I love when I receive email from my readers and I do receive a lot of it. Last week I received an email from a man who read a couple of my articles. He had read the one about how hard it was to find good reliable help out here in the sticks and the latest one about starting with a portable building for a house cabin. He asked a pretty good question, “What if I just don’t have the skills to do the building and construction you talk about?”
I realize not everyone has been trained or even exposed to such things, but for me this is what I find the most exciting about the lifestyle. The constant learning and trial and error at skills I may not have is what keeps this lifestyle interesting for me. While I have had some training and plenty of practice in building construction, I don’t have all the answers to every problem we face out here.
I spend my time trying to learn as much as I can about whatever topic or sub-topic interests me in this lifestyle. Right now, I am reading up on how to build my own outdoor cob oven. I’ve built other types of ovens but never a cob oven.
Investigating and learning is what keeps things interesting for me. With the internet there is much to learn for free. Sure you have to be careful to glean information from multiple sources, but that’s just more of the fun.
As for construction, there are a number of ways a person can learn anything they want to know. The first thing that comes to mind is volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity building project. If you can swing a hammer, someone will teach you where to hit it. You’ll be amazed at how much you can pickup from such an endeavor. Having previously been a full time missionary living in Guatemala, I learned a great deal from simply watching the workers there and jumping in as well.
There are several other places you can learn a bit about construction. There are a number of schools in the craft of construction and just about any other skill you would want to know. There is an excellent school very near where I live here in central Texas. The Ploughshare School is located at the Heritage Homestead in Elm Mott, Texas (just outside of Waco). At this school you can attend classes dealing with all aspects of the self sufficient lifestyle. They teach gardening; kitchen and homemaking and traditional crafts as well as amazing woodworking skills. I’m not affiliated with Heritage Homestead in any way, I just really like this group of awesome people. They have a lot to teach and they are some of the nicest people you will ever encounter. Their website is http://homesteadheritage.com
You can also learn a lot by visiting some of the numerous heritage type parks and venues available in this state. I recently wrote about a trip I took with my wife to Washington on the Brazos. At this wonderful park, you can see how the buildings were constructed back-in-the-day and learn so much for absolutely free.
The same is true of visiting events like Christmas at Old Fort Parker. This is mainly an event for children to learn a little about the western heritage, but it’s a great place to link up with some craftsmen and people with a wealth of information in everything from gardening to cast iron cooking over an open fire.
I am sure there are numerous other festivals and events where you can learn a task or two. It just takes some thinking about what you want to learn and investigating what is available in your area. I think you will be surprised what is available for free within just a couple hours drive of where you live.
And don’t forget… talk to your elders. Those who have lived before us are the absolute best source of information and learning. Strike up conversations with these folks and I think you will be well on your way to learning the old ways.
Until next week…
Vern Six is a freelance computer programmer and entrepreneur. He is a United States Army certified survival expert and former Christian missionary. Vern has been a hobby blogger for nearly five years and now has his “According to Vern” blog published in numerous newspapers around the world. You can learn more about Vern by visiting his website at http://AccordingToVern.com