Things We Should Probably Know How to Do

The September issue of Texas Monthly focuses on what it’s like to raise and educate children in Texas, and one of the stories looks at three home-schooled boys (ages 15, 13, and 11) who live on a ranch that’s virtually “untouched by the modern world.” The boys spend much of their time caring for the animals on the farm, hunting mountain lions, swimming in a water tank under a windmill, wrestling, and starting a cattle business with the goal of finishing high school with a solid business they can rely on to generate income. There is no mention of college—they know they want to be ranchers and hunting guides as adults.

Here are things the boys know how to do: drag calves in a pen, ear notch, castrate, vaccinate, brand, and sort cattle. They can rope cattle, but also bobcats and wild pigs. They can weld metal, and they can shoot a gun. They can drive a stick shift. They can change the oil in a Jeep, plug a flat, and change a tire. They can operate a front-end loader, a bulldozer, hookup a gooseneck trailer, trim horseshoes, set traps, braid rawhide, mimic an elk call, and identify different species of grass. They can do the two-step, play chess, make scrambled eggs, and wiggle their ears.

They can do a lot of things that I should probably know how to do—not castrate cattle, but certainly change a flat tire or drive a stick shift. I have done both of those things, but only with another person’s help, and not masterfully. I’ll still stall the car while driving stick.

Obviously, I don’t have any plans to be a rancher, so a lot of the skills those boys have aren’t applicable to me, but there probably are a lot of things we should know how to do, but aren’t taught in school. Like:

1. Do the heimlich maneuver (and probably how to perform it on yourself). Also, perform CPR, and basic First Aid.
2. Build a fire
3. Jumpstart a car
4. Read a map
5. Swim
6. Hold a baby

I did a quick search to see if I could take a quick class on how to properly change a tire, specifically at the Brooklyn Brainery, which offers classes on how to do things like identify trees and alter and sew your clothes—useful! But, the class I thought was on changing a bike tire ended up being this one.

What other things should we all know how to do?

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