*Winter Weekend of Improving Skills*
20 February 2015
When the snow is falling outside and the family is stirring with cabin fever, get your mind off winter with a weekend of reviewing and improving skills. I've allocated a full weekend in two-hour segments with a variety of tasks to keep everyone busy. Two hours should be enough time to review skills but you'll require longer if this is your first time with a new skill.
Why is it we never plan time to sharpen tools? Instead, we spend frustrating hours trying to work with a dull one. A sharp knife is a safe knife. Spend two hours, now, sharpening your commonly used knives or tools and your spring project will go faster.
There's not much skill in fire-starting using a bic lighter, instead, challenge yourself to review starting fires with a ferro rod, a magnesium, and a Fresnel lens. Your fire can be in the grill, in the rocket stove or in the fireplace. The ability to start a fire is a primal need and one of the top survival skills.
If your idea of cooking is moving a box out of the freezer and into the microwave, it's time to create something from scratch. I could be happy living on good pancakes, tortillas and chili. Experiment with one recipe each this weekend. Use an outdoor grill, sunoven or dutch oven and you'll have doubled your skill. So, stoke the coals and learn to cook like our grandparents did!
Who doesn't love the smell of fresh bread in the oven? It comforts the soul. Baking bread from scratch requires practice but if you're already proficient and want a new challenge, try baking bread in a can over the fire (watch the YouTube video) or in a sunoven. Just remember to start early, bread takes time.
I know you've been thinking about it. You know you need to do it. You plan to do it "one day" so get started. Download a Kindle edition of the study guide from Amazon for less than $10 and you can get started right now. Or, find YouTube videos to watch for free.
Even in winter, the early afternoon may offer a chance to get outside for a bit of exercise. Start with Google Earth; print out the aerial view of your property. Then take measurements – walk your land, recording distances. Next draw the common paths you routinely walk from different areas. Then plot the summer and winter sun tracks, noting shady areas. Transfer it all to graph paper. Now you have a map of your property for future plans. While you're at it, late winter is the best time to take soil samples!
The way to shake the chill out of winter is to flip through seed catalogs with colorful photos of bountiful vegetables and beautiful flowers. Grow something new this year in the garden. Peanuts, are one example of something you may not have considered, are a great source of fat and oil and they can be grown thru most of the country. For more ideas and to make the job easier, use one of the many online garden planning tools.
Make a plan to pay down debt. Having a plan will take the stress off yourself and your marriage. Without a plan, there's no way to make improvements in finances. Once those monthly bills are under control you'll be able to buy a few new cool gadgets.
These days with live streaming, you can find a survival movie everywhere, anytime you want it. There are plenty to choose from. On Netflix you might watch Jericho, Revolution, Goodbye World, After the Dark, Right at Your Door, Terra Nova, The Hunger Games, The 100, Survivors, and Helix.
Canning is just a must-have skill. Learning how to can different kinds of food will help build a more diverse and healthy food supply. You've probably mastered fruits and vegetables. Now it's time to branch into canning meats, butter and eggs.
For a great spring garden, start now, saving coffee grounds, fruit/veggie scraps, and black and white pages of newspaper. You can easily build a basic composter from leftover wire and wood or just toss it all into a large black trash can and sit it in the sun outside. This spring you'll be ready to increase the value of your soil by adding quality compost to the garden.
Re-think your EDC methodology. Overtime, most of us change the way we live, where we live and the risks involved in doing so. Consider too that improvements in technology and materials mean that you can invest in smaller, lighter weight, stronger options. A new pocketknife, flashlight or multitool may pay dividends. Once you know what you want, add it to your Amazon WishList or inform your family as birthdays and holiday gift giving options.
Hiking in snow gets you outdoors and strengthens your legs. It will also get you into last year's longjohns and heavy clothes – do they still fit? Do they need repairs? Can you find one glove but not the other? Better to find out now. Make sure to wear sturdy footwear with good socks. Keep it a short hike depending on temperatures, dress for the occasion, grab the kids and get out there!
We spend a lot of time in an automobile. Now that winter is in full swing it's time to add a bag of kitty litter for extra traction, a snow shovel, and other items not normally carried. Are you prepared for an emergency if stuck overnight in your car? Spend some time assuring you can handle the kind of driving-disasters that may come your way this winter.
Keeping your gas fresh guarantees that the generator will keep your family warm should winter ice storms down the grid. This is Sunday night, so recycle some gas into your automobile, and then put the empty container into the car to fill it up on the way home from work tomorrow. Remember to date it so you can track the age of your gas.
Being organized assures you can lay your hands on it when you need it. Whatever "it" is. You'll avoid running around like a maniac when it hits the fan. And you'll have better insights about your weakness and where improvements are needed. This can be a big job. Instead of getting overwhelmed, tackle it in small bites – this weekend focus on just one closet or one corner or a small section.
These were basic, simple tasks - ones that are often overlooked. We didn't spend a lot of money this weekend and hopefully you had some fun and learned a few things. Mark some dates on your calendar to get your family involved in this simple team-building experience. It will curb the winter blues.TooshieGalore
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