Tending Seeds Transcript - Episode 11
Build Your Homesteading Skills Now
Sara Schuster 0:08
This is Tending Seeds, a podcast about my adventures and homesteading and herbalists. I'm Sara Schuster, and I'll be your host. Thanks for being here today. Hi, friends, how are you doing? I can't believe it's July already, the summer is just flying by, it's really hot here we've had some pretty long stretches without rain. And then now it's raining again today, literally as I record this, which was much needed, even though it's kind of sorting my plans a bit. So that's a bummer. We were supposed to be getting the wood stove installed today out on the sunroom. And I've been really looking forward to that. But alas, it is not happening. And that is because of the aforementioned rain. So the installers called this morning and said that because it was supposed to rain this afternoon, we would need to reschedule. And I get that because they are literally cutting a hole in the roof to run all that paperwork through. But still, it's a bit of a bummer, I was really excited to get that done, because then we could start pushing forward on the finished work of you know, the walls and roofing and flooring and everything in there. So and of course, they can't reschedule for a few more weeks out. So it took us a month to get to this appointment. And now it's going to be an additional two more weeks. And if it rains that day, we'll have to reschedule again. So that's a little bit frustrating. But hey, we'll deal it is not the end of the world. And I also have no shortage of other projects to be working on as well. So I will just push on to the next item on the list. Everything is going pretty well in the gardens, everything's looking really wonderful. I have lots of fresh herbs coming into the house, which I'm cooking with drying, for teas and culinary use putting into alcohol to make a tincture with so much stuff, it makes me so happy I have this like whole shelf going of just stuff that's come off of our land and the surrounding areas. Just this last season or so it fills my heart so much I can't even put into words how happy it makes me, you know, look over and see all of that. So I want to go ahead and jump into our main topic for the day, which is building your homesteading skills now. And the reason I want to talk about that is I've had a lot of comments or messages from folks listening to the podcast talking about how excited they are to eventually get land of their own and to start homesteading. And they're just so anxious to get started. And they're sort of, you know, talking to me and lamenting the fact that they're not able to like jump in and get going right now right off the bat. And so what I want to talk about today would be some of the things that you can start doing now regardless of where you live. And as I think about this, you know, there are plenty of, you know, small urban homesteaders. If you have any sort of yard, you can hopefully grow vegetables and things out there. But even if you're living in like a condo, or a studio apartment or something, I think there are tons of things that you can start doing now to practice things to acquire knowledge and start learning skills. Maybe even start building up a tool collection in whatever sakes you have available you and that way when you do actually get out to your land, you're ready to go and you're ready to hit the ground running, you maybe have some hands on experience from stuff and you also have a really good vision in mind of not only what you want to do but also what the amount of work and skill required to get there is going to be before we go any further with this I just want to reiterate what I have said on past episodes, the definition of what makes a homesteader changes from person to person. And so I think it comes down to what you view as homesteading and what areas of your life you want to develop self sufficiency and self reliance and, and you certainly don't have to develop that in all areas of your life. And guess what, you're still a homesteader, I'm going to talk about a lot of different areas, you don't have to do any of them or all of them, you may do a few I'm certainly not an expert in all these things. I'm still working to acquire knowledge all the time and acquiring my skills as well. Just remember, it's about progress, not perfection, and your version of progress. And what you're doing four is probably very different from mine, or anyone else listening to this and as completely 1,000%. Okay, so focus on the areas that are of interest to you, and and build from there. And remember, you don't have to do everything at once. I think when we start to talk about homesteading, most people immediately have big gardens jumped to mind. So we'll start with some of the skills that relate to growing food and food preservation. I think learning to can is a really really great skill to have as a homesteader if that's of interest to you. And so even if you're not able to grow your own food right now where you are, you can learn how to do canning, and you can practice that you can go to your local farmers market, or even just catch sales at the grocery store if the produce is in good shape and really fresh. And you can take that home and you can practice canning it last year, you know, we were in such flux with moving and so I did
some gardening at a friend's house. And even though I knew it wasn't going to be enough of what I wanted, and to terms of things like tomatoes, and so I ended up going to the farmers market and buying a few cases of tomatoes and bringing those home and canning those and putting those up. There's no reason you can't do the same. If you're looking for information on canning. There are good books out there. There are good online classes in person classes, check with like your local, like city rec groups, or you know, I know some places like community colleges have really cool programs for different classes, check with those, find some about canning, get together with friends learn together, which I think is always a great idea. If you have other people with similar interests, go ahead and learn. And you can do that together. Maybe all of you can a different type of thing. And then you swap jars. So everyone gets a little bit of something to taste if you're tight on space, but you still want to learn canning, but then you're thinking, Oh, hey, I really don't have enough room in my house to