Episode-1002- The Why, What and How of Modern Homesteading — 44 Comments

  1. Wow, and only a few hours ago I was looking up how to make Biltong and there you go and link it on the front page. Must be a sign.

  2. 13in13 is a GREAT idea! I’m doing it. I immediately thought of several that I want to master: trapping, I hunt, but I’ve never trapped anything; building a traditional bow and arrows. I have a modern compound, but I want to learn how to make one, also it may be cheating, but I want to learn how to shoot a bow instinctively. I have several more food gathering ones, that can all be summed up with: learn my lake. I live 5-10 minutes from a good lake and public hunting land. I hunt and kinda fish it already but I want to LEARN it. Like to the point that I know where to find the edible plants and the best spots to hunt and fish for whatever. I know some of them already, but I want to REALLY learn the whole thing. Several new skills in that, like trapping, canoeing, foraging, how to hunt different species that I haven’t bothered with yet. Here we go, I now get deer from my lake. I want to figure out how to get 13 different foods from it. One other primitive fire starting method. Canning. Making a knife from scratch like an old saw blade, leaf spring or something. How to set up a website and make money off it. How to re-sell on e-bay. How to tan animal hides. How to make stuff out of them. I’m sure if I try to learn all of these, the last 4 will come to me.

  3. I really like the 13 in 13 idea but my wife might be upset when I tell her I’m starting 13 new hobbies LOL!. Jack you brought up that you want to learn casting your own bullets, I have been a caster for years and if I can be of any help fill free to email me I have tons of info. Good Luck.


  4. I would really like to learn more and am researching Veterinary Medicine. Would you do a show concerning this subject?

    Great Day

  5. 13 in 13 — Awesome. This will be the topic of conversation at the dinner table tonight. I’m really excited about the idea, and hearing what my family comes up with.

  6. WOW, what a great show and I’m only about 1/2 way through it. 13 in 13 is great. I’m going to see if I can get the wife on board and we can do 13 family things, along with 13 individual things, may sound like a lot, but with a family of 4 should be totally doable.

  7. Jack and other commenters covered a lot today already, but a few more skills come to mind: soldering, welding, small and large engine repairs, pruning and felling trees, rope-making, rigging, sewing, weaving, carpentry, primitive wood-working, making pottery, stone-cutting, brick making and laying, all the primitive survival skills, surveying and map-making, map-reading and navigation, tracking and sign-reading, .

    It would be nice to also have a list of skills that don’t require new equipment or expense so we don’t all go broke doing one of these every 4 weeks. Something like learning another language, learning the wild flowers and trees on or near your property, touch typing, learning to use a new (free) software package, or study for and pass an Amateur Radio test.

    As Jack said, everything about food production and preparation and animal handling and care, including horse riding.

    Some not-so-obvious skills might be: study America’s founding documents (Declaration, Constitution and BoR, and others), become knowledgable about your local municipal or county laws, public speaking, how to structure a class or lecture, math or logic skills, a bit of astronomy like learning the constellations in your hemisphere, basic physics – especially the simple machines and how to create mechanical advantage, basic electricity and electronics and automation, and on and on…

    Maybe we could even learn to play a musical instrument (second best activity for positive mental health after gardening :-).

  8. I’m loving the 13 in 13 idea. I have at least 13 skills I want to add to my repertoire.

    Many of my 13 skills are related to improving our homestead.

    I’m one of many that miss the Jack monologue shows and this definitely filled the bill. Thank you.

  9. this was absolutely the best show podcast i have heard!…you sure hit it home about the work treadmill and so many other things about homesteading. its like
    you read my mind!!…

  10. Hey Jack, great show! I just wanted to share my tips on pressure canning turkey. Last year I bought three 10-12lb turkeys on sale the day after Thanksgiving. I put two in the freezer and left one in the fridge to thaw. When it was thawed, I pressure cooked it whole in my Presto 23qt canner for about an hour @ 15lbs pressure. After the canner had cooled down enough to open, the meat was ready to fall off the bone. I easily separated bone from meat and then put the meat directly into my canning jars, in this case 7 quart jars.
    After rinsing out the canner, I then put the filled jars with lids and rings in for 90 minutes @ 15lbs pressure. It was very little work and most of my time was spent listening to the weight rattle while watching football and having hot turkey sandwiches.
    Thanks for everything you do!

  11. My hubby works at a grocery store. Turkeys don’t go on sale there until after Christmas. I do get him to bring home 2 a year for canning. Might step it up a bit more this year but it takes all day to can 2 turkeys, meat and broth. Still have a lot left from last year.

  12. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! Now I’m pumped again and next yrs list just doubled. Thank You?

