Valuable skills

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Valuable skills)

A. 7 Reasons Learning Grooming Skills Should Be Part of Your Preps: Haircuts and Dog Grooming
24 June 2013,, General Prepping
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skill barber

Learning how to cut hair and groom dogs might become a necessary skill to have if the S ever does HTF, and it might prove to be lucrative to boot. As you might have guessed from my writing, the general look of things around my blog, and my attitude, I’m not a very high maintenance kinda girl. Sure, I’ve had my hair and nails done before but only on very special occasions. Normally, I might have my hair cut once a year. This past year I cut my hair super short and went back to my natural hair color which is now salt and pepper. (Yes, I did color my hair for many years but I did that myself too.) My point in telling you all this is that over the years I’ve become almost completely self-sufficient when it comes to my grooming and my families grooming.  My self-sufficiency didn’t stop at my ability to groom my husband and children – I also learned to groom my dogs. Here are some of the reasons I decided it was in my best interest to learn these skills.

1. You Save  Time and  Money: This was my number one motivator to learn grooming skills. I learned how to cut my children’s hair when my oldest was about three because it was a lot of money to have his hair cut once a month. Well, maybe it wasn’t too much for just him but my husband already went to the barber once a month, and now my three year old needed his hair cut, plus I had a younger baby that would need his hair cut soon enough. I saw that the cost was going to add up fast. (This was before I even gave birth to my third son). So I bought clippers and a book and learned. My husband always joked that the boys were too young to care how they looked so if I messed up it wasn’t that big of a deal. By cutting my husband’s and boys’ hair I save about $720 a year. I was cutting hair long before we acquired dogs so the leap from grooming humans to animals was not too hard. I have a standard poodle and a wire fox terrier – two breeds that need to be groomed. (We cannot have a dog that sheds because two of my children have asthma.) By grooming the dogs I save about $640 dollars a year. Even if you don’t have a dog that requires grooming, if you live in a hot climate many people often shave their dog’s fur (especially long-haired varieties and even some short-haired varieties if they start shedding a lot) to make them more comfortable.

skill haircut1As you can tell from the age difference of my son in these photos I’ve been cutting his hair for years.

skill haircut2Here is the after picture of the most recent photo above.

2. Grooming is Part of Proper Hygiene:  If  the S does HTF hygiene will be more important than ever. Without running water and other conveniences it will become increasingly difficult to maintain proper hygiene. Hygiene is often overlooked in prepping because most of us have never been without it for an extended amount of time (like months…) and we often figure it will be the least of our worries. Learning how to tend to your families grooming needs could mean you don’ t have to deal with pests like lice and fleas and all the diseases they bring with them. Learning proper grooming could help your family stay healthy when doctors are scarce. If you are already in the practice of grooming everyone in your family all you’ll have to worry about is making the jump to doing it off-grid without electric clippers. If you do a little scissor work each time you groom this transition won’t be a big deal.

3. You Can Avoid Unwanted Stress: If you already know how to groom everyone in your family you won’t have to try and learn how if there is a collapse. You’ll be used to doing this chore and with a few minor adjustments it won’t seem much different than doing it under normal circumstances. After all, you’ll probably have other problems to deal with. Learning how to cut hair or groom your dogs should not be one of them. It also helps younger children (and animals) to have continuity:  ”mom has always cut my hair so it’s no different than normal”.

4. You’ll Have the Right Equipment and Know How to Use it in a Collapse: It’s one thing to buy clippers or scissors for cutting hair, and it’s quite another to actually use them. There is really no way to know if you have the proper equipment for cutting hair unless you are currently in the practice of grooming. Many home hair cutting kits don’t even come with scissors anymore, they just come with electric clippers. I learned how to cut hair with clippers, then I learned how to cut hair with scissors – it’s a process. If you start learning how to groom now you will be able to “think through” how you’ll handle things in an off-grid situation and know what equipment you’ll need.

skill fur trimHere is a before and middle picture of my big pup (she’s not quite done there on the bottom). It takes me about four hours from start to finish and I groom her about four to five times a year.

