Monday, July 14, 2014

The (Early) Education of a Homesteader

I have heard several questions along the lines of, "how did you learn how to do that," "where did you learn to do that," "when did you learn to do that," or "did you grow up on a farm," and so on.  The short answers to the "where and how" questions are, between the covers of books, on YouTube, or by trawling the internet, and by asking folks who know more than I do, either in person or in on-line forums.  The answer to the "when" question is, recently, in most instances.  And to the final question, the answer is "no."

In fact, in my inaugural post I stated:  "I also realized that what I do for money, provides directly for precisely none of my or my family's needs, in fact I am quite practiced in doing nothing that can be bartered for anything, except for money.  This last piece of the puzzle is tantamount to having one's "man card" revoked, or at least it was in my opinion.  Until 1995 I had never had a vehicle in a repair shop, I had never had a maintenance man of any sort in a home I owned, I had never paid anyone to mow my lawn, I was a fairly proficient welder with oxygen and acetylene, and could recharge my air conditioner properly with Freon, I had fairly recent memories of successfully hunting and fishing, and if I dug deeply enough, trapping.  Until only recently though, I had done none of that for the better part of 20 years.  And for food that is grown from the earth, I was almost completely blind to its sources; I didn't know that broccoli was a seed head, or that Brussels sprouts were a bud and the plant a cultivar of the cabbage group, and worse."

So in short, my ignorance, and lack of skills, or at least a lack of recently practiced skills, were key to my decision to homestead.

Now, when I reflect a bit more on the subject, I will tell you that I learned quite a bit in my idyllic childhood; on the subjects of cooking, camping, boating, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and trapping to name just a few, with family and friends.  It seems like every few months I dredge up a great old memory of my childhood and share it with my Mom and Dad.  I learned a great deal from my parents, and from my aunts and uncles, who were more than generous with their time, experience and wisdom.  Oh the stories of adventure, and misadventures, they would tell, and do tell.  My eyes moisten just thinking about it.  Later, I became enamored with machines.  Motorcycles at first, then cars of course, and engines in general, all things mechanical; I had a great thirst for knowing how things work, and still do.  Most things electrical are still a mystery to me, even though I remember building more than a few Heath Kits.  It still amazes me, that radio I once built from a kit, on a small circuit board, with no speaker, only an earphone, and it worked without a battery!  Amazing.

And so it is meaningful that I often tell people, that when on the homestead I feel like a kid again, and large parts of that feeling I suppose, have to do with spending all day most days outside, until the dinner bell rings, and to having the opportunity to learn so much so quickly.  Yes, we have a dinner bell!  I just walk around with a smile plastered all over my face the bulk of the time.  I am well and truly blessed.

Boy, have I digressed!  Before I started this post I imagined it to be of four or five lines, simply introducing the "References - Sources - Links" tab at the top of the page.  I will finally get on with it then.  On the "References - Sources - Links" page I have pulled to together some of the resources that Geri and I have referenced in making a start in southwest Michigan.  I hope you will find it informative.

Click on the tab near the top of the page
 We all know much less than we don't know, though I usually have a hard time admitting that.  I almost always reach for a book first when I want to learn something, and so you will find many books on the list.  I have also found that there is such a thing as "YouTube University," and while you might not find it by that name, the breadth and depth  of information available on YouTube is impossible to quantify.  And podcasts are a great source of information on many, many topics, and can turn your commute into class time.  I have linked to Amazon for the books that can be purchased there, for two reasons: 1) I am inherently lazy and it is an easy way to connect you to more information on each book, including alternate forms of the book (paperback, hardcover, Kindle, etc.), and 2) because I get a small cut of the action.  There, I said it!  Of course you do not have to buy through Amazon, that is your choice.

Pull down at the arrow
on mobile devices
My cut is 4 cents on the dollar if you do choose to click through the link I provide, and purchase one or more items.  The price to you is not increased.  If you want to know how to also become an Amazon Associate, let me know.  To access the "References - Sources - Links" page, click on the "tab" near the top of the page on your desktop or laptop computer, or pull down at the arrow on your mobile device, as shown in the graphics.  I will update the page from time-to-time, as additions to the "virtual bookshelf" are made.

Thank you for reading and commenting on the blog.  Your comments and criticisms, your inputs and acknowledgements, are welcomed, and will help me to improve my posts.

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-- John, 14 July 2014