    For those that have not built any thing before like a shed or what not. Well I’m a 5′ 50 yr old overweight woman with fibro 2 thumbs down 35% strength 2 very bad feet and issues from a broken back. (Don’t feel sorry for me I don’t) This summer I have built a 8×10 shed with a 3′ steel fire door (installed myself) sheeted with 4×8 sheets of plywood by myself all plumb and square. ( I did the rafters but hubby did the tin on the roof I’m scared to death of heights lol)

    Built a firewood shed out of pallets 4 x20 with a roof. Built on to our barn 250 sq feet. Dug postholes & cemented in 4 gate posts then hugh 12′ gates by myself. Built an 8′ x 7 door for the barn and hung it myself. Plus a few other smaller projects.

    Just sayen if I can do it YOU CAN TOO!

    My rules for building : As long as it won’t blow down or leak it’s good to go. Paint & trim can hide a multitude of mistakes.

    Ladies learn how to use those tools! It’s empowering.

    • Been doing stuff like that since I was your age, too. Now I’m 75, five foot tall woman, and still going strong. At 60, I built a concrete block storm cellar, and started selling produce at a farmers’ market. Now I’m brain tanning hides, foraging, and still gardening, but passed the heavy duty stuff on to one of my sons. My goal is to eliminate the grocery store, and most shopping. When I get there, I can live without a car, hopefully. Eat well, live long and stay strong.

  13. 13 for 13 is a great idea! I’ve been kicking around the idea of making some holsters with Kydex for some knives and pistols. This show will be the kick in the pants to get started.

    Some other things that come to mind:
    Blacksmith – have a friend that does some moderately advanced stuff and have just never spent time with him to learn some basics
    Candle making
    Sewing – I can do some very basic stuff, but want to learn how to use the sewing machine

    I work for a small company and recently replaced my hard drive as opposed to buying a new computer. It took me the better part of the day, but it was a pretty easy thing to do and saved a few hundred dollars. Learned on the company’s dime too!

    Look forward to seeing some ideas and coming up with a few more.

  14. Jack,

    I had to laugh when you were talking about learning to work on your own computers. My husband built his PC in 2004 and it’s still rockin’! My current machine was purchased in ’06, but that’s because it would have cost us more to fix my old 1990s HP that busted on me than it cost to buy my current machine. The only limit I have is RAM; they literally don’t make RAM for it anymore, and you can’t find it on eBay. And by the way, if my needs exceed my current machine’s capabilities, it’ll just get repurposed. 🙂

    We run Linux here, so we can get a lot more mileage out of our machines. Learning to assemble a PC and install software is a valuable skill because there are a lot of off-the-shelf machines these days that are almost impossible to upgrade (proprietary parts and all.)

    Excellent show as always!


    • That’s pretty cool! One of the skills I want to learn is Linux! I’m so sick and tired of how slow my computer seems to run, while it looks like absolutely nothing at all is wrong. With the speed I have I should be able to do a whole lot more.

      • People would be amazed if they just put a little effort into Linux. I always hear, “Oh, I could never learn that. I only know Windows.” Thing is, my kids are growing up w/Linux and they have no troubles switching back to Windows at school.

        What I love:
        — no expensive software to buy
        — reliability on even “old” hardware
        — NO VIRUSES
        — helpful and supportive Open Source community

        From a preparedness perspective, Linux is an excellent tool. I can’t tell you how much money we’ve saved by running Linux since the early ’90s. 🙂 It’s definitely a skill that some folks might want to consider for the 13 in 13 challenge, and there are plenty of us who’re willing to help folks who have questions if they want to “take the plunge”.

        • @Modern Survival — Most folks who run Linux have a dual-boot setup so that if they “need” a program that doesn’t run natively in Linux (or have an adequate/superior counterpart), they can boot Windows, do what they need to do, and then go back to doing most tasks in Linux.

          There’s also something called Wine for running MOST Windows programs in Linux.

          A lot of PC gamers go dual boot so they can play their games in Windows and do everything else in Linux. The only issue I’ve ever had is accessibility programs; there isn’t much for Linux. That being said, it’s way more customizable than Windows, so I don’t have to spend thousand (yes, THOUSANDS) on programs like WindowEyes, Jaws, or the like.

          Someone on here once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that running Linux is like having an unbreakable car that can only drive on 80% of the roads. I say that if I decide to drive on the other 20%, I get another car, but it’s gonna be a lot more expensive and a lot less reliable. 🙂

        • I say it is like a car that doesn’t go on 40% of the roads and every time I find some cool software all my Linux people moan about it not working with Linux. LOL

        • If you are a programmer, it is much, much easier to program on linux. Well worth giving your computer a split personality. (dual-boot). My son (open source programmer) has used linux in one form or another for a long time. He keeps a small notebook or tablet with windows for when he does presentations.

