Sunday, February 2, 2014

Forgotten Skills

Photo credit:  Village Green Network
One of the Facebook/Blog pages I follow started this morning off with these words:  "Amazing how a decision to start growing your own food cascades into so many different things in your life. New friends (invaluable support), baking your own bread, making your own taco seasoning, making your own laundry soap. The list goes on and on..."  (Karen Taylor of Old Pa Farm) Not sure my list of mostly forgotten skills would look exactly like that but the words and sentiment got me thinking about how many old and [by many people] forgotten skills I use in my day.  Some things I do because it's how I learned to do it growing up and some is a conscious choice for either thrift or to leave an environmentally softer footprint on the Earth.

I garden.  Most years I do anyway.  And I will be when this coming Spring finally gets itself underway.  In the past I've used much the same methods I learned from my Dad - organic for the most part but willing to bring in a chemical for limited use if I found myself dealing with a pest I couldn't otherwise control.  In the past, I've hired someone to rototill the ground but this year I'm going to experiment with creating permaculture beds.  That's something I'm pretty excited about!

I preserve garden produce for later use.  This summer I want to make red and green salsa, dilly beans, apple pie filling, applesauce, spaghetti sauce, garlic preserved in vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, refrigerator dill pickles, strawberry freezer jam, frozen diced tomatoes, and several dried herb blends.

I cook from scratch.  Well, sometimes.  I admit a lot more boxed stuff has slipped in during the past 18 months.  It's been a time of big adjustments that affect all parts of my life and that's part of the reason that real cooking has fallen by the wayside.  It's something I laugh about now and then, but Derek loves the TGI Friday's(TM) Tater Skins from the freezer isle and would eat them 3-4 times a week... I about had a heart attack right there in the frozen food section when I saw the price and started making them at home.  Mine are so much better he tells everyone that they "are the bomb!" And I want to get back to even more real cooking over the coming months.  One of the first things I plan on doing is getting my sourdough starter going again and making our bread.

I make many of my own cleaning products.  Again, I've slipped a little in doing this but getting back to it more and more.  I've found that I can make my own product that is very effective for much less money. Some of my forays in cleaning products have been laundry soap, dryer sheets, and a concoction (I hope I can replicate) that did an awesome job getting puppy stains out of our carpets.

I create things.  For Christmas I made Derek an afghan in his favorite sports team colors and since we have serious lack of bedding (thanks, in part, to puppy chewing) it's been helpful in keeping him warm on some of those unusually cold nights we've had lately.  Over the last year and a half I also made some of the items we've gifted for birthdays and Christmas, cards, our potholders and some of the decor on our walls.  Several items have used recycled or re-purposed materials.  I love that it saves money, but even more I love that it is unique, kind of quirky and very personal.

I do my own home repairs and upgrades.  Inasmuch as it's safe and I have the skills to do a reasonably good job, I do my own repairs and upgrades.  A recent example was replacing a burned out breaker in our box.  Calling an electrician would have run around $100.  A few friends telling me it was an easy do-it-yourself job and a Youtube tutorial later, I did it myself.  The new breaker cost $11.84, including tax.  Money savings aside, it was a powerful feeling when I flipped that switch and everything worked!

I get to know my neighbors.  For me, a sense of community is important.  I am a naturally friendly person and I like finding people nearby who can share information and skills and, sometimes, garden tools.  Besides, being sociable is a good skill to have... so many of us suffer from nearly unbearable loneliness these days.  I also want to try and barter for things I can't do on my own like get our one neighbor who co-owns a dog grooming business with his daughter to cut the dog's toe nails.  I've talked to him a number of times about gardening and learned that he's diabetic and baked goods won't appeal as a trade off... so I'm hoping this summer to woo him into a barter arrangement with lots of fresh garden-ripe tomatoes!

Could I do more?  Sure.  Will I?  In time, probably.  I've already started a list of upgrades and additions for the 2015 garden...

1 comment:

Kelly Gray said...

I love this Kathy! It inspired me to think of the things I do in life this way. I'm like you I do a lot of the same things my people have been doing for years and thankfully I'm learning new old ways of doing things as well.