Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Skills to learn in 2010

With the new year comes many resolutions and a stronger desire to try out new things or begin new projects and hobbies.

Which of the following skills do you wish you knew more about or would like to learn?
  • Food gardening and food storage (canning, dehydrating, pickling, fermentation, etc.)
  • Seed saving and/or fruit tree grafting
  • Foraging for wild foods, mushrooms, etc.
  • Composting

  • Animal husbandry (rabbits, chickens, goats or larger)
  • Beekeeping
  • Animal skinning, processing
  • Sheep or other animal shearing
  • Spinning wool
  • Knitting
  • Sewing

  • Cooking, baking
  • Making own cheese and/or yogurt
  • Making beer and/or wine
  • Solar cooking

  • Alternative medicine and/or first aid
  • Making soap (cold process from oils and lye)
  • Making candles

  • Carpentry
  • Plumbing or electrical
  • Bike maintenance and repair
  • Appliance repair

What is the biggest thing preventing you from learning to do these things? Time, money? What would make it easier?

Did you mean to try any of these last year and never got around to it (see how you answered back in April!)?


Crunchy Chicken said...

I want to get into cheesemaking (beyond the easy stuff), if only I can find my Home Cheesemaking book!

megan said...

We've just started canning, so I want to do a lot more of that. We used our dehydrator some last summer, but I'm hoping we'll have a huge garden's worth of produce to preserve this year.

I want to try starting more plants from seed and saving the seed at the end of the season.

We've also just gotten into to fermentation. The sauerkraut is delicious, so I want to expand and start making kimchi and pickled veggies. I'd love to get into making miso, vinegar and amazake.

Really almost everything on the list sounds like something I'd like to try. It's just a matter of finding the time and paying the start up cost (equipment, etc). Most of the projects that we end up doing are determined by things that we find at garage sales and thrift stores--or just anything that can be done on the cheap. That's why I seek out as many DIY blogs as possible--and always check Instructables for ways to make things myself.

Jenni said...

I'll try cooking, canning, chickens (still working on the hubs on the chix lol).....This is a great list to work from, thank you!
PS Saw something on tv about these ladies from OC who rescue beehives from peoples property, and have a thriving bee keeping business. I want to be those ladies friends, but that one scares me for myself ;)

dixiebelle said...

OK, so it took me until the end of 2009, but I did start learning how to use my Fowler Vacola Preserving and Dehydrating Units! I also started learning more about seed saving in 2009, but want to expand on that this year. Will also be working on our worm farm & composting skills... and more gardening know how.

So many things on your list to aim towards... chickens, beekeeping and aquaponics in the next few years, perhaps. Solar panel maintenance, workings and repairs would be another...

What's stopping me from doing it all right now? Not enough hours in the day! Two little kids. Working part time out of the house and full time in the house. Wanting to do things right, rather than rushing into learning a lot of new skills half-arsed!

Good luck!

DramaMama said...

I like the idea of focusing on skills to learn! Gardening and food storage, sewing, cooking/baking, bike maintenance and repair. What is keeping me? Mostly my poor time management skills. A little bit money. This past year I learned more about gardening and cooking but not much else. Having foster kids makes life a little crazier but I can't let that hold me back. Thanks for inspiring and encouraging people like me! I enjoy reading blogs like yours more than wading through outdated library books!

Sandy said...

I want to do some aged cheesemaking, and learn how to make better home-brewed wines; also, I'd like to find someone to teach me to recognize the ocal edible mushrooms. I know how to spot morels, but that's it. I'll participate in sheep shearing at the farm in the spring, and will help with the kidding,of course, but I want to go beyond the surface. Learn the more difficult things, the passed-down things.

MaddyG said...

I like your new picture!
But to answer your questions...I would like to learn more cooking and baking...experimented in 2009 and want to keep the adventure going.
Kind of short on space so animal husbandry is out. Would love to make my own soap and other cosmetics.

Anna Marie said...

Well, I seems to have missed last year's post, but for this year at least my main focus is using what land I have most efficiently. That means gardening intensively, and perhaps doing mini-rotational grazing with my mini-goats.

I'm not going to so much learn animal husbandry as take a refresher course; it's been a few years since I had a pregnant goat, but I have 2 right now, and my other 2 should be bred soon.

