regulator5 October 30, 2011 at 7:32 am

Homesteading doesn't have to take place just because of a TEOTWAKI. You can use some of the skills to help reduce grocery costs, energy bills, and just eat healthier without the genetic mutated food they are trying to force us to buy/eat.
Most if not all fruit and nut trees take years to mature enough to be a viable food source, so planting early is essential. Asparagus can also take a few years (depends on variety for exact time frame) to mature enough to be harvested when planted from seed.

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JohnDoe1999 October 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

I'm definitely on board with what you're saying. I've always believed in self reliance when it comes to defense, and I'm about ready to unsubscribe from the franken-food facebook lifestyle that I'm apparently supposed to desire and move towards true self reliance.

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CaptBart October 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

Nice article, Regulator. A tip for sextant use – most sextants require a clear horizon at sea level. This establishes the level plain used for the angles. There is a correction for height above sea level in the books. (The navigation deck on an aircraft carrier is MUCH higher than a sub's conning tower.) Unless you live along a coast line, you won't have that horizon. Aircraft sextants have a bubble of air to give you that reference. With a regular sextant you can use a dish pan full of water to reflect the star you are sighting on into your sextant but this means you have some work to do to correct for the improper horizon. The artillery used a T2 Theodolite for land navigation, level came from the setup and height was local elevation. Not trying to teach a course in sextant use, just be aware of the issues when you start or you could spend a lot of time chasing problems with your results that have nothing to do with your skill and everything to do with where you are. http://www.celestaire.com/Sextant-Accessories/Dav…
for a short discussion of artificial horizons.

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Regulator5 October 30, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thanks for the tips and extra information. I only knew they were and could be used but it's an area I am completely lost on. I hope to learn the skill. Just being able to know the cardinal directions can be a huge survival benefit. This has more benefits than just knowing which direction one must travel but can help protect someone from weather systems. I know here in the Midwest, most severe storms come from the Southwest, so if possible, I make my camp on the Northeast side of a hill to help buffer any winds.

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Rescue7 October 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Good article Regulator. Finally, someone who acknowledges the skills of the native people. Just got back from a petroglyph hunt. The oldest native art showed them hunting with spears, spears with fulcrums later, then finally much later bows and arrows. They collected obsidian to make cutting instruments with and were nomadic following food sources with changing seasons. Main source of food came from juniper berries, mesquite beans, pinion pine seeds, acorns, lake fly larva, grass hoppers, occasionally meat from a trap or successful hunt. They walked a hundred miles or more a year. We found shelter bases of stacked stones and brush shaped like a U. Nearby were grinding stones with the work stone still sitting on the base. They set up seasonal camps near water sources. They lived a hard life. I’d venture to guess most of us wouldn’t last a month.

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Regulator5 October 30, 2011 at 7:04 am

Native Americans are a favorite topic for me (part Cherokee and Dakota). Early American history is also the era I personally deal with the most in my studies and hobbies. I make different crafts, i.e. medicine bags, dream catchers, possibles bags, etc to give to friends and family as gifts to give something "personal" even if I get them something manufactured.
My nephew started trapping this year, he's 9. I am getting the claws and teeth to make him a hair pipe choker as a keepsake. I may even "buy" the hide from him to add some decoration to a new possibles bag or make him a hat from it.
One of the best Native resources for everyday survival writings I have found, seem to be from the Ojibwa tribe. They seem to have kept many of their traditions and day to day skills intact (as others did) but also published them in book form.

