30 Pioneer Skills We Cannot Lose

30 Pioneer Skills We Cannot Lose

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There are 30 pioneer skills we cannot lose at the very minimum I want to address today. Here’s the deal, I grew up sewing my own clothes, making bread, canning food, and gardening. Now, some of these skills we may perform every day, once a week or some we have never done and we don’t want to do them. I understand, I totally do. I’m left handed and I’ll  tell you, I have always wanted to knit or crochet and I could never understand how to do it because I was always being taught by a right-handed person.

If I have a special baby I know that is being born I have my friend Kathleen make a pair of knitted or crocheted booties. Oh my gosh, when I go to her house she always is knitting or crocheting something. She made a hat she knitted for me by measuring my head and it’s my favorite because SHE made it for me I have a blogging friend that I purchased some crocheted hand warmers from, I treasure them because Janet Garmen made them. She spins the soft wool and these keep me warm every winter. Timber Creek Farms I love how she designs them. I hesitate to say she has a homestead because to me she has a HUGE farm with every animal known to man. If you don’t follow her on Instagram you may want too! TC Farms I’ve yet to figure out the difference between a homestead and the old fashioned word FARM. Hence, her blog is called, Timber Creek Farms. There we have it.

When I was younger, my mother always wanted my great-grandmother’s spinning wheel. After my grandmother died, my mom received the spinning wheel she had always wanted. Now, keep in mind none of us knew how to spin wool, but we would visualize doing it. It’s called making wishes into dreams. Well, the dream never came to fruition, but when my mom died I asked for the spinning wheel. It’s quite large to put on display in my small home, but I am waiting for some inspiration on how to frame it so I can put this special family treasure on display.

As I remember, years and years ago, there was one restaurant drive-thru with some girls on roller skates carrying trays filled with hamburgers, fries, and drinks level with their shoulders to each car in the parking stalls. We still have some of those today, maybe not with roller skates, but it was a big deal back in the day. Could this be when people started doing the drive-thru dinners? I don’t know. What I do know is the fact that we are becoming an overweight country from eating unhealthy food from drive-thrus, restaurants, and cafes that add possibly way too much butter (trust me I love butter) and salt. Why do the food outlets do this? It’s quite simple, it makes the food taste better, not to me, but to some people. I think this is why Mark and I seem to get an upset stomach eating out because we only eat out once a month, if that, and the food is too rich.

I don’t know if you remember when I told you this, but when I used to work crazy hours I would pick up “take out” on my way home and eat at 10:00 P.M. Well, I started putting on weight with the food I picked up, it  was delicious but packed with lots of yummy butter and salt, probably more than I care to know about. I had awesome neighbors who would bring some homemade meals occasionally, they were gold to me. Nothing is better than homemade dinners! Mark and I would rather eat at home and just relax in the comfort of our home. When I decided to semi-retire, I said: “I never want to stand in line or wait for any meals ever again”. I have followed this statement for over 8 years now. We live about ten miles from town, and there isn’t one place I would rather eat than at my home.

