Contrary to popular opinion, it just isn’t possible to make a living selling some honey, maple syrup and candles at a farm stand. I have to do other things — many, many other things — to avoid leaving home and hearth to pay the bills. I do a fair bit of writing and I teach a lot of workshops. Some have to do with my work with children impacted by abuse, neglect and foster care (my other life) and many are focused on teaching traditional skills like soap making, candle dipping, food preservation and making herbal salves and ointments.
I teach classes on how to do these things the traditional way, but I’m definitely not a purist. In fact, I’m a big fan of beginner’s kits. There are all kinds of kits available for all of the skills mentioned and just about any other you can think of. In fact, I got my start in mastering a lot of skills by purchasing said kits.
There are so many benefits to starting with a kit. First is that you g
et all of what you need to get started. While it’s possible to shop around and find everything and perhaps even a bit less expensive, I like the convenience of knowing I’m not going to get part way through a process and discover I’m missing something important. I also appreciate the directions. They are generally very clear and easy to understand, and there is almost always a video that you can access online to walk you through the tricky parts. I also like having a number to call should I find myself with a question. A lot of the companies producing kits are small, family run and very friendly and helpful.
I have learned to keep the boxes my kits come in so I can put everything away and not risk losing parts. I have gotten in the habit of keeping all of the directions in laminate sleeves in a special notebook. Someday a child or grandchild may want this information and all of the equipment.
Once you have some experience, you may w
ant to upgrade your tools and supplies. It isn’t always necessary. I got my worm farm three years ago and it’s still going great with nothing but some added soil. I have purchased fancy molds for candle making and I got a bigger scale for measuring lye and oils for soap making. None were necessary but they did add to my satisfaction.
If you are like me and like to know how to “do it yourself,” start today. Think of a skill you want to take ownership of and buy a kit. In no time you could be making your own laundry soap, fermenting a batch of pickles or whipping up lovely cakes of soap to use or share. I even got started growing mushrooms with a kit. Many have spread around our little farm and are now free for the picking.