Moth and Toad Apothecary

Herbalism, self-sufficiency, and low-waste living

How to Build Your Skills in Self Sufficiency | Part Two

In my first post about building your skills in self sufficiency, I mentioned a few skills you can pick up on, like sewing or soapmaking. While these kinds of skills are important to learn, I thought I would bring to mind some more trade-style skills that could potentially save you a lot more money should you have to use them. These are all things I have seen build up into expensive mistakes if done incorrectly or neglected. I hope we can all learn some of these skills to avoid accidents due to being uneducated! I’ve been trying to learn about them as I go, so feel free to drop your own advice or tips in the comments!

Basic Plumbing & Drainage System Knowledge

Most of us can unclog a drain with a snake or plunge a wad of toilet paper through a pipe. However, When bigger things come up and you need to figure out what’s wrong quickly, having some basic plumbing and drainage system knowledge can get you pretty far. You may still need the expertise of a professional, but you’ll be able to diagnose the problem before poking around and flooding your basement. Over at my house, for example, we just had a massive blockage in a pipe that branched off where it was super difficult to reach. Our kitchen was full of buckets and towels to catch the water that made its way downstairs. While it wasn’t something we could fix on our own, my Dad had been told by a previous plumber who came by to fix a bad clog (in the same spot) that it was a “double Y”, and it would most likely happen again due to the size of our family and the abuse our poor drainage system gets. Knowing this, my dad pulled down the dry wall and followed the leaky pipes to a common source. When the plumber got here, he knew exactly what to pull out, and the issue was resolved. If we had any extra knowledge on plumbing, we may have been able to rent some tools, remove the problem, and fix the issue without too much help. Seeing this happen and how easy the fix was (he removed the pvc joint and replaced it with one that had two separate channels, added sealant, replaced the toilets with new wax rings, and was finished) makes me wonder if taking a few classes wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’m not afraid to ask for help if I don’t know what’s wrong, but I think with enough training we could have fixed it ourselves. It took a long time and some expensive equipment, though, so maybe we would have opted for a professional. Still, it sparked some intrigue in me, and who doesn’t love the feeling you get when you fix something without needing to spend too much money? For now, I’m sticking to mending faucets and removing the hair from drains, but I do plan on researching avenues for some basic education.

Woodwork and Dry Wall Basics

We have basements here in Missouri, and basements mean extra usable square footage without too much of a hassle. I’ve watched my family renovate basements for years in one capacity or another, and it really is amazing what throwing up some drywall can do for a space. And while physically taxing, it usually isn’t very difficult to do. Of course, you need to follow the legalities and code of your area and keep in mind how easy it is to access important things such as your only manners of egress, which is usually a few of those tiny windows. However, if you follow the rules and understand the safety protocols for working with wood, drywall, flooring, etc., then you can finish your own basement. Or, if you live somewhere without basements, or just need a change, you’ll have the know-how for a more open floor plan and how to carefully remove walls without knocking a support beam out of place. This one obviously takes more than a few google searches, and I definitely recommend consulting professionals every step of the way (for the first few projects at minimum), but it’s a cool way to change up your own home, by your own hand. You may even have some fun modifying an attic into a kids play area if you feel confident enough!

Building Your Own Furniture

There’s nothing like using something you created. For me, that’s usually something like soap or paper. Going even further into something that lasts much longer, I’ve always thought building your own furniture would be an amazing way to feel at home in your space. Woodworking in this capacity isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t the safest thing to just give a go, but if you have someone in your life that is willing to show you the ropes, I recommend giving it your best shot. With help, it can be a much more enjoyable and less scary endeavor! And you may find that you love making things from wood, maybe even out of wood from your own property!

Car Maintenance

If all you know is how to change oil, you’re a step ahead of many of your peers. If you like cars and enjoy working on them, then learning to do your own maintenance safely is a great way to be more self sufficient. You’ll need to do some learning on not only how cars actually work, but how to examine them without getting hurt. Learn the ropes of car maintenance with someone who is already an expert. This may be a parent or friend, or maybe you decide to learn through courses online. Whatever you do, be diligent about learning about safety before anything else.

What are some large self sufficiency skills that you enjoy or have seen? Where are your favourite places to learn? I enjoy learning online with sites like You Tube or blogs. Let me know in the comments! Bye!

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