5. You’re Often Better Than a Professional:  Often times if you know how to cut your child’s hair you will be able to do it better than a professional. After all you know his hair type. You know if it’s thin or thick or if he has one cowlick or two (one of my sons has two). You know how his hair is “trained” to lie on his head. I tried to save money once by taking my children to one of those salon colleges where they let the cosmetology students cut hair for practice (as a result the price is super cheap). Big mistake! Also, on the few occasions that I’ve had my poodle groomed the professional grooming her did not clean her ears correctly. (Note: different breeds of dogs have different grooming needs. So before you begin to groom your pet please research your pet’s breed so you will be aware of any special issues unique to their breed.)

skill haircut3I can cut around ears pretty well now but that wasn’t always the case. Never forget it does not have to be perfect!

6.  If You’re Good Enough You Might Be Able to Offer Your Services For Barter: If there is a collapse and you have this skill you might be able to use it to barter with and obtain much needed supplies for your family. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be prepped with everything they need no matter how hard they try. So knowing a skill that not everyone knows might come in handy one day.  (Note: it is currently illegal in most places to cut hair or groom animals for profit without a licence. So when I say barter I mean after the SHTF and these laws may no longer apply)

7. Grooming is a Chance to Examine Your Child or Dog: Most mother’s examine their children when they bathe them but there is that time around 10 years old when kids are learning hygiene that a mom might do a thorough examine every day. If you cut your child’s hair you can examine them for any abnormalities. This is especially helpful when it comes to grooming animals. If you groom your animals you can be on the lookout for everything from parasites to cancerous moles. By doing it yourself you can keep a record of any problems and keep an eye on any potential problems. Professionals are supposed to be on the lookout as well but most grooming boutiques have multiple employees and if you are lucky enough to get the same groomer each time they might not remember your animal after examining tons of others.

If you are looking to start grooming either your children or your dogs I recommend doing a search on YouTube where you will find many videos that will help you feel less intimidated. I also recommend a book called Scissors and Comb Haircutting as a good reference for learning how to cut hair. You can buy a Wal-Mart hair cutting starter kit when you decide to start learning (I certainly did), however, I learned very quickly that you get what you pay for. In addition, having cheap tools makes it harder to learn and harder on the family in general (you’re more likely to nick their skin).  My hair cutting tools are made by WAHL.  Here is the latest model of what I own.  The same goes with dog grooming tools. I actually upgraded my human tools and then used my Wal-Mart special on the dogs for a time. Again, big mistake and really I have to say buying the right tool for the job matters even more with animals. It just made such a huge difference in the ease of grooming them. Here is the clipper I have for my dogs. This clipper requires a blade.  I use a number 10 blade for my poodles face and paws, then I use it to cut all of my wire fox terrier’s coat, this is the shortest cutting blade and basically shaves the dog. To leave a short coat on my poodle I use a number 7 blade  in the summer and a number 4 blade for her in the winter. Be sure to always buy ceramic blades – they will last a lot longer. You will also need a good pair of scissors but I recommend not buying those through mail order so you can get a pair that fits your hand. You can buy them at a beauty salon supply store such as Sally’s.


B.  5 Uncommon Skills That Will Be Useful After the SHTF
2 July 2013,, by Gaye Levy
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I believe that community will be important in a post-SHTF society.

It is also my belief that each member of a community will need to contribute in one way or another to the group as a whole.  It is easy to think of those contributions as something physical that you can touch and feel such as food, medical supplies, fuel,  firearms, ammunition and cash. The problem, of course, is that depending on economic circumstances and logistics, even experienced preppers may have very little extra in the way of tangible assets to contribute to the community as a whole.

Today I would like to move beyond the need for Prepper’s to have physical and monetary assets .  Instead, I would like to suggest five uncommon skills that will be needed by every post-SHTF community.  These are skills that do not take a lot of money to learn and yet they will be extremely valuable and in high demand if the SHTF.  These are skills you may not have thought about, but important skills none-the less.

 1.  Sewing
Anyone who was a child during the Great Depression will know that new clothes were a luxury afforded by very few.  Clothes were worn until they were literally thread bare and even then, they were patched and mended, usually by hand. In those days, one of the very first domestic skills learned by a young skill seamstresschild was how to sew on a button.  After that, they were taught ironing, hemming, and darning.  Common opinion was that darned socks were lumpy, but they were better than no socks at all and lumpy or not, they kept your feet warm.

These domestic skills were not limited to just the girls.  As the Survival Husband will attest, little boys were also taught to sew, iron, hem and darn.

