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February Skills Update

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As some of you know, I have been using the 13skills website to help guide me in learning new skills in 2013.  Since today is a cold and rainy introspective kind of day here in Tucson, it seemed like a good time to refocus on my progress.  Admittadely, I have done a fairly bad job in the last few weeks about keep skills foremost in my mind.  All of the stress of getting ready to move has taken quite a bit of my brain power away from where it belongs.

Pickling

Some sad news on this one at least.  I knew that I was doing it wrong, and I was right.  So granted, I have no one to blame but myself, but I didn’t really put enough thought into setting myself up for success the first time.  As I chronicled in my earlier pieces, I was trying to make some lacto-fermented sauerkraut.  Unfortunately, I didn’t use enough salt, and to top it off, I didn’t weight down the sauerkraut inside the jar.  So little pieces of it kept floating to the top.  Long story short, it started to mold, and not in the good way.  I did learn thought that in addition to being able to use rocks of some sort, you can fill bags up with water and set them on top of the veggies.  That will keep them below the water line.

I have to say, so far I didn’t like the taste of what I was fermenting, to which I conclude I was doing it wrong.  I think next time in addition to the salt, I will use a bit of either yogurt water, or vinager with “Mother” in it to start the fermentation.  Since I don’t have a garden right now, I can’t count on using natural veggies that haven’t been cleaned to get that starter bacteria.  I might try this one more time before we move, if we get some tasty veggies to play with.

Writing – This one I actually completed, which is excellent.  My goal as to make at least $1 from writing, and I have done almost 5X that good with the launch of my book.  So I marked it off as complete.

Moving – My goal was to execute the sale of our home by April 1st, and be gone.  This one is still a bit up in the air, but largely under control.  We did have the one showing of our house, and not a single one since then.  One made an appointment and cancelled.  Then we had one yesterday that called us at 8:30am on a Sunday, to show that morning.  Really?!  We were still sleeping, so we said screw it.  Little tip realtors, if you do your work sometime other than last minute, more stuff might happen.  Regardless, we are looking forward to going up there and exploring.

Sadly, many of my other goals rely on having already moved, so there is some inherent demotivation involved in starting something new.  I want to do everything on my list still, but it seems foolish to get heavily invested in something that I will just have to tear down in a couple months.

So my next goal to achieve is meditation.  I am a naturally high stress individual, so I think meditation will be good for me.  I tend to get a pain in my side when I am too stressed, and I am hoping that by meditating I can keep that stress level under control and hurt less overall.  I am a born again Christian, so I don’t ascribe to some of the more mystical aspects of meditation, but I think the very act of introspection and thought is good for all of us.  There is something to be said for calming the stormy tempest of your mind before you cast out from your safe harbour of the home.  It will allow me to take the world more in stride.

So, officially, my goal is to meditate for 10 minutes a day, preferably in the morning before work.  I think this will help my health overall, and allow me to be calmer.  I will keep you posted.

Growing your skills

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Its now officially three days into the new year, have you worked on any of your resolutions yet?  I am guessing that most people probably haven’t.  Its so easy to sit down on a piece of paper at the beginning of the year and say you want to lose ten pounds, or get that big promotion, or look at rainbows more.  As I mentioned the other day, it’s only going to change if you put some action into them.  I personally set some ambitious goals for myself this year, and I found a great site to keep me motivated to achieve them, and I wanted to share so that you can start growing too.

Because everything is better with peeps, also they grow.

Because everything is better with peeps, also they grow.

How many of us grew up with a father or a grandfather that seemed able to fix anything with a hammer and some caulk?  I remember once my grandfather’s clock in his truck quit working, so be framed in an alarm clock on the dashboard.  Hilarious, and effective, I bet that truck was always on time.  How about a mom or a grandmother who could simultaneously can food for winter, embroider a beautiful piece of art, and make homemade soap?  Do you feel like any of that rubbed off on you?  I sure didn’t.  I would sit in my house hoping that the light switches never break because I was terrified of replacing one.  A saw was a foreign object meant only for removing fingers and a hammer was good only for breaking things.

While I am no longer completely terrified of wood working and home maintenance, I still feel my biggest area of improvement is in my skills.  I personally feel like my generation no longer knows how to do anything.  If something breaks, or we want something new, we call a guy.  We are afraid to even try to fix it ourselves.  In a homesteading situation, that can be both dangerous and very costly.  What if before calling a guy, we simply took a half hour to see if we could fix it?  Hell, with Youtube you can probably find a video showing you how to do it.  Which, by the way, is exactly how I hung the screen door on my back porch.

Thirteen Skils Badge

Thus I invite you to join the 13skills challenge.  At a basic level, the site is a way to set goals for yourself in different skills, and allow you to mark them off as completed.  There is even social media integration so you can share your successes with your friends.  Although this site is hosted by the Survival Podcast, its geared towards everyone.  Skills run the gamut from the classic “Firearms” and “Permaculture” through “Second Language”, “Social Media”, and “Entrepreneurship”.  There is literally something there for everyone.

In addition to being a great tool for self accountability, there is another component to this.  You are instantly inside a community of 4,000 people and growing who are all either learning or teaching skills.  Do you know how to woodwork, teach someone else on the site.  Do you want to know how to fix a sink, I bet you can find someone to teach you.  What a great way to help keep these skills flourishing, than to pass them directly to a new mold-able mind.

I personally am very excited about growing as both a person, and a homesteader this year.  You can check out my profile directly here.  I am absurdly proud to be member 346 out of 4079 so far.  Below are the goals that I have set for myself in the coming year.  I look forward to working on myself, and I would love it for you to walk with me as well.

Butchering — Planned

To humanely kill and butcher a chicken in such a way that the animal dies quickly, and the meat is edible. I have killed two chickens before, one which I ate, but had help from the wife, and another that I ruined on my own.

Container/Portable Gardening — Planned

To successfully grow at least three types of kitchen or medicinal herbs indoors.

Meditation — Planned

To be able to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, preferably in the morning, to allow for a calmer existence.

Pickling — Planned

I would like to create at least three different styles of lacto fermented food this year, one of which just has to be sauerkraut.

Hunting — Planned

Neither my wife or I have ever been hunting before, and this year once we move to Idaho, we would like to go. We will take someone along who hunts to teach us.

Permaculture Design — Planned

I would like to attend at least one permaculture class or workshop.

Get Out Of Debt — Planned

Pay off our car and AMEX card to free us up to start saving for some land.

Making Salves and Balms — Planned

I would like to make at least one skin salve that actually feels like it solves a problem. Bonus points if it comes from herbs I grew myself.

Fitness — Planned

I would like to continue my paleo fitness journey, and achieve and maintain a weight of 210lbs.

Wood Working — Planned

I want to build for my wife the table and chairs she saw at Crate and Barrel. They look like they are just made from 2X4s, but they cost $4,000. I can make those.

Writing — Planned

I would like to continue the blog I have started, and success will be defined as either making $1 from something I wrote, or writing a minimum of 5 posts a week.

Fishing — Planned

I have never been fishing on my own in my life. I would like to take my lovely wife fishing with me at least once in Idaho.

Real Estate — Planned

I will successfully execute a short sale on our Arizona house by April 1, freeing us to continue to Idaho.