have all these jars kicking around. You know, for the whole year, do some canning right before the holidays make presents for people can't go wrong with that. I mean, I know I would certainly be happy to get that as a gift. If you're planning to homestead live pretty far from town, that means you're probably looking at you know, not going grocery shopping super often. And this is probably going to result in changing what and how you cook, maybe cooking from scratch more often. So maybe you can go ahead and start practicing that now get busy in your kitchen, start figuring out, you know, what things do you love to eat? What does it take to make all those components from scratch on your own. And that will give you some hands on experience and also let you know what is worth making on your own or not. I really love pasta, making pasta from scratch is pretty time consuming. And I can catch a 10 for $10 sale at my grocery store and stock up, you know, a couple times a year if I need to. So when it comes down to it, if I want pasta, that's probably not something I'm going to make from scratch. But hey, at least by doing that, I figured that out. And now I know that on the other hand, making a pie from scratch, totally worth it in my opinion. So practice that figure out you know, go through your recipes and the favorite things, you know the types of foods that you like, go from there and just get some practice with those. I also think just kind of piggybacking off of that idea getting used to eating seasonally. Again, if you're not able to run to the grocery store, every time you need a random ingredient, and you want to try to produce most of your food, I think that's going to start changing, you know what your typical meal plan is going to look like for a week. So start eating more seasonally, where you're doing a lot more fresh vegetables and salads and berries and fruits and things through the summer. And then as you head into fall and winter, you know getting more into root vegetables and soups and stews. I like to eat that way anyway, I just I feel much better when I do so big go ahead and start practicing that now. And you know, you can make an adventure out of it too, if you like going out to eat and you're still living in a city unable to do that start, you know, seeking out maybe some more farm to table type restaurants that also have a seasonal menu. Maybe that's like a special treat that you save up for. And you get some new ideas from doing that. We already mentioned that gardening is definitely a thing that we tend to think of in terms of how setting skills and there are lots of components that that that you can start researching and learning about things from building soil. So if you already know what area you plan to move to and maybe what the soil conditions are learning about that and and what sort of amendments you might need to do to build the kind of soil that you want also how to set up a good composting system where you are dealing with garden pests. And then also like end of season, how do you do seed saving so that you know you can be self reliant and not have to rebuy seeds every time, I would really look into free classes for things like that here in Middle Tennessee, we have a really great library system. And they actually do several classes a month that different branch locations related to different gardening topics. I think that's a really great resource. Also, do you plan on having fruit or nut trees on your property? I know I've talked in the past on different episodes about how that's the kind of thing because you're looking at, you know, several years until you hit maturity for those trees. So you know, as soon as you get access to your land and loss, it's not the right time of year for it. But if there's any way for you to get those trees in the ground, you know, as long as it's not the dead of winter, near, the sooner you can get that done, the better. So if you already know what kind of trees you're going to want to grow, which fruits are actually useful for you and your family to have and that you actually make use of being able to hit the ground running. And as soon as you close on that house to be able to start planting those instead of having to research
and then figure it out from there. And then there's going to give a real good benefit for you. If you're into doing any sort of foraging or wild crafting, you know, you can start learning about plant and mushroom identification. Now, that's a skill that you can spend your entire lifetime building. And always be learning something from so look into, you know, your local and state parks, if they're doing plant ID walks, get involved with a local herb group, find a mushroom group, I can guarantee you can find something near you where people are willing to learn anything not be a huge official event. But reach out to folks, you know, go to your farmers market, if there's someone there selling mushrooms, it never hurts to ask and say hey, do you ever do identification walks? Do you need a set of hands, you know, maybe you can barter something, Hey, I'll come help you, you know drilling holes and logs to start you know, growing mushrooms and stuff can be a time consuming task. And it goes better with help offer to kind of help them in exchange for you know, learning what they're willing to teach you while you work on stuff with them. Again, these are things that are way easier to do before you have a homestead to start taking care of. So make use of that time as much as you can. Same thing for if you know you're going to be interested in doing herbal remedies for your household learning first aid skills because now you're going to be further away from a hospital. Can you handle a situation if it comes up? I definitely want to do a future episode talking about what remedies we have on hand for dealing with sudden are like acute injuries or illnesses and just kind of common things that we deal with here. And those are great skills to have. Same thing if you have animals so pet care for us where we moved from, you know, before we lived here, we had an amazing that that literally was five minutes away from us just around the corner, new main roads. That was a great resource for us. They knew all of our animals that we have one dog in particular who he's a pitbull, he only has three legs, you think that that would make him easier to handle. But it's not. He's super wiggly, very affectionate. And