Our grandparents knew how to do all these things. Mine laughed when I wanted a farm and wondered why. Growing up on farms and in the country, in hard times, with so much work, it baffled them that I would run off to the lifestyle that they left willingly. The skills from that generation and beyond become more and more lost. No one taught me how to milk a goat when I was a child (which would have been nice since I will be milking in a few short weeks!), no one taught me to garden, or to spin, or to can, or to take care of one day old chicks. There was no reason to in the middle of Denver! Over the past years I have tried to accumulate these skills.
I started with books. Lots of books. We are avid readers over here anyway, so I may as well be learning while reading. And indeed I have picked up many great tips and tried and true ways of doing things from these books. Many specific skill books though go in one eye and out of my memory faster than a three day old goat can elude me. (Man, they are fast!)
Things like knitting, milking, spinning, I need to see it. I need to have someone show me step by step then I have it. Most of the time.
Spinning was not working out for me. My yarn looked like dreadlocks or clumps of fur. It did not resemble anything looking like yarn. My machine would not work. My friend told me to pour a glass of wine. I did. Then I poured three. Still couldn’t spin. The spinning wheel anyway. The teacher I had just kept saying I needed practice. I could tell there was no more she could teach me. I called my wine recommending friend. She came over a week later.
She first noted that my machine was put together backwards. That the break was on the wrong side. The tension was all wrong. She showed me the technique of spinning, which I knew but had been trying without good result. I sighed and tried the wheel. And spun. Yarn. It looks like yarn! All I needed was a new teacher.
In your community you will find people that do what you wish you could do. Make cheese, spin, can, garden, make herbal medicines, make wine, any number of fabulous homesteading skills. And most of them are happy to teach you. You may have to pay a small fee for the lesson. Or barter. That is okay because the money you save and the joy you feel while mastering these skills outweighs forty bucks.
I teach canning, crocheting, high altitude baking, gardening, soap making, candle making, soft cheese making, herbal classes, and herbal body product classes.
I need to find a class on how to make hard cheese. I suppose if I read the cheese making book I bought I can figure it out since I already know how to make soft cheeses.
I need to learn to milk. I milked a goat when I worked at an animal shelter some twenty years ago. I wonder if I will remember.
I want to learn how to knit. Books and teachers thus far have not been able to help. Surely there is a patient lady out there with the perfect knitting needles to get me on my way to making socks and sweaters.
We signed up for a bee keeping class.
I cannot wait to experiment with dying fiber. I have many plans this year and I hope to teach all of them. Of course, I could keep all these skills to myself and make money off of the canned goods, the yarn, the farming, the herbal medicines. And I will, because there are folks who would rather I do it. But for those that want to learn, we must teach what we know. We must share our knowledge.
And our lessons for the day summed up:
If first you don’t succeed, get another teacher.
Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.