Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asking Questions

Libraries are developing significant sections of books on the subject to allow you to read for free. There are many books on homesteading out there that cover various things that can help you out as you shift your lifestyle. There are blogs on the subject, forums on every kind of livestock, web pages. It almost seems that there is enough information out there to figure out how to do all of this for yourself, and if you have plenty of money and lots of time, you probably can through trial and error. I however would recommend that you talk to locals, and people who have tried what you are doing and ask questions.

Asking questions is often more easily said than done, and I have a bit of advice on it below the cut.

Asking Questions
Anyone who has worked in retail can tell you that there are nice, and rude ways to ask a question. When you are asking people about things you don't know, generally one should be respectful. I came up with some guidelines for this that have stood me in good stead as far as I know.

* Listen once you have asked a question.
* If you are asking for someone to show you how to do something offer to help them out while they do it so you can learn.
* Be polite. Please and thank you really do matter.
* Don't act like you know what you don't know. If you just say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand," people will generally help give you a basis for what they are saying.
* Don't make the same mistake twice. When someone takes the time to explain or teach something to you, take the time to learn it.

Finding The Right People
Asking all the questions in the world in the most respectful manner possible isn't going to help you if you're asking the wrong people. This applies to everything, but in something where you don't know even the basics it can be difficult to figure out. There are a few ways to find the right people.

Networking is the one I find easiest because I've been near the area we are homesteading for some time. Being able to talk to someone who knows someone who is an expert, or at least experienced in the subject at hand is useful. I am a big fan of being introduced to people because it tends to give you a little more leeway. Just remember though, an introduction doesn't mean you can be rude, it just means your rudeness reflects on both you and the person who introduced you.

Doing research and then making cold contact with a person who is doing what you are attempting is another perfectly good method. In this one just be aware you need to very much listen to your instincts and do your research. Just because someone is raising chickens doesn't mean that is how you have to do it. It does mean though that they have experiences that may inform how you do things. If you can get a good relationship with someone this way it can also lead to networking.

Town Fairs in the hill towns and other rural areas tend to have livestock shows. There Will be experts there, and if you can manage to get talking to them many seem willing to help out new folks. This is very much a case of listen, ask questions, and don't act like you know more than you do.

Clubs do exist for many types of animal care at the very least. Look up your local 4-H, bee keeping, or what have you club. The people in these clubs are not only interested and knowledgeable in the field, most of them are enthusiastic to have respectful new people join and teach them.

Your Personal BS Detector
You really need to have one of these in life in general. When you are making decisions about your food and other essential supplies, you need to pay attention to it. Don't be optimistic, don't be pessimistic, just pay attention. Just because one person who's been very helpful to you made a recommendation doesn't mean don't do your research outside of that person and verify. The adage "Trust but verify" is a good one. The other side to this is, just because someone was wrong doesn't mean they were trying to screw you. In the end you will find a balance of people you trust and verifying their information, but don't go in and assume no one makes mistakes, and everyone is out to help you.

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