Skills For A Simple Life

I have written previously about re-skilling for a low carbon future, career wise, but I haven’t given much thought about re-skilling for my personal interests regarding sustainable living.  That was until I received an email from my friend Linda, and attached to it was the local Melton Shire Learning Directory. 

Until now, I really haven’t been one for short courses on "how to…", but as I grow in thirst for knowledge about being able to make more things for myself, I find that I am not superman, and that books can only give you so much of the picture.

So, guess what?  I signed up for two cheese making classes today.  One is called "Cheese Making workshop – Basic", where I will discover how to make your choice of cheese from Wensleydale, Haloumi, Fetta, Parmesan or Cheddar.  You can then add a selection of herbs, spices or flavours to personalise your cheese (straight from the brochure).  The other course is "Cheese – Mould course".  In this class I will learn how to make soft cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Blue Vein or Stilton.  These have the addition of either Penicillium Candidum (white mould) or Penicillium Roquefori (blue mould).

Sounds exciting doesn’t it.  Course 1 is in February, and course 2 is in March.

That got me thinking as to what other things I would like to learn how to do or make.  I came up with a simple list.

  • Cheese making.  Locked in!
  • Soap making.  Kim wants to do this as well!
  • How to build a wind turbine
  • Make an outdoor oven.  Locked in!
  • Sausage making and smoking meat
  • Make a solar still to change salt water to fresh water
  • Sun drying fruit & vegetables for storage
  • Wine making. I have mastered Beer making already!

Hopefully, I will be able to attend a workshop/course locally or somewhere in Melbourne to learn these skills. 

Now, I don’t expect to learn all the skills I need for the future.  With the community building we have started in our area (more about that soon), we should meet others who will have other valuable skills that will supplement our own knowledge.  This may even lead to a new branch of LETS in our area.  Who knows?  Watch out, things are beginning to pick up around here.


  1. says

    Making cheese is super fun. I make 30 min mozzarella all the time.

    Like you we’d like to put in a mud oven here at Chiot’s Run. I also want to build a solar oven and a solar dehydrator.

  2. says

    Thanks everyone for the great comments.

    I bought the ingredients for the soap making yesterday except for coconut oil, which I am still yet to track down. I will have a look on-line tomorrow for it. Then it is full steam ahead with the soap.

    I think that the oven has got to be the first priority, especially that now I know that you can dry and smoke in it as well!

    Thanks for the advice.


  3. says


    Just found you and liking what I see!

    Make the oven priority number one – we built one from stone and lots of rubble last year. It makes anything frugal you have to cook just taste fantastic and is really good fun, though it means we now eat far more pizza than is good for us!

    Cheese making sounds good too.

  4. JulieG says

    How exciting! I wish there was a cheesemaking course near me.

    I’ve made my own soap before and it’s heaps of fun, very easy to learn.

  5. says

    Hi Gavin,

    Wish I could join you on the cheese making course. The outline looks fabulous!
    Soapmaking is easy, as everyone else has said. Sausage making – now there’s something I would love to try too.


  6. says

    Soap making is easy, but yourself some soapwort plants and off you go.

    You can also make your laundry liquid with it, your dishwashing liquid and shampoo!

    If you are interested look under my blog labels for soap, recipes included, the beauty of this is not only do they all work brilliantly, you can then pour the water you have used over your garden and it will harm nothing!

  7. The Hungry and Pregnant Neighbour says

    Oh Gav, I would love to learn how to make sausages with you! And I love the sound of home made Haloumi etc.

    BUt you can keep the mouldy cheese all to yourself!! haha

    P.S Looking forward to the pizza oven with a two way entrance 😉 Ie: through the fence! lol

  8. says

    Gav, I make my own soap, haven’t bought a bar of soap for approx 12 mths, simple, easy to make & great on sensitive skin. Re: sausage making…have a chat to Cosmic & Co, link is on my site (Im an idiot when it comes to links)Cosmic and Hubby make ALL their own sausages and have so many recipies.

    Ask and you shall recieve!

    Lotsa Love

  9. says

    hey gav, good news if you do the outdoor oven then you’ve got the drying covered, no need to sun dry, can do what youd do in the sun in less than half the time in the oven if you maximise the efficiencies of oven use.

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