January 9, 2012

New Skills To Learn



Growing up as the only girl in my family (I have two brothers), and the daughter of a former greasemonkey, I learned a lot about tools and how to use them. I was exposed to fixing cars at an early age, although I didn't really jump into trying it myself until I was in my 20's. Back when I was growing up, men didn't take their cars or trucks to the garage to have an oil change, or even replace an entire motor. You got a few friends together for the bigger jobs, and worked on it in the back yard.

My 16 year old and I were chatting the other day on the way home from an errand, and he mentioned to me that at his high school, they might have to cancel Small Engine Repair class next semester because they have no working engines to practice on. I kind of looked at him weird. He said they couldn't do the class if they didn't have them to work with. When I went to this same high school, the whole point of this class, and others like it, was to learn how to repair things. The teacher would put the word out through the students, and anyone with a lawn mower, snow blower, or other small engine tool, could bring it in. The class would use it to practice on, and for less than $10, you got that tool running as smooth as if you had just bought it. Apparently they don't do that anymore. If it isn't already working, they don't have the ability to use it? Didn't make sense to me either.

This conversation led my son to mention that he really should learn how to work on small engines himself. Especially if he gets a motor for his boat. He wants to be able to repair if he has to, himself. Now he is very mechanically inclined, so a bit of searching online would help him figure out what he wanted to know. The same for me....I can figure things out usually. A case in point happened when I was about 25......

I was dating the kid's dad, and drove an old Ford Fairmont. Well, the water pump decided to let go. I was supposed to go out with my boyfriend and some of his friends for a day of fun. Instead, in the brutal cold winter, I was in my father's coveralls, fighting to get the old radiator out, so I could replace the water pump, and then the radiator (in case you don't know, most times when the water pump goes, it will shoot the fan right into your radiator). Five hours later, it was finally done with some help at the end from my older brother. My boyfriend's friends, especially the guy ones, were surprised that I could do that myself. They said they wanted to "borrow" me. Now I didn't know everything there was to fixing cars, I wasn't that good. But I knew the basics of changing brakes, oil changes, tune ups, and the common sense thought that if you take something apart one way, you put it back the exact opposite.

Back to current times though: I can fix a lot of things, but there are many areas that I am lacking. Small engines is one of them. I have to plan for the future as if I will be on my own, without my kids (who are all growing up too fast and will be moving away), and without Sir Jack (just in case). So I need to learn these things for myself. I made a short list I thought I would share with you, of where my mind is going. Feel free to leave me other ideas that you think I would need to know as a homesteader on my own.

Skills to learn:
-Brush up on car maintenance
-Learn basic electrical
-Small engine repair
-How to use a chainsaw
-How to drive a small tractor
-Learn basic plumbing



11 comments:

  1. Good list. I am with you- raising teens all growing up too fast. Maybe I should join you in some of those endeavors :)

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  2. Thanks! After talking to my son again last night about this, we are thinking we might get a couple small engines to put in the garage to work on, to practice hands on, and see how we do :)

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  3. They say any skill can be learned, but I don't know. I think you do have to have some kind of knack for it. I am an idiot when it comes to computers, electronics or mechanical items. I envy you your ability to learn to do these things.
    And about Sir Jack. Is he "going" somewhere???
    LOL! Sorry-just a joke,--it sounded funny when you wrote "just in case"........
    :D

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  4. Sue, I was raised mostly by my mother, although you hear me talk about my dad an awful lot. My mother grew up a city girl, but when she moved to NH with my dad to start from scratch, she learned to use most all of his tools. I am from that stubborn mindset that I don't want to be "dependent" on someone, so I will learn it just to prove that I can do it LOL!
    Sir Jack and the relationship is still a "maybe". We have our first get together this week, and will take it one day at a time. I want to believe he is serious about a relationship with me, but cannot count on that yet, so will go forward as if it isn't an option, just in case:)

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  5. Everything is learned and can be learned Sue.

    Stephanie, the one most important thing my mom and dad ever did for me was to MAKE me do it. I did not want to spend all those years as a kid raising animals, building barns, working on the farm and fixing everything that broke. I wanted to do what all the other kids did.
    I would often ask my dad why are we doing it the old way when there are machines out there that can do it faster and easier.
    Now I look back and know that if I took the easy way then I would have never learned the things I did or have the stories I have.
    I was raised in a old fashioned house where the women stayed in the house and the men stayed outside so when my mom would MAKE me help her in the kitchen I would always say I did not want to do a girls job.
    If she would not have done that for me then I would not know how to make homemade bread, how to can my own food or even how to feed myself.

    Now that I am 40 with my own family of all girls we will all finish a hard days work building fence, gardening, fixing the equipment or working the animals then go in, wash up and we all make a home cooked meal.
    I am so happy I am able to hand down the skills that were forced upon me.

    One more thing, when the youngest girl took welding class, she had to show the teacher he was doing it wrong, how cool is that.

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  6. Well, I suppose I should learn the basics of small engine repair and "easy" stuff for the car / tractor maintenance (but I'm NOT touching the dozer with a 10' pole....when DH is "gone" so is the dozer!!). I could change non-mechanical things like oil changes, but the rest is just magic to me.

    Doesn't help that the three of the four boyfriends I had (that includes DH) were all mechanics....I just had THEM do all the mechanical stuff!

    Good list though....maybe I should broaden my skills horizons and include some of your skills.

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  7. A couple of things I would add to your list (but maybe you already have a handle on them) would be basic carpentry, animal husbandry and fence building/repair.

    You sure are going to be prepared once your feet hit the ground on your homestead!

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  8. Thanks Mama Pea!!! Adding them:)

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  9. what,you can fix cars? wow ,that in and of itself says a lot. I CAN'T DO THAT. MY MIND DOES NOT WORK IN THAT DIRECTION. ME I SHOULD HAVE OPENED A NURSERY [ OH,I FORGOT THAT TOO,I HAVE ONE ]DON'T MIND MY FORGETFULNESS ,SOMETIMES I FORGET YOU HAVE YOUR OWN BLOG TOO.i KNOW MY SON JOHN CAN TELL PEOPLE WHATS WRONG WITH THERE CAR JUST BY LISTENING TO IT ,BUT AFTER YOU WORK WITH CAR PARTS AND MEMORIZE EVERY SINGLE ONE-YOU LEARN SOMETHING. I JUST WISH THEY WOULD MAKE HIM THE GENERAL MANAGER,NOT JUST ASST.

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  10. I haven't done it in a few years Judy, but yes, the basics. Nothing like your son John though.

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