Skills I Never Expected I’d Have to Learn

By J.G. Martinez

As preppers we try to teach others the skills they need to be more self-reliant. Even the most self-sustained preppers out there know that knowledge is the most valuable preparedness tool there is.

During these couple of years that I’ve been (almost) on my own I had to learn skills I never expected I’d have to learn. Some of them very interesting. Like dehydrating food. And other skills, like sewing (Ugh). Those readers who follow writings of my (or ours, kiddo and mine)  ” adventure” know that I’m not precisely skillful with my hands.   

Here are the skills I never expected I’d have to learn.

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Dehydrating Staples

You may ask why dehydrating was a “needed skill.” Remember, I don’t have a fridge. We need to have some means to preserve meat and have proteins for a few days. Canned fish is awful here. Besides, they have all the fresh fish they want! Canned poultry and meat are much worse. (Red meat is hyper-expensive).

After trying a few recipes, I found the exact one to provide a tastier and long-lasting product. I could buy it in the market, but I am suspicious of the sanitation of the place. With all the small shops closed on Sundays (the day I use to have some red meat at lunch!), the need to learn was evident. 

The temptation to prepare powdered eggs is there, but I don’t want to use up my gas bottle. Getting a new one will open a hole in my pocket. We should be heading home in a short while, so there’s no need to spend that money. Meals cooked with dehydrated vegetables are pretty tasty! Dry fruits are excellent for “Merenda” (in Italian) or snacks in the afternoons.  

Daisy has several articles about dehydrating things like oranges, tomatoes, and even holiday leftovers!

Cooking Healthier and Tastier Meals

As a single man until 2001, I was never interested in cooking. Eating healthy was only somewhat of a priority. Venezuela is a cattle country. We eat lots of cheese and red meat. I went decades without cooking beans and white rice until kiddo came to live with me. Now, healthier, tastier meals are on the menu for us. 

With a few videos, a folder of simple recipes, and the assistance of my little helper, we enjoy cooking our mealsfather-son quality time. We were apart for too much time already. I have just a tiny fishing knife and the tiniest cutting polymer board I found. Also, I have a battered aluminum frying pan and a good-quality stainless pot. The pan won’t make it to Venez. Probably not the pot either. However, it was not cheap, and if weight allows it, the pot will go.

I learned that even a simple sandwich could be a satisfying meal with a bit of seasoning. Kiddo was pleasantly surprised when I prepared him grilled sandwiches. I fried an egg to add to his sandwich with some herbs. Before getting my borrowed gas stove, I cooked in a makeshift “rocket stove.” He loved the sandwich. 

Roasted peppers are incredibly delicious by the way. I prepared some cheese arepas, adding the roasted peppers. You should have tasted it. Dang. And just a few cents. My kid told me several times he wants to open a restaurant someday. I told him, “Sure, after you get your college degree.” 

Sewing Skills

Taking care of clothes is something we Latino males usually don’t even consider. God forbid your friends suddenly arrive home with a case of beer and catch you sewing a pair of socks, some underwear, or your favorite trousers. But unexpected accidents like a rip in the crotch of my jeans suddenly made me see why this was a need. You can save a lot of money by sewing socks instead of throwing them away and getting new ones.

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As I don’t have a sewing machine here, this is a steep learning curve. Tutorials help. But for someone with less than stellar mechanical abilities, it’s challenging. Note: Learn while you still have good vision, fellows. Those with more patience and willingness to learn may get an extra income working upholstery, refurbishing old car seats and furniture.

Basic Plumbing Skills

We all know how much a plumber charges, don’t we? 

Maintaining a functional home is hard work. (To some of you youngsters out there who have not decided to buy one yet, remember that.) When you own a home, no matter what, you will get to a point where something needs fixing. Inevitably, something will happen with your pipes or roof, and you will not have money to fix it. And these needed repairs will arrive much quicker if you have kids. 

Cleaning a plugged pipe. Nasty, gross, will make you puke but will save you $$$ and will avoid a potential disaster. Make sure to get some tools to attach to an electric hand drill or some others more complete:  Plumbing Snake Drain Clog Remover Tools 3/4 “-2” Pipes. (I suggest going with an unpowered version.) Be sure to wear a face shield, disposable gloves, and a mask. It’s a good idea to watch a few tutorials, too. Oh, and a few incense sticks. 