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EmorySr October 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm

This is a great article and so, so true. We have lost the skills that our fathers and grandfathers knew as second nature. It's a shame, while we thrive in our computer skills and hi-tech prowess, many of us couldn't crack wheat to make flour or tan a hide to make a coat for the winter. Me included.
Personally, I have started doing everything I can by caputing this needed knowlege, mostly in the form of reading but also in the form of talking to Great Depression survivors. I also decided to skip my late-in-life trip to Grad school in order to re-learn some of these skills. My first stop? WWII vets. They like to talk, I like to listen. Those old timers are a such treasure trove of informatoin regarding survival, because of surviving BOTH the Depression and WWII. As this article rightly portrays, we have lost these skills and we should learn from these survivors before we lose that valuable resource forever. That's my $.02. ;)

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TINDERWOLF October 18, 2011 at 5:51 am

So true Emory, not putting down college and higher learning but you could learn more in a few hours of listening to our living history teachers than in a lifetime of sitting at a desk.

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Regulator5 October 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I too am trying to "re-acquire" the skills and knowledge lost due to civilization. I started going to buckskinner and medieval reeactments. The participants have already started learning and practicing the skills of old and are almost always willing to help the newcomer learn and grow.

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Al_68 October 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I have a couple of books that give some pretty good info in this area, My favorite is "Back to Basics", put together by a group at Reader's Digest. Lots of good info, although I would like a little more detail. The other is Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery. Both are worth a look IMO.

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CaptBart October 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Al_68,
Back to Basics is one I gave to each of my kids as they left home. You are correct, the level of detail is a little thin in places but over all, I think it is a "best buy" in terms of getting started.

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GRUNT DOC October 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

Good article and info that we all need. Another source I've found helpful is the "Foxfire" book series. Each book in the series deals with aspects of daily living and, ultimately, surviving without modern technology. My ancestors managed the same way in southwestern Virginia. They were real hillbillies but they knew how to take care of themselves using many of the skills described in the Foxfire books. The books are still in print and can be obtained at http://www.foxfire.org. The entire series sells for $216 +S&H or you can order the individual books. Keep up the good work.

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T.Rapier October 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

History is one of mans greatest teachers , Mechanical ( how people did things ) history is easy , accurate and easy to come by . Its all the other history that has been compromised . You cant learn from something you haven’t been told the truth about .

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Regulator5 October 30, 2011 at 8:25 am

Amen.

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P.M.Lawrence October 22, 2011 at 3:14 am

The medieval blacksmiths were very resourceful and paved the way for our modern tools and many of the items we take for granted today. They found that by burning peat moss (with the iron ore imbedded) they would get balls of molten iron for working their trade.

No, they didn’t. Peat just doesn’t burn that hot. In fact, apart from possibly some Greek, Roman and Chinese work, even charcoal fires just weren’t hot enough to melt (pure) iron at all until the eighteenth century. Iron working just used the fire to melt out some slag but reduced the iron with carbon monoxide, leaving it solid throughout. Charcoal fires of that era could possibly get hot enough to melt iron that had a high carbon content, which could be made into (brittle) cast iron – but peat fires couldn’t.

By burning this peat moss, the iron becomes injected with a high carbon count from the vegetation being burnt with it and now we have a stronger metal.

No, that just left it more brittle, as there was too much carbon. That’s why iron working went through more stages, first to get rid of the carbon (and any remaining slag), then to add back in a controlled amount of carbon, and then to give it the right heat treatments to give it the desired properties.

The significance of peat wasn’t because it could be used to smelt (not melt) iron, but because bog iron – nodules of iron oxide and carbonate, and possibly phosphate or sulphate – built up slowly at certain points where streams with dissolved iron entered the peat bogs, as the acidity changed and precipitated it out so it slowly built up there. That made a convenient source of raw material. Norse smiths even worked out a clever way of getting rid of phosphate content that made the resultant iron poor quality (it involved hungry ducks) – roasting was good enough to deal with sulphate.

They found that by adding other metals, they could form new metals, such as steel, and create an even stronger product.

You do not get steel by “adding other metals”, but by controlling the carbon content and using the right heat treatments (as just mentioned). Stainless steel, now, that does use other metals – but that and other alloy steels weren’t discovered until much later.

The ashes and wood of hardwoods have a lot of tannic acid in them and can be used to tan a hide.

