We recognize that the Amish are a varied and enormous community whose culture is not as simplistic as this article may make it seem. There are so many sects and groups of Amish out there that we find that we can’t separate them within this article. Remember, some Amish drive cars. Some have electricity in their homes. Some use the internet. Some don’t.
However, every Amish kid learns these few survival skills when they’re very young. You should, too. Let’s get started.
When to Start Storing Food
Though the Amish have no issue with going to the grocery store and most appreciate the fact that we can have strawberries in September if we want them, almost all sects of the Amish still store and can their own food.
This doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy a canner, but learning about the cycle of gardening and when to harvest and store every food you enjoy is a very good thing to do. Few of us have forgotten the empty grocery store shelves of the early Covid-19 pandemic. How long did you go without fresh fruit? For some of us, it was quite a while. I assure you, the Amish were simply going into their basement and popping open a can of peaches or apples without a blink. We can do that, too.
When to Start Cutting Wood
This somewhat depends on your area of the country. If you’re in a very cold area, you may be chopping (or gathering) wood all year long. If you do not have a wood-burning stove or fireplace in your home and you’re in a place where it gets cold enough to warrant one; why not? If your heater goes out, you have a second source of warmth.
While most of the states don’t get so cold for so long that we’re running a risk of freezing in our own homes in that case, it does still happen to a small minority of people. This is especially true in blizzards or sudden storms that cause power loss. Having an additional heat source is just plain smart. And dry wood keeps forever.
There are thousands of calculators available online to help you learn how many cords of wood you’ll need to purchase or collect to keep your home cozy. Double what they say and you’ll never be left out in the cold.
How to Light a Fire
Learn how to make a fire. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever be trapped with a teenaged soccer team in the wilderness (yes that’s a Yellowjackets joke), you never know when lighting a fire will come in handy. Even if you just end up being the hero who knows how to make a bonfire burn, fire is what sets us apart from so many other species. We’ve bottled it, canned it, and we’re using it right now to build the machines that you’re reading this on.
Fire is incredibly cool, which is pretty ironic all things considered.
To build a good fire, start with good matches. If you’re building a fire in a wood oven or a fireplace, get long matches to do so. Yes, they make different types of matches. Exciting, right? Check your local hardware store. It’s neat.
Stuff a toilet paper roll with dryer lint and place it beneath several very dry, very small twigs. Build a small pyramid of these over the tube and place larger, thicker sticks over them. Strike your match once you have sticks about as big as your index finger in circumference. Light the lint and the edge of the tube. Congratulations, you’ve made fire. Remember that fire only burns as long as it can breathe so be certain to allow it plenty of room to lick up to new bits of wood; don’t crush it out.
Repairing Without Electricity
Maybe your tire blows out on your car and you don’t have any way to get your lug nuts off other than your tire iron. Maybe you’re trying to hang a painting and your drill gun’s battery is dead.
Spend time and learn to work with tools that don’t function through battery power or being plugged in. Does it suck to sit there with a hand saw and saw manually through a block of wood? It sure does, especially if you’re used to using things like battery-operated circular saws that take seconds to plow through the wood. But, you’re making a backup plan here in case you’re ever stuck without electricity. And using a saw isn’t as straightforward as one may expect.
Bluntly, using manual tools is a necessity I hope none of you ever have to use. It can be absolutely back-breaking labor and exhausting. But it is a good skill to know you have. Driving a screw with a normal screwdriver takes time and talent. Take the time to grow that talent before you have to use it.
This one is going to be met with some debate, but I hold fast to it. Learn to ride something other than a car unless a disability prevents you from doing so. If you have the opportunity, learn to drive horses. Learn to ride a bicycle. Learn to ride a horse, too. Roller skate, roller blade; it doesn’t matter how you learn to get around so much as it matters that you do.
If the power is down in your area for a long time, you may not be able to get gasoline for your vehicle. This can cause a pretty serious transportation issue. If you have an alternative or even know an alternative method, you may still be able to make it to the hospital or the grocery store when needed.
Have you learned some neat survival skills from your Amish neighbors? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. And remember, Happy Homesteading!
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