Daisy offers some great tips on what to do if the toilet won’t flush. She even tells you how to make a Kitty-Litter-Potty.

Basic Roof Repair

Disclaimer: Roofing can be dangerous. Make sure you don’t do anything foolish.

I had to replace a few boards on my roof, and it wasn’t easy at all. However, with some help from my older kiddo, it was doable. I couldn’t install the weathering layer because I didn’t have the needed equipment. After watching the guy and the kid he brought with him do it, I realized it wasn’t hard. I decided it was something I could do with a bit of practice.

Our roofs are pretty simple: just a board with grooves and tabs in the edges that are put together side by side and adjusting to one another. You don’t need complicated stuff in the tropics. What you do need is suitable quality materials to avoid leaking. I’ve done some research, and I found a combination perfect for stormy places. A layer of thick PVC cover, glued to the wooden roof and covered with a special paint we use, with aluminum powder. It reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it, heating and cracking itself. Doing this myself saved me a lot of money on roof repairs.

Basic Electrical Skills

With this, I mean fundamental skills. My dad is an electrician, but I never had a particular interest in that field. However, knowing how to join cables, tape them, weld, and learn about AC (for homes) and DC (cars and bikes, mostly) are good skills to have. It’s beneficial to know how to change an outlet, where the main protection switches are, and route a burned-out wire into the wall conduit. It requires a special tool to get the new electric wire inside the conduit and take it to the outlet you need. It is not expensive though.

It’s essential to learn about your solar system, vehicles, and house wiring. Not necessarily how to repair it, but how it all works. That way, if a problem arises, you are more capable of identifying it. A small assortment of special tools is needed. And, of course, gloves, safety glasses, and isolator boots. 

In case there is more to the issue than just a faulty wire, here’s a guide that will help you handle a power outage.


I have to acknowledge this. In my entire life, I have grown very few things. Going back to the Homestead to make a living out of 2000 square meters of rocky land and limited income (plus a child to support) is going to be an adventure. Homesteading isn’t easy, but as Erica reveals in her book, it can be done successfully.

My previous experience with growing something off the land was limited to strawberries. Yes, in the middle of the tropical forest, they rooted and thrived until my dad stopped taking care of them. The dang crickets ate them too. Mother has been composting for decades a small place, like a few square meters. That compost is one of the better ones I have ever seen. I’m sure it has something to do with the bacteria colony growing there. The decomposition speed is exceptionally high. 

Yes! You CAN grow stuff in the tropics

I do know you can grow plenty of stuff in the tropics if:

  • You have enough skills to sort of know what you’re doing
  • You have access to a water reservoir once the drought arrives

No need to worry about the sun as it is always abundant. With the limited amount of space, I read about the tire-growing approach. Knowing the hazards of using something not designed to be part of food production, I dug a little and found this: Is It Safe To Grow Potatoes In Tires? Tires have lead in their composition. 

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However, this article details how tires can be used in raised beds. Whichever option I choose, I will combine it with liquid fertilizer and the one produced by a worm farm, and results should be decent.

Since many of you aren’t in the tropics, here’s an article from Joanna on how to grow a successful garden in (almost) any climate. The key is to plan and think ahead.

Bonus: Computing Skills

It’s not exactly my specialty, but my dependence on a computing system to make a living is extremely high. Tinkering with the operating system is not something I usually do, but recent events made me realize how important this is. Computers are now incredibly more complex than ever. But I feel like I reduced the former problems like freezing and slowing.

I incorporated basic maintenance tasks and some not-so-basic into my skill set. Not having money to pay for software repair forces you to dedicate time to learn these things. 

What are some skills you never expected you would have to learn?

Have you had to learn new skills that you never even considered? What was it like? Did you have a difficult time learning, or was it pretty easy? Share with other readers your newly acquired skills and how you gained them in the comments below.

With the Global Reset coming and possibly another pandemic, the times ahead will be rough. I will do what I can to show you if I can survive and thrive with only the help of a young kid, you could do much better. 

Stay tuned, people, and thanks for your always-welcomed support. God bless you all.


Source: The Organic Prepper

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations:

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