When I decided to raise backyard chickens three years ago, I consulted books and the internet, as it is so easy to do these days. But books and web forums didn’t prepare me when one of our hens broke her leg. As a girl from the suburbs, whose only real outdoor chores growing up were weeding a lawn or raking leaves, I laugh now (and cringe a little) to recall our dash to the vet’s office to have them put a splint on that little chicken leg, when, really, I could have handled it myself.
There’s a self-sufficiency that comes from trying things on your own, trial and error, and necessity. However, if we have the foresight to seek help and knowledge from our community, we can accomplish even more.
In Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, author Shannon Hayes interviewed Los Angeles homesteader Kelly Coyne who says, “you need community. The best way to do any of this is to have someone show you how to do it. I think a lot of these skills are not easily taught by books, and when you’re a person who’s not been raised doing any of these things, whether it’s preserving or growing or dealing with small stock, it’s all very mysterious. You spend a lot of your time going, “Well, what is this?” Like, “What’s this spot on the plant, why is my chicken doing that?”
Our farm, ranch, and vineyard members know about community, and the importance of sharing knowledge. Guests can get started learning a variety of skills straight from the farmers and ranchers who practice them every day.
Check out these results from some Activity searches on our site:
- apple cider pressing
- butter making
- cheese making
- honey spinning
- jam making or canning
- soap making
- workshops (ask the farms what they offer!)
- teaching ranch
- teaching farm
- riding lessons
Along these same lines, this September, Mother Earth News and Grit magazines are hosting International Homesteading Education Month.
On their website, you can find workshops, open houses, and other events, all centered around neighbors teaching neighbors and building more self-reliant communities. Find events about food gardening, renewable energy systems, raising livestock (including backyard chickens), real food preparation and preservation, fiber arts, and more.