Homesteading Conferences and Other Great Ways to Learn New (Old) Skills

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Don’t let lack of knowledge keep you from your homesteading dream. There are many ways to learn new (old) skills.

When a person makes the decision to begin homesteading, one of the things they have to do is to learn new skills. Skills that are in a way, very old skills. Things that many most people don’t know how to do any more, yet to our grandparents were common knowledge. How I wish I could pick grandma’s brain on gardening tips and other tidbits.

We may have only been on our property for a year, but homesteading skills are something that I have been learning for a very long time. We were blessed to have had the opportunity to rent a couple places throughout our military life that were rural homes. Places where we could have a garden, chickens, rabbits and even a goat and horse.

Back in those days, the internet wasn’t what it is today, and Facebook wasn’t even a real thing yet. I spent a great deal of time reading books. I still read lots of books and have a nice little library of resources at hand. Here are just a handful of some of the books I currently have and use:

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Farming and Sustainable Living: Permaculture for Beginners

The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It

Organic Gardening – Geoff Hamilton

The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible

Country Wisdom & Know-How

Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management

Raising Milk Goats Successfully

The Self-Reliant Homestead: A Book of Country Skills

Besides books, there are many other resources for you to learn skills. Maybe you need more hands-on learning, or would like to learn in an environment where you can ask questions.

Over the weekend, I attended a homesteading conference. Yep, you read that right!

The evening before the conference, I headed up and stayed in a hotel the night before, so I could be there when the gates opened and not be completely exhausted. I went to dinner that evening at a nearby restaurant. Since it was just me, they asked me if I wanted to just sit at the bar and that’s what I did. A few minutes later, a couple came in and sat down next to me. They asked the bartender what I had ordered, because they thought it looked delicious (Chicken Cordon Blue) and ordered that themselves. I chatted with them a little, just friendly conversation. Then as I was finishing up, the bartender asked if I wanted a box for the rest of my food. I told her no, that I wouldn’t be needing one. The gentleman next to me joked that he hated to see food go to waste. I laughed, and said, “Well, if I was at home, I’d feed it to my chickens. But seeing as I’m in the hotel, I have no need for it.”

That started a conversation about my chickens, rabbits and country/homestead life. When I mentioned that I was in town for a homesteading conference, the guy was blown away. He was a local but had no idea that there was such a thing, or that it was happening in his very own town. He was excited about the idea of it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to next year’s.

This one in particular was called “The Great Appalachian Homesteading Conference” and took place in Crossville, Tennessee. It was a full day of homesteading talks, with multiple talks each hour. Here you can see a few of the smiling faces I was able to meet. (Clockwise: Starry Hilder, Old Alabama Gardener, Art & Bri and the hostess, Patara Marlow.)

The GAHC was the second annual one to take place and I fully expect there to be another next May.

I also recently found out about another homesteading conference that will be taking place in June, right here in northern Alabama. Appropriately, it is called the North Alabama Homesteading Conference. It is a multi-day conference with demonstrations, vendors and more.

Another fantastic resource that is often overlooked, is your area extension offices. They frequently offer classes that are very affordable (or sometimes free) that cover all sorts of topics. I’ve recently taken classes on organic gardening and companion planting and have signed up for more. The one in Cullman, Alabama offers scores of classes and workshops, not only for adults, but for the kids as well – even homeschooling classes. (See it here.)

The extension office right here in our county has offered “Bee Keeping 101” classes which will be very helpful when we start with that. Yep, bees will be in our future, too.

Now that social media is the giant that it is, you can also find fantastic resources for learning new skills online as well. I am in another local group that focuses on “old” skills and education. You can find groups about raising chickens, groups about raising goats, groups about gardening, and everything else you can imagine. Not to mention people (like me) who are now sharing things like this on YouTube.

I simply want to encourage you. If homesteading and simple living has a call on you, don’t allow lack of knowledge to keep you from trying. Yes, it is work. But since when has anything of real value come without it?

Have any suggestions as to how you have found ways to learn new (old) skills? Please share in the comments below.





2 thoughts on “Homesteading Conferences and Other Great Ways to Learn New (Old) Skills”

  1. Enjoyed reading about your conference. Although we live in a (Houston) subdivision, my husband is a beekeeper. Started as a hobby but he had no idea so many friends/acquaintances would be interested in our honey and even offering their property for hives. He doesn’t sell the honey, we give it away, but we’ve had many offers of purchase. I was surprised there are so many honey-eating-lovers out there. My husband loves his hobby (5 years) and so will you!!
    (There is a great honey cake recipe on-line, and I love making baklava)

    • I think they want your honey, because having local honey is a huge health benefit. I personally buy local honey and do so for a number of reasons, including that the bees are using local pollen. People like me who have spring allergies are helped by including local honey in our diets. If you are in a fairly urban area, I’m sure local honey is VERY scarce and no doubt in high demand. You could start a very profitable business that way. It is WONDERFUL that people encourage you to put hives on their property. The bee population is in such risk, that the more that can be done to help them, the better!


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