Also, I'm going to get a top bar bee hive and keep it out at mom's. That's just one more step to lessening my dependence on the food system, and most certainly a skill I do not have yet.

I'm doing pretty good on the baking and cooking- the only thing I'm not making from scratch is bread, so I guess that will be this year's goal. I've already made some easy fresh cheeses, but this year, I'm going to set up my old dorm refrigerator as a cold "room" for aged cheeses. We're also going to make some mead.

I'm focusing less on preserving and more on having a year round (or as close to it as possible) harvest and eating seasonally. Of course, I don't see us giving up canning those peaches, or making the huge batches of pesto.

I'm thinking of making my own soap, but I haven't quite decided if I want to or not. I have a good friend who does, and she likes gifting people.

Probably the only building we'll be doing is raise beds, which really don't take that much skill. I am definitely not ready to take on plumbing or electrical work.

What is stopping me? Nothing. I started on the first (with sowing my first crop under cover), and I'm making monthly goals to meet, so that I have a constant and do able list of things to learn and do.

Anonymous said...

Any home improvement is a ginormous challenge for me, so carpentry and home improvement is high on my list... my odds for success, though... I don't know.

I think I'm more likely to do more in the food preserving and gardening. I'm going to try to start seeds for the first time this year.

Ashley said...

Sewing and composting are on my lists (though I'll probably focus on sewing). I've been losing weight and still have another hundred lbs to go so sewing and altering skills will certainly come in handy! I don't fancy the idea of going out and buying a wardrobe that I'll fit into for only a few months... I'd rather make it last.

Jordan said...

This year I want to become better at cooking and incorporate more and seasonal vegetables and more starches into the things I cook. I want to learn to bake bread. I want to get better at making my own yogurt and applesauce, and learn to make my own cheese. I want to learn to sew. I don't really have the time/space (student city-dweller) for anything else, but I think this will keep me plenty busy! Also, I'm going to be working on making my own or finding substitutes for cleaning and hygiene products.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'd like to make cheese making and learn more about chickens, but my ambitions are not too high for the coming year.

Brad K. said...

Each endeavor takes it's own collection of tools and utensils. The experienced person in any of these skills can make do, and do well with less than brandy new, boutique-priced, bright and shiny stuff. A learner depends on someone making a living selling the stuff for a reasonable collection, for each skill desired.

Some things take a deal of workspace, or storage. With experience you know how much is needed, and what can be shared in time or space. And what has to be kept separate (like not storing the flower-based sachets with the drying garlic bunches). Special humidity, light, or temperature considerations might be surprises, and might be surprisingly tough to provide.

I would like to learn to preserve fruits, vegetables, and meats by canning. How much I could do is limited - I have limited pantry space and no root cellar. Past projects make me reluctant to assume I have the health and robustness to finish a root cellar project on my own, and finances put a limit on what I can hire done.

I tried beading a couple of years ago. I still have over $140 in beads stacked in neat boxes by the sofa. And never sold more than about $30 worth of stuff. Don't ask me how many dollars I have tied up in spare strap steel, accumulated since I took up welding.

You listed shearing sheep and goats, spinning, and knitting. I recall Leo Frankowski's "Cross Time Engineer" (sf novel) and weaving. He builds a loom, and asks for thread. Then he has to build, in 1290 Poland, a spinning wheel. Then discovers that there isn't enough wool ready to spin. And learns about sorting and cleaning wool, all taking place between the shearing and knitting or weaving.

I think there are often natural progressions. Get going gardening and preserving food. Then adding seed saving is a reasonably simple, low cost addition to the process. Starting a garden to save seeds (that is where I am this year), seems . . daunting. Especially when I read Throwback at Trapper Creek about leaving cabbage in the garden all winter, for late harvest and using the greens to supplement chicken feed.

Maybe I am just timid. Or broke?

Lise said...

I want to learn lots more about foraging and making and using herbal remedies. And figure out more edible plants I can grow in my very shady yard. Biggest thing holding me back? Lack of time. I have financial goals for this year, too, that would give me more time if I met them. We'll see.

Brad K. said...

