The Scarcity of Skills

Last night I laid restless the entire night—yup, the entire night.  As I’m not a morning person, it’s rare that I am conscious enough to hear my husband’s alarm go off—both of them. (grin) But this morning I did.  As I heard the unfamiliar static of the talk radio station which usually rouses him into the planned activities of his day, I couldn’t help but wonder what would it require for the people that I care about to finally hear the rational, logical wake-up call for action—to be more independent of vulnerabilities which surround them?

The end of the great Roman Empire was not brought about by a depression or even a recession.  While history shows us that entire industry and commerce itself was crumbled into dust, we can’t simply blame their demise on the attack of foreign enemies. The more important view of that epic fall is to see that it was brought about because of a failed economic system of ease and entitlement. What we can learn from the fall of that nation is that those in power were permitted to conspire and control the flow of vital supplies through a monopoly of specialized skills held by a few instead of the talents  and work ethics of everyday persons—skills which could be handed down from one family to another.

The persons who understand and control our nation’s flow of supplies are few and unfortunately, the ability to plan, prepare, sow, harvest, and reap is also scarce. Think about it.  Does the job of overseeing six feet of a conveyor belt prepare them for a meaningful contribution and sustainment of a flourishing society? Such a “skill” does nothing to prepare someone to render any other skills or assets to contribute to a society other than their tax dollars.  But what happens when our nation's dollar value comes into question?  Who pays for the skilled few to oversee and ensure the flow of vital supplies? What then happens when the food supply is interrupted or when there is an oversight of supply needs for everyday medical supplies? Sadly, this same person, and so many others like them, will suffer needlessly for a lack of preparation in knowledge and supplies which can help produce a self-sustaining community.  In the name of “efficiency” and “immediate satisfaction,” without the risk of investment or labor on our part, we have allowed our food and medical supplies to be vulnerable to a highly volatile system managed by a relatively small number.  This flow of vital supplies in our country reminds me of a top secret project that is so secret, no one person is able to see the entire picture, only the small, snippet of specialized secrecy which they are required to work on before passing it on to only one other person, who then works on their narrow segment of information, and then passes it on to the next person, and so on, and so on.  Just how vulnerable is our present system of supplies?

Only sixty years ago, the average family had enough grain and preserved produce to last them seven years. In 1964, the Federal Government bragged of having enough food stockpiled to feed our entire nation for three years. Recently, FEMA admitted that they have the means of feeding only 6 million persons—once—in spite of the fact that our nation has over 300 million members. Today, we have naively accepted that it's ok for our nation's residents as a whole to only have FOUR WEEKS supply of food. Even worse, the majority of Americans who are NOT even considered to be living at the poverty income level have no more than three weeks supply of food in their home.   Why does FEMA only have enough food for 6 million persons in a nation of 300 million?  Because it’s simply not their job to feed the nation.  It’s their responsibility to provide aid to those who are thrust into exceptional living circumstances. As surely as our freedom is our own responsibility, so is our sustenance for now and in the future.

The bottom line? Our access to vital supplies such as food, herbs, and medicinal plants is not threatened because of a scarcity—at this moment.  Rather the abundance of such is threatened because of our lack of skills to reproduce and distribute such supplies independent of specialized skills among a few persons. Thus our access to such supplies is at a highly vulnerable state because we have not taken measures to prepare against such a time—NOT because of a specific looming famine, act of war, or cataclysmic event.  A needy, clingy society is no more awarded with independence and prosperity than a sniveling, groveling emotionally unstable woman is to a single man.  Ironically, a prepared, self-reliant home in our nation is as specialized and niched as are the skills necessary to sustain a thriving community. Many of us do not have sufficient supplies in our own home, nor have we mastered the sufficient skills needed to ensure that we can produce our own food with a modest amount of care independent of outside sources. To me, this just isn’t acceptable. If I behaved that way, I'd consider myself to be ungrateful for what I presently have been blessed with; akin to a spoiled brat, presuming that I’m entitled to what I have for the rest of my life without a care or concern as to how I’m going to receive it.

