I work with a number of young people who are interested in learning homesteading skills. I love seeing their wonder at things I now consider simple. Really it’s selfishness on my part. Their fresh eyes often see things in a different way than I do and sometimes solutions I would never have thought of are suggested. People unused to the labor required of caring for a homestead often look for easier ways to do things, whereas I, who have done chores all my life, tend to just accept them as part of it all. While I certainly don’t mind hard work, I am all for cutting it out if it isn’t necessary.
My “apprentices” are often amazed at all the things I can do. “How did you learn to do that?”, is a frequent question. Sometimes I can tell them exactly where or when I learned a particular skill. I learned to tube-feed baby goats by doing the same with orphan calves and lambs I raised when I was younger. I learned to give injections by vaccinating my horses to save money. Each skill I pick up makes it that much easier for me to learn the next one, until it almost seems effortless.
The amount of knowledge one seems to need when starting a homestead can be daunting. Yet all that is really required is determination and a healthy dose of stubbornness. Here are some tips the help you learn what you need to know:
Take advantage of the knowledge now available to everyone – We have never had so much knowledge at our fingertips at any time in human history. The internet provides everything from university studies, to blogs, to contact with experienced people through social media like discussion boards and Facebook. The trick is to filter out the junk from the jewels. University articles are usually pretty reliable. When reading through a blog, it isn’t very hard to discern whether the person writing it is actually knowledgeable or they are just repeating something they’ve heard or read. Read a number of posts before deciding to take this person’s advice. The anonymity of social media makes it much harder to determine the value of the advice you are being given. My rule of thumb is; if someone seems more interested in telling you what you CAN’T do than what you can, scroll on past the post.
Don’t be afraid to fail – Failure is a valuable part of learning. Fear of failure keeps us from doing so many things. While it can be painful and embarrassing to fail, as I have moved forward in my homesteading journey, I’ve gotten used to it. It’s very helpful if you can learn to laugh at your mistakes. This comes from realizing that failure isn’t permanent, but rather a valuable lesson on your way to success.
Take the plunge – Studying is great, but it’s so easy to use it as an excuse to never start. Experience is the best teacher, so at some point you just have to jump and hope. If it doesn’t work, see the tip above.
I’ve been doing this a very long time and sometimes I make it look easier than it really is. But I honestly believe that anyone who really wants to learn to do this can build a wonderful homestead.
Just take that first step….