I am a history buff and very interested in technology and ecologies of the past.
George Santayana, in his book Reason in Common Sense:
“Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,”
In a culture with no written language, any skill will be lost in only one generation.
You see this in history when war, natural disaster, climatic change, etc. forces people to focus their efforts on producing food and shelter. People can no longer afford to specialize and special skills are lost. Just think of the fall of Rome and the Dark ages. You also see this when technology changes and cultures interact. The cook book Joy of Cooking had recipes for wild game like raccoon in the first edition. Today most people get their food they prepare from grocery stores. The amount of disposable income that one has to spend today on food is at an all-time low. So the benefit of wild game is much lower than it was in the 1930’s when the first Joy of Cooking book was published. Cultural changes have followed this resulting many game animals no longer being seen suitable for human consumption. Many people whose grandparents hunted and cooked wild game no longer have these skills. You only find this information in old books and survival related publications. Terms have even been developed for these lost skills. “Bushcraft” is a long-term extension of survival skills. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushcraft
Thanks to the Internet more of these skills survive in print, videos, and pictures. However, reading and doing are not the same. For example I learned a bit of Bushcraft in Alaska from the WWII generation. But I have not snared a snowshoe, trapped a beaver, etc. in decades. Even if I was at my best trapping in Alaska and trapping in the Midwest is different. I would have to adapt to the environment. A certain level of learning would have to take place. I would be able learn from local trapping organizations, and I might even be able to go out with a local trapper. But I would have to actually trap to refine my skills. The same goes for gardening. I have gardened since I was old enough to know a weed from a cabbage plant. Gardening in Alaska was different than gardening in the Midwest. Climate zone, diseases, insects, etc. were very different. I had to learn to garden within the constraints of my current environment. I have gardened in my current place since 1997 and I am still learning.
So part of being prepared is developing skills and practicing these skills in order to refine them. Unfortunately, now that I am getting on in years the skills I have get harder to apply as the years go on. And my adult children learned a lot growing up but are now working, finishing college, etc. There live do not have room for Bushcraft. So I use this blog to pass along and save some of the insights that I have developed over the decades.