I also feel that this scenario is a somewhat alarming state of vulnerability—more so because it is not necessary.  We all have the ability to alter away that vulnerability and replace it with strength, confidence, competence, independence, and peace.  Yet so many I care about consciously choose to bring about painful consequences upon themselves.  Case in point—as a nation we mindlessly spend over $500 billion dollars a year protecting things such as houses, boats, RVs, and automobiles, and yet so many commit nothing in the form of time, money, or intelligence, towards protecting our own persons and our family.  $500 billion spent on overpriced insurance so that folks can replace inanimate, non-living things; and yet sadly, encouraging someone to simply spend at least $20 a month on their future security by purchasing necessary provisions seems to be too much of a stretch mentally and/or financially to these very same persons.  The really ironic angle of all of this, is somehow the persons who spends hundreds of dollars insuring toys and non-essentials label those of us who are willing to plan for the future as “wackos, crazy survivalists, or extremists”! Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?  Just because some of us plan for a realistic rainy day and have the audacity to learn how to start a fire without a blow torch, we’re somehow worthy of the label “nut job.” *heavy sigh…recollect myself.*

In the past I usually really try to put my thoughts out there in a bit more educational, neutral, kind, and inoffensive manner. However today, I’ve decided to acknowledge the fact that death isn’t too kind to those of us left behind. It’s real. It’s painful. And it’s a lot more costly than the alternative in the long run. Thus I will close by saying that a dearth of critical supplies only encroaches on a society that ignores the eternal truth of self-reliance. In such an instance, even the strongest, most stable economy can find itself crippled, begging to be enslaved to such self-defeating behaviors once again, all in the name of progress.

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This is so true. Many of the skills our grandparents had are lost, and many more are being lost. And what is really sad is that many of the younger generations do not want to learn even the most basic of skills.

Kellene, This article is RIGHT ON!! Thank you!! Again, you posted what I was thinking about and you worded it much more elloquently than I would have. Basic skills are long gone! No one knows that most of their front yard is edible (so it their back yard!), or that yes you can eat wild animals. My gosh, the horror on some people's faces when you say you've gone hunting. It's ridiculous!
Thank you!!!

I have been able to get a few folks turned onto prepping and self-reliance. Perhaps because of the news or my change in approach as a saving money idea. Waxing cheese and no-knead bread has really sparked a lot of intrest. I'm still concerned but I'm generating a lot of intrest and folks asking questions. I do know it's hard to keep the emotion out of the argument when this is a life or death issue.
Keep up the good work.

I hear you. I can't even get most of my own children to prepare. I just want to cry sometimes. I feel so frustrated. If only I knew the right words to say.
At least those of us reading your blog are listening. Keep on keeping on.

Barb, I went into Mommy Mode on why you need to prepare and I could just see that look... The crazy cat lady look or she's gone around the bend wingnut look. Don't feel bad it has and is still happening to a lot of us or at least to me. I have to say after reading Kellene's post about convincing folks really made me change my approach. There a lot of issues we can reach folks on besides prepping. Such as natural disasters in the news, saving money/couponing, knowing what is in your food, the Salt and Sugar Police.
Gosh the feds are attacking Ham and Bacon. MMMM bacon. Changing the recipe for Hienz ketchup, Heck that maybe a start on them stocking up. Or any product they really like and can't live without. Gosh you can make Artisan bread at home for around .30 cents a loaf at home and it's $3.00 + in the store.
Sprouts made at home are safer than the ones that were recalled. Since I think anyone doing sprouts at home will do the right thing, plus no one to sue but themselves. Plus my sprouts if they smell off or sour I just dump them in the compost pile. Do you think most factory workers will care?
Just a few ideas to help you to approach folks differently. Sorry to say I have had more success with complete strangers than my own family. But everyone I get is a win for me.


I think you hit the nail on the head here. I've also been frustrated in past attempts to illustrate to folks the realistic possibilities as to WHY we need to store food, etc. Finding a "normal" event to focus on helps tremendously. Example: I live in hurricane country. So I have found emphasizing the need to prepare for a hurricane (in my area we are LONG overdue for a big, direct hit) has been much more productive than trying to explain what an EMP is ;-)

Very sobering, insightful article. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your words have given me motivation to continue to learn more and more practical survival skills.

