A while ago, my husband started watching Man vs. Wild, a show about surviving in various environments with only a few basic tools. He also started growing a garden.Hes been reading up on backpacking and buying equipment such as sleeping bags, headlamps and tents. He helped my son learn to use a pocket knife.Meanwhile, my daughter and I are baking cookies in the Easy Bake Oven she got for Christmas.Such skills may be handy someday (the gardening, not the Easy Baking. Those cookies are the size of a quarter). Theres a trend of apocalyptic rhetoric these days that makes one believe that survival know-how may be valuable. Whether its because of the ineptitude of Congress, the struggling economy or doomsday prophecy fueled by reality television and fringe bloggers, many believe that our convenient lifestyles may be coming to an end. And when they do, most of us will be ill-prepared to survive in a world without drive-through coffee and quarter-sized cookies. I, for one, am worried. I have spent my entire life building a repertoire of useless skills. I can scrapbook and make cakes and write amusing vignettes. I can check email and upload photos to Facebook. None of these things will be of any use whatsoever in survival mode. Of course, Ive seen Cast Away and Ive read Little House on the Prairie. But I have never tried any of these survival skills myself. Constructing a shelter requires at least a dozen trips to Lowes. Ive never (willingly) eaten insects, particularly in larval form as Bear Grylls is wont to do. And Ive certainly never made cloth from scratch. All of my skills are dependent on the work of others. I can cook just about anything, provided the chicken is plucked, the meat butchered, the flour ground and the oil pressed. I can sew, but I do not know how to felt wool or spin thread. The thing that worries me most is defense. According to the what-to-hoard-in-case-of-disaster blogs, its no use collecting water, rice and dried beans unless you can defend it. My idea of personal defense, oddly enough, involves a chicken. If I am ever attacked, my first response will be to form my hand in the shape of a chickens beak and then peck at the eyes of my attacker. I am totally serious. My husband laughs at me when I explain the strategy. He owns guns. Our son may now use his pocket knife for whittling and opening cans, but we all know that it will provide better self-defense than a chicken-shaped hand.Speaking of chickens, Mia also learned a new skill that may prove handy. After studying Spanish at home for the past year, our family visited some relatives at their farm. Mia spent much of the visit at the chicken coops, imitating their sounds. On the way home, she announced that she could now speak Chicken Spanish. Shes already the Baby Whisperer at our house, regularly translating the 1-year-olds babble into intelligible English with uncanny accuracy. And now, shes fluent in a whole new language. Perhaps all this doomsday anxiety sounds like the unintelligible babble of a toddler or the clucking of chickens. We cant all go around hoarding gasoline and shouting, The sky is falling! And I dont know if Chicken Spanish will help us to survive an apocalypse. But in such an event, at least Mia might be able to explain to the chickens why were eating their eggs and, perhaps, them. At the very least, I hear theyre good at predicting the end of the world.