10 Skills I Will Teach My Children

As we work to fix up and give new life to the family farm where we live, I realize that a lot of our success is due to our accumulated skills. I get the impression that a lot of observers in the community think that it is because we came back with lots of American dollars, and that just isn’t true. We are becoming successful because we know how to do many things ourselves so that our hard-earned savings can go further. Isabella, our 12 year-old niece looked around our home and remarked: “It’s amazing the number of things you guys took that no one else in the family wanted and made new again.” You got it, kiddo. As we look forward to starting a family, I think about all these learned treasures and what I will want to share with my own kids.

  1. Thread a needle & sew a tidy whip stitch. Uses: mending your socks, sewing back on buttons, repairing a torn couch.
  2. Cook your own meals and know how to read a recipe. Uses: saving money vs. eating out, ability to use varied produce from the market, making preserves and other goodies from farm produce
  3. Know how to approach an animal so that they trust you and you don’t fear them. Uses: treating dog illnesses, moving cows out of the way of your car, making most cats your friend.
  4. Use a hammer, saw, and screwdriver. Uses: fixing fences, hanging pictures, repairing furniture, repurposing trash, trimming trees.
  5. Use a sewing machine to sew a straight line. Uses: hemming pants, making curtains and pillows, taking in used clothing.
  6. Make small talk with a stranger. Uses: Get to know the in-laws, get to know the market vendors, make business contacts, hear entertaining stories while traveling. (See also #10)
  7. Paint with latex and polyurethane. Uses: repaint a room or refinish an old chair to look like new.
  8. Know the basics of how to make a plant grow. Uses: doing your own landscaping, grow your own veggies (or at least an herb garden), know how to ensure the cows get a good pasture.
  9. Basic electrical and PVC plumbing know-how. Uses: fixing a leaky sink pipe, adding an extra power socket, replacing light fixtures, installing a pump for the well.
  10. Know how to ask someone more knowledgeable than you to teach you a new skill. Uses: endless, but recently we’ve learned how to raise cattle for milk, make homemade wine, build a concrete retainer wall, make endless car repairs, make flour from yucca, and dig a well, to name a few.

Thanks mom, thanks dad. I am forever in your debt.

One comment

  1. What a great list, Mal! You’ve distilled the essence of survival.
    Since I’ve been smaller than everyone else all my life, I’d add:
    11. Understand and apply the principles of levers. Uses: loading a wheelbarrow so you can move it with the least effort, moving or removing anything larger & heavier than self (ever try to get a ABIG rock out of the ground?), prying apart all sorts of stuff, removing honking big nails from reusable lumber.

    You were one quick learner, Kiddo!
    Love, Mom

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