10 Lost Ways of Survival From Our Grandparents We Should All Learn – That Can Improve Our Modern Life
Many of us tend to roll our eyes at “old-fashioned” ways or ideas. I know I certainly did, especially as a teen!
My grandmother saw no use for a computer or even a telephone answering machine. She never owned a VCR. My mother was computer savvy, but she never could get the hang of a cell phone (she kept waiting for the dial tone). So, in some ways, I understand that modern technology is very useful and, personally, I love little electronic gadgets!
But it is also true that some of those “old-timey” ways are invaluable, no matter how advanced we might become. The older I get, the more I realize this.
In this article, I will examine ten old-school ways that can improve our modern way of life. No matter how old you are, no matter how young you are, no matter how much money you make, these still apply to you — and the benefits are enormous.
1. A sound mind in a healthy body.
We’ve all heard similar versions of this. It’s actually more about keeping your priorities straight. Too many of us are so caught up in this busy, modern world of ours that we completely neglect the things our bodies truly need, such as sleep, exercise, playtime and eating right. Especially sleeping and eating right. We eat in our cars, out of boxes or cans. We stay up too late watching the next season of “House of Cards,” eating takeout meals in bed.
Take a minute to look at how you are treating your body and mind. We all need down time, vacation time, family time, and time with friends. We need seven to nine hours of sleep and to eat at least one, if not two, reasonable, wholesome meals each day. We also need some exercise (a minimum of 30 minutes, most days of the week).
Planning can be both a priority and a habit. Fortunately, this is a habit I learned from my father at a very young age. I had age-appropriate chores from the time I was four. You see, there was nothing I loved more than to read by a nearby pond, or to go walking through the neighborhood fields, making friends with all the wildlife and local pets. I would put off my work until the very last minute. Even then, I never seemed to have enough time for everything! I was probably eight or nine when my father took me aside and explained that if I did all my work FIRST, then I would be free to do whatever I wanted with the rest of my day. I found out that he was right. I began doing my work first. As I got older, I learned to write out plans for the week, to be sure everything was finished on time or early, and I still had plenty of time to do what I wanted.
Someone once said that failure to plan is planning to fail. They were absolutely right.
3. Learning to focus.
In the old days, many people were happy to “lend” you their child as your apprentice for seven to 10 years, so that their child would learn a trade and be successful, or at least, self-sufficient. Although seven to 10 years seems like an exorbitant amount of time to us, old-timers knew that it took about that long to really become skilled and experienced at what you do.
So, why does it appear today that many people are inexperienced in their craft, even after 10 years of working at the same job? It’s a lack of focus. Modern-day life simply has thousands of distractions. Let’s face it — distractions are fun. Work? Not so much.
I’m not putting down Facebook or SNL. Laughing and distractions can be good things, if you don’t let them interfere with your life. Limit your distractions and watch how much you can accomplish if you only focus on the task at hand.
4. Save money.
I am well aware that many people struggle just to get by. However, my parents also struggled to get by, but they made it. And they saved. I, myself, several times in my life, found myself in terrible financial situations, but no matter what, I learned to save at least a little bit.
Once, I collected change everywhere I went – from the ground, from phone booth slots, from the floor of my car. I even turned in aluminum cans for a buck or two. All of that change went into a mayo jar until I had $5 or $10. I put it in a savings account. Yes, it took forever to save $100, but I felt good that I had at least a tiny bit of money that I could fall back on.
5. Community and family.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Facebook is not a substitution for community. In my grandmother’s day, being lonely and/or having no one to take care of you were not problems. Everyone had some type of family, even if it was only uncles or cousins, to help them if they needed it. In her last days, my grandmother was surrounded by neighbors and family members who did everything for her.
Not feeling socially connected can make you feel unloved. It even can lead to an early death. No one wants to live a life like that. Make real friends. Try making friends with a few neighbors. Stay in touch with family members whenever possible.
There was raking and mowing to be done, wood to be chopped and/or piled up near the house. These days nearly all those skills can be hired out and often times they are.
6. Knowing How to Live off the Land: The Art of Trapping
Traps can be defined as a survivalist’s secret weapon. A trap is not as flashy and bad-ass looking when compared to a tactical knife, but it’s one of the most reliable and effective tools for gathering food off the land. In a survival situation, hunting small game with traps and snares is the best option. Small game is abundant in almost all areas, in wilderness or near/inside the cities. There are a few proven methods that work when hunting small mammals, rodents, birds or waterfowl.
The simple snare trap consists of a noose that is placed over a trail or a den hole and connected to a stake. The noose must be large enough to allow the animal’s head to pass through; as the “victim’s” head moves through the snare, the noose will tighten around its neck and as the animal fights to get loose, the snare will strangle it.
It sounds very simple, but it’s extremely effective in the right situations.
You can improve your chance of success by baiting the trap, thus drawing the animal towards it. As bait, you should use a food source that is not abundant in the area, yet the animal is familiar with.
Using bait when fishing isn’t an option if you want to catch one. A great bait for small mammals is peanut butter (from a MRE ration for example). When using bait, you can use “samples” to attract the animal’s attention, by scattering little bits around the trap.
7.Meat Preservation: Pemmican & Smoke
1) Native Americans Method: Pemmican
It was imperative to Native Americans that no meat be wasted. There were a few reasons for this but the two main ones were that meat was crucial to survival, and wasted meat was a dishonor to both the animal who gave his life and to the hunter who took it. They were masters of preserving meat into jerky or pemmican and it was this that got them through the harsh winters.
