What do you consider to be your most valuable "learned" homestead skill ? (Homesteading (General))greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
My wife and I were discussing how much we have learned since choosing the way to self sufficiency and were trying to rate our #1 valuable skill in the event of an economic collapse. She felt learning to properly dehydrate foods to ensure adequate food stores was her choice. I felt my learning to make sparkling country wines from available fruits, which could be a medium of post collapse exchange as one of my most valuable skills. What do you consider your most valuable "learned " skill?
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), May 22, 2001
Mine would have to be raising and processing my own meat and veggies. I have always had a garden and canned, froze or dried everything. Then I learned how to butcher my own hogs-I already knew how to clean the chickens, rabbits, deer and game birds. Yep, I think raising and processing my own food is pretty handy to know. Being a good forager also helps.
-- cowgirlone (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 22, 2001.
Whats helped me the most is to learn to control spending in that my $21.00 per day vetrans pension does not leave room for mistakes. I take how much money I have left, devide it by the number of days left in the month and that yeilds what I can spend on any given day.
-- mitch hearn (email@example.com), May 22, 2001.
I would have to say that food production in general is a most valuable skill. Within that broad category, animal husbandry ranks high as a valuable skill. Not sure I could identify the single most valuable skill I have learned in five years on the mini farm, but some things I never thought I would be doing and that I consider valuable skills are beekeeping and giving injections to animals.
-- Skip Walton (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 22, 2001.
For myself it is animal husbandry, though I would not want to be tested in that way, I could in the event of "economic collapse" not only supply for my family but also for others and human medicine/surgery, in an emergency.
For my husband it has to be his encyclopedic mind of how all things work. From his well/hand pump gravity fed system, to our wood stove heating, he constantly amazes me. Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (email@example.com), May 22, 2001.
For me it was learning how to work. I came to the country a city girl, had no clue of what work was, work ethic was something I'd never even heard of. My conception of work at that time was doing the dishes or folding laundry. I had an abusive stepfather with many faults, but one thing he did for me was to teach me how to work- really work, like hauling logs out of the woods all day long and splitting and stacking them into firewood. If I hadn't learned this skill, it wouldn't matter what else I knew, I'd never get around to doing it, or I'd be too lazy to do it.
-- Rebekah (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 22, 2001.
I consider setting priorities my most valuable "learned skill". It doesn't seem to matter how hard I try "everything" never gets done but if I can set priorities I can usually juggle things around so that most of the time the right thing happens at the right time. Right after that would come animal husbandry. I have not had to call a vet in a very long time and I think it was by learning to watch my animals and immediately see a problem. Learning how to recognize a problem early has saved me big trouble and big dollars.
-- diane (email@example.com), May 22, 2001.
making bio diesel altho not perfect yet i will at least be able to go some where to see what everone else is doing. hope big mac. and burger king dont go under.Bob se.ks.
-- Bobco (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 23, 2001.
Learning to do things yourself. Not relying on anyone else to do it. If you dont know how to do it, you dont hire someone you do it yourself.
-- Gary (email@example.com), May 23, 2001.
Over the years I've learned how to raise most types of livestock. I worked for a time as carpenter so building things is possible. My wife and I have always canned and frozen our produce, we've even done our own butchering. But the most valuable skill that I have and still am aquiring is soil building. With good soil all is possible with out it all is difficult if not impossible.
-- Del Grinolds (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 23, 2001.
Way to go folks! our little group here sure has a lot of capabilities. Lets hear more.
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), May 23, 2001.
Basic carpentry. I'm not real good at it, but I love it. I can slap a goat shelter together with 3 pallets and a piece of plywood, pronto. I can also engineer a 10x10 stall, complete with rafters, metal roof and siding. I love knowing how things go together. My next trick is to learn how to be a GOOD gardener and how to put it away for the winter. I am almost too late, judging from my own paranoia and comments on other threads, i.e., genetically-engineered food and high energy prices. But, we late-comers must plug away at it! I'm enjoying reading this thread; proud of us all. dh in nm
-- debra in nm (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 23, 2001.
I'm nowhere near a homestead yet and I can't say I have really learned this one yet, but I'm working on it: It's to DO IT! Don't just think and plan and dream forever. I have finally begun to make some progress. So I'll quit reading and dreaming and get back to work right now! Thanks for the push!
-- Cindy Wells (email@example.com), May 23, 2001.