Pioneer Skills

  1. Baking: I realize baking overlaps into cooking, but there is something about the feel of bread dough in your hands. Or, grabbing a bowl and creaming the butter with sugar using a wooden spoon or a Danish whisk. Then adding the remainder of the ingredients. Then having the kids use two spoons to drop by teaspoonfuls on the greased cookie sheets. I feel like making some pumpkin cookies right now. My friend, Melissa Richardson taught me how to use this: Danish Dough Hand Whisk / Mixer 11″ I prefer the 11″ inch size because it fits inside a wide mouth quart jar and it’s easier for my hands to mix up cookies, brownies or muffins.
  2. Bartering: Bartering is great after emergencies or to trade teaching skills to one another. Store coffee and liquor because people will really want or need those items. I traded a few bread making classes for a brand new red KitchenAid stand mixer.
  3. Beekeeping: I follow a friend over in Colorado via FaceBook and watch her progress through the different steps of beekeeping.
  4. Blacksmithing: I love going to places that how to do this, but I do not have horses, but I love watching this skill.
  5. Bread making: As you know I love making bread, any kind of bread. Please remember to use fresh bread flour and fresh SAF Instant yeast and your bread will never fail. I remember one blogger sent me a rather mean email accusing me of never having made my one-hour French bread because hers did not rise. Well, guess what, I got over 20 emails telling me the recipe was the best recipe they had ever tried. That same recipe was used when my girls sold door to door when they were younger to earn a little extra money. I do believe if it’s overcast my bread will not rise, old wives tale or not, I don’t know. I never make bread when it’s overcast. My bread always turns out. Now, not all the loaves are perfectly shaped, but the taste is awesome.
  6. Building: Mark and my family have built out basements in so many houses, we have lost count. I am now going to have one of my son-in-laws build me two 3 bed bunk beds. Yay, we can then sleep six in the grandkids room!
  7. Canning food: I’m so glad Mark and I took the Master Preserver Canning class here at the Utah State University extension service education center. I knew some of the articles I was reading on some websites were dead wrong and some foods that could not be safely canned. Yes, people will argue about it, but as one registered nurse said: “I hope they make it out of the ICU alive to tell about it.”
  8. Cooking: I wrote this one because I feel like we need to bring back cooking from scratch. You know by grabbing something from the pantry and or refrigerator and throwing a dinner together quickly, and more healthy.
  9. Cooking outside: If you have charcoal, matches, tinder and a Dutch oven, you are ready to boil water and cook outside.
  10. Dehydrating food: I love dehydrating food, although it does not have a long shelf life like commercially processed foods.
  11. Family meals together: I think eating meals together as a family is something that people are not doing as much anymore. Is life too busy, or are there too many lessons on the calendar? I don’t know.
  12. First aid and medical care: I have neighbors on my street that call when they need a bandaid, cold medicine or Benedryl. Life is good if you have a good first aid kit if the pharmacies all shut down for days, weeks or months. It’s the prepper in me, always be prepared.
  13. Fishing: Mark goes fishing about once or twice a month with one of his best friends who owns a fishing boat. What joy fishing brings to both of them. I know we could eat as long as there are still fish in the lakes near us and there are a lot of them. We are blessed with a lot of water where we live. How long will the water be here is a good question. Right now they do “catch and release,” but we could have them start bringing the fish home if the need arises.
  14. Gardening: I wish more people would garden, there’s something really awesome about digging with your hands in the dirt, then watching the seeds sprout and picking the fresh fruits and garden veggies. Life is good!
  15. Grinding wheat: I’m all over this, you can put “wheat grinder” in my search bar and I show you several ways you can grind wheat.
  16. Growing fruit trees: this is something we used to do, but our lot is so small, I’m hoping to trade or barter homemade bread for a small box of fresh fruit when out friends’ trees start to produce. Yay!
  17. Healing our bodies: I am big into this, but I do have Dr. Alton’s book: The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way I love essential oils, but that’s about all I can say or the FDA may shut down my website, enough said.
  18. Hunting: oh my gosh, my nephew Collin is a hunting hero of mine, and they eat the meat they shoot. I still can’t believe we cut up the dead deer spread out on my kitchen table that Mark shot the first year we were married. I get the giggles thinking of it.
  19. Knitting: As I said above, this is an awesome skill, just think how we could use this with yarn that goes on sale, or better yet, we can buy the soft awesome yarn from Janet’s Timber Creek Farm above.
  20. Know your neighbors: I know I have talked about getting to know your neighbors, that guy down the street with a chainsaw may be your next best friend. Get together and make teams with people near you and exchange your skills and ideas. Trust me, we will need those people living near us after a disaster or unforeseen emergency.
  21. Manners: I love hearing children say please and thank you. It’s hard when I see kids screaming back at their parents at the stores I frequent. It’s not often, but we do need to teach children to respect grown-ups, other people’s furniture, and school property.
  22. Quilting: Do you remember your grandmothers using every scrap of fabric and hand piecing them together?
  23. Raising animals: the only animals we can have where I live are two pets. I couldn’t kill a chicken or goat to eat it anyway, but I have wonderful friends that have the skill and knowledge to do this.
  24. Repurposing old clothes: I love some of my grandkids, they buy clothes from the thrift stores and cut them down by sewing them to fit family members, if necessary.
  25. Saving garden seeds: I’ve personally never done this, but I know people who do as long as they are not Monsanto GMO seeds.
  26. Sewing: this proud grandma loves hearing when her grandkids are learning to sew, woohoo! If you can take lessons from someone on how to sew, do it. My hands aren’t that great anymore, but I used to love sewing. I could sew anything, with or without a pattern. I realize it is not relaxing to some people, but it is to me. Having the right sewing machine makes all the difference. I learned on a Singer, then BabyLoc, and when my mom died I used some inheritance money to purchase a Bernina sewing machine I have always wanted. Be sure and keep all your sewing machines, cleaned and oiled. Don’t forget to use good needles and thread, it makes all the difference in the world.
  27. Sharing: I love sharing my talent of making bread with people. I love to share my time to show people how to organize just about everything in their homes, or garages. Sharing meals with the sick or elderly brings everyone joy and blessings.
  28. Stonework: This is a great skill because we never know when we may have to do some stonework, inside our homes or outside.
  29. Water gathering and storage: Luckily today we don’t have to haul water, but we do need to store water for emergencies. I wrote about storing water a few days ago. Please don’t stand in line waiting for water bottles from your city if the water becomes contaminated. Not fun.
  30. Welding: this is an awesome talent and my son-in-law uses this skill to this day! AND it will come in handy when we construct the strong sturdy new bunk beds.
Read More of My Articles  What Does Freeze Dried Meat Look Like?

