The Pioneer Spirit and Skills They Can Help Us Through Bad Times

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These are
good days for survivalists, those dour predictors of dire times
who’ve said all along we’d better prepare for the worst.

With people
losing jobs, homes and life savings through no fault of their own,
and with natural disasters, oil shortages and terrorists in the
news, those long-predicted grim times may have arrived.

Kurt Wilson,
who hosts a Web site called “Armchair Survivalist,” predicts
the nation is falling into such chaos that survival skills will
be crucial.

But what are
those skills?

I think I have
a good idea, based on what pioneers endured as they worked to settle
the West.

I believe they
have plenty to teach us about what it takes to make it through hard

a hint: A gun isn’t the most necessary thing.

Where I live
in Wyoming’s inhospitable high desert, settlers in 1908 knew
if they were ever going to grow anything, they needed to build a
reservoir and ditches to direct water from the Wind River Mountains.

They did that
by working together, and the ditches they dug a century ago still
run water today.

Some families
lived in tents their first winter, burning sagebrush until they
could bring logs from the mountains to build cabins and provide
better fuel.

They cleared
the sagebrush, planted hay and grain and hunted rabbits, antelope
and sage chickens.

Gardens provided
vegetables – fresh in summer, canned for the rest of the year.
Each family had a cow, pig and chickens. Surviving meant working
dawn to dark.

Because it
took two days to ride in a wagon to Rock Springs, the nearest town,
they stocked up on staples once, maybe twice, a year.

As recently
as the 1930s, folks here were about as close to self-sufficient
as you could get.

the rest of the article

15, 2009

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