Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly… at first. 

-Joel Salatin

There seems to be a distinct lack of handi-skills among average people these days. I myself  grew up believing that I couldn’t get things done. I couldn’t do any building or repairs that required the use of tools or was traditionally considered to be the work of men or professionals. I started to take on small projects like cages and nest boxes when I showed rabbits in 4H, and became a bit more adept as I took on trimming horses and some minor, very shoddy repairs on the barn or fences in high school. However, until Nicholas came along, I still  had a total absence of confidence when it came to my abilities to drive screws and hammer in nails, use any sort of power tools, or even clear a path and build decent a electric fence.

I remember the first time he handed me the impact driver as I was awkwardly propping up a sheet of drywall on my head and shoulders, trying to lift it high enough to be screwed to the rafters. “Here you go. It’s your turn to screw in a few” I thought he was making fun of me. I tried to refuse but he insisted, and as I begrudgingly took the driver and grumpily tried to place a few screws I got a glimpse of the next few months of our relationship. Though I punched probably a dozen holes in the drywall accidentally slipping off the screws,  I was proud of myself for trying something new, and surprised at how simultaneously challenging yet simple and doable the task was. I am struck by this paradox frequently, as I build my skill sets and try new tasks.

While I would love to say that handiwork is super easy, 100% doable, and you don’t need ANY help to get started, that is not entirely

Julia sanding her fleshing post
Julia sanding her fleshing post

true. Handiwork IS much simpler than it is made out to be, it IS very doable if you have the tools and supplies, and you CAN learn many skills with the aid only of our friend google or a reference manual, but my journey into handiwomanhood has been made far more enjoyable and manageable with the help of my hubby. His plethora of knowledge was my crutch when my lack of confidence prevented me from even considering trying. His ungodly horde of tools was definitely an advantage over having to buy them all myself, and his tendency to explain how every tool works and what it is used for with the nerdy enthusiasm of a collector was definitely a leg up over where most beginners have to start out. Even just watching him build and observing his habits and mannerisms was enormously useful. But more recently I have breached the level of confidence that allows me to try things on my own. Getting to the point where I can complete a small project without having to ask Nick for help at all has been especially motivating and fun. While I think it’s great to reach out and have a more experienced person show you the basics, it would be unfortunate if waiting around for someone to come along and teach you every step kept you from ever trying. Isn’t the spirit of learning new skills in self reliance and empowerment to begin with? My advice summed up is, don’t get in a hurry, never get too proud to wear safety glasses and ear plugs, use caution with power tools,  google that shit, and as good ol’ Nike puts it, just do it. You’re more than capable.

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One thought on “Becoming Handiwoman.”

  1. I love the Joel Salatin quote and loved that you wrote “google that shit.” Seriously though, thanks for sharing. I often wish I could do more handiwork things on my own. I can’t really even sew! I feel stupid every time I have to ask some one else to fix the simplest thing. Part of my problem though is that I don’t have the proper tools and no one has ever taught me. I would like to be more self sufficient though. Thanks for the spurring on.

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