What follows is not a bragging list but a taking stock. I've failed at most of these things too. Still, how much of this would I have learned had I sat before this screen and played video games? Obsessively checked others' Facebook profiles?
What really counts in life? Socrates said that only the examined life was worth living. I am not very social, so you can guess that I'd pick items on this list over more time with online "friends." Sometimes over seeing people I cherish face-to-face, when I'm on-task, a habit familiar to every successful academic.
Anyhow, see how much of this arcana of DIY life would be new to you:
- Setting up an LLC and learning the basics of State and IRS rules
- Learning to scour Craig's List like a pro
- Honing my haggling skills with equipment suppliers, sellers of used gear, and repair shops. I will blame my Middle-Eastern heritage here for being tough when haggling.
- Cleaning points in a distributor
- Straining all gas and diesel through paint filters
- Knowing the difference between load needles and idle screws in a carburetor
- Learning how to set the gap on a spark plug
- Painting with an auto-paint gun
- Helping a friend tear down a tractor engine, replace a cam gear, and finally see how valves, tappets, and a cam dance together to make a big heavy machine move.
- Watching the life-cycle of pests such as squash-bugs and beginning to interrupt it
- Keeping ground hogs and raccoons out of the garden. Improving head-shots when these critters enter a trap. Live-trapping and safely releasing a skunk without being sprayed (skunk seemed to think it was a game and appeared to enjoy it)
- Learning how to air-cure garlic and onions and store them in a root cellar
- Building that root cellar
- Living with black snakes (those great mousers) in every out building
- Installing 400' of dog-pen fence and an equal amount of wooden-post-and-wire garden fence, using a tractor-mounted post-hole digger
- Figuring out how to hand-bale hay and straw
- Continuing to avoid pesticides and herbicides (we still paint stumps of Tree of Paradise with Roundup and will spray our apple trees next year--once, when not in blossom--with Captan)
- Expanding out rainwater-collection system to 1200 gallons (and getting closer to a goal of 3000 gallons for the main garden).
- Getting much more serious about canning. Mainstays now have grown from tomato sauce and pickles to include green beans, apple sauce, and grape leaves
- Freezing peas, squash, butter beans, and blackberries with success
- Drying and saving seed from hot peppers and string beans.
- Cutting out areas of rotten wood and repairing with Bondo
- Planing a sticky door until it closes and looks good
- Building sag-free garden gates 6' tall by 8' wide
- Learning to use well a router and planer
- Figuring out what to reuse and what to toss with 10,000 square feet of barns and out buildings.
- Installing a hardwood floor of salvaged oak flooring tucked in a corner of the barn.