Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Reading - Skills Skills Skills

Yesterday afternoon while I was chucking some over large squash over the fence for the ram and his wether bish to chomp on a neighbor drove up and asked if she could raid my sunflowers for bouquets to adorn her party tables with. I would have let anyone take some sunflowers but this lady gets special attention since she was one of the adoptive parents of the first mess of kittens we had this Spring.

I sent her home with a couple of five gallon buckets full of sunflowers, some tomatoes and a few cucumbers all of which were going to go into the compost bin if she didn't take em anyway.

She and her husband wandered around the garden and the raised beds commenting on how everything was exploding (except for the squash which is now being killed off by the squash bugs) and asking why I grow so much. She said it reminded her of a park in bloom.

Truth is these days I grow mostly for experience and bee forage. Oh sure we make about a gallon of salsa a week right now. Actually more than a gallon as I chopped up a gallon worth of just tomatoes yesterday. We ate eggplant all day yesterday as well since the Mrs. finally found an eggplant recipe I can choke down. Yet for the most part I give everything away or end up composting or feeding the stuff to the animals now. We freeze a lot of it and make a bunch of tomato sauce and some refrigerator pickles but neither the wife nor I really can any of it these days.

We used to. Up till about two years ago we canned massive amounts of garden produce but lately instead of canning we have directed our time more to putting in sustainable projects and gaining skills in other areas. For the Mrs. these days it is simply time restraints and for me it has been more to gain skills and experience in other areas. Space also plays a big roll here as we gained enough freezer space to hold what we do save and filled up the old canned food space with other long term preps. That and the fact we haven't had a good fruit crop the last few years which was our largest single canning endeavor. We still have shelves full of canning jars and all the gear we just don't seem to make it to the final canning stage anymore.

It has been my philosophy that rather than reaching a limit and continuing with the same skills year after year that I would rather branch out while I can and become as much a "Jack of all Trades" in sustainable living as possible. This means that some skills or projects are left behind each year or like this year I ignore or leave one plant type alone so I can learn a new one. For instance this year the cucumbers and squash have been getting little love so I can focus on the pumpkins, water melons and musk melons.

There is only so many hours in the day but no end to the skills one can learn and more importantly no clue which of those skills will be needed as things continue to decline.

A rusty skill is better than no skill at all during a collapse situation. Or so I believe anyway. You just never know what skills you might need when the time comes or what skills others may bring or show an aptitude for as things progress. Some skills you may continue to use while learning others while some skills you may stop pursuing while you learn new ones.

Learning a skill and then putting it away also has another advantage. You may not be an expert but I have found that actually learning the rudiments of a skill allows you to collect the tools you need for that skill tailored to your individual needs. If you decide to move on to another skill you can safely store the old gear with reasonable certainty you will have everything you need when/if you revisit it. I have found this to be very important when I revisit skills like basic boot making or repair (or other leather working) and metal working.

Do not overlook the advantages of learning as much as you can even if you must set aside some skills to make room for others.  Knowledge is never a waste.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. I'm sure you get a lot of satisfaction out of your gardening, whatever the practical aspects. That's something I've noticed when I read blogs by people who have big gardens. They may give away or sell some of what they grow but there's a sense of satisfaction that's worth while. I think next spring we will try again to have a garden here. I have a lot of heirloom seeds in storage, so I don't have much to risk. If it doesn't grow, or the animals from the forest eat it, I'm not out much.

    1. HF - Exactly. I learn much from my failures and every year is a different set of circumstances most notably in the bug damage. This year the tomato flies were bad and the Japanese beetles began to be a problem along with grasshoppers. The only bug that seems to be consistent here are the damned squash bugs all the others seem to be on a rotation of some kind.

  2. I totally hear you on the canning. We have not done what we used to. Now a days, Senior and I buy up freeze dried foods. Just easier to carry if we have to bug out.
    I had green beans going, and the heat absolutly got to them. now, I have to find the energy to get out there and pull them up. But today, it is supposed to be the hottest in a year.. heat index is in the 100s.....

    1. JuGM - Ya it was like we wanted to know we could do it and make sure we had everything we needed. We will still can some stuff but only once a season now at best. Will prolly be peaches this year since the tree over at my dad's place produced pretty well.

      When we do it now we know we have everything we need.

  3. I agree very much with your approach to skills.

    I am probably being old fashioned, but even without a predisposition toward a collapse, I think it is good to know how to do more "things" for yourself.

    1. Russ - Yep and I figure even if a collapse happens and I still can't do it all I know enough to give some beginning instructions if someone shows up and is willing to take on that particular task.

  4. PioneerP - i completely agree with you. back in the city we learned a bunch of skills to come here to our BOL, but holy moly - we have been non-stop learning at a crazy rate since getting here. i also agree that you have to set some skills aside and work on new skills. at first it drove me crazy that i couldn't tend the garden properly because i was too busy washing clothes by hand! and this year, we are focusing on making excellent compost and saving all of our grass clippings, and trying to make mulch from the dead wood on our land with the lawnmower - we really need a chipper!!! a lot of our ongoing projects require material, and what we can't scavenge, we have to save and buy for. so all of that to say that yes, some projects or skills need to be set aside in order to make room for others. but having rudimentary skills in a variety of areas, i think, will be beneficial no matter what happens.

    your friend,

    1. kymber - Yes sometimes you just have to let some things get pushed back to get other things going properly. There is just not enough time in the day.

      I stood in front of my chipper for hours feeding it branches and got maybe a gallon or two. What we need is one of those massive commercial chippers and forest of trees lol :)


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