May you think about you own family pioneer skills that you can bring back to life and to maybe you can teach some pioneer skills to your neighbors, family, and friends. May God bless you to continue to be prepared for the unexpected.

Vintage skills: Food Storage Moms

It’s stainless steel and dishwasher safe: Tovolo Dough Whisk – 12″ Thanks to Sue who found this one! Woohoo!

My friend, Tiffany has a great article on Vintage Skills from Imperfectly Happy Homesteading

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  1. I had my grandmother’s spinning wheel also. Like you, I didn’t know how to use it. It got passed on. We are quickly becoming a nation that has no skills that would get us through bad times. My sister in law can sew anything, my niece has a treadle sewing machine, and I make soap and garden. We will trade. (We already do).

    • Lynne Clark says:

      You could look for how-to on-line for any skill you want to learn. That is how I learned to make jewelry, how to close up a treadle sewing machine, and many other things.

      • Hi Lynne, the internet is awesome, YouTube is free and we can watch and learn so many skills we will save us lots of money. I love hearing you have a treadle machine! Love it! Linda

  2. I grew up wanting to learn the old ways from my grandmother, but she would run me out of the kitchen when she was canning and out of her parlor when she was quilting. It’s a wonder I learned anything at all. What I have managed to learn I have had to do own my own. I am still learning and now trying to pass the skills to my grown children (who are resistant). I have begun blogging as a way of passing on skills to others.

    • Lucy, that’s so sad your grandmother ran you out of the kitchen. Now that I think about it, my grandmother never canned, only my mom. I don’t think my grandmother ever quilted either. BUT, my great-grandmother quilted! You go me thinking, thank you! I think most people are resistant to learning to sew and quilt. It’s so relaxing for me, but if you have a crummy sewing machine that hasn’t been serviced, cleaned and oil, I could not sew on it. LOL! Oh, how I love quilts. My sister, Carol is very talented with quilting. My mom made tied quilts and some of my daughters still have those treasures today. I have got to go follow your blog, thanks for telling me about it. Hugs, Linda

  3. I love to bake (not very good at it even after all these years but..) but I have this thing about wooden utensils. I HATE the feel of wet wood so I don’t own any wooden spoons. I cleared out the couple my husband had when I moved in with him! Is there a non-wooden handled danish whisk??