I know all you animal lovers out there are gonna hate this answer but, the most valuable skill I've learned in 15+ years of homesteading is vegetarianism. No more milking twice a day (and feeding, watering, processing milk, cleaning equipment, ect.). No more critters in the hen house (and finding dead chickens everywhere). No more tender babes to worry over. No more geese that prefer the front porch to the pond (and leave me wonderful little squishy piles as presents!) The list can go on and on. I know, I know, there are certainly many wonderful moments and lots of joy that come with animals (nothing is sweeter than holding that still damp, new born kid or seeing those tiny chicks peep out from under their mother's wing). I'm certainly NOT trying to convince anyone to give up their animals. I'm simply stating what now works for us. When the last of our animals were sold, our place was so quiet and still it felt like it was dead. Sure took some time to get used to it. Anyway, the garden/orchard now gets all the attention that used to go to the animals. I can produce a whole lot of food and have plenty of time to process it now that I don't have to clean out the barn, hen house, rabbit shed, ect. I no longer have to buy grain and bring in food from somewhere else for the animals (making me very dependent on others). I feel way more self-sufficient now and know that as long as I can store my own seed, get buckets of water from my well, rake up leaves for compost/mulch, and keep my wood stove going for canning, then I won't starve. Instead of reading up on problems with animals, I now read up on insects, companion planting, cover crops and new plant varities. It's a trade off that I'm very pleased I made. I can hardly believe all the free time I now have and the table still groans with the weight of home produced food. With mad cow disease, hoof and mouth disease, deer/elk wasting-away diseases, vegetarianism is looking better and better to me! Glad I made the change. Again, I'm not trying to convince anyone to give up their animals but I figured that in an economic collapse the animals would have to be the first to go on my homestead (because of my need to buy grains/vitamins/medications from off the homestead) so why not just get used to and learn how to live without them now. I've been working on it for a couple of years and I am very pleased with the change. I still consider myself a homesteader and maybe even more so now because I'm more self suffient. (I most certainly still read Countryside!) So once again, my most valuable skill toward self sufficiency is learning vegetarianism. If you're a homestead wanna- be, and just can't see yourself with animals, then go ahead and be a homesteader without the animals. It'll work, I promise! And if you have animals and want to keep them, then good for you! Homesteaders come in all kinds!
-- Thistleseed (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 23, 2001.
Number one would be learning foraging skills. Its great to bring home mushrooms and not fear the imminent death of my family!! Number two is raising my own food, both meat and veggie, like you. Number three is the preservation of all of the above.
But, the greatest thing I've learned, and I think all of us here know, is that there is a market for ANYTHING... It doesn't take a 'real' job to survive and keep the money flowing......
-- Sue Diederich (email@example.com), May 23, 2001.
I think the most rewarding thing that we have learned in our experience in 20 years of homesteading is "doing" for yourselves. We have the animals and large garden for self-sufficient foods and heat with wood and chop the wood too. Learning how to make do with what you have can actually be fun at times, especially when money is short. When I think how we didn't even know how potatoes grew or the first year I lost all of my brussel sprouts because I didn't know how they grew on the plant...I laugh and think "how did we ever make it". Bought the goat and the first time we milked had that book in our hands reading how to do it. But we did do a lot of reading and buying of books and asking the "old timers" how they did it during their days. I sometimes think it is sad that the younger generation does not have the opportunity to learn from the older homesteaders. Oh my gosh !!!!! Our we now the older homesteaders !??? Also just learn to listen to any advice and then re-think it in your mind. Wouldn't have missed these last 20 years for anything.
-- Helena Di Maio (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 23, 2001.
Have patience and develop a reasonable thought process to problem solving.
-- jim phillips (email@example.com), May 23, 2001.
I don't get the second sentence Gary: "Learning to do things yourself. Not relying on anyone else to do it. If you dont know how to do it, you dont hire someone you do it yourself.-- Gary"
If I don't know how to do it, I DO hire/trade for someone to teach me or do it for me. I have learned that it is important to know my limitations and to not waste resources (money, time, materials) unnecessarily.
-- Anne (HealthyTouch101@wildmail.com), May 23, 2001.
After some thoughts, and a few days, my second posting is "learning how to get the hell out of my own way".
-- mitch hearn (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 25, 2001.
"BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED"!!!!!!!!!!
-- Sonda in Ks. (email@example.com), May 26, 2001.
I agree with you Thistleseed, even though I am not a vegetarian yet.
I use the excuse that I need the horses for the fertilizer and their lawn mowing abilities, but the truth is I would be way ahead if I planted everything in clover, vetch and other cover crops and skipped the animals. They are very taxing on my time and resources. But I love them and they are so much fun. I would not even consider having goats.
My best learned skill is not doing everything the hard way. Instead of tilling I create raised beds. I transplant "wildfoods" into my yard's natural areas and know where to find and harvest that which I cannot transplant. I work at getting along well with my neighbors which seems to be a long neglected skill for homesteaders.
Salvaging....the ability to pick valuable and usable stuff out of a pile of trash....maybe not learned just inherited.
-- Laura (Ladybugwrangler@hotmail.com), May 26, 2001.
I think animal husbandry and food processing (from garden and trees and bushes to the food cellar) are the most valuable skills I learned along with jerry-rigging. But I have learned many valuable skills like all homesteaders do naturally.
I learned to do things that are both beneficial and money saving. I never put a lot of research nor thought to learning ,, I just decided to learn and did. (I am a kind of spontaneous person). I was amazed at myself when it dawned on me that I could really do it myself..like giving my horses and dogs their shots and training my riding horses. Also learning to can food was a big experience for me and learned to do maintenance on my cars and fix things myself by jerry-rigging.
-- Patsy, MT (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 27, 2001.
Well I think that for us thinking out side the "box" is a great tool. When you are on a fixed income you need (it is a must!) to find other ways to do things. For instance, our wonderful OLD Ferguson tractor finally bit the dust. WE have no idea how much it will take to fix or it. Replacing it would cost in the thousands of dollars. So since my parents have Belgians we are using one of them for hauling out the fire wood this summer. That is until she is sold. After that we'll need to find another way. But this way we are learningto work a horse in the woods.
-- michelle (email@example.com), May 27, 2001.
Hello Jay, Learning to accept nature instead of trying to improve upon it. Sincerely, Ernest
-- http://communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 27, 2001.