“This might be a dumb question, but…”
Many farmish adults of today didn’t grow up in farmish families. They did not come from parents who lived as homesteaders. Or back to the landers. Or preppers. They were not raised in a household where everyone knew how to can. Or grow tomatoes. Or butcher a chicken. Or sew a quilt.
Which means lots of people (author included) need to learn how to do stuff.
So we need to ask. We need to ask questions without feeling that they are dumb. We need to have a community where people can ask “what is this type of weed that’s taking over my garden?” without being laughed off the internet.
“You’re the only person I can ask this…”
Now that I’ve been living the farmish life for some time, I get asked about lots of “dumb questions”. People email, message, or in real life ask me at least 20 times a week, “This is probably a stupid thing to ask but…” You guys, stop telling me your questions are “dumb”. They aren’t dumb. Who is it that decided what questions are and aren’t okay to ask? These questions, which I have been asked in the past week, are not dumb:
- is an air pistol is a good decoy for home defense? (no, please don’t use a “decoy”)
- how do chickens mate? (the roo jumps on the hen’s back)
- how big is a cord of wood? (4ftx4ftx8ft)
- is a maple the only tree you can tap? (no)
- do hens need a rooster to lay eggs? (no)
- why do you need a boy goat if all you want to do is milk the girls? (because like women, goats need to give birth to have milk)
- how does a kill cone work? (you put the chicken in head first, pull their head down, and cut their jugular)
- do your kids have to take standardized tests as homeschoolers? (depends on what state you live in; here in MN, yes)
- how do I attach chicken wire/netting to posts? (staples for wood posts or zip ties for metal/plastic posts)
- are chickens vegetarians? (they are omnivores)
- is there a difference between jelly and jam? (jam has seeds, jelly doesn’t)
And on and on and on.
Y’all, none of these are dumb questions.
Now. Lest you think that I’m a constantly bubbling fountain of knowledge, there are a billion things I don’t know. I’m still learning every single day. Want to hear my “dumb questions”? Most recently:
- I asked for identification on a “pretty flower” on my Facebook page and the comments immediately exploded with “MILKWEED. DON’T KILL IT.” I’ve lived around milkweed my entire life but had NO idea THAT flower was MILKWEED.
- I washed a rag that was soaked in paint thinner in the hopes of re-using it because I was trying to save money. I found out you don’t wash paint thinner rags, you throw them away. (I had to wash that load of laundry three more times before the smell of paint thinner even thought about coming out of the clothes…)
- I had never used a lawn tractor until age 36. Had no clue how to use one. I am 36 now, if that gives you any clue as to how new this revelation was.
- I still don’t know how to read a sewing pattern but I have this huge fantasy that I’m going to make my own clothes.
- I can run a chainsaw. I can weld. But hand me a weed whip? Clueless.
And on and on and on.
“So, I’ve always wanted to know…”
Ask “dumb questions”. Homesteading is not some secret club where only the cool kids get to know the code. (And if you feel that’s what your encountering…find some new homesteaders to hang out with.) How does homesteading and farmish living become a reality for those who want it if we’re not approachable for questions…or willing to ask about things we don’t know?
You may also enjoy…Why Homestead Veterans Need Homestead Newbies
In all seriousness—and at the risk of sounding like a grade school teacher—the only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked. Now is the time to figure things out! We now learn how to can by watching a YouTube video, how to clip a goat’s hooves in a Pinterest pin, and how to make a decent pie crust in a blog post. We have social media and so many resources available to us – the information is out there. But you won’t know the answers if we put a stigma on asking certain questions. Or any questions. Everyone starts from scratch, you know? We’re all just trying to figure stuff out.
So. If you meet someone who might have the answers, ask them. And if you happen to be the person who is asked something, answer the question. Without laughing. Or rolling your eyes. Or snorting.
If we all work together, we can make this farmish stuff happen. We might just take over the world. But we’ve got to start asking and answering questions.