  4. First there is a pear tree that grows up and not out. If you can find ” Moonglow” pear trees. Mine is
    about maybe 12 inches around but 8 foot tall or taller. The pears some are as big as softballs.
    My grandma and mom and a cousin all taught me to cook and bake. When I was little I remember watching
    them cook. Us kids helped in the garden, not only my mom but my grandma’s too. I remember sitting on
    the cistern with my mom and scrubbing cucumbers for mom to make pickles out of. Canning is one of the
    things I love to do. I also make my own relish and also Jelly.Nothing like homemade jelly on fresh out of the
    oven homemade bread. Oh another fruit you might like to try is Cherry bushes from Henry Fields. They make
    a nice bush and the cherries are just the right size to wash and cook down for jelly.
    I hang my clothes out on a clothes line and love it. I cook from scratch all the time. A lot of the list you mentioned
    I do all the time. You mentioned your spinning wheel, I have my mom’s kraut cutter, that was probably my grandma’s.
    I was taught at a young age to use it and how to care for it. I would ask question on how to cook and can. It’s now second nature to me and I would trade it for anything. I m not a tech person , I have computer, and cell phone that is about
    it besides satellite tv. My cell phone is that just a phone. I know of nothing else and don’t want to.

    • June, thanks for the tips on the pear tree to buy and cherry bushes, I’m going to check those out for sure. I’m hoping a Meyer lemon tree will grow here as well. You are so prepared I LOVE hearing this! It’s so funny because I can still remember my grandmother’s sheets blowing in the wind on the clothesline. I FINALLY found a clothesline that I can put up and take down so the homeowners association here doesn’t have a fit! Life is good, hugs, Linda

      • Amanda Sutherland says:

        Hi, I noticed you were keen to dry your clothes on clotheslines, in the fresh air. I am Australian, and live in a fairly warm climate, and have never owned a clothes dryer. Many Australians own what is called a HIlls Hoist clothesline, which has a central pole, with an umbrella-like frame on top, with around 5 lines on each quarter of it. The clothesline spins around in the breeze, and when you are hanging the clothes, you can stand in one spot and slowly turn the line as you hang the items. There is a version of this made now that folds down a bit like an umbrella. The whole top can be removed if you need to pack the line away, and there is also a handle on the central post so you can hoist the washing line higher or bring it lower to take the clothes in. I suggest google to see images of this wonderful invention. When it rains, I just use a portable drying rack under the verandah roof or in the laundry.

        • HI Amanda, I love your comment! The clothesline I purchased will move around with any slight breeze. I want to Google the Hills Hoist clothesline, thank you for your great comment. My folds down like an umbrella as well. Linda

          • Amanda Sutherland says:

            Oh well maybe yours is the same, and it’s just called something different. The Hills hoist has been used in Australia for many years. My mother had one which was similar, but didn’t fold down. Thanks for your prompt answer!

          • Hi, Amanda, I think we can all learn from each other! Have a great day! Linda

  5. Linda, Awesome post!! It’s too bad a lot of our schools don’t teach Home Ec any more. I LOVED those classes. Also extension or community college classes–you can volunteer to teach at some colleges. I would love it if you would post pictures of the bunk beds when they are done–how high is your ceiling? Thanks, Linda, for keeping your blog going–I for one LOVE it!! Hugs, Joanne

    • I agree- why don’t our schools teach Home EC? I figure I cook at least three meals a day, yet only got one semester of cooking in Jr. High. A friend graduated from college with a degree in home ec, and when the school decided to shut down the program, the students all protested wearing their aprons and oven mitts. I think people would like the classes, but our educators give us feminist literature instead.

      • Hi, Cathy, I took Home Ec as well, I never heard why they stopped. I love hearing the students protested and wore an apron and had oven mitts. They really need to bring it back, our country is becoming or rather has become in some cases an eat out everywhere family. Let’s bring back Home Economics and teach boys and girls the basics of sewing and cooking. I’m not in charge so I would have zero input, darn it! Linda

  6. Judy P says:

    I wanted my grandmother’s butter churn, but it was lost in a fire. I taught my daughter to sew and crochet, something my arthritis no longer allows me to do. I am teaching my grand daughters to cook , bake ,can, garden and dehydrate. two of my grand daughters love to fish . We are teaching them to cook outdoors on the grill and smoker. We do backyard ‘camp outs’ to teach them to set up the tents. We enjoy doing and learning as a family. One grand daughter says she has dibs on my wheat grinders and another wants all my canning stuff, yet another wants my dehydrators LOL. My daughter wants my sewing machine. ( but they all assure me they don’t want me to ‘go home’ anytime soon).

