May (aka: Jack of All Trades For Homesteading)
My friend and next door neighbor — May — has always been a source of inspiration. She does what she wants and does not worry about what others may think. She showcases freedom.
I sat down with her a few weeks ago to ask her about her process relating to her homestead hobbies. She has gone far with homesteading which includes and are not limited to — raising chickens, making ceramics