For the past few months I have found myself kind of ‘wondering aimlessly’ through life. I don’t mean that in a ‘I don’t know what my purpose is’. I finally think I really do know what my purpose is-to lead a homesteading lifestyle. To make do. To work with my hands. To share resources and ideas and knowledge with others. I think my wondering aimlessly has been derived from the fact that I have all the choices laid out in front of me. I can do anything. A person like me, one who likes a plan, needs to have said plan in place and does not really do well with a ‘let’s wing it’ attitude. (Although I was told I would get over that by living at the fishing lodge. But that’s a totally different story for a different day!).
So. I have all the choices. But what do I choose? HOW do I choose? How am I going to make a living homesteading? Those are the questions that I have been asking myself over and over for the past few months, to no avail. It wasn’t until I was visiting friends in the City and having this same conversation with them that they finally helped me narrow down a few things and take some sort of focused look at what I want to be doing. The plan that we discussed, and that I’ve since fine tuned, involves making monthly goals to learn something that I’ve wanted to know more about or do. The hope is that I can become an ‘expert’ in that field and then figure out how to use that experience and knowledge to make money. Part of my goal also involves research on how other people are making a living via their homestead or farm.
All of this started last month in April so here are my goals as I have them set out from then to now:
- April: finish knitting commissioned hats and knit 2 more to sell. There’s not really much to learn here other than how to sell the hats, what’s my price point, how to package the product(s), etc. I have increased my knitting skills leaps and bounds in the past year or so. I still have some things to learn but I feel comfortable enough at the moment with my skills to try and sell a couple of hats. Maybe some gloves. I’ve included pictures of the finished projects here plus some pictures of my One Way Tee that I’ve been working on for years! All I need to do is seam it all up. Maybe I can get that finished before the end of the summer?!?
- May: soap making. While I’ve made soap for years, I never truly ‘studied’ it and learned the ins and outs of it. I enjoy making soap. I use the soap for homemade laundry detergent, making my own liquid hand soap, etc. So making soap is something that I’ve always liked to do but just never spent the time learning about it. If there’s one thing that you can teach people that they really want to know how to do, it’s soap making. And I have the resources to do it here at the fishing lodge. So it seemed like the obvious first choice when trying to decide what to learn about first. And I have two books, Simple and Natural Soap Making and The Natural Soap Book, plus a couple of favorite online resources that I have been consulting. I’ve also started asking some of my favorite instagrammers for some tips on purchasing supplies, recipes, etc. My goal isn’t necessarily to sell the soap (that would be a by-product, so-to-speak) but rather my goal would be to teach classes on soap making.
- June: canning. Again, I’ve canned for many years but never really learned the ins and outs. June seems like a really good month to start delving into the learning process, the ‘whys’ of canning (why do we pressure can certain things but only water bath other things. Why can’t we can certain things) in preparation for canning season, which in Upstate NY commences sometime in July. I would also like to learn more about the growing season, using produce seasonally, etc. Again, the goal isn’t to sell these products (that would require a whole other set of complications) but rather to become more knowledge/expand my expertise and try to develop classes on canning. My process for learning about canning is to read a couple of books that I already own: Homemade Living: Canning and Preserving; Ball Blue Book of Preserving; Preserving by the Pint; and Food in Jars. Again, I really think canning is something so many people want to learn about and do and hopefully I can provide that knowledge to them.
- July: natural dyeing. Ever since I’ve learned more about knitting, and become a more proficient knitter, I’ve wanted to learn more about how to use things found in nature to dye fabrics, specifically yarn. There are lots of resources out there on dyeing, lots of blogs and instagrammers who dedicate their time dyeing. There are also tons of books dedicated to this as well. I think for the most part this is a ‘trial and error’ kind of thing. Try this, mix it with this, and see what results you get. I’m really looking forward to delving more into natural dyeing.
- August: baking. I always enjoyed baking but found in recent years that I haven’t been doing as much and when I do, it doesn’t always turn out. Again, I never took the time to learn much about baking and what causes things to happen (or not happen). I’d like to do more baking. August seems like a good time since it’s right before fall and we all know baking is best in fall!
- September: sewing and/or other fiber arts. Since I feel more accomplished with my knitting I would like to explore other fiber arts. This seems like a good way to make some extra income for the homestead-sewing, knitting, embroidery, etc. I’ve sewn for years, even taken a couple of quilting classes, but just never really accomplished much. Now that I am more confident in my knitting abilities, plus I have a good grasp on my learning style, I’m hoping that I won’t be as frustrated with sewing. I also have about 5 cross stitch projects to work on (and hopefully finish this year!).
So this doesn’t mean that I have to wait until these specific months to learn about, or do, these things. This just gives me a better focus on learning the skills needed to be more proficient. One other thing that we discussed was how much time I was spending outside of the homestead doing things that weren’t directly contributing to the homestead. A big part of that is my part time jobs. I’m cutting back on those jobs. Those jobs overall aren’t contributing a ton of extra income to the homestead and just seem to create more stress for me in accomplishing my goals/dreams.
I’ve included pictures of my new business cards plus the hang tags that I will attach to my handknitted items. It seems like a good place to start with branding this blog and the start of my homestead-Chicken Librarian.
What else? I’m going to start my own mealworm ‘farm’, which basically involves purchasing 500 mealworms, some wheat bran, and putting it all together in a rubbermaid tote. I’ve been foraging more and learning more about that. I’ll blog about that very soon. I’m enjoying these easier days where I don’t have any sort of agenda other than homesteading. I don’t have to even know what I’m doing until each morning. I can work on the garden, I can take pictures, I can forage, I can do whatever I want as long as it involves the homestead. It’s a nice change of pace. I have exactly one summer to do whatever I want and then I have to start figuring out how to put it all together. And possibly look for a full time job. I’m sorry when people don’t understand this and they get upset because I don’t want to commit to working or that I’m having too much fun on the homestead and don’t want to leave. If I learned one thing from my last job situation it was not everything is my fault (it’s always easier to blame other people, and some of us take these things very seriously and to heart and therefore blame ourselves when things don’t work out as planned. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually our fault. Or not totally 100% our fault anyway). We all have choices to make that will either make us happy. Or not. I’m trying my best to make it be choices that will make me happy. Even if that means disappointing people with those choices.
Do you set goals? How do you best learn? How are you accomplishing your life’s goals and fulfilling dreams? I’d love to know more!