This is the last post in the Suburban Series that I have been writing over the last few weeks. The previous suburban skills post was about homemaking, so lets go outdoors and see what skills that may be needed to make the suburbs a little more sustainable, and ready for energy descent. Handyman skills come in many forms. From simple DIY projects, to full blown home maintenance. But let me take you on my skill building journey, because most of them fit into this post quite well. Nostalgic? Yes, but hopefully informative!
Long time readers will know that I grew up on a dairy farm in the ’70’s. It was a simple life, and full of hard work, even as a kid, but fun in so many ways. My parents taught me many skills that were required of farm life;
- How to drive a tractor
- How to shovel cow poo
- How to kill a chicken or two and dress them for dinner
- How to gut and skin a rabbit,
- How to weld,
- How to milk a cow by hand and by machine,
- How to feed farm animals,
- How to pick fruit,
- How to build a haystack,
- How to use a CB radio,
- How to build a bicycle from parts,
- How to entertain myself,
- How to ride a motorbike,
and many other farm like skills.
Then at 16 years of age, I joined the Royal Australian Navy, and put all of those skills to the back of my mind. I learnt a hole new set of skills that were required to be a sailor;
- Ships husbandry, which consisted of sanding, sandblasting, painting, and polishing,
- How to use common sense,
- How to clean toilets
- How to wash and iron clothes,
- How to polish boots,
- How to march and take orders,
- Experienced strict discipline,
- How to shoot a rifle, pistol, and sub machine gun,
- How to send and receive Morse code,
- How to use wireless telegraphy,
- How to berth a ship,
- How to use portable radios,
- How to be a member of a boarding party,
- How to lead,
- How to evaluate performance,
- How to deliver vocational training,
- How to be tactful, and
- How to stand still on parade for over an hour.
About the only skill I learnt whilst not on duty was to how raise children (dad skills) and how to home brew beer!
When I left the defence force, my skills largely wained, although I learnt how to cook great meals for my family, however computing became my biggest skill set. I let most of the navy skills drop, except those that were required for corporate life. Then in 2006, after my personal awakening I began to learn and re-learn the skills from my youth. So far on my sustainable living journey, I have learnt;
- Basic carpentry,
- Basic bricklaying,
- Home repair,
- Basic construction,
- How to build a chook house,
- How to build a shed and greenhouse,
- How to build garden beds,
- How to grow fruit and vegetables and many sub skills that go with it,
- How to care for chickens,
- Basic irrigation design,
- Basic plumbing,
- Energy efficiency,
- How to preserve fruit and vegetables,
- How to make beer (again),
- How to run a community group,
- How to write effectively,
- How to perform an energy and resource audit,
- How to shovel chicken poo,
- How to make many types of cheese,
- How to teach cheese making,
- How to make soap, and
- How to build a cob oven.
I probably have missed a few, and there are probably so many more to learn.
One skill that Ben and I have started to learn is Archery, and we had our introductory course on Sunday morning. It was great fun, more of a sport than a skill, but I want new skills that will put food on the table, and in the future this may be one that is required. At least we will be able to keep the zombies at bay 😉
What other skills do you think will complement energy descent in the suburbs?
You are so lucky to be able to share your skills and explore further learning beside and with your son. Cheers Wendy
Show off! I wish I had that many skills, but I recently added being able to make crochet dishcloths!!
My husband has been doing archery and joined the Bowhunting Assoc. here, but just not found enough time to hone his skills enough to start hunting. He got into this a year or so ago after watching Collapse, and wanted a renewable form of hunting, as opposed to guns, he hopes to make his own fletches one day! He is looking to hunt feral species that are allowed, like goat and rabbit. He is a little obsessed for someone who has not done it yet… with the full gear/ bow/ books and research already!
Bartering. This I think is a skill. Many people I encounter are too scared or aloof to even want to try. this also covers haggling. A very un-British thing… Apparently.
Bread making is a good skill to have, too.
I have really enjoyed this series of posts. Real food for thought. thank you so much for the thought provoking
Fabulous collection of skills and all the better for sharing it with your son. My teenage son and I are working on the last list of skills with the cob oven half way there. We have been checking out yours. He recently built a large greenhouse and is so happy to see the watermelons taking off.
Thanks for sharing it is so helpful.
Darren (Green Change) says
One thing I’d like to learn more about is tool maintenance.
Not just sharpening knives, but re-grinding blades, peening scythes, etc.
I wouldn’t mind learning more about small engine maintenance and repair, too. Oh, and continue to learn more about butchery. The list goes on!
I presume availability of medicines would also be severely limited. A knowledge of herbal remedies may then be useful for at least those ‘niggling’ ailments like general aches and pains, rashes etc, and the herbs are easily grown at home.
Just wanted to say thanks for this series of thought provoking posts.
I am focussing on gaining skills to keep me away from aisles in the supermarket… so breadmaking is one that I am enjoying, I would also like to add dry biscuit making to that one and as said by Janet above – herbal remedies – I am building my herbal knowledge and plants in the garden at the moment. Also would like to increase my knowledge of local Australian plant uses (medicinal and food)… Marita
I think you’ve left out leadership from your list of Navy skills, though I guess it’s implicit later down the list when you talk about vocational training and the community group. Also, you have obviously picked up good written communication skills somewhere along the line. Public speaking too, probably came from your Navy background (I learned mine during instructional technique courses – frankly, if you can teach a bunch of sailors something they’re not very motivated to learn, you can public speak!). To try and change the decision making at all level of government really requires all kinds of good communication skills, persistence, and a sense of humour (otherwise you’d cry). and that’s an important part of what you’re doing!