Miss Kelene--This article has a lot of insight and knowledge. You are right on! I was in a store a few years ago trying to find a book to teach me how to crochet. The clerk was very helpful and a little wistful stating that there was hardly anyone trying to learn the old arts and crafts. I agreed totally with her. If most of the people in the U.S. didn't have a can opener and microwave, they would starve to death. Oh! I forgot the fast food places. I am not trying to sound arogant. When I was a kid, I was hungry, not starving but hungry. I won't go into details here. It made me vow that that would not happen to my family. I don't need sympathy! It helped to make strong and tough. I don't understand why people can't observe what is happening in the world around them. They seem to be so self centered (spoiled) that they think that the rest of the world will take care of them. They are not responsible for their families or themselves. They seem to think the world will never change. I think they have their head up their hinny and that is why they have such a crappy outlook on life.I have found that change (good or bad)is the one thing in life that you can depend on happening, and you had better be prepared for it. I can cook. I have camp stoves and camp coolers. I have sleeping bags. I have a fireplace insert I can heat with. I have a treadle sewing machine although I haven't had the courage to try to learn how to use it yet. I think I will count my fingers before I start and hope I have the same amount when I finish learning. I have rambled on enough! Please keep doing the good job that you are doing, I am learning sooooo much from you--Peg

I know you feel you are preaching to the choir sometimes Kellene. But at least the choir is here to learn. Most of us have a bit success of catching a few converts here and there. John the Baptist only had 1 fairly big name after the fact. I seem to remember him having some impact for the next 2,000 years.
Since you had your sales off and getting goodies I think you have a got some attention. Yes it would be nice for folks to see an self-interest of prep. Well heck if it was easy anyone could play. God saved it for us as test.

Such a sobering and true article. I have a lot to learn, but am trying.

It has taken me 20 years to get my family on board the preparedness train, but it has finally left the station with all on board even if some are just hanging on. Just don't give up! Kellene, you are our inspiration!

Ok folks, so here goes a mild rant... I'm hoping some of you might be able to relate and offer either advice or commiserate with my position ;-)

I'm with you on the skills. It is appalling to me how vastly UNSKILLED we are as a nation, especially for those in the 40 and under bracket. And I'm not even referring to marginally antiquated skills like the spinning of wool. We have taken drastic RECENT steps in our nation's history to de-skill ourselves (is that a word?).

Between my little urban homesteading needs/wants and preparedness, I try to learn skills when I can. I've been taking a sewing class, and then this weekend had the opportunity to attend a rainwater harvesting seminar. I have plans to take basic First Aid from my local Red Cross, and a possible seminar on medicinal herbs.

I guess my point here is that some people, like myself, DO have a desire for self-suffciency and to enhance our practical, useful skillset. But there is a prohibiting factor in all this -- time. I live alone, taking care of my own house, yard, etc. I work a regular job 9-5. I try to give time to my church community.

I don't make a lot of money but sometimes, time IS money. Sometimes it is better to pay for a premade item than to try and figure out how to use the tools and make it yourself. In that same amount of time I can accomplish a myriad of different tasks. But then I feel bummed that I didn't learn the act for myself.

I'm not saying this in a spirit of complaint... rather I'm perplexed and frustrated. I WANT to know how to do things. I WANT to be able to make my own bread, grow my own food, sew my own clothes, create my own medicines, knit, can food, the list goes on and on. The desire is real and strong but there is a practical limit to what one person can accomplish. And not just in learning them, but in maintaining those skills. Sure I know how to can veggies, but is that enough? Shouldn't I be putting that into practice on a regular basis?

Do you perhaps have some advise on this? Where would you put your priorities? To get a rudimentary knowledge on as many things as possible now and risk not having the time to put them to practice? Or does one narrow the focus a tad?

Can you tell this has been bugging me for awhile? LOL

Thanks for listening! :-)

Preparedness Pro's picture

First I want to thank you for taking the time to post this question. I think when folks post this, it helps everyone to benefit from the responses that are posted in reply.

My personal take on this is that one should focus narrowly and master a craft or skill that meets the following criteria:
1) It's enjoyable for you--truly enjoyable
2) It will contribute to the independence of a community
3) It will be a necessary contribution to a community regardless of the availability of viable currency or abundant electricity.

I don't think that folks should overwhelm themselves with trying to be good at everything. Indeed, they should narrow it down--a lot! Personally, knowing you like I do, I think that you have so many outside interests, that the thought of mastering all of them is most understandably overwhelming. Just like physical objects, two overriding emotions cannot occupy the same space. Where there is pressure and the feeling of being overwhelmed, there is no room for peace.

Getting a little bit of information here and there like you do is great to help you whittle it down to what you may want to master. I know that I never knew about the world of artisan breads until I attended a class on it. Then I got hooked and decided that that was going to be my contributing skill to a commnunity should ever it be needed.

