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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Learning Basic Skills

There are a number of ways to become more self-sufficient.  The daily double is that self sufficiency often equals sustainability.  So what are some basic skills?  I think that question is impossible to answer, as none are necessarily more important than others, but I usually think of my great grandparents.  Here are some of the skills that I have been honing in the last few years in order to become more self sufficient.
  • Increasing sewing, knitting and crocheting skills. 
  • Gardening organically, saving seed, and succession planting
  • Getting friendly with my neighbors
  • Turning off tv, and enjoying time with family
  • Baking my own bread
  • Canning what I grow
  • Learning to dehydrate food (failing a bit miserably at this point)
  • Reusing, repurposing, regifting.
  • Learning to make and use homemade cleaning products like laundry soap and all purpose cleaner.
On my list are also woodworking and basic home and car repair.  However, they are lower on my own priority list, so I have not begun actively working on them.  I should mention that I am still part of society, live in town, and own no livestock.  I may want those things to change some day, but I am not yet that self sufficient.

Why teach myself these things, or relearn things long forgotten?  Because I do believe that living gently on this planet is important, but also because I think that there may come a time when things here are not as easy as we are used to, and I want to be ready.  Think about no electricity and what that encompasses, and then think about how people will exist without it.  So, when I mention the "basic skill" of being friendly with my neighbors, that is part of the reason why.  In my neighborhood alone, we have 5 teachers, a state cop, 2 nurses, an emt, and 4 lawyers.  Oh, and a guy who drives a tugboat.  Not sure what value the lawyers and tugboat man will be if things get tough, but I hope so.  After having said that, can you name on a three block area who does what, what their names are, etc?  If not, it may be time to reach out.  Part of living sustainably is borrowing instead of buying, and why buy a ladder if the guy across the street has one, and he can use your chain saw?

Bartering of goods and services is becoming a more popular idea, and one that I will probably visit more in depth in a later post.  But, it makes a lot of sense, and building community is the only way that it will ever be successful.  Do not feel dumb trying to get to know your neighbors.  I'm sure that mine think I am crazy.  I ask for their grass clippings, give them veggie plant starts, and offer the new family and new baby on the block all of my baby stuff.  I get a few looks, but I also do not particularly care.
So, my challenge is to pick two skills that you think interest you and that are most useful right now for you and for your family.  It starts to be fun.  If your friends are like mine, they may call you a dirty hippie, but dirty is better than helpless. Share your stories of getting back to basic skills here.


  1. Great post Cathy! My family and I just recently started thinking about self sustainability. Last summer I did a lot of canning and I've started sewing - skills that I think will pay off if I ever truly need them. Plus it just feels good knowing I've helped provide for my family in those ways!

  2. Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. It is a lot of fun to get back to the good stuff and be able to do for yourself. Nothing better than eating your home canned food on a winter day in December.

  3. wow, great post and info

    keep posting stuff like this

    i really like it.

    Kredit vergleich

  4. Thanks Kredit. I will try to keep posting about this.