  7. If you really want to learn to knit or crochet left-handed, get your right-handed friend to teach you how to do it, but watch her in front of a mirror.

    The only thing that I’d add is under baking: how to harvest wild yeast. It makes sourdough bread, but if the grid goes down, store bought yeast will eventually run out.

    During my years I’ve learned and practiced many of the skills on the list. I don’t sew or knit, and am short on the medical skills, but hunting, fishing, gardening and food preserving are things I’ve done all my life. If things ever really go South, I think I’d be pretty well prepared, and in a position to help the neighbors, as long as they’ve prepped sufficient food.


    • Hi Ray, I never thought about facing a mirror and learning to knit or crochet, duh, why didn’t I think of that!! I love it! Isn’t if great we have learned most all of these skills, I have never worked in a blacksmith shop but all the other skills I have learned over the years. I can make natural yeast out of freshly ground wheat, but I have never harvested wild yeast. I learned to make natural yeast from Melissa Richardson who wrote a book about it. I love hearing people like you are VERY prepared to be self-reliant, you are prepared! Linda

      • While I feel that I am more prepared than most, I missed a head start when I didn’t approach my grandparents to learn more of what they knew and could have passed on. Little did I know when I was young where I would be when I got older and what I would or might need. My grandfather was a butcher by trade, and had his own smokehouse at home where he made kielbasa that was to die for and can not be found anywhere today. At least I haven’t found it yet.

        Sadly, my grandkids are doing the same thing.

        I suppose that being older than dirt gives you knowledge, experience and perspective. Too bad you can’t just transfer it by osmosis, or store it in a jar for future need.


        • HI Ray, I love your comment! When I go to the store where there is a butcher cutting meat in the back I love to watch how they do it. Of course, I can’t see everything they are doing with the meat but I marvel when watching their skill with those very sharp knives. I have smoked meat before years ago but I have never heard of kielbasa. I still remember eating some of my mom’s meals and I can;t find some of the old recipes she made. I have a few but not as many as I would like. Now, I’m going to Google kielbasa….I have to know what that is! Talk soon, Linda

        • Ray, one more thing, I can see it is made with sausage, spices, etc. I wish I had my mom’s homemade ground pork sausage recipe, we have got to get our recipes when our parents are alive or grandparents are still living. Linda

  8. Hi Linda! Such a great post with invaluable information, as always!

    • Hi Mrs. Daisy, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sweet comment! So many of us grew up with these skills but now they seem to be dwindling in some families. Hugs, Linda

  9. As smith I wonder at the statement ” I do not have horses, but I love watching this skill.” When I started my training I helped shoe exactly one horse and assisted in a single set of horseshoes and a pair of oxen shoes. Instead I make such things as fences, jewelry, hinges, stair rails, locks and latches, hooks and holders, utensils, knives and of course tools both for my craft and for others. Though most modern smiths are farriers (smiths that specialize in horse shoes) a traditional smith may not have ever touched a horse, there were smiths that specialized in wagon wheels, nails, and a whole slew of other sundries. Yes this is an art that shouldn’t be lost, but not because of its uses for a horse, but because of the other essentials that a smith may craft.

    • Hi Anpu, thanks for sharing the skills that smiths do! I only remember when I was very little going to a farm and some man with strong hands was putting a horseshoe on a horse. I was in awe! Thanks for sharing all the things smiths do, I learned from you today, thanks for the tips! Linda

    • I felt the same way reading this statement and would like to add my own 2 cents while we’re talking about metal working. Welding is not a pioneer skill. Welding is a fairly modern trade that came about around the turn of the century and really didn’t begin to take off until the 30s and 40s. It utilizes electricity and gases which pioneers would not have access to or the ability to harness. At best they practiced brazing, possibly soldering, both of which fall into the blacksmith’s skillset. It’s not that it isn’t a handy skill to have, but it is a very modern and in-demand trade that is always evolving and that we’re not really in danger of losing.

