OK here are the remaining skills. These were in general the GOOD ones. The more interesting ones just seem to be the remaining ones. Many of these I actually added on recently because I realized I have certainly spent some time learning these things even though they weren’t really planned out at the beginning of this year. That should say something about homesteading. You tend to have to learn all sorts of skills (more than 13 I can tell you that). Although I should note that the 13 skills challenge was about learning 13 skills well. I’m not 100% sure I’ve quite accomplished that, but at least I feel I’m off to some seriously good starts on most of them. Some of them just went nowhere because of the amount of time I have available to touch on certain niche subjects.
So without further adieu….
Cryptography has come up a few times over the last year as something I’ve wanted to get more involved in. Especially after starting my own web server with multiple web services I’ve needed more than ever to learn a little bit about cryptography. I have a few books sitting in my amazon wish list that I need to purchase so that I can get more of an overview of the topic (as it applies to today) and a bit better understanding of the terminologies. To date I have written a few applications, mostly for testing and playing around, that deal with doing encryption. However, what I can say worth saying is everyone who uses a computer needs to learn the basics about online encryption. I have learned about using GNUpg (GPG) encryption to be able to encrypt something (using both asymmetric and symmetrical encryptions) and have learned (through my Forensics background) a little bit about using it with my command line editor only on buffers (not to disk) to edit encrypted files (forensic “proofing” the contents). Very cool stuff.
There has never been a time in history where cryptography is accessible by so many people and yet more needed than ever. I will probably touch on this topic another time in depth, but this has become a serious serious concern of mine and the more I learn the more I’m pushed to learn about this topic…. More to come.
Electronics has been a fun one. I started my (dc) electronics background in 10th grade and have used some of it since then mostly for fixes audio equipment, like soldering jacks and wires together or matching speakers to amplifiers. This year (mostly in the beginning of 2013) I have learned about the “Makers” realm. Unbelievable stuff. In fact no questions asked, in all the abysmal things going on in the world, there really is a technology revolution going on that blows the mind as it comes to individuals being able to create anything they want. Because computerized technology has come such a far way average individuals are capable now of rapidly producing computerized devices that can effectively do anything that your brain is capable about thinking of. On the right I have a Raspberry Pi. This computer, fits in your hand. While this is no desktop computer as far as horsepower goes, it has quite a bit. In fact it has an hdmi 1080i jack right on the side!!! It was 35 dollars. YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT. 35 dollars. I bought two of them, for the hell of it. I also included a picture under it of my arduino. The combination of the two of these is amazing.
I created a data logging system that would be able to do home data logging of anything that you have sensors for. So if you wanted to monitor your outside temperatures, your soil temperatures, the amount of sunlight in a given location, the amount of carbon monoxide, who knows. ANYTHING YOU WANT TO MONITOR, you could do it. The intent was to build a long standing system that monitors data over time. I have since not really felt the need for it, although I probably should get it back up and running so that I can get data logging on temperatures and sunlight over time in various locations, right now I’m struggling with understanding exactly how much sun my garden is getting in certain locations as we approach winter. VERY cool stuff.
This is a topic that I recently have been exposed to and realize now how easy it is. I learned a bit about this at the Ben Falk PDC in Vermont and since then have wanted to get into it… Well I’ve already started it turns out with cayenne peppers. I am making my second batch of homemade hot sauce, this time instead of just making it from raw ingredients I fermented the peppers (with garlic) for 3 weeks! I should be blending this sucker up tomorrow or this weekend and having fresh hot sauce. Those of ya’ll not from ’round here will fail to realize the importance of the trinity. Naturally I’m speaking of the holy trinity of onion, garlic, and peppers. We take that shit seriously.
I am not going to go into a whole lot of depth on this one, as I already have an entire blog post of pictures talking about my year long experience in the garden. There will be so many more blogs about the garden its nuts. I have about a million and a half topics already lined up (to include lots of pictures). Oh, don’t you worry those damn pests that have been in my garden all year WILL be documented.
This is one of those topics that some people just love waaaaaaay too much. This was the first year that I had ever hunted. Well to be fair all of it was technically the end of 2012. I went hunting for the first time with my uncle and low and behold I actually got one. It was one of the most expensive pieces of meat I have EVER purchased. The out of state hunting license (I hadn’t lived here long enough) was 350 dollars. I paid 75 to have him processed (and pork fat for sausage), and ended up having to pay a 100 dollar fine because he was a spike (although their rules specifically said other wise… bastards) and had to pay another 100 in hunting lease fees (because apparently I wasn’t allowed to hunt in place of a person who NEVER hunted there). So I froze my ass off and woke up so damn early so I could pay 600 dollars for this guy…….. decent experience, good meat… but we’ll see what happens this year. I don’t think I’ll be doing much if any hunting except on my own property, perhaps with a cross bow and 22!!
12. Permaculture Design
This entire year has been an intro to permaculture design for me. In fact on my right is my official certificate signed by the legend himself, Geoff Lawton. I even got to expectantly meet him in person while in Vermont. Totally unplanned (although I had this funny feeling it was going to happen). Permaculture has already drastically changed my life, particularly on the philosophical and deep personal level. No, I am not going to strip naked, cover myself in mud and dance around to the earth spirits. What I have become more attune to is what the meaning of life is and how we fit into the picture. What I have learned about life, patterns, and phenomena has literally blown my mind and has changed me like when I took the red pill (the first time) about 4 years ago. Permaculture design is going to be a big part of this winter and particular next spring… Can’t wait to keep you guys updated.
13. Plant Identification
Plant Identification is something that I have really started to tackle as I’ve gotten into permaculture. It kinda just comes naturally by being curious. I have 8.5 acres, in a location that I haven’t lived my entire life. I want to know what EVERYTHING is. I feel pretty confident I can identify at least 95% of all trees on my property, maybe half of the weeds, and I’ve identified I think something like 8 very edible species of plants. In fact we have bought a few more books on very local fauna and it turns out most of the weeds are edible (go figure). I think I’ll end up writing an entire blog post, or MANY on this subject on my property. I found online resources to be TERRIBLE for my location. Many of the plants were extremely difficult to find, and the pictures were god awful. I think I can do much much better. In fact I’d argue my small blog post on the Chinese Privet, is one of the better unbiased approaches to looking at the plant you’ll find. I’ve learned not to “hate” plants, but understand them, and work with them if I can.
Well that’s all for a brief overview of the 13 Skills challenge that I have taken up this year. I have learned a lot more that I didn’t even touch on in these posts and this year still isn’t out. In fact most of these 13 skills (except aquaponics) will probably be occurring as the year moves on, not to mention the animal husbandry that I will be throwing myself into here in probably a months time (look out for updates on that, they’ll be a plenty….)
Chime in and let me know what you guys think, or if you’ve learned some new skills this year. It most certainly is never too late!