I have just started my Journey to being and living prepared. At year 15, I have come to realize, that the more I know, the more I don't know. The lifestyle of yesteryear was a lot different than we enjoy today. Back then many if not most people grew up with the thought of self-sufficiency in the forefront of everyday life--not so anymore.
Mom canned every year, and Dad hunted to put meat on the table. Not because he needed a break from the stress of a job, or bills, or whatever other justification we now use to spend a week in the woods, but because the family depended on him for the main course. With these responsibilities came a whole host of other necessary skills just to survive. Growing a garden successfully determined whether or not enough food was canned for the winter. Skinning, drying and preserving the game properly was how they guaranteed protein when the animals either migrated or hibernated. Today we take for granted the fact that milk comes from the back of the Safeway, and the meat section always has a nicely wrapped cut of beef. And if through our busy schedule we are unable to get to the store, Taco Bell is open 24-hours a day in most cities.
We have run away from the habit of taking care of ourselves, and have started to rely on others to do it for us. Most think that an emergency situation will never happen to them, or if disaster strikes the government will come to the rescue. The victims of Hurricane Katrina found that nothing could be further from the truth. When a city is shut down due to ice, earthquake, windstorm, or some other natural cause first responders can't even get to all the emergencies, let alone the people who didn't plan for enough meals to feed themselves for longer than three days. Studies have shown that the average family has three days worth of food and goes to the store two to three times a week. In 1985 Portland Oregon was shut down for a 6-day ice storm that was a real eye opener to a lot of folks, me included. It made me aware that it's a really good idea to have the resources to take care of yourself.
As I started to search out information, I found that the scope of not only knowledge, but also opinion is epic in scale. There are many ways of doing something, and many times the situation has a lot to do with the method we use to deal with a particular task. I'm finding that the people with the most reliable information are the ones that are the quietest about what they know. These are the people with 25 plus years of practical hands on knowledge.
Finding two or three quality sources and researching each piece to find out which way works best for you is very important. Also understanding that even if you know how to do something there is always more to learn. When I wanted to teach a troop of Boy Scouts how to build fires, I got on you tube to see the different teaching methods used in fire building. Even though I knew how to build a fire several different ways, I was so fascinated by the creativity in instruction I still spent two hours looking at videos. I learned several different uses for several different types of fires, and a few I hadn't thought of. It made me realize that knowledge is not the same as proficiency and expertise.
That brings me to the last topic of beginning to prepare, and that is practical experience. Watching is not the same as doing. Hands on classes, private instruction, and most important practice what you are learning. Practice when you don't need to so that when it's necessary you have the ability to use the skill. When you think you have it down then teach someone else. It is then you will really start to learn.