This article was originally published by James Cole at BioPrepper.com.
James is the author of Civilian Commando – Special Ops Secrets To Surviving Anything, a comprehensive survival and preparedness guide – Click Here To Download It For Free!
In the middle of this catastrophe, money in the bank, gold in your home, or collector’s antiques aren’t going to matter too much. What is going to matter are skills. What goods or services can you provide that will be useful for others? During and after an economic meltdown, survival will be the challenge. The basics of food, shelter and clothing are obvious. Other skills will be extremely useful to travel, commerce, and aggressive defense.
The concept of private barter and alternative economies has been so far removed from our daily existence here in America that the very idea of participating in commerce without the use of dollars seems almost outlandish to many people. People sometimes forget that the smallest and most convenient storage space is in their own heads. If you find yourself in the midst of a disaster and you need to either build or fix something, having the necessary knowledge and skills in your mind instead of in a book will hugely benefit your ability to survive.
There’s no way of telling quite how different life after a major disaster or serious collapse of society could be, but humans are remarkably resilient, so life would certainly go on.
One thing is certain, though: in the aftermath of a widespread disaster or the collapse of civil society as we know it, you’ll want to have useful skills and items that you can barter or trade with. Once society collapses, bartering will become a business, a black market business if you will, likely run by criminal elements. Individuals will have items they can barter with, but in most cases, a person would not be able to afford to part with the items they do have. Anyone not prepared will have nothing to barter with, so looters will be active as well as desperate.
Looters and other criminals will steal so they can then use the stolen items, or just to barter with for other goods. Real trading will be based On ‘long term’ items. Seeds, not food. Arrows, not ammo. Tools, not filters. See, once the ‘short duration expendables’ are consumed, you won’t be re-supplying, you’ll be making your own or doing without. From turning your own arrow shafts, to cutting arrowheads from old license plates; from building filtration weirs to filter water, to needing copper tubing to make ‘wood-fired-water-heaters’. Knowledge and durable supplies (axes, hammers, spoke shaves, saw blades, etc.) will be the real money.
He who has stocked dozens of saw blades will be king. He who sits on a case of toilet paper will be sad he didn’t learn how to replace it with what they used 200 years ago, instead (FYI, toilet paper is only about a 100-year old concept – ask yourself, what did they use before that, and get a real clue – because THAT is VERY valuable in the long term!)
So, forget stocking for that 2-week event, it’s not that difficult. The hard part is stocking for the total paradigm shift, that few remember how to do much of. You won’t be making your own saw blades anytime soon. Now, ask yourself, what else will you NOT be making, that you need to learn how to make, or replace with older technology, before you need it (or need to trade it).
Organic Gardening and Seed Saving:
Skills involving food production will be the most valuable in a post-collapse society. Learning to grow your own food is a must. Obviously, it is necessary to feed your family, but you will also be able to trade your abundance for other items. Additionally, learning to save seeds will also provide another excellent means of trade. Understanding permaculture design for your garden can help reduce water consumption and use the lands natural resources. Aquaponics can provide plants, fish, and store water. Watch this video to understand how aquaponic sistems work.
First Aid, CPR and Herbal Remedies
With the possibility of illness and injury, knowledge of first aid, C.P.R. and using proven natural, home remedies will be necessary. Medical commodities will be extremely in demand in a national melt down situation. The more you are able to treat on your own, the better.
Keep in mind, if you can go to the doctor or hospital, and use conventional medication- DO IT. You may want to have friends who know how to run a medical clinic.
Without water, humans cannot survive. The estimated survival period for humans without water is three days. Knowing how to store and purify water will be essential. If you can store large amounts of water, not only will you be a good provider for your family, but for friends and local communities as well. Boiling water is one sure way to remove contaminates.
The ability to build strong structures is relevant across so many different categories. Welders from Advantage Manufacturing Ltd work on everything from auto transport, to home equipment, to other specialized tasks regularly. If you can work metal, you are an asset to transportation, construction, and community defense.
Not being able to jump in the car and go to the store, fast food restaurant, or coffee shop will be an adjustment for most of us. Knowing how to produce and preserve your own food will be an essential skill. Those who can make this adjustment will likely be the ones who will survive.
Being at the mercy of what the land can yield will be something new to us. Vegetables only grow in seasons, unless you have a greenhouse (recommended).
Canning, jarring, making jams, jellies, and jerky will keep food in the house when food prices drastically increase, and when you lose the fridge and freezer.
Food Processing and Preservation:
Learning to process and preserve foods will be another huge skill in a post-collapse world. Taking seasonal abundance and preserving it for future consumption or trade will be vital. Remember, learning to do this with limited electricity is a must. One necessity for every homestead is having someone who knows how to butcher animals and preserve them for future consumption by smoking, salt curing, or dehydrating. This can also include learning to brew beer, mead, vinegar, or other alcoholic beverages from meager ingredients.
