Moving from the city to country comes with its own set of challenges, especially for those of us who didn’t grow up that way. In other words, if you’re going to do this thing, it’s important to get yourself some mentors who can download their brains and experience to you when required.
I guess the same would apply regardless of what new skill you’re developing: if you want to be a rock star in any skillset, whether it be modern homesteading or becoming an actual rock star, you need to find yourself some experienced people to learn from. And it’s in this realm where I’ve been very fortunate.
Not only have I had the opportunity to spend time with people like Robin Wheeler and Delvin Solkinson, learning the skills I’ll need to continue to develop my little piece of West Coast heaven into a haven of self-sufficiency, and Sandi Krakowski, the lady who kicked my butt and helped me finally live my dream, but I have had the supreme luck of having a father who grew up with real homesteaders – his grandparents.
My dad, Fred Gazeley, has been so generous in sharing what he knows with me. And in fact, if it wasn’t for my parents, we likely wouldn’t be living here. I can’t even begin to tell you how much they’ve both helped us get this place to where it’s currently at. Dad with his construction and practical skills, and Mom with her sewing and her uncanny ability to find just the thing I’m looking for exactly when I need it!
So in honour of my dad’s birthday today, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned from him as it applies to modern homesteading. I hope you can glean from it a few tidbits that will help you too.
- Build things to last – If you’re going to build something, whether it be a chicken coop, a bookshelf, or a business, build it to last. Don’t go into it half-hearted. Build it strong, and solid and so it will be around long after you’re gone.
- Live with integrity - If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Yes, sometimes this means we take on too much and then feel guilty because we can’t do it all – but the ultimate lesson here (and one I’m still learning) is to only agree to do the things that really bring you joy and fulfillment, that you know will really help someone, and say no to all the rest. Because you can’t do everything. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work.
- Give back to your community – I remember when we were growing up Dad was always off at a community meeting of one sort or another. He volunteered for the annual kids’ fishing derby (still does), taught outdoor education to teenagers, and spent countless hours helping elderly neighbours with their construction projects and yard and home maintenance. He still volunteers on various local government planning committees and is always doing something for someone. Now there’s a legacy to pass on to your children…
- Work hard – If you’re going to do something, do it well. Put in a full day’s work and don’t lollygag around. Get stuff done!
- Share what you’ve learned – Once you’ve mastered a skill, or even just learned about it, share it with others who might benefit. This guy can do just about everything, from cutting lumber to fixing the lawnmower to building us a chicken coop – and everything in between. I’m learning how to sharpen chisels, construct buildings, fix lawnmowers, and use a scythe (that big grim-reaper blade for cutting tall grass). The lessons are endless, and now it’s up to me to share all of this learning with you…
So thank you, Dad, for everything you’ve done for us over the years and continue to do. I would not, without a doubt, be living my dream if it wasn’t for all the expertise, assistance and love you’ve shared so freely.