          He has fixed old computers with no windows key, installing Linux so those without the money can have a computer (that someone else was going to discard) to go online, with open office and other free open source software.

          His biggest annoyance was buying a large touch screen, which he first thought was very cool, until a fly landed on his screen and erased code he was working on.

        • @txmom — I guess I should mentioned that I’m NOT a programmer. 🙂 I use my computer for nothing more than e-mail, web surfing, podcasts, my blog, “office stuff”, and some basic, mindless stuff.

          My draw to Linux came from the fact that I can do almost anything from a command line. This means that as a blind person, I have a lot of accessibility that I’d otherwise have to pay big bucks for. Now, I do use a GUI (graphical user interface), and folks can make theirs look pretty darned close to Windows if they need to, but I find that useful only when you’re trying to convince your parents to switch after the 90-gazillionth time that you’ve cleaned up their latest virus/malware disaster. 🙂

          My best friend won’t run Linux on any of her PCs, but boy does she love her Android tablets and smartphones. I’m just sayin’. 🙂

    • @BeninMA,

      First I would more call it standard vs low density. Second you are just asking for less from the soil, you are also in my view better able to pick the production, manage things and the plants seem to use the space to get much larger. It also depends on how much area you have to work with. If you end up with 1000 square feet of garden there really is no reason to pack the shit out of in, again though it is JMO. Not a rule or law or anything.

      • Jack, thanks for all the info! I’m looking at getting back into gardening next year with a community garden plot. The limited size tempts me to use square foot gardening densities, but my inability to be there watering every day makes me think that more normal densities with lots of weed-free mulch is a better idea. Maybe staggering everything with tap-rooted veggies could reduce competition for water a little bit. My initial goal is more to learn and try new things than to get hundreds of pounds of food.

    • More on this. So like I planted my jalapenos at square foot density this year. 1 plant per one square foot. They are doing well but honestly they are cramped for space, it is hard to get at many of the peppers, etc. I feel if in a 4 foot bed I planted them in a row of three vs. four with say 14 inches between each plant in the same rows I would have gotten just a many peppers on less plants. Bigger plants, easier to manage, easier to harvest, etc.

      Now if you want to increase density you can do it with small plants. Like I am doing lettuce, spinach, kale, brocolli, etc for fall. I am doing 3 vs 4 rows to 4 foot beds. But going between the plants I have carrots planted which take very little space.

      The rows of lettuce etc are running long wise, but I have the carrots running width wise in between each group of three leaf crops if that makes sense. I have another bed I will do that with soon where I will do both carrots and bunching onions that way.

      I just find what Mel does like 4 lettuce plants in a square foot to be way to much crowding out after years of trying both methods.

      Once you are growing more then you can eat you start to look for making life easier not making more food you can’t fully utilize.

    • @BeninMA,
      I put in a big garden every year, and this year I decided I was “really going to pack it in”. I ended up with fewer and smaller vegetables. Its counter-intuitive, but I think the combination of close planting and the drought and intense heat we had made it tougher to pull off high-density planting. I have plenty of garden space, so next year I’m going to go by the recommended spacing on the seed packet.
      I suspect high-density planting would work fine if your soil and growing conditions were perfect (like in a greenhouse with great soil), but I didn’t have good luck in my garden. Just my $.02.

    • @clayfarmer Thanks for the input. That sounds right to me — folks who plant high density seem to always use irrigation and a soil mix that has lots and lots of compost.

  15. I got to thinking this morning on the way to an Appleseed and realized I’ve already done more than 12 in ’12. 🙂
    1 – Learned framing
    2 – Learned to build a coop
    3 – Learned to raise quail
    4 – Butchered quail for the first time
    5 – Pickled quail eggs for the first time
    6 – Started learning jiu-jitsu
    7 – Started learning muay thai (kickboxing)
    8 – Finally learned and understand MOA (minutes of angle)
    9 – Made a solar generator
    10 – Learned about electricity
    11 – Learned to build a battery bank
    12 – Learned to recognize many breeds of chickens on sight
    13 – Taught someone else to can (teaching someone else is learning!)

  16. “I don’t think there is an ass groove in that chair”

    Or the plastic still on the lamp shades

  17. Jack, I chuckled when you talked about cleaning your computer. Way back when computers had jumpers, I made the mistake of taking a small vacuum to the motherboard, and all I heard was ‘tick’ ‘tick’…’tick’, as my jumpers were rapidly filling the vacuum canister.

  18. FYI, the year of “A Christmas Story” is never officially set, according to WIKI.
    Director Bob Clark stated in the film’s DVD commentary that he and author Shepherd wished for the movie to be seen as “amorphously late 30s, early 40s,” but a specific year is never mentioned.