The ashes don’t have any tannic acid in them, unless you are counting unburned wood as ash – it’s all been broken down by the fire. Their use is not because of tannic acid content but because of other properties.

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EmorySr October 23, 2011 at 9:29 am

Great reply P.M. Lawrence. Very sound metallurgy analysis. Sounds like a quote from my "Materials" and "Stength of Materials" books, if I've ever heard one. Would love to start a discussion forum about "forged" verses "investment casting" modern firearms. I think the two of us could put to bed a whole lot of misinformation. :)

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Regulator5 October 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Appreciate the metallurgy comments. By "burning" the peat (using a wood fire), you basically just get a large chunk of iron ore. Do I think this is the best iron… no, but it worked for the Vikings.

As for using wood ashes, it worked for the squirrel hides I tanned about 22 years ago. http://www.manataka.org/page27.html Brain tanning also works extremely well.

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P.M.Lawrence October 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Oh, I’m sure the ashes did help tan the leather, it’s just that they weren’t doing it with tannin or tannic acid – they didn’t have any left. Simple tanning used bits of bark or oak lined pits to provide that, with concentrated urine to help dissolve it and for its other effects working in a different way (just as ash has other effects working in a different way).

About iron, bluntly, no, the Vikings did a lot more than that to get iron – and they knew their stuff, and made pretty good iron. I’ll describe the whole process as far as getting iron, as used in Africa when the first explorers observed it, which archaeology shows is close to how it was done at first in Europe (more sophisticated arrangements were often used later, e.g. by the Vikings, but the chemical and physical principles were the same). You may be thinking of just the roasting stage.

First, you get the ore. This usually has to be crushed and washed to get rid of as much other material as possible and to leave it in the small pieces the next two stages need. This probably wasn’t necessary with the bog iron the Vikings used.

Then you spread it out thinly on a low fire while air blows over it – roasting. This cooks out any water, carbon dioxide and sulphur oxides, and leaves it in the crumbly, spongy form the next stage needs. Peat fires are perfectly good for this, but you haven’t got iron yet, only iron oxide.

Then you dig a pit and line it with prepared iron oxide as insulation. You build up charcoal in this, rising into a mound. In the middle, you don’t just use charcoal but a blend of charcoal and prepared iron oxide, with a suitable material as a flux if you can get it (this improves yield by melting and taking out slag preferentially, since if the slag melts on its own it takes some iron with it and more slag is left behind). As the mound reaches ground level, around the edge you put in downward sloping, long, open ended pots (called “tuyeres”, from the French – I can’t get the accent on the first “e”). Around the outside, you put some sort of insulating layer that can survive the heat long enough – pieces of termite mounds in Africa, and usually green boughs in Europe, though I suppose peat might have done. Then you light kindling in the tuyeres and blow air through them with bellows, which eventually makes everything burn white hot and reduces the iron oxide into iron from the carbon monoxide that is formed working its way into the sponginess. But the iron never actually melts, it just gets soft (“plastic”).

After that, you have a white hot, spongy mass of soft iron and harder iron carbide, carbon and slag in the middle, which you put through the later stages I won’t cover here (some of them rely on the softness of hot iron compared to the rest). You also have a little of that in the pit lining, so you save that to put in the central mass the next time. Even though you have iron at this point, it still needs the later work to be useful, and you can’t even get this far without the high heat charcoal can give but peat or wood can’t.

On alloy steels, I should perhaps have qualified my remarks about when they were discovered. Just as the first bronzes were probably made accidentally by making copper from just the right impure ores, so also there were some early, accidental alloy steels made from just the right impure ores, e.g. Damascus steel, Wootz steel, etc. But in my book, that doesn’t count as “discovered” since nobody realised alloying was involved and certainly nobody ever deliberately put other metals or ingredients in (apart from carbon), whether in the ore stages or in the metal stages, the way people found that adding tin to copper in the right proportions made bronze.

