Vintage Skills 10 More We Still Need in the Modern World
Vintage skills aren’t dead…but they are sick and needing a revival. So what vintage skills do we still need in modern society? Well if you ask me, most of them; but I whittled down my list a bit to the top 10 more vintages skills I think we still need today. This is a follow-up list to my original Homesteading Skills We Need to Learn and Teach. I’d love to hear what vintage skills you would add to either list, so make sure to leave me a comment at the end.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have all these vintage skills. I am working on them myself! But work on them! Don’t let the self-sufficient skills of the past be lost forever – learn and teach them! These are listed in no particular order.
Vintage Skill #1 – Fermentation
Sure, I have said time and again that canning and preserving food is important. But I also think you need to know how to ferment foods. Fermentation is a preservative of sorts and it is a wonderful, gut healing, food that we need to be eating on a regular basis. Start with a simple sauerkraut (check out Survival at Home’s recipe)and move on from there. One of my favorite fermented foods is fermented salsa (I love the laco-fermented salsa from Cheese Slave)! You can really use up some of your harvest that doesn’t look as pretty for a delicious and nutritious food.
Vintage Skill #2 – Hunting and Fishing
I have talked about the importance of raising a meat source on several of my posts. But hunting and fishing should also be among your skill set for homesteaders and survivalists alike. Sure people still hunt and fish but the majority of the population does not. This skill could fill your freezer with healthy meat without ever buying a bag of feed! You’ll need some initial funds for gear and licenses, etc but I think the overall payout is worth it.
Vintage Skill #3 – Medical Care
When I say medical care, I am not talking about pouring some alcohol on a cut and putting a bandage on. I mean you know how to make a sling for a hurt arm, you know how to brace a broken bone until you can get to help (aka hospital), you know how to stop a gushing wound so someone doesn’t bleed out, what about stitches in a pinch? I recommend looking for classes but if you can’t find that available then there are two books you should consider: The Survival Medicine Handbook and Duct Tape 911 (strange name, but useful info).
I’ll admit, some of this skill isn’t vintage but people knew how to take care of themselves back in the day with the information they had. We have more information now and we should act accordingly.
Vintage Skill #4 – How to Plant & Prune Fruit Trees
If you have a vegetable garden, and you should; it is time to take the next step and plant some fruit trees. Not only will fruit trees offer you an additional food source, you’ll have fruit for canning and preserving. If you have the room to plant a lot of trees you could even have an income for your homestead. My friend’s property used to be an orange orchard and many of the trees still remain. Each year her family has an abundance of juicy and delicious citrus to choose from; then she opens it up to friends. For only $5 you can fill a 5 gallon bucket full over the best organic oranges you’ve ever eaten! If you don’t have a lot of land to work with, consider planting fruit trees that do well in containers like dates. Books to help you with fruit: Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Orchard Fruits and Grow Your Own in Pots also see Rodale’s Growing Fruit in Pots article.
Vintage Skill #5 – How to Cut & Store Firewood
Not only is firewood a natural alternative heat source, you can cook with it. It is important to know how to choose trees, cut them down safely and then cut them into usable logs for your home. You’ll need to store them so they don’t get soaked regularly and keep them close for easy access.
It wouldn’t hurt to know how to start a fire, make fire starters for your use and how to store those as well. A well built fire will burn longer and stronger for you! I learned those skills as a girl scout, so you might be able to ask one if you’re unsure.
Vintage Skill #6 – How to Forage
Can you identify local edibles that grow in your area? Do you know what can and cannot be eaten? What about what can be used for medicinal properties. The best way to learn this is from a local forager who would be willing to take you out on a few trips. If you cannot find one then read everything you can on foraging, especially local foraging. See A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants (Eastern and Central North America) or Foraging in the Southwest or search specifically for a guide in your area.
Vintage Skill #7 – Have Some Off-the-Grid Skills
Could you light your home without electricity? Cook without it or gas? What about providing yourself energy without being attached the local grid? What about doing laundry by hand? If we really want to take our homesteading / prepping skills to the next level we need to be able to survive without all the modern conveniences. I am certainly not suggesting that you ditch it all at once but learn a little at a time so that the skills are available when needed.
Vintage Skill #8 – How to Breed Livestock
It is one thing to buy and tend to your livestock. But do you know how to successful choose breeding stock and facilitate breeding? Do you know which animals have cycles for breeding and which ovulate by stimulation (like meat rabbits)? This is not a skill to try until you get it right – that is going to cost you a lot of money, time and aggravation.
Vintage Skill #9 – Unplugged Entertainment
Historically most homesteaders probably didn’t have a lot of time to entertain themselves but they could. They played games, read real books, played musical instruments, wrote letters, etc. Can you and your family entertain yourself without your gadgets, tv, computer, etc? Get yourself and your kids off the video games – there are so much more productive (and fun) ways to spend your time! Your mind and body, not to mention your interpersonal relationships, will thank you.
Vintage Skill #10 – How to Save Seeds
Seeds do not last forever – especially organic heirloom seeds. You need to know how to harvest and store seeds from your own plants. What is wonderful about this, beyond the cost savings, is that your vegetables will become more and more adaptable to your climate as you use last year’s seeds to plant this year’s crops. I don’t save all of mine yet, we’re working up to that. But tomatoes are easy to start with, so are cucumbers. Later you can learn about saving seeds from greens and carrots.
This More Vintage Skills article is a follow-up to Homesteading Skills We Need to Learn and Teach.