  19. 13 in 13 is a great idea! You’re just full of them!! Ideas, that is. Love this show. I also miss your diatribes. I recently attended an Earth Skills primitive gathering, where I learned about cooking hickory milk and acorns. Also learned to make a pattern for moccasins and am ready to make a pair now. Learned rope making, basic nutrition, how to make a leather slingshot, atalatal, carve wooden plate and spoon, sharpen knives, make a bone needle case, and got lots of ideas of things to take next year to trade. Observing a trading blanket circle was eye opening about value. Now in ’13 I will work on perfecting those skills, and adding to my list of foraged foods. Ordered “It will Live Forever”, for learning all about acorns. Visited the Forest Service and they gave me a book on oak trees. I’ve been for walks to observe those in my area. For next year I also want to learn all about rock cooking and living more outdoors.

  20. Jack, this was a great show! This year I started a facebook page called the Comox Valley $100 Challenge. The basic idea was too spur some economic growth and build community. We currently have 140 members and have contributed over $28,000 to our local economy in under two months. We aren’t asking people to abandon the grocery market, but to shift $100 of the monthly grocery bill to the farmers and artisans of our great community. I thought I would share this idea with the TSP community as well, anyone can start this kind of thing in their own neck of the woods! Have a look if you are interested I am also on twitter @CValley100. Congrats on 1000!

  21. Best quote of the year by Jack. “People have been getting wrapped up in shit ever since there has been shit to get wrapped up in. “. Love it.

  22. Fantastic show, Jack. I think, though, that there’s one area of skills that you neglected in the episode and nobody picked up on it in the blog, either. It’s an often overlooked but nevertheless important one.


    A large component of living this kind of community-based homesteading lifestyle is the ability to create your own entertainment, and to engage with others to do so as well. This could be playing a musical instrument — probably the only thing that helps create community better than food is a good jam session. It could be storytelling, acting… anything that can provide a good time for both participants and observers. I’ve read in numerous sources that one of the great failings of modern society is that instead of coming up with ways to entertain ourselves as we used to, we now expect to simply be entertained.

    Now, I don’t claim to be proficient on this end. I can play a little bit of piano — and am sure I could get much better again with a little practice. But I also am pretty sure that having skills like that will be just as valuable as the more “practical” ones in the future.

  23. Jack, your words on building community were great. I completely agree how important that is, though I sometimes fail to follow through. I do want to point out that Johnny Max and the Queen at the Self-sufficient Homestead podcast,, are going through some hard times trying to get their brewery underway. They had some setbacks though they’ve done some awesome work there. I went to their site and donated $20 and received a nice thanks from them. I hope those at TSP who also appreciate the work they’ve done could help them through this rough patch a bit. If you’re in Texas you might even want to pre-buy some beer from them.

  24. I love the 13 in 13! As I was listening I was canning a 1/4 beef we had bought, half into roast and half into hamburger. It’s an awesome way to store meat and really easy if someone wants to make that a “13” project. My ideas are: learning to use my solar oven, learning about herbs for medicinal purposes, dehydrating more food, learning to root plants like cane berries, learning lactofermintation. I haven’t talked to my hubbie yet about his ideas! Great way to set positive goals!

  25. I love this. My husband and I built our first house (we did all of it but the well, septic (because codes didn’t allow us) drywall (hubby has asthma) and the poured walls) when we were 21 and 23. My husband wasn’t a builder but we did it all by reading a book. We worked full time and built it in our ‘spare’ time. We did plumbing, wiring, etc. While it was really hard work we did it and it really gave us the confidence that we could do anything we put our minds too. Yes, the inspector came back 3 times on our electrical but in the end we passed inspection and got our occupancy permit. The house is still beautiful 16 years later. People you can do it, just set your mind to it.

  26. Loved this show, Jack. You’re truly an inspiration! I love the skills challenge as well, and may try to interest others in my community in doing that. One of the things that will be on my “13” list is learning about keeping bees in a top bar hive. I also want to become much more proficient in food preservation and storage and meal planning. (I want to become an “expert.”) I’m sure my to-do list will be long, and I’ll have to really work on prioritizing. (I retired last year so I could work on everything I wanted to do!)

  27. For those of you who prefer Windows and want to get more mileage out of your old beast, get familiar with Black Viper’s service list:

    With this, you can disable much of the crap that comes with Windows that isn’t always needed, and which just slows you down.

    Second, install something like free MalwareBytes to catch the stuff your antivirus inevitably misses. Malware makes you slow.

    Finally, make sure you have enough RAM. That’s the most bang-for-your-buck upgrade, usually less than $50, and it’s so easy to do I walked my mom through it over the phone.

    With these techniques, we’re still using a ten year old XP machine that I bought for $50 as our main desktop.