Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Basic Homestead Skills Paying Off!

As I've previously blogged, we've started to focus on learning basic skills in our home to increase our self sufficiency and help us take more control over our own lives.  The less we rely on other people for our basic needs, the more we will be able to handle adversity in times of trouble.

Similar blanket to what my daughter makes. Pics coming soon.
Lately, it seems that many of our skills are being put to good use and actually starting to become a source of additional income!  This is partially why we began to learn self sufficiency skills, to provide for ourselves by making our own goods or selling/trading with others.

My oldest daughter has become quite good at crocheting, which she just learned this past Christmas.  She can make stocking caps, scarves, blankets big and small, dish towels and more.  She had made baby blankets and wash cloths as gifts throughout the year. It seems word has gotten around that she makes a pretty good blanket that she has begun getting requests...paid requests.  She also started to babysit around the neighborhood and is now being requested for paying jobs as a babysitter too. 

Who knew these little gems
could be profitable?
On our recent visit to our local Farmer's Market, I asked where all the honey sticks had gone.  The store attendant said the supplier had not returned calls in months and they no longer had a supplier.  It wasn't three hours later that the same daughter had done her research and determined she could make honey sticks and sell them at the Farmer's Market for a marginal profit!  She got our impulse sealer out that we use on our mylar bags and placed it on a counter.  Pulled a thin, clear straw from an empty styrofoam cup on the counter and proceeded to fill it with a honey bottle.  She quickly impulse sealed both ends and gleamed with joy! A quick review of her math and I agreed.  Her cost was $0.18 per straw and they used to sell at the Farmer's Market 3 for $1.  To a 13 year old, she might as well have discovered sliced bread!

Wifey is getting requests to babysit in our home all of the sudden.  Cha-ching!  I keep telling her that if she could blog about her sewing and crafting activities, I'm sure there are scores of women who could benefit from the dresses, skirts, hand bags, pencil holders, crayon wraps, etc and learn how to make these things for themselves just like she has. The rewards of blogging, sharing and learning never cease to amaze me.

I've blog constantly about how our still blossoming gardening skills have begun putting food on our plates.  I've begun expanding my carpentry skills and successfully added a living room niche for more books space, shelving and spool rods for Wifey's craft room upgrade and a large shelving system in our garage to get more organized.  This past weekend I added a wall mounted desk enclosure in a daughter's room to allow her private study time away from her "bratty, noisy sisters". LOL.
It pays in several ways to learn basic skills.  It can fill your soul with pride, your body with nourishment, and your pockets with a few coins. 

What skills do you enjoy?  What skills do you want to learn?



  1. We took all of our crafts, pickled goods, quilts, wood crafts and other things to different festivals all over the place. We would buy a vendor spot ranging from 10 to 50 dollars, set up a tent and sell. I always had the kids do the selling to teach them how to communicate and become better speakers.
    I also always took a puppy with me. When sells started slowing down I would take the puppy and walk it around in front of our booth. People would always come over to pet the dog, the youngest girl would ask them if they wanted free samples and while the customers mouth was full, direct them into the booth where my oldest girl would give a quick sells pitch and hand them a jar of pickles goods and direct them to my middle girl who would tell them how much they owe. Many times people would leave not knowing what hit them. I would split the earnings between us five.
    I loved it but with the wife's health issues and the two oldest girls getting a job and my hours, it made it where we can no longer get out and do that.

  2. @MDR That sounds like fun! We have a yearly Renassaince Festival that we love attending. I wonder if we could find something to make and sell there? They have glass blowers, temporary tattoo artists, musicians. I'll have to think on that one. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Those skills will be important when we sink into a barter economy or long range transport becomes less reliable. All I do currently is sell some honey but then again with my time restraints I am lucky to get that done occasionally.

  4. Good post - I'm glad your whole family is getting into the usable skills mode.

    Come Christmas time you can often find requests for crafters to sell at various fairs - church, malls, etc. Some are just pay the fee, others are judged - where you have to submit items to see if they meet the criteria. I've often purchased gifts from vendors this way - making sure that they are local and handmade, not just a wholesaler or reseller of China made goods.

  5. OJD, Beautiful Wife and I took a class on quilting. Everyone is getting one for Christmas now. We found that we do an excellent job when I do what I do best, and she does what she does best. On the machine, we can do a crib quilt in 2 hours. We found that this leads us to more sewing projects. Although the Amish live in our neck of Colorado, we think we might be able to make a niche with our quilts (their handmade quilts are much better than what we can possibly do). We’re taking a cheese making class this weekend, and a canning class at the end of the month. I’m in the middle of several books on bees and gardening.

    We ultimately hope to get the Beautiful Wife to retire at the tender age of 27 in 3 years and replace her income with honey, jams, jellies, and wine from our garden; meat, lotions and cheeses from our growing flock of goats, and maybe even quilts, blankets, and clothes, all handmade. We are working hard to make mistakes early so we don’t make them when it could be really, really, bad. (We lost 7 of 8 baby goats this spring to pneumonia. The neighbor could have saved them all, had we known what to look for.) My mother understands what we are doing, and wonders when I’ll just become full Amish.

    We would like to start small and get bigger with farmer’s markets in the area next summer. In the meantime, we are sponges to small things we can do to become more self-sufficient and make a little change in the process.

  6. That's quite the entrepreneur you've got there! We could all take a page from her book. There's not enough room here to list all the skills I'd like to learn. Next on my list is canning. Maybe I will try crocheting this winter. Another skill I'd like to learn is playing the guitar. I have an acoustic guitar that I asked for one year for Christmas and I have yet to learn how to play it. It may not be a great "hard skill" for a SHTF situation, but music does always make people feel better :)

  7. I wish I had the energy!! Maybe once my house is mine again and I can retake my space I'll start to feel less like a pile of useless junk. I am super impressed!! I hear the Ren Fest down your way is excellent! My cousin is always involved lol.


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