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Regulator5 October 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I appreciate the scientific explanations and hope you continue to share your knowledge with the rest of us. I should have consulted a physicist or metallurgist on the exact formula and procedures. On adding the other elements or metals to form "steel" or other alloys, I read books on medieval blacksmithing and they spoke of manganese as a sought after ore to add to iron for making a high grade steel for weapons. Wikipedia also seems to support this, but most of the technical jargon is lost on someone as simplistic as me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel

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P.M.Lawrence October 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm

“Add to” is the wrong way of looking at it. Nobody went looking for manganese ore; they didn’t even know that there was such a thing as manganese. Rather, they went looking for “that funny sort of iron ore”, and used that – not manganese ore, but actual iron ore that just happened to have some manganese in it, and they weren’t adding two ores together to get the result. When they added another ore, it wasn’t adding ore that had manganese to get a result, it was adding ore that didn’t have manganese to stretch the ore that already gave the result a bit further.

Until about the time of Paracelsus’s discovery of zinc in the 15th century, the only metals known were gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, lead and mercury (and their alloys). I’m using “known” and “discovery” in my earlier sense, that people consciously realised there was a distinct metal there – which didn’t stop the ancient Celts from making a tablet out of left over metallic stuff, which we now know was mostly zinc that had been made accidentally (that confused the archaeologists).

barter411 October 22, 2011 at 3:54 am

Found you through the LewRockwell.com link. These are some great suggestions. Some of the homesteading blogs refer to "heirloom skills" that some people are re-learning in this push button age we are living in.

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Regulator5 October 31, 2011 at 8:50 am

Welcome to the site and please share knowledge and experiences you have.

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Guest October 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Here from LRC as well. Best wishes!

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JT5 October 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Thanks Reg!! You have no idea how much this article has helped me. I've been interested in this stuff since I was a kid, but only a year ago did I really start to question the stability of my life as it is now. My dad, brother, and girlfriend think I'm weird; my mom on the otherhand really understands and supports me and is always asking questions about my goals and projects. I just hope that in time they come to realize that I'm trying to help us if worse comes to worse.

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Regulator5 October 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I apologize for just touching on points and not going in depth on them. I briefly touch on several points and try to give references for everyone to begin their own journey of learning and acquiring skills.
I'll be the first to admit that I am NO expert in all the fields, nor probably even one. I have led a multi-faceted life outdoors, whether it was hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, etc as an "adventure" or getting something for the dinner table; to using past experiences and lessons learned while wearing a uniform.
I hope by the articles and comments, everyone is able to share ideas, experiences and knowledge; thus giving all readers a better chance of surviving an "event" of whichever magnitude occurs. Use comments or ideas expressed by the author of the article to form keyword searches and study all you can on the subject (by several authors), then practice the skills so you actually have them.

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CaptBart October 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

Regulator5,
the metal work might make a good forum topic. I appreciate the level of detail here. Since I'm thinking of blacksmith skills as something to acquire, I'd like to see this in the form. Just a suggestion.

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Regulator5 October 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Capt, It would make a good topic in the forums. I would surmise that PM has much more knowledge than I do in that area. I am not a major metal worker, can weld a 3 point hitch enough to get the chore done or get the equipment back to the shop (where friends fix it correctly and more eye appealing). I also couldn't speak to the scientific specifics, I am and always will be , a layman. Even some of the items I know and do, I couldn't speak to it, as I wouldn't know proper terms. As I've said in my articles, I briefly touch on points and items and try to give as many references for others to do their own research (most of my ways would probably make OSHA have a coronary); I don't try to mislead but my terminology or common use wording to me, seems to promote some dissension among the readers.

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P.M.Lawrence October 31, 2011 at 1:35 am

But I’ll bet you’ve got a lot more hands on, in your bones practical experience that will let you get started with things a lot quicker than I could (I’m ambiclumsy). What I’ve got is a lot of theory I haven’t tried, with a few bits of hands on experience trying some of it in a few, limited areas, so I know just where pure theory lets a lot of people down and the kind of awkward practical questions to ask – but I don’t have the answers ready to go.

