25 FORGOTTEN SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM THE PIONEERS WORTH FINDING AND LEARNING
This is a very useful guide to skills that would be needed in a SHTF scenario. It is a starting place. The more basic skills you have, the better your chances are for survival. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor
Pioneer life has a special meaning in America. In less than 300 years, civilization spread across a vast continental wilderness.
From the first landings in Virginia and Massachusetts in the early 1600’s, American settlers kept pushing westward behind an ever moving frontier. Into wild country went hunters, trappers, fur traders, miners, frontier soldiers, surveyors, and pioneer farmers. The farmers tamed the land and made it productive.
Every part of America had its pioneers. Whatever their surroundings, the pioneers had to depend on themselves and on the land. Self-reliance was a frontier requirement. Game provided food and leather clothing. New settlers gathered wild fruits, nuts, and berries. For salt they boiled the water of saline springs. Maple sugar was made by tapping maple trees in early spring and boiling the sap until it thickened into a tasty sweetening. Substitutes for tea and coffee were provided by boiling sassafras root and brewing parched corn and barley. With an ax and adze for cutting tools, the pioneers made beds, tables, benches, and stools. They split logs into rails to make the zigzag fence that enclosed their clearings.
25 Forgotten Pioneer Survival Lessons Worth Finding And Learning
The pioneers used to make soap themselves using the copious amount of wood ashes, a natural result of their homesteading activities, with also a plentiful supply of animal fat from the butchering of the animals they used for food. Soap with some work and luck could be made for free. Soap making was performed as a yearly or semiannual event on the homesteads of the early settlers. As the butchering of animals took place in the fall, soap was made at that time on many homesteads and farms to utilize the large supply of tallow and lard that resulted. On the homes or farms where butchering was not done, soap was generally made in the spring using the ashes from the winter fires and the waste cooking grease, that had accumulated throughout the year. Soap making takes three basic steps.
- Making of the wood ash lye.
- Rendering or cleaning the fats.
- Mixing the fats and lye solution together and boiling the mixture to make the soap.
The food preservation played a very important role in a pioneer’s life. Not having a refrigerator his only way to maintain the food edible was to preserve it. The most used process to preserve the meat was smoking. I’m going to share with you an old recipe for curing and smoking hams. The process of smoking is still used by a few die-hards, but most folks take a shorter route to preservation – canning, freezing or diluted methods using “smoked” chemicals applied directly to the meat.
Old-timer Everet Starcher of Sinking Springs gave his directions to smoking hams in 1976. He was in his 80s when he shared his recipe.
Put your hams on a table or flat surface where mice or nothing can get on them. Rub Morton Salt Sugar Cure liberally over the cut surface of the hams.
There is a place in the hams where you can put your finger in, so be sure that you fill that cavity with the sugar cure.
Let your hams “cure” on the flat surface for a month or month and a half.
For your smoke, use hickory, sassafras or corn cobs. Smoke about four days. Some people smoke them for up to two weeks.
You can tell how brown the hams are getting.
The fire is for smoke only, a very small fire. You might use an old iron pot placed inside another heavy metal surface so it doesn’t burn the floor.
All you want is a trail of smoke coming up toward the hams which will be hung by placing a heavy wire through the shank and securing the hams to a rafter or ceiling of your smoke house.
After you have finished smoking the hams, run them liberally with black pepper. Use plenty. Then wrap the hams in an old sheet or something and put each ham in something like a muslin bag or cotton feed sack.
Canning was also a very familiar preservation method. If you are familiar with canning fruits and vegetables then you’ll know how to can meat too. All you have to do is make sure that you take the meat’s temperature high enough to kill all bacteria before sealing the jars.