Homesteading is all about learning, sharing and teaching. Without mentors, learning the old skills would be a lot more challenging. Thankfully there are people out there who have learned, and who are faithfully teaching others. I have reached out to many different people to learn how to milk goats, can food, spin wool, make soap and build shelters. I have called my mom or dad countless times to discuss pruning fruit trees, bread-baking tips, and tapping maple trees. I have had intimate conversations with elderly ladies, discussing tips on freezing food and harvesting honey. I have sent numerous text messages to farming friends for advice while birthing goats. And made many trips to a friend’s house to learn how to skin a goat for meat, process chickens or felt wool. The information is there, if you search hard enough, and it is worthwhile to learn.
But do you say thank you? And how do you say thank you? I have spent years now, teaching my skills that I have learned, to others, for free. I get so excited when I learn a new skill that I want to share it with others as soon as I can. Everyone says thank you. Some even bring me thank you “gifts”. And others reciprocate. I have to admit two things: First, it feels good to feel appreciated. And second, I haven’t always given back. But now that I am doing a lot of the teaching, I realize how I should have thanked people, and I hope that I won’t let that occasion slip from my fingers again!
3 Ways That A Homesteader Can Say Thank You:
Show appreciation by giving something you have made.
Words DON’T always cut it. If someone spent a few hours teaching you how to make soap, don’t just say thank you. Give them a jar of jam! A packet of garden seeds! A rooted cutting of a fruit tree! It doesn’t have to be big but it makes a world of a difference.
Give back by teaching them something.
I started a facebook group for local people interested in learning basic life skills. A few of the people often host get togethers where people go and learn a skill. Or they offer their house as a location and someone else teaches a skill. When you are always the one hosting you figure out very quickly that it takes a lot of time and energy to prepare, including cleaning up the house, in order to share with others. If others are also doing this, it is much more rewarding.
Give back by helping them out.
So you just spent the day learning how to spin wool. Someone sat with you and patiently taught you. Give back by teaching them how to make cheese. Help them process their chickens. Help them shovel manure. Help them build a chicken coop.
Go forth and multiply!
When I teach a new skill for free, I always finish up my talk with “now, everyone, you have two pieces of homework to do. Number one, go home and do what I just taught you to do so you don’t forget how to do it. Number two, share it with others, as I have shared it with you!” Obviously, some skills can’t be repeated immediately, but some can, and if you value the skill you just learned, you should do it again on your own so that you remember how to do it. Nothing is more satisfying to me than knowing that I taught other people a new skill, that they went out and did it themselves, and that they will be teaching others, as someone once taught me.
Homesteading is a community and it takes a continuous sharing of hands to keep everyone feeling like they are valuable and not being taken advantage of.
I invited a group of people over to walk the “maple tap trail” with me. I spent a lot of time teaching them what I had learned, from locating the trees to tapping the trees, storing the sap and making the syrup. One family brought me a jar of homemade chicken stock. Another lady brought me a packet of flower seeds that the bees would love. THAT, my friends, is an example of a homesteader thanking another, in homesteading language.
Does it have to be every time? No! But it has to be often enough that people feel that the skill that they taught you was valuable to you, and worth their time and effort.