so if you go to trim his nails, the minute you touch him, he gets so excited, he would think this dog is super love Star he's not he gets plenty of attention. He just can never get enough of it to satisfy himself the minute he can like trim this dog's nails. He starts wiggling all over the place. And this just seemed like too much for us to handle even with one person trying to hold him and the other one trimming his nails. So our vet was the one who had fostered him and done the amputation on his leg. He was like a cruelty hoarding case. Anyway, so we started going there because they loved seeing him. And so we would go here as nails trim there other than us dealing with it, because it wasn't a big deal. It was five minutes from our house, they were open fairly late, a couple times a week. And like I said, Everyone loved getting to see him he was kind of a rock star there and maybe the only dog in the world that got excited to go to the vet's office. But now, you know, we have to drive all the way into town somewhere to go to have that and do that. So guess what we've had to figure it out. And now we trim his nails. Even though at the vet's office, it used to take three people to trim his nails one person to hold him one person to pet his head and distract him and basically get licked a whole bunch and another one determines nails. But we now have a two person system, it's saving us a little bit of money. Most importantly, it's saving us a bunch of time that we don't have to be running, you know three different dogs back and forth to get their nails turned and stuff. So start learning those skills, if that's something you need to do, pivoting from that more towards, you know, just things in the home. Again, you know, not all these skills might be of relevance or interest to you, but start thinking about them. You know, when you think about self reliance and self sufficiency in terms of homesteading, and you start thinking about clothing or quilts, or those things that you envision yourself either making, or at least having the ability to repair and keep in function longer. I think everyone hopefully you know, knows how to do maybe basic mending putting buttons back on doing some little patchwork other people, you know, can so everything.
My mom grew up making most of her clothes and was actually talking about going to fashion school one point, that's something I'm interested in learning, I can do some basic sewing, I can do some basic repairs, I have done simple quilting, if you want just a square block pattern, I'm your girl, I have not moved on to more advanced stuff yet, but maybe someday. So again, if that's stuff you're interested in, you can always find stuff around. Same thing for other skills like embroidery, or knitting. They're always knitting groups and things meeting. And that's a really great opportunity if you want to learn those skills. Because if you go to a store or to a knitting meetup or something like that, those folks are so excited, they're eager to meet new people. And they're willing to spend the time to help you, you know, muddle through your first couple of projects and learn new skills and new stitches. And again, it's probably going to be a lot easier for you to find the time to go do those things. Now, rather than once you're out trying to deal with your own homestead. And hey, it might be really nice to go ahead and make those connections and kind of start building that community now with like a little craft group somewhere, if that's something you're into, so that then you already know, it's going to be a good experience. I know for me not to get too far off on a tangent here. But since we moved out of town, it's a lot harder to motivate myself to like take all that time to like drive into town to do an activity with a new group of people where I don't know if it's going to be fun or not, and a good use of my time versus if it's already an established group or people I was already friends with or a craft group I was already involved with. So go ahead and get that community kind of built for yourself. Now, it can't hurt. Also start thinking care about what type of homestead or home you want. When you think about your ideal homestead does it involve purchasing something with an older farmhouse, for instance on it, which means it's going to probably no definitely need some work. So maybe it's time to start looking at home repair and Home Improvement skills, because this is a really good way to save some money when you're purchasing your homestead. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of free and or cheap ways to learn these skills. A lot of the big box stores offer classes like weekend classes that are free on various topics, everything from installing flooring, to installing tile to redoing bathrooms, they'll you know, try to get you to buy the supplies and stuff from them that you need for that. But there's nothing stopping you from just going and taking those classes and learning and the class itself is free. So I would really recommend that. And again, just getting up on different Home Repair skills, learning basic plumbing, basic electric Cole, those are always good skills to have. If you're thinking about doing something more alternative, and maybe building something yourself cob or straw bale things like that, then you definitely you know, the more you can learn about that ahead of time, the better. So investigating codes and restrictions for wherever you plan to build getting that figured out ahead of time. But then also just getting some hands on experience with that particular building method is a great thing to do. Because one, it lets you know, does this actually seem like something I want to do before you're tackling your own house, and to lets you work with other people who have had more experience with this, and hopefully get some really good skills and advice in advance. I know here in Tennessee, there was something called the Barefoot builder. I'm not sure if they're still around. I was looking at this many years ago. And but basically, and I've seen this format across many other places where they basically have weekend workshops where they're building something on site for someone else, but they let other people sign up to come come to the class with them. Everything from small one day builds from doing maybe like a pizza oven or a cob oven to multi day projects and builds of you know, entire houses.
