Discover New Homesteading Skills.
Something I discovered as a trainer is that learning by doing is easier. For most homesteading skills, on-the-job training works best and allows you to complete projects as you learn. Several essential projects which are important to learn as a homesteader, include sourcing alternative energies, greenhouse building, and gardening. Here are some of my suggestions for readers on how to skill up cheaply and efficiently on the homestead.
Book learning. Books are the cheapest and most efficient way to study new skills. Rather than just reading a book on a project, read it while building your new potting shed, garden greenhouse (mine is pictured at right), or animal shelter. Apply the techniques as you go. If you mess up or get stuck on a detail, take time to do web research or pick up a different book for an alternate perspective until you feel comfortable with new concepts. Book learning works great for skills that can be learned over time, such as building and gardening.
Community college courses. Most community colleges offer personal enrichment classes, such as cabinet-making, winemaking or beer brewing, high-tunnel building, welding, and more. Classes often cost less than $200 and include a hands-on component. They also include workshop access so you can complete projects and make sure you enjoy using a skill before you invest in your own equipment.
Apprenticeships. For most of human history, higher education was for the well-to-do elite. The rest of us mere mortals learned by working with others. This is still a great way to build practical homesteading skills. Many small businesses would be thrilled to give you skills training in exchange for free or cheap labor. However, being an apprentice means sticking to your commitment so the experience is beneficial to both parties. For shorter commitments, consider doing seasonal work and projects, such as pruning, harvesting and processing fruits and nuts, one-time building projects, event preparation, spring shearing, honey harvesting, and winter hive preparation.
Workshops. Traveling to workshops isn't practical for me because I keep livestock. Instead, I like to hold workshops on my homestead. Last year, we hosted meat expert and award-winning author of The Ethical Meat Handbook (and Mother Earth News Fair presenter) Meredith Leigh to help with our pig slaughter and guide us through butchering, sausage making, and meat curing. It was cheaper to have her come to our homestead than for us to travel to a similar workshop and hire someone to take care of our homestead. In addition, we were able to share the workshop with our friends and family.
Gatherings. Invite all of your friends to teach a skill in exchange for learning new skills from others. You can do this in the format of a club with regular meetings, or as a mega-weekend with campfires, food, and story sharing. Not only will participants gain skills, but they'll also build community.
Lowgap, North Carolina
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|Title Annotation:||Country Lore: Readers' Tips to Live By|
|Publication:||Mother Earth News|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2018|
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