Hunting, Fishing, and Gathering:
Learning to fish and hunt is essential to survival. Having the proper gear and training will be priceless after the collapse of modern civilization. Having reference guides for edible plants in your region, repairing weapons, trapping wild game, and fishing are great tools to have if you haven’t the time to learn them now. You should also take the time to learn or refine your skills on hunting using quiet weapons like bows, slingshots, knives, and spears.
Knowledge of animal husbandry can provide endless amounts of sustainable meat, eggs, and milk to you and your tribe. Your farm animals are the most valuable food source you have since they can reproduce. Knowing which animals to breed and when is an important part of farming and should not be learned through mistakes.
Knowing how to cook without using your time-saving, electricity driven appliances may not be as easy as you think. Practice cooking with your stored food supplies using no or very little electricity. You will soon realize how much more time and preparation it takes to do what once was a simple task. Learn to cook using a dutch oven, a sun oven, an outdoor fire pit, and whatever means you have for cooking.
Someone who knows how to forage for wild edibles and can increase your food supplies, becomes an asset to any group. There will be a high demand for this skill.
Caring for Clothes
Keeping clothes is decent shape is something to consider. Inability to replace a wardrobe because simple items like t-shirts, socks and undergarments could cost a fortune that cannot be afforded could be problematic. Learn how to sew with a single needle and thread, instead of a machine, same with the laundry, washing by hand. Weaving and quilting could also be helpful skills.
With the climate being as it is, heating, cooling, drought, flooding, and other extreme weather disasters are something to be prepared for. Dressing for the elements using common sense will help. The simple act of knowing how to start a fire, without matches or a lighter will come in handy. Try a magnifying glass or prescription glasses and the sun, if rubbing sticks does not work.
Self-sustainability is one of the most important skills to learn. You can store food, water, and everything else you may need for survival but when those stored supplies run out, and they will, how will you replenish them? Knowing how to live off the land, grow a garden, raise animals, store seeds, hunt for food, or make your own clothing can prolong your survivability. A very important skill is knowing how to cure meats and butcher animals. This might take a little while to show its merit, but if you’ve got the guts and knowhow to slaughter and butcher a variety of animals for consumption, demand for your skills will gradually return and rise as society starts to regulate again. Even during the hardest of times, if you can find work as a butcher it is usually sufficient to allow you to keep food on the table, as you can at least trade your skills as a butcher for a suitable share of the meat, if nothing else. For more info about cured meats read the articles bellow.
OLD SCHOOL HOMEMADE DRY CURED AND AIR DRIED BACON
POTTED MEAT: A LOST SKILL OF LONG TERM MEAT STORAGE
OLD FASHIONED PRESERVING-GRANDPA’S RECIPE FOR CURED SMOKED HAM
It’s widely accepted that the fall back form of communication will be HAM radio in the event of a widespread disaster. Operating one of these puppies is no small task. Special training and hands on experience are required to properly use them. However, the ability to communicate on a massive scale will be extremely valuable.
Do you have your ham radio license or at the very least own and know how to operate a ham radio? Having a skilled ham radio expert in your group is a necessary key component to keeping up on communications and knowing what is going on in the world around you. Remember, tv, cell phone, the internet, will all most likely be down. Understanding how to make and set up an antennae to improve your radio signal and knowing morse code are other valuable skills to include in your arsenal.
Not all people know how to truly communicate well with others. During stressful and hazardous times, people with great communication skills will be valued for their abilities. Knowing how to handle and calm down people and even groups on the verge of fighting can save lives.
Knowing a second language is a great skill to have. If you were to know a second or even third language what would you choose? Hopefully you would choose the language of your most dangerous threat. Knowing what others are saying over radio communications can be a very valuable piece of intel.
PRIMITIVE SKILLS/WILDERNESS SURVIVAL
Take away all electricity and go back to the old ways of living. What did your grandparents or great grandparents do? How did people survive during the great depression or dust bowl? If we don’t understand our history we are doomed to repeat it. Some skills that will be useful are: fire making, camp cooking, basket weaving, pottery making, animal tracking, tool making, tanning hides, rock climbing, knot tying, etc.
Other useful skills include teaching, knitting, piloting an aircraft, sailing, music, etc.
The only way to understand how we can live without our electricity driven modern conveniences is to live without them.
Shelter building can really fall under two categories. One being outdoor wilderness survival and the other would be construction to your current home and property. In this section we will focus on the later.
Construction skills will be very important in a shattered civilization. These skills, especially without power tools, are not something you learn overnight. If you have some basic skills it may be worth learning a few techniques for building small structures with crude hand tools. There are many books teaching anyone how to build basic cabins, sheds, and composting outhouses.