The process of making jerky is fairly simple; Native Americans simply cut the meat into thin strips and dried it in the sun. Salt wasn’t used as a preservative like it is now. Fat will make the meat go rancid, so lean cuts are used.
Pemmican is a bit of a different deal. It consists of dried meat, rendered fat, and berries. The berries are optional but add more nutrition and flavor. Dry the meat until it’s crumbly. Grind it into a powder and pour just enough rendered fat over it to make it stick together. Add in the dried berries. Roll it into balls or press it into strips.
Pemmican will keep for years and is a great source of protein, fat, and (if you add the berries) carbohydrates. You can actually live off of just it and water for extended periods of time.
2) Smoke has the same effect as salt of keeping away bacteria from your meat. It also gives it a very tasty flavor which is why it is still used today.
If you know of a smokehouse near you, you can take it there, you will save time. If not, you can do the process yourself, but you will need a smoker. The good news is that they are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and use various fuels such as propane or charcoal. You can also modify grills or ovens to work as smokers, but the use of a regular smoker for this purpose is recommended.
This method is similar to grilling the meat and will generate a lot of smoke, so it needs to be done outdoors. However, grilling is a quick cooking process that uses high heat, while smoking takes much longer and uses indirect heat at low temperatures. The temperature should be anywhere between 150 and 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
This process is known as hard smoking and it is a way of cooking your meat in a way that will not require refrigeration. The end product will look similar to jerky.
Cold smoking is also available, and uses much lower temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This method is only used for flavoring the meat rather than actually cooking it.
8.How to Weight a Pig without a Scale
Weighing a pig is a pain in the behind and scales are expensive. Here’s an easy tip that’s nearly dead on. Start by measuring your pig from the base of his tail to between his ears, running the tape measure up his back. Then measure his girth right behind his front legs.
Now use this formula: Girth squared X length divided by 400. In other words, if your pig has a girth of 30, multiply that by itself to get the square: 30 x 30 is 900. Now, multiply this by his length. Let’s assume that he was 36 inches: 900 x 36=32,400. Now, divide that by 400: 32,400/400= 81. Your pig (or in this case, piglet!) weighs about 81 lbs. Easy, right?
Life on a homestead isn’t easy, and it’s not going to get any easier if we lose power and our world becomes chaos. Knowing as many shortcuts as possible that actually work is going to save you time and money so learn as many as you can. We hope that these helped!
9.How to Start a Fire
There are so many other ways to start a fire than with matches, a lighter, charcoal lighter, or gasoline, so practice making fires using alternate methods before a major crisis strikes.
The following methods may take a little skill and practice, but if done correctly there will be a fire to cook on and to keep you warm.
- Char cloth, also known as char paper, is a very popular tinder material used by preppers for decades upon decades. Made from vegetable fiber, generally linen or cotton, char cloth has been treated to become a very slow-burning fuel source with an extremely low ignition temperature. Char cloth only takes a spark to ignite it, and once lit can be used to light your other kindling and get your fire going.
- Cotton balls are a common tinder item packed by preppers due to their light weight, compact size, and flammability. You can toss a handful of cotton balls into a double-sealed Ziploc bag; for added flammability you can soak cotton balls in petroleum jelly.
- Solid fuel tablets are another popular tinder method; solid fuel tablets are compact, light-weight and dense enough that you can usually use one with a mini-stove to boil a cup of water; they burn hot, generally for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Dryer lint; for those of the economic mindset, here’s a great use for what you otherwise treat as trash. Just wad your dryer lint up in a ball and toss it in a double Ziploc, but be warned because dryer lint usually burns rather fast.
- Toothpicks, sold cheaply by the box in grocery stores everywhere, can serve as decent tinder to help get your kindling going; drop a few boxes into a waterproof bag.
- Steel wool, especially the finer steel wool, can serve as a rather suitable tinder material but you’ll need a 9 volt battery to ignite it. To ignite steel wool with a 9 volt battery, sampling drag the battery over the surface of the steel wool, it will immediately spark and catch fire, allowing you to add your kindling and start your fire.
10. How To Move Heavy Weights: Friction Reducing Slides
When you want to move a couch from one side of a room to another, aside from being very heavy, the legs of the couch may either dig into a solid floor or catch on the surface of the carpet. When rough surfaces encounter each other while in motion, drag or “friction”, it takes more energy to move the objects.
Friction reducing slides have two basic parts. The upper part sticks to the bottom of the object while the bottom part facing the floor is very smooth. No matter whether the objects is being moved across linoleum, a deep pile carpet, or some other surface, the slider will reduce friction and make it much easier to move the object. Even though friction reducing slides will not reduce drag as much as wheels, they help moving furniture or other heavy items around a smaller area.
For example, if you place several food buckets on a wooden palette in your store room or cellar, placing casters underneath the palette will make it much easier to move around. You will find these coasters much cheaper than heavy wheeled utility carts or other wheeled systems that can also be used for moving items around a single room.
Friction reducing slides are also very useful for furniture that you may want to move in a hurry in order to get to a hidden trap door or supplies hidden within a wall. Since the coasters are usually not very high off the ground, no one would realize that the furniture is very easy to move or that there might be something hidden behind it. In addition, these coasters are also very common in many homes, so they may also escape attention because it is not unusual to move furniture around from time to time.