Good luck in your quest!!

Hehehe my problem Kellene is I literally find it ALL enjoyable. I love learning new things, I love getting back to the basics as much as possible. I was one of those kids who took forever to get through college 'cause I kept taking classes I didn't need... Theology of CS Lewis, History of the Holocaust, The Czars of Russia, Civil War Battles...etc LOL.

What I TRY to do, is take the Ten Areas of Preparedness and alternate. Focus on one area each week (well except spiritual and defense -- spiritual is daily and defense is my weekly Ladies Night at the gun club). But then I often get distracted by the news and panic into doing something else .

But I've been reading of the pioneers and it IS interesting how they use nature to guide their own work. Winter was for reading/planning for the next year, sewing, knitting, etc... all those "bundle up inside" projects. Spring, summer, and fall were for the outdoor projects. While that isn't a "do or die" concept, I think it is worth looking into more closely as a means of organizing our time. Thoughts?

Preparedness Pro's picture

I like the idea of at least learning about that work pattern. and I certainly can relate to wanting to learn as much as possible. I'm an information junkie too. But if you're a person who gets distracted with "bright shiny objects" hee hee then you're also probably a person who takes pride in doing something well. So, be prayerful if necessary, but decide on at least one skill that you can really tackle expertly. You'll find an added peace in that regard and that you can more easily add expert skills on top of that. There's nothing that says that we can't be expert in multiple facets, right? Go big or go home, Girl.

Heheheheh bright shiny objects..... or as I like to refer to it as: SQUIRREL!

Miss Amber- I feel and understand your frustration. "The hurrier up I go the behinder I get. I am trying to learn new skills and re-learn old skills( I am definatly seasoned and starting the saggin' part of my life). We all know something drastic is going to happen, we just don't know when. And you being by yourself makes everything twice as hard. It sounds to me like you are on the right track. First you have the burning desire, that is half of you battle. Sometimes we let ourselves get overwhelmed when we have so many things that need to be done. What is the most important thing to you?! Remember, if your are going to eat an elephant, you eat it one bite at a time. I'm probably not much help, but maybe I made you smile. --Peg

LOL! That elephant comment was AWESOME! Simple wisdom is the best kind (look at Proverbs!). Might even steal that for a FB status sometime soon ;-)

SO TRUE - and people wonder why I am a Prepper!!!

"Today is the Tomorrow that you worried about Yesterday"

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

What a thoughtful and so direct article! Amber: Just start at the beginning, and don't feel overwhelmed. That is where we all started. To be balanced spiritually, mentally and physically puts it all into balance. We are not hoarders, etc, but people who sincerely what to watch out for their families and friends, and not a burden on any entity, as much as possible. That allows you to sleep at night (when you're not worrying about those around you).

I, too, am trying to learn a useful skill that will be needed now and in the future. I'm finding more and more folks that are awakening to the "awful" situation we are in. I hope there is time to prepare every needful thing.

Oh I totally get what Amber and Kellene are saying about "narrowing it down". People get so overwhelmed with thinking about ALL that they want to know and learn and so they tend to do nothing about even just one. I have slowly gotten some success with my church community into thinking that they at least need to pick at least one or two items on their skills wish/bucket list. It's working. Now we have a list of MANY people with one or two skills. Add that up and it's a lot! It's amazing what an entire community or church ward can do together. I for one feel comfortable in knowing that if the need arises that there will be people pulling together when and where they can. And it's funny how it becomes catchy. Learn one skill and suddenly you are wanting to move onto another.

One or two skills is better than nothing folks. ; D

I think you hit something here that I struggle with (on top of everything else, LOL) when you said that the overwhelming sense is so complete you don't get ANYTHING done. I do EXACTLY that -- my mental and physical capacity becomes so bogged down that I experience complete and total paralysis and then I don't do anything -- then of course I feel guilty for not doing anything, beat myself up over it, say "I am woman hear me roar... again", create this mega list and boom... paralysis! ;-)

It is eye opening to realize how removed we are from real skills. My family is attempting a garden his year that is 10 times larger than any we have done in the past. I was also recently certified in first aid and CPR through the Red Cross. I am hoping to gather more people for our city CERT team. I am also going to work on canning this summer and fall. It can be done!

