Homesteading Questions: There Are No Dumb Ones

Homesteading Questions: There Are No Dumb Ones
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Homesteading questions: “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 homesteading questions. 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.

Homesteading questions: “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.

Homesteading questions: Y’all, none of these are dumb questions.

 

Have lots of homesteading questions? Great! Ask away, and let me explain to you why there isn't a single "dumb" homesteading question out there!

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.

Homesteading questions: “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.

Class dismissed.

Do you homeschool? So do we! Check out my book — The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.

That whole frugal living thing? It's not about money....except when it is. Check out my new book!

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13 thoughts on “Homesteading Questions: There Are No Dumb Ones”

  • Great post! At this point in my life my motto is ‘It doesn’t hurt to ask’. We are working hard at becoming more self-sufficient. Our little farming community (go figure) just recently passed an ordinance allowing chickens/rabbits in town, so that is our next project we hope to accomplish soon.

  • My father started life as a subsistence farmer from the Depression era, my first memories he was a 5th grade school teacher, and he retired as a college professor. he had a LOT of knowledge about a broad spectrum of issues. He always told me don’t discount anyone. Everyone knows something that you don’t. Don’t be afraid to ask. It complements the person you ask and it is the best way gain a friend. the real problem is when you don’t know the question you need to ask. a true friend acts as a mentor and helps you with the question AND the answer.

  • Love the post. We are hoping to purchase land in SD with the next 6-9 months and are planning what we want to do on the homestead, and how we will work too. We currently live in FL and although we have live in snow country before, never on a farm or homestead. So here is our not so dumb question – “Besides caring for the animals, what do you do during the winter on the farm in snow country?”

    • Not a dumb question. 🙂 My answer would be rest up and plan for the next spring. At least that’s what we’re doing here when it’s cold and snowy. After being out in the cold and snow dealing with animals, I don’t spend much more time out there than I have to. 🙂

  • Pinterest is the answer to all my ” not so dumb ” questions 😉 seriously. I can search all sorts and pin it places. You women and men who are already doing this answer so many questions every day with your blogs. Thankyou!

  • Great post, thank you for saying what so many of us feel. We are super new to homesteading (called a smallholding here in UK) and we have more questions than answers right now!
    Liz

  • My ‘dumbish’ question: how much light do our chickens need when they’re inside the coop? I feel like they might enjoy some more natural lighting than ours provides. They can go out in the run for the day but the chow and nesting boxes are inside. Do they need much light I n there?

    • Not a dumb question at all. My very large coop only has two very small windows. When my hens are laying they want it all dark and quiet so they escape into there. I’ve never really thought about light in the coop. We do have a timer on a light for the winter so they can get “enough light” to keep laying, but the rest of the time I don’t much worry about it. Does that answer your question? Clear as mud? 😉

  • The greenest Newbie can know something you don’t, even after many years of homesteading. I love questions. In trying to answer, it solidifies my knowledge. You don’t really know something well, until you can explain it to somebody else (I believe this). I grew up in the city and suburbs of Detroit. I was 29 before I had had my first taste of the country, and found out that it is home for me. Not growing up in it, there are gaps in my foundation knowledge. I am happy to hear other’s solutions. There is more than one way to do anything. Just love you to bits Amy!

  • I love this! Though I did get a real, honest to goodness dumb question the other day. Someone asked me a bunch of questions on what makes a homesteader and how to start a homestead, then ended with this baby: Are homesteaders and squatters the same?

    After some confusion, turns out she thought I’d just moved to a random spot in the Alaskan bush and threw up a cabin, and she wanted to do that too! She wasn’t interested anymore after I explained that I had indeed bought my land, and that squatting is illegal. I still crack up thinking about that conversation sometimes!

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