So again, I would check something like that out, go test out the methods, see what you think of it, go see it in person. I've talked to people before that said, Oh, yeah, I really want to have a straw bale house. But they've never been inside one, they've never seen one in person, it might have a totally different vibe, you might not actually like it. So go figure that out now before you've bought empty acreage to build on as opposed to buying something with a pre existing house. And then you figure out that you actually don't want to use this building nothing. After all, not knocking alternative building. I love it. But go try it out. First piggybacking on to that if you're looking at trying to get off grid if you're interested in solar, or not being on grid for your water systems, or even if you are on grid for most of your water, but you want to set up great water systems, start learning about all that stuff now. Get active with some local setting groups, fine. Who else is doing projects like that? And just ask, Hey, can I come watch what you're doing? Or can I come help? I'll you know, one of my two hands on my time. I've seen people posting groups before, hey, if anyone is doing like a solar panel install, I would really love to help with it and see and observe and learn. Another area where I think it's really good to build up some skills would be tool maintenance. So learning to really take good care of your garden tools, putting those up at the end of the season, boiling your tools, sharpening your tools, just you know, those are an investment, you don't want to be replacing those constantly. So knowing how to take care of those Well, for us, I've had to learn maintenance for our riding lawn mower. We haven't had it very long. But you know, you have to do oil changes and filter changes, we've already had one flat tire, so I had to figure that out. If you have a vehicle, it really stinks to walk out and have a flat tire on your car and you're trying to get to work or somewhere on time. So having the ability to handle that on your own really useful, you know, having a small compressor so that you can inflate a tire to get it somewhere to get it patched if you need to, or learning how to patch it yourself. Small Engine Repair. If you have anything on your homestead, you know, a tiller a tractor or anything like that, the more you know about that the more money you can save for yourself by not having to outsource that to somebody else. If you're going to be heating your home with a wood stove or a hearth, or even if you just you know are really into cooking outdoors and having a fire pit outdoors, learning how to properly cut sack and cure what I think is also a good skill, you could probably just watch some YouTube videos. And again, I'm sure you could probably find someone more than willing to let you practice chopping wood at their house, you're welcome to come here, I'll set you loose, you're welcome to do that as long as you want. And the last one I want to talk about would be going back to inside the home again, making personal care products and cleaning products for your house. These are pretty expensive. I know a lot of us that are home setting or maybe trying to get a way from some of the more standard chemical products that are out there. And we would rather make something where we know all the ingredients in it making your own cleaners making your own like vinegars and orange cleaners and citrus cleaners, so simple to do so much cheaper than what you're buying in the store. And I love the results of that. And then things for personal care. I've learned how to make soap this year. That was a skill I didn't have making my own like lotions and Sabz this ties back for me into the herbal ism. But it doesn't have to be herbal again, I just think every opportunity we have where we can learn how to do something, even if you just learn it, you don't necessarily have to implement it all the time. But it's great to have those skills and to know you can fall back on them if you ever need to or want to. So I hope this episode has given you some starting points and some ideas of maybe some skills that you can start learning now. I know it's frustrating to be dreaming of land and getting started homesteading. But trust me, there's so much that you can start learning now. And it will give you such a head start and a jumpstart when you do finally get to your land someday. So I would really just recommend start thinking about what is this ideal life that you're trying to build for yourself? What are the things that you hope to be doing differently, whether that's in terms of food prep, or how you get your energy and water for your house and think about what are the skills you need to acquire to get from where you are now to where you hope to be in the future and go out and start getting those skills. They take up room in your brain but they don't take up any room in your physical space,
unless you want them to. All right. One last thing for today is if you are enjoying the podcast, I would so so appreciate it if you would go great and leave me a nice review. Hopefully, it would really help other people to find the show and I would be so appreciative of that. Thank you so much to all of you who have done that already. I can't thank you enough. All right. We'll be back as usual on the first and third Wednesday of each month. If you have any comments you can reach me by email Fox and elder at gmail.com. And I'm also active over on Instagram, Fox and elder all one word. I hope you're doing great out there. Pick something to go learn about this month. Until next time, keep your hands dirty and your heart open.