Preparedness Pro's picture

Whew! Good luck with that garden, Girl!

Now Amber I think you are new to prepping. You need a focus to start with and then you can go with the Lighthouse model. Light house model refer to dealing with emergencies you see coming up.
Look to Kellene's Vital 4 to start off with. Great post, then add, I don't know you and what you like. If you are gluten intolerent all the wheat in the world won't help you. That's what I like about Kellene it's not prepping it's about self reliance, and building to sustain and thrive.
I've ran a test back in Nov. and I found I wanted snacks. yes I could and did without them but would I want to? Not so much
I got folks buying some real popcorn and real butter or they canned. Yummy. The food police are comming and are after your salt/sugar. Now I'm not saying processed food of any sort is good/bad for you. But shouldn't be you choice?
It's funny the US gov. will tell haw bad and all the evil things that will happen to us if we do/store our own food. Yet they can't protect us from all the factories outbreaks E.Coli or salmonella. But they are safe, trust them.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Trust me, Amber is anything but new to prepping. I consider her a master of many things--prepping is one of them.

I did the same as you, I hate to admit it I found Kellene and I thouught it was all stuff and nonsence on he top 7 of ten of prepping. Well I got the food but it was nothing without the right attitude.
I hate to say it but any idiot with some extra cash can store whole grains. But can he make a loaf of bread or pasta, dumplings or turn it into fresh vegies year round?
Yes I did approach most of Kellenes top 10 backwards. But I did find out the wisdom of her top 10. I'm just a little slow. Don't be slow like me, live her top 10 everyday.
It's not prep, it's way of life. It's a bit annoying cause it never stops. You can't just file and forget you have to bake bread make dinners with real foods and garden so you have stuff to can. It's not easy but I have found it well worth it . All the things I said above is a plus you make food you know where it come from. If you have had fresh baked bread or good slow cooked BBQ you know what I mean. Yes I fall off and get some ramen noodles and prepared foods from time to time. When some one can meet my $100.00 budget per month for groceries + prep for 18 months. Then I'll have a guilt trip.
Plus know you can fall off the wagon or get lazy a day or two and jump right on it again. Get your snacks, if you read back through Kellenes blog she is not a Spartan in her food choises or goodies. She has more of a sweet tooth compared to me I prefer salty compared to sweet. But she gave great ideas on snacks to keep me happy. I have found no one to top my tortilla chips. They are going to be great with homemade salsa this year.
I've been doing a lot of looking back at all I have accomplished in the last 18 months. I 've done a pretty amazing job. No I'm not special, or supersmart just used some basics from Kellene and made them work for me. I have an extra stove, 2 generators. I bought 2 guns and ammo, food for 18 months, sanitation covered. Dang Kellene you must be an awesome teacher, for me to do all that on a fixed income in 18 months.

Preparedness Pro's picture

ONLY when the student is ready, does the teacher appear Jamie. You may be a little quirky, girlfriend, but your heart and soul totally rocks!!

I think that maybe the nicest thing anyone has said to me Kellene. I'm not sure if that is good or bad.
Amber I was a whole lot crazy until I got about 6 months worth of prep. Massively paranoid, just knew the government was going to write checks I couldn't cash. I knew!! I knew I would not be ready. Well I was wrong.
I found out getting prepared was an attitude for life and not just stuff I could buy. As I have said before you look at Kellene's top 10 it's not about bunkers or huge food supplies. It's about mental,physical and spiritual needs.
Food is easy, but getting the right mindset is hard. Bread is easy once you get feel for the dough, that takes practice and by practice I mean screwing up. Nothing wrong with that, trust me I bake my own bread and I have practiced. My bread usually turns out good. Gosh I still turn out some loaves that could be used in construction, and biscuits that could be used as hockey pucks. Thank goodness for compost.
At some point you are no longer a slave to the system. Mine was at 6 months of food and 3+months of water stored. I could make my own food and at least repair or work around most stuff I truly need, or I had it stored. When you walk into a store and only buy only their loss-leaders, or you have coupons and watch that register count backwards, grow and preserve real food. For me that is the best feeling in the world. Well worth the time and effort

One of the best ways to learn is study the past.My wife bought books on survival during the depression and by talking to family that lived during the depression.My wifes uncle told her how to make homemade cleaning products and one of the best tips was keeping the septic tank clean with his home brew that works better than any product you can buy.Older people have a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into.


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