Saturday, December 29, 2012

A New Year: 13 New Skills for 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, we look forward to the next year.  As most people we are looking forward with hope, while looking at some ways to better ourselves.  How many times do we make New Year's resolutions and they never make it past Jan 31st?

When setting any goal we need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Our goals need to be both realistic and achievable.
  • Goals should stretch you, and be a challenge.
  • Setting a timetable is helpful, rather than just an open ended goal.
  • Greater success can be found if we write down our goals and tell other about them. The individuals we share our goals with can offer their support and even work on similar goals at the same time. 

13 Skills

Jack Spirko over at TSP has a new website up called  This is a place where you can layout your goals for the next year (13of them to start).  It is a great way to not only write down your goals, but share them with others.  You can share your profile with family and friends or become friends with other on the site with the same goals (there is also a dedicated area in the TSP Forums for this.  There is also a place to link over to your efforts on your own blog.

Lets face it, the generation of today and even yesterday falls, well short of what our grandparents and great-grandparents had in the knowledge and skills department.  We need to reeducate ourselves and work towards a more self-reliant and provident life.  Adding just 13 skills in your life will help you regain some of those lost and forgotten skills and knowledge.  There are 158 Skill categories to choose from with an endless number of goals you could set under each category.  

Our Profiles

Jacob's 13 Skills Profile
Shaun-ta's 13 Skills Profile

Get the Most out of 13Skills

With 13Skills it is important to list skills you want to learn or expand.  For instance if you are a great gardener, don't just list gardening as completed and "I have gardened for years, I am awesome"  Instead pick an area of gardening that you would like to expand or learn more about, for example "Gardening: This year I will go all year with using ZERO pesticides or petrochemical fertilizer."  This is a great goal, it is a long term goal, simple and achievable.  Along the way there would be some learning and expansion of knowledge as you learn how to deal with squash bugs without pulling out the pesticides.  Or how to build up your soil naturally without running down to the store for some 16-16-16 or other fertilizer.

After you complete a goal in an area, you can then revisit that goal with a new one under that same category.  Like if you just completed a learning how to can pickles you then could have a new goal of canning several types of jams or fruit.

Some of My Goals

 Fitness One of my focus areas which I know is a little cliche, fitness.  In a nutshell I need to lose weight, improve my stamina and better my overall health.  I have slipped into a lifestyle where I typically eat very healthy but not every meal just when it is convenient. I drink too much soda and work too much to get to any exercise.  If I am going to be the best father, husband and person I can be (and be around for a long time), I need to be in far better shape.  

I have a long term plan, but I am starting with an achievable goal that supports my long term goal.  My short term goal is completing a 90 day cycle of Insanity a workout series of videos.  My brother loaned me the DVD's and I like the variety and gadget free method of working out.  I also plan to look to find more outdoor activities to do, like digging holes, digging post holes, digging and building swales etc.  This intermediate goal will help me start the year right while also helping me towards my larger goal for the year.  Shaun-ta' plans to join me in this effort and a lot of my other goals will help to support this goal.

 Food Preservation  A few of my goals have to deal with food preservation including Canning meat, curing/smoking meats, fermenting, and harvesting Grain.  This is all an effort to make better use of the food we either grown or find great deals on.  These are all skills which will save us money while providing more nutritious food for my family.

We have some canned meat as part of our 3 month food supply of regularly eaten foods.  We often will use canned turkey or chicken in place of tuna in sandwiches.  Or if we are short on time we will use the canned turkey in enchiladas or other dishes.  We bought an extra turkey around Thanksgiving with the plan of canning the whole thing.  We expect to do this in mid January together.  Shaun-ta's Dad speaks of how his mom would can up venison after their fall hunts, it would make great sandwiches.  We also would like to can some pork.

Curing meats, we use pepperoni quite often making pizza for Pizza and Movie Night.  I would love to make our own pepperoni, where I know exactly what is going into it, and have the enjoyment of eating something we made ourselves.  I also expect it will cost a fraction of the cost of what is found in the store and the quality will be far superior too.  This will be an interesting process, I also plan to learn and make one other "dry sausage", I am not sure what yet but I'll figure it out soon.

Fermenting, I want to learn the art and nuance of laco-fermentation.  This is a great method of preserving your garden vegetables without canning, with the added benefit of better digestive health with the pro-bioics it creates.  I plan to try several different types of veggies out, of course pickles and a veggie mix called chow chow.    

Harvesting Grain, I planted a couple types of grain last year (quinoa and amaranth).  I want to plant some small test plots of different grain and harvest them using different traditional methods.  I want to grow at least 6 different grains to experiment on what works best in this area.  I know you are probably asking why I would even bother, when grain is so cheap.  Well the reason is simply because I want to try it out, see what is involved and see if growing any percentage of our grain makes sense if land area was available.  I am also exploring sprouting grain, which unlocks some of its nutrition and increases digestibility.    
Male Blue Orchard Bee (Mason Bee)
Beekeeping; this year I plan to start and keep 3 honeybee colony's, a couple of which will be not the standard hive you typically see, but a Warre' hive.  I really am fascinated with bees in general.  I already work a lot with Mason Bees.  Last summer, I spent a day working with my Dad on his hives and really enjoyed it.  I of course would love more Honey in the house and we would replace a lot of the sugar we use with Honey.

I want to keep my bees in a chemical and natural method as possible in a  managed hive.  My yard though full of good pollen and nectar bearing trees, bushes and flowers is often missing that soft drone of honey bees working the blossoms all year.  Adding a hive and colony near by will help some, and will work well to enhance what my mason and leafcutter bees are already doing.

Final Thoughts

We would like to encourage you to sign up and create your own profile on 13 Skills, make some good achievable goals and get to work.  Share your profile with family and friends and lets work towards bettering ourselves one skill at a time.

Watch for future posts from us showing our progress in each of the areas on our profiles. 

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