I feed my pony (sugar) beet pulp shreds, and soybean oil (it comes from a grain-free draft horse diet). I would really like to make my own sugar beet pulp shreds, and sunflower oil. Beet pulp keeps getting lots more expensive, and sunflower got very scarce here a couple of years ago.

Robj98168 said...

MY answer in 09 was "I would like to learn to be a male prostitute- always a demand, easy supply. But that not being a choice
Foraging for wild foods, mushrooms, etc.would be one of mine, along with Beekeeping,Carpentry, Appliance repair and making cheese and yogurt with a little solar cooking mixed in."

Well I didn't become a Male Ho, Didn't learn to forage, learned that Solar cooking is out in Seattle - although we had a few days it would have worked some) I have been going on with canning and pickling. Small appliance repair comes with the territory, when something breaks down I learn to fix it.Would like to learn cheesmaking beyond cream cheese, but would really like to learn foraging- I still am not sure what I think is edible is actually edible.

Now if I could only become multiple-orgasmic.Maybe help[ with that Male-Ho thang

Susan K. said...

HMM. Last year we were going to start a garden but we ended up pregnant with #3 and lost all focus during the planting months. We did pick a spot and clear it out. So this year (as the new baby allows) plant the garden, get some inside plants and look at drying herbs.

Might play around with soap making - i want to try the laundry soap at least once

And always a work in progress more baking and cooking. Especially anything with cheese since that seems to be the only way to get my son to eat dinner

Amanda said...

I want to improve my sewing skills this year. I already have the garden and kitchen stuff down. But my true resolution is to blog about the things I am creating this year. 2 for 2 so far.

Suze said...

I really should get over my aversion to gardening and start grwoing some stuff. There are other reasons besides laziness but if push comes to shove people need to be fed.

Anne said...

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery is a great resource for learning about most of those lots of others (like how to train draft horses or prepare your dead for burial).

All of Us said...

I would like to learn how to make three basic article of clothing hat REALLY fit. To that end I already own several how-to sewing books, a machine and received a simple pattern making book for Christmas. I took a class last year to construct a simple a line skirt so I have a small amount of working knowledge.

I would love to beekeep but I need to wait until my daughter is slightly older (she is two). I have no confidence that she would follow the rules (aka staying a respectful distance away from the bees) and my land is not quite big enough to place the bees out of her reach.

Wendy said...

Honestly, the biggest thing getting in my way is that there are too many of them that I really want to do. Yes, I want chickens and bees and to make my own cheese and basically, there wasn't one thing on your list that I wouldn't be thrilled to learn about.

I've forced myself to just focus on the garden, the vegetable garden, for now.

Anonymous said...

i did learn to process small animals - birds mostly - and now i'm looking toward raising a few rabbits and getting a couple of turkey chicks now that i've gotten the hang of the chickens. i'd like to get better at baking breads my kids will eat as well an not wasting as much food as we currently do.

kidk4m said...

I'd like to figure out how to add a "root cellar" to our home. The basement would have been perfect-but now that I'm home all day-we're heating with wood-which makes the basement too warm.

Greenpa said...

For some reason, I want to ask why Husband Animalry is not on your list.

Though we have some evidence you are already skilled in that area. Or those areas.


Sonja said...

My mom and I had so much fun with beekeeping this year. It was a grand adventure, with a few bumps in the road.

Puget Sound beekeepers meetings are a great place to go for folks in our area to learn about bee ladies.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Most of these suggestions are for folks in the country with room for animals and gardens. I'll go with carpentry. I have my eye on some home improvement projects.

GreenieJoy said...

Growing my own fruits and veggies is something I've always wanted to do and is something I feel is important for everyone to try but I seem to kill every plant I've ever try to grow, I guess because I just lack the knowledge

and this year, the one thing I REALLY want to learn is Beekeeping! I've become obsessed! and while I can join a local group on how to beekeep, I live in an apartment complex on the first floor so I wouldn't be able to have a hive of my own :(

Laura said...

Anything to do with food (growing, cooking, wildcraft, seedsaving, preserving etc.) I am a dabbler in all of these already.
Bees, goats, rabbits and chickens oh my! We rent, so owning all these right now is a daydream.
Alt medicine.
Trying out a solar dehidrator in our front window.

Maybe $ is a preventing factor but likely not. I just need to harness some gusto and go for it.