  10. I’d love to learn to spin, though I doubt I’d keep up with it. I do enjoying kniting & crocheting, sewing sometimes, and baking bread. I’ve got a loaf rising right now! My husband enjoys cooking, so we balance each other out. 🙂

    • Hi, Cindy, I love hearing you know how to knit and crochet! I love that we both can sew and bake bread! Your husband loves to cook is a bonus! Hugs, Linda

  11. My daughter is left handed and wanted to learn to crochet. It was very easy to teach her. She sat across from me, facing me. She did everything I did, only in the reverse direction and she was using opposite hands. It was like a mirror image, and worked perfectly. She can crochet anything she wants to now.

  12. Fantastic post! I’m left handed too, and understand completely! I so wanted my great grandma to teach me to crochet, but my being left handed messed her up, and she couldn’t. She did however, teach me to bake bread!
    I have used Youtube videos to learn knitting, and bought a hand spindle to get me started learning to spin. My husband and I have bees, and I have taught myself a lot about wild edibles.

    • Hi Connie, oh my gosh, you have bees!!! We are both left-handed, you totally get it, then!! I love making bread, that saves me so much money on my grocery bills. I haven’t gotten into the wild edibles but my grandson has taught me about the wild edibles in Moab, Utah. He lived there for about 3 or 4 months and literally lived off the land! I have got to Google hand spinning!! Your rock! Linda

  13. Linda I have been so slow to stop by, read the entire post and thank you for sending new folks my way. I agree with you that the skills of our heritage need to undergo a resurgence! If we each teach what we know, we can make the world a more prepared place. Thank you sweet friend! I am so happy to hear the gloves are still keeping you warm.

    • Hi, Janet, oh the wool is amazing that you spin and the hand warmers are awesome! I need to visit other blogs, it’s hard to do everything we need to in a day and you have a farm!!! Linda

  14. I grew up on a farm and learned many valuable things: 
    Sewing, veterinary skills,  killing/butchering/cutting/wrapping  up animals to freeze, canning, gardening, there are far too many to list here and bore you with. But  building (my father, husband and I built our own off grid cabin with trees cut from the land and milled into lumber  with his portable mill) is the most important in my opinion.  I have always wanted to learn how to live off the land. And have taught myself many skills with the help of you tube! I taught myself to clean, process, dye and spin wool into beautiful yarn. I learned to crochet when I was young but not to knit. I have since obtained a couple of knitting looms I’m hoping to use. I guess my point is that there is such a wealth of information out there now that you can sponge up so much information that it is endless. If I can teach myself how to process and spin my own wool so can you:) it’s the most relaxing lovely and gratifying skill, you really should give it a go! Anyone can do these things if they put their mind to it. Learn as much as you can. 

    • Hi Kay, I’m with you, there is so much we can learn on the web for FREE and YouTube is awesome. I really love hearing you built your off-grid cabin with trees from the land and YOU milled into lumber with a portable mill. We can learn and teach each other so many skills, the list is endless. I love the statement if we put our mind to it. Love it! Linda

  15. There are places where many skills are used and demonstrated daily, such as Williamsburg, Virginia, Plymouth in Massachusetts, and a working farm in southern Georgia. I’m sorry the name escapes me. In Berea, Kentucky, there is a college where many of these skills are taught. And don’t forget Foxfire, either! Also, many reenactments include people who will spin wool or knit or cook over an open fire, etc. Have fun going to these and similar places and events!

    • Oh Teddy, I have got to make a road trip back to those areas next spring. I would LOVE seeing a working farm in Georgia as well! I love hearing there are colleges who teach these skills. I love this comment! Thank you!!! Linda

  16. Hand spinning? I just bought my first wheel, but the learning curve is much steeper than my good old drop spindle. Not to mention, a drop is far more portable than my “travelling wheel”.

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