Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kids and Self Sufficiency

One of the things that I value from moving into the country is that my children have the opportunity to learn skills, learn about gardening and where their food comes from, learn how to cook, and learn about how to look after animals.

These days it is sad that children are in so many activities to keep them busy; from piano lessons to soccer, but they seldom have the chance to learn real skills that can benefit them in their later lives. It isn't their fault - it is society and large corporations which want us to be dependant in all aspects of our lives.

I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to learn and observe my parents gardening and cooking, and when I was a child they had chicken, ducks, rabbits and the occasional pig and goat. I can say I lived a rather spoiled life and hated having to haul wood for the woodstove in the cold winter and deep snow (I know my sisters will attest to the hatred of wood hauling as kids), but in the end I can look back and feel confident that I have the knowledge to at least try to keep myself somewhat self sufficient. That is also what I want for my children - that should they need to do something, they will have the skills or at least have seen how it is done, and will feel confident to try it.

Son is 16 and has always enjoyed bushcraft and making things. I was a very proud mom when he made his own rabbit snares which were successful. He is not afraid to get into the kitchen and bake or cook whatever he wants to - finding recipes on the internet or in our old faithful Amish cookbook. Last week he decided to try making a small woodstove out of tin cans. Below is the result: Daughter doesn't have quite the same drive, but she understands the various garden plants and gets disgusted when her friends can't tell the difference between radish and strawberries. Though sometimes she isn't happy to do things, like when we butchered the roosters, she showed up with rubber gloves on to help "I'll help but that doesn't mean I have to like it". She also bakes the best chocolate muffins.

I'm proud of my children - they are practical and can think things through logically. They have never been afraid to step up and try new things. They will grow up to be self sufficient.

I was a Brownie (Girl Guides) leader for four years and during that time I loved taking the girls to camp. It was a chance to teach them how to light a match, how to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then wash up the dishes and sweep the floor. Outhouse cleaning was also on my list of the things for them to try. Okay we did do a lot of fun things to, but it was a chance for them to learn skills that were not being taught at home.

Of course Scouting and Guiding are somewhat focused to skill teaching though the outlook has changed over the years. It saddens me that enrollment in these organizations has dropped such a great deal because kids think it isn't 'cool' enough for them.

Some schools are now planting gardens and letting the children use the produce to cook their own meals. How awesome is that? They get to learn several skills in one shot. Unfortunately I don't think any of the schools in my community do it, but a friend who's a teacher in Nova Scotia does it in her school.

What are we missing? How do we bring other children to self sufficiency? How do we teach them skills that will follow them their entire lives? Unfortunately the recent tragedy in Japan and other disaster areas must bring us to some awareness that at times we can't rely on 'just running out to the store' to get what we need.

PS. I know my parents read my blog, so to them I say "Thank you for the way you raised us and I love you"


Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead said...

I was never all that interesting in learning to garden or sew or any of that when I was young...but I sure do regret not paying more attention now!

Great post! It's really up to us to bring the next generation around. If you start them young, it will leave a lasting impression. Our 2yo is out in the garden with me daily now :)

Also found it amusing that you say to leave comments in German...because I live in Germany :) American expat over here for 10 years!

Carpe Diem said...

Hi Tiffany, thanks for your visit to my blog and the comment. I know what you mean about not paying more attention - I watched as a kid, but never did. At least by watching I had and idea of how things worked so wasn't afraid to try.
I was born in Germany but have lived almost my entire life in Canada. If people comment in German I have a chance to practice :)