Many homestead gurus suggest taking an inventory of your skills before beginning your homestead adventure. It's good advice, but I don't want you to be put off if your list isn't very long.
The "accepted" list of skills might contain such things as construction, knowledge of firearms and mechanical expertise. You might think you need to be a master gardener, a goat whisperer, able to cook from scratch, and a food preservation expert.
But I have a secret for you: you can learn those things. In my mind, the five most important skills in homesteading are:
Persistence - "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" was my father's favorite saying. He taught me that persistence is everything. If you try to make yogurt or vinegar or soap and fail, do you quit or do you keep trying until you're successful? My father's second favorite saying was "practice makes perfect."
Be a self-starter - no one is going to push you out the door to feed your livestock, or tell you to get yourself out into the garden to pull weeds. You're on your own here! On the other hand, homesteading gives you the freedom to focus on projects that interest you, and no one tells you that you can't stop to smell the roses, or eat the first red tomato right there in the garden. The perks are outstanding!
Be willing to learn - you can learn anything you put your mind to. Information is everywhere. You might think you're not good at math, but it's so much easier to solve a real-life problem than one in a textbook. Do you remember asking your algebra teacher "when will I ever need this in real life?" Well, how much medication do you give an 87-pound goat at a rate of 1 cc per 2.5 lbs? How many tons of hay do you need to get 5 horses, 4 sheep and 10 goats through an average Oklahoma winter? If a single broccoli plant produces an average of x servings, how many seedlings do you need to transplant into your garden so that your family of four can eat broccoli with dinner once a week? You can figure it out, believe me. It makes so much more sense in real life.
Be a good observer - pay attention to the details and you'll never go wrong. Are your goats acting a bit "off"? What sort of clouds are those on the horizon, and what kind of weather can you expect from them? Do you remember where the plantain grows? Good observation skills are important, and you can impress your friends by knowing the difference between Indian blanket and Indian paintbrush.With these five traits and a good attitude, you've got it covered! You'll be a great homesteader.
Have a good memory - or at least remember to write everything down. When you learn something, write it down. Not only will you have a record of it, but the act of writing it down helps to cement it in your memory (or at least in mine). Write down when you planted the lettuce, when you noticed the goats were in heat, the date you put eggs in the incubator. It will make your life much easier.
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
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