Thursday, December 10, 2015

Re Learning Skills Lost To Time.

The idea of sustainability isn't new. It's not just a green party buzzword. Permaculture is the use of the soil cycle in a manner that leaves the soil in better condition after a growth cycle than how it was before the growing season. These models allow a nearly endless growing cycles if used properly. This idea isn't anything new. It's been refined by botanists and it's better understood today than it was in times past. It was still a required part of farming for thousands of years of human history. From placing a fish over stalks of maze like the Native Americans, to spreading manure on fields, it's been a mainstay of agriculture in it's earliest forms.

This is but one of the sustainable skills required by early humans that was refined and polished to perfection at the turn of the 20th century. After that time, technology and interdependence ravaged the skillset of your average human. For the most part, we have lost the skills to survive at the most simple level. We cannot feed ourselves independently if the need arises. We cannot survive in the wilderness without modern equipment. We cannot live a sustainable life with nature in this day and age, the knowledge and physical acuity has been lost by nearly all.

The dawn of modern living has stolen from human kind the ability and knowledge to live a self sustaining, independent lifestyle of simple pleasures. We have, as a whole, come full circle from wanting to harness nature, to realizing that we need nature far more than she needs us. It's taken a century to make that apparent to about half our population. I'm afraid the other half will never realize it, or realize their mistake too late to matter.

My grandfather was born in a dirt floored house in a small immigrant community near the Kentucky/Indiana border in 1911. He grew up with 9 siblings on a farm that raised beef and some hay. They grew and canned their meals for the winter. If they had a bad growing season, they got skinny. They augmented their income by felling and processing lumber for a cabinet company in a neighboring town. My Grandfather quit school in 8th grade to go work at that cabinet company. He still raised beef and felled trees with the family, but he was more interested in learning a trade that could take him away from dirt poor living. Consider the 90 years that have passed since he quit school. My son is in 8th grade. His biggest worry is remembering to bring home his trombone so he can practice.

 The magnitude of lost skills is truly mind boggling. There are so many skill sets that are valuable to prepared groups that it would be best for them to choose certain people to learn different skills instead of everyone learning the same set of primitive skills. I'd even go so far as to say the family unit should look to diversify.

The first lacking skill I chose to start refining was gardening, and it's a bit rough to begin with. 2014 was a great year and we had a bumper crop. 2015 was a little rougher with a soil issue in a main bed. Too many banana peels skewed the soil content. Lessons learned have a growing season to make an impression. It's an ongoing process, but the wife is taking the lead on that front. We did end up with a plethora of jalapenos, and all our friends are begging to get more of the canned sweet ones I made. I believe I'd go so far as to call it a marketable product we could readily trade with.

For 2016, we will be working on the pioneer skills of the trapper/woodsman. Injured men were able to save themselves from perilous situations with nothing more than a knife and the skills to use it. I've begun purchasing the tools of the woodsman and period correct gear for learning the same techniques that settled the west and carved a country out of a continent. YouTube has been a great resource for tools and techniques associated with woodcraft/bushcraft/woodsman skills. There are a plethora of wilderness schools out there that post new videos regularly. Everything from primitive traps to expedition requirements for unlimited time spent in the wilderness.

2017 is slated to be woodcraft related skills with primitive tools. I'm planing to utilize my Grandfather's tools to make useful items for a retreat or camp. By then we should have a new retreat property to utilize.

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