Here’s a list with the best items you can stock for trading:
- Tools(saw blades, hatchets, axe heads, hammer heads – many sourceable from auctions, garage sales, etc.)
- A simple still(or the components to assemble one), as this will make your alcohol for drinking, cleaning, medical use, etc. (don’t forget to learn how to make the corn mash itself, or to have extra parts put back)
- Bows,arrows and bowstrings.Learn to make alternative bows (PVC bows are excellent, weather-proof), and how to turn arrow shafts, as well as how to lace and tie bowstrings – not all string will suffice for it – dacron works well.
- Learn to make filtration weirs for water. Forget store filtration units, understand how rain barrels work, how to purify water with boiling, and how settlement works to remove metals. Extra barrels are highly tradeable.
- Seeds. Forget trading foods, long-term you will have far more demand for trading seeds. Those with the most-seeds and largest fresh selection will draw the best trades.
- Salt,sugar, pepper and spices.Long-term storable items are great (salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, some cheeses, dehydrated or cured foods possibly). He who can build a primitive dehydrator, and had the parts to trade to others, will be king. Dried beans and salt-cured hams can last 24 months, these will be in demand as well. Jerky was used and looked-at differently 200 years ago (the jerky was used as a stew meat with the salt extracted to flavor soups and stews – knowing this extends the use of your stocks – and IS TRADEABLE INFORMATION!)
- Survival informationis valuable, and in a time when it is desperately needed, being able to have a few copies of condensed information on-hand and barter-ready will be very valuable, indeed. Type up and print a dozen copies of general information that others may not readily have.
- Ferroceramic rods and striking steels. Fire-making will ALWAYS be critical, and having a dozen extra ferroceramic rods and striking steels will be worth their weight in gold, if it all goes south.
- Containers. Enough can’t be said for water containers. Seems simple now, but if things go wrong, one of the hardest things to usually find is a good canteen or water jug. Put enough back for yourself, but put more back for trade. The harder to break, the better. I’ve got a dozen military 1-qt canteens laying around here and there, in a pinch, I have 2-3 I’ll use, but the rest can be had – for a price.
- Blankets.Everyone needs a warm place to sleep. Funny thing is, linens wear out pretty fast – as do blankets. A good blanket is like a good coat. We’ve all planned for clothes (I hope), but when’s the last time you heard someone brag about having a couple of good wool blankets put back? I’ve got two good wool blankets. I paid $40 each for them. Let the power go out, in November, and you not have one. I don’t know how much you’re willing to pay for them, but I know what you’re going to trade me for them, if you don’t want to freeze at night. I won’t trade both at all, but I’ll be looking for what would be several thousand dollars worth of trade for the one I can ‘spare’.
- Tabaccowill have a great demand. Cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco; supplies may be limited or altogether unavailable after whatever catastrophe has occurred, so tobacco products would become even more valuable than they already are. Tobacco doesn’t keep forever, but properly stored loose tobacco, cigarettes or cigars can last several years.
See, barter comes down to how desperate (or how much does your life depend on it) you are, as to how critical it really is to have for barter. Can you live without toilet paper, versus that last wool blanket? THIS is how barter REALLY works.
Barter is far scarier than you can even understand, if you are UNABLE to assess ‘critical need’ from ‘whimsy want’ right now. Fire, water, shelter, warmth – yeah, you’re going to pay dearly for what you didn’t see fit to pack now. Think about critical needs, before you think all that ammo is so important. I bet my wool blanket is worth AT LEAST all of your ammo, if you’re cold and we’re both armed. Again, don’t plan on thuggery, stock what you can’t afford to trade for. Have extras to trade yourself, in regards to those critical things we MUST have.
Toilet paper? LOL, Davey Crockett didn’t have toilet paper and he did just fine. HE DID have a weapon, a knife, a fire flint, a good blanket, and good clothes and boots. He traded horses, burros, saddles and whiskey. Take a 3-year, 1,000 mile trip in your mind, and imagine only meeting others on the road like yourself. Each packed differently, not all are nice, not all are passive. Now, prepare for the trip in your mind and take it. What do you see yourself needing, each day, as the seasons change, as the environment changes, and as bad and good people cross your path?
Once again, toilet paper is like a good cigar or stick of chewing gum. It might give you ‘modern comfort’, but there are far more important things you need first.
Did you pack them?
James Cole is the author of Civilian Commando-Special Ops Secrets To Surviving Anything, and owner of www.bioprepper.com. James is a born and bred survivalist, an internet addict and a gun enthusiast. He believes a man’s word is his bond, and looks forward to teaching others what he has learned over the years. You can send James a message at contact [at] bioprepper.com. You can download his book for free HERE.