Here’s an example. When my younger brother and I were teenagers, my father once asked my brother to hammer an iron rod straight on the top of our coal bunker, since he needed an improvised long drill bit. My brother got very upset when he couldn’t do it – he’d been trying to knock it straight with controlled blows – and my father was annoyed and surprised he didn’t know how, so I took my brother outside and showed him how to put the whole rod on the bunker top, then hammer down each highest point while turning slowly until all the high points had smoothed to near enough straight.

Now here’s the thing. My father had grown up when there were still skilled workmen like blacksmiths around, so he’d simply seen it done – tradition. My brother was finding out the hard way – experience. But I had made the connection with demagnetising iron, from realising there was something like hysteresis involved, and I had come up with the answer to that in a school quiz after we were first told the problem of overshooting. So I had insight – first for demagnetising, and then to apply that to the straightening, so I was able to show my brother how even though I’d never seen it done or even been told anything about it. But I am not fool enough to think my insight makes up for real tradition or experience I don’t have.

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Regulator5 October 31, 2011 at 7:01 am

That's what makes this site so great; the articles create a topic(s) and the readers add comments based on experiences and knowledge to create a full picture and most of the time, even more ideas for the same gear or skill set.

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Regulator5 November 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I hopped on a thread in the Blacksmithing section of the forums with some ideas.

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Mike U November 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

Awesome article. I liked the links, and the ideas. Gives me a great place to start. Look forward to #2.

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Peter November 20, 2011 at 3:45 am

As far as metal acquisition goes, I doubt mining raw ore would be practical anyway in a general societal collapse, which appears to be the assumption here. If I were going to try to develop my skills, I think focusing on what modern sources of iron and steel I could work into suitable tools and practice those. Just as you wouldn't build a birchbark vessel or waterskin if you found a plastic bottle, similarly you wouldn't go digging for ore when the leaf spring from a derelict car is right there. Learning to work metal takes time and practice, and that is a valuable skill to have. I'm not saying understanding the fundamentals of metallurgy are of no use, just that practical knowledge, such as what alloys work best for what and where to scavenge them is more useful. Good, thought provoking article. Thanks.

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Regulator5 December 2, 2011 at 7:15 am

I agree. With the amount of steel already produced and will be in abandoned vehicles and other equipment, mining ore will probably not be needed. I personally hope to have the knowledge, whether used or not, but the medieval blacksmiths should be studied for ingenuity and pioneers in this art.

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MethanP January 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

One advantage we have over Daniel Boone is that we "know" whats possible.Its hard to invent the light bulb if you don't know what electricity is. Any "event" that leaves a core of humanity will see a rapid rise of development because we can imagine what was.

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Regulator5 July 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

I agree MethanP. Plus much of the infrastructure should still be somewhat intact after an event. I just hope we as a society, take a more practical and long term thought process to how we use our resources or destroy them. Thanks for reading and the comment.

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KansasScout November 2, 2012 at 6:30 am

What is a good source for a decent and inexpensive recurved bow?

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KansasScout November 2, 2012 at 6:40 am

I once bought a book called Mountainman Crafts and Skills. If you can find it in a used book store or if it is back in print a regular book store it maybe a good idea to get a copy. Try Amazon too. It was written by a David Montgomery. Many of the skills within can aid you in surviving and perhaps rebuilding your lives post TEOWAWKI.

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pflgbczrf August 8, 2013 at 4:16 am

hi everyone I am glad to here!

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Metaalbewerkingen August 22, 2013 at 12:50 am

Allways like to read about history.

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Regulator5 July 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

I am glad you found the article and website useful and informative. I hope you and your fellow office workers find the information you need on the site and please check out the Survival Cache Forums for even more ideas and knowledge from several members.
Thank you for the kind words and the comment. I hope we here can keep providing information to help People prepare for any emergency that comes along.

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