In a world where new clothes and even bolts of fabric are precious, if available at all, sewing skills will be needed to create new garments out of old.  Such things as sanitary pads for the ladies will need to be fashioned out of discarded pieces of cloth and even washable TP from old rags may be needed.  But most of all, clothes will need to be repurposed and made usable again.  And for that, someone with sewing skills will be invaluable to the community.

2.  Barbering and Hair Cutting
How often do you get your hair cut?  Once a month? Every two months?  When there is no salon around the corner or worse, no money for a salon, the next best thing is a good set of shears and someone with a modicum of hair cutting knowledge.

At the risk of sounding frivolous, no matter how bad things get, I know that I am going to feel better if I am well groomed and look nice. I am not talking about a fancy hairdo and salon highlights (which, by the way, I do not have).  I am talking about a nicely trimmed hairstyle, nothing fancy, that keeps hair out of my eyes and is short enough to wash and keep clean using only a modest amount of water.  The same applies to men although for many, a shaved head will be a viable option.

To get started in home barbering and haircutting, you need some barber shears and a trimmer.  I happen to use a Wahl Peanut that also does double duty for dog grooming.  A portable trimmer will run off of solar power so the lack of electricity should  not be a problem although there are plenty of battery operated models to choose from as well.

The other thing you need are some warm bodies that will let you practice on them. Note that I am not suggesting that you set up shop; States have strict licensing requirements when it comes to cutting hair and barbering.  What I am suggesting, however, is that you acquire some basic skills practicing on family and friends so that when the time comes, you can perform basic hair cutting for other members of your survival community.

skill SHTF bake3.  Cooking and Baking for a Crowd
When the pioneers traveled across the country in their wagon trains, certain individuals were designated “Cookies”.  These individuals were responsible for cobbling together family style meals from whatever provisions happened to be available.

Cooks, or “Cookies” will also be sought after in a post SHTF community.  The reason for this may be not be obvious but in truth, there will be so many chores to do that for the sake of efficiency,  it will be useful to have a central kitchen, where communal meals are prepared, perhaps even outdoors over an open fire.

People need to eat and anyone who has the skill to cook and especially to bake for a crowd will find a welcome place in the survival community.

4.  Teaching
Young people are going to need to learn the basics of reading, writing, and science.  As I wrote in Education After the Collapse – A Journey Back to Little House on the Prairie, the schoolhouse of old was likely the kitchen table, with Mom and Dad pitching in to teach their children the basics.

In a post SHTF society, there will not be traditional schools to educate children.  Instead, children and their parents will be on their own unless someone is willing to step up and teach them not only the basics, but also how to solve problems and how to think critically when solving problems.

What will it take to teach?  Some textbooks, paper, writing materials and flash cards will be good to have but even more important, is a willingness to share knowledge and to exhibit patience when dealing with children who have been displaced or may be confused by the scary world changes taking place around them.

5.  Entertaining
This last skill is something I have rarely, if ever, seen mentioned in prepping circles.  In a world where there are no movies, no TV, no video games and no mall, staying pleasantly occupied during leisure periods will be a challenge.  The risk, if there is no entertainment, is that you will either work yourself to death because you are bored or you will become depressed due to the lack of imaginative stimulation.

Entertaining  in a post SHTF world may include singing or playing the harmonica, guitar or accordion.  It might also include teaching a group to dance, play charades or even to play a rousing round of canasta.  Knowing how to entertain others and bring a bit of fun into their lives is a special trait that can be honed now and put into use over and over again, regardless of how bad things get.

Let’s face it. In a post-SHTF society, there are going to be the haves and the have-not’s.  As a matter of fact, one of the fears that many of us have is that someone will come knocking on the door empty-handed and will ask or even demand to join your community of preppers.  This could be a family member or neighbor or even a stranger who has done little if anything to prepare in spite of the many warning signs.

Although you may have some charitable handouts at the ready, inviting someone to be accepted into your home or community is going to require some tough scrutiny.  Part of that scrutiny will be to evaluate whether they have a useful and needed skill to bring into the mix.  And by useful skill, I mean a skill that will enhance the lives and lessen the burden of the others that are already there.  The five skills I have outlined today are the types of skills that will be sought after in such a situation.

My recommendation is that even if you do not think you will need them, it is a good idea to become proficient at one or more of these skills now. After all, if you need to bug out with simply your bug-out-bag and the clothes on your back, you may be the one knocking on a stranger’s door with nothing but your  skills to offer.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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