Many years ago, and without any thought to what would happen if the shit hit the fan, or if the world dissolved into chaos, I discovered a love of things medieval. Now, with an eye towards being prepared for any occurrence, many of the things I learned doing crazy things like rappelling in full chain mail, or trying to learn to play a reed flute have taught me a self-sufficiency I wasn’t aware I had. I have looked at preparedness in a way that, some might say, is out of the box. I don’t just look at food stores and water storage.
Knowledge is a stockpile, and my husband and I have a huge wealth of skills and stores that, to the average person, look a little eccentric, but in a post SHTF world, will come in handy.
I started out designing costumes for medieval reenactment groups. I didn’t realize how well I could do, until I actually built a corset. I know how does that have anything to do with prepping? It taught me the structure and strength of fabric and thread, it taught me how to round rough edges of metal to prevent it cutting through to the delicate skin below, it taught me the simple expediency of using the right tool for the job, nothing like having your corset burst for using the wrong type of lacing.
I took that simple lesson, and turned it into something that has become a staple in my prepping plan, something outside the box. I own two sewing machines, one, an old 1940’s cast iron monster, electric, but easily converted to treadle if needed, I stockpile bolts of cloth, canvas, denim, cotton, and fancier weaves and materials. I try to stick to natural materials when possible, but will stick back man made materials too. I can sew anything, from a simple T-tunic, to a pavilion tent. Shelter is going to be an important thing. I know we have plenty of buildings, we look to our bug out locations, and plan for sheltering our families; nomads have lived for centuries in leather and cloth shelters, and there may come a time, when knowing how to create one from scratch, for long term use, is a tool that will be needed.
The lessons I have learned working with various groups also taught me metal working, I can make a knife, a sword, a suit of armor, or – a light weight under armor – that is easy to conceal. Knowledge of how to make armor by hand, from as close to scratch as pulling pieces of wire off a fence, that is something that is going to matter, in the long run. And the tools, not a power tool in the lot. Hacksaw, pliers, a dowel rod, or in my case a steel rod with a hole drilled in the end of it, and you can make an armored shirt in a few days, one that, as tested by one of the groups I worked with, will stop up to a .38 caliber round, and slow the penetration of up to a .44 caliber round, without any welds, without any rivets, and without the use of a single power tool to make it. Do power tools make it easier, absolutely, but the only one – a simple drill.
How much use will it be, to have someone around who can build secure bags and packs, after the ones we use initially wear out. Hand sewing is a good skill, one my husband is actually better at than I am, having the ability to mass produce, even for a small group, will give that group an advantage, if only that their gear is better repaired and replaced than maybe another group out there. And if you know how to create the fabric itself; spinning, weaving, hand looming. Our modern world has a vast amount of resources, but, when the shit hits the fan, those are going to be sources of conflict, if you can create your own, that is just another form of operational security. These are not skills you can just read from a book, but have to be practiced, regularly.
Another thing I learned, and that will be very important even in the first few weeks after the shit hits the fan, especially for those who either have to bug out with bags on their backs, and little else, and for everyone who has finite resources. How to make soap, candles, and other things we are currently stockpiling that will be needed. I remember the first time I made soap, it was for a demonstration one of the groups I was working with was putting on for a university. It was horrible, but successful. I never thought I’d get burn of the steam from the lye out of my eyes.
Bringing everything to the table, no matter how eccentric, or out of the box, it might seem can create a stronger prepping plan, especially if you have the means, and knowledge to create – and trade on that knowledge. We all will have to get through the disaster, and start to rebuild after, and I plan on being able to do both, and knowledge and skills learned doing something I’ve loved for years is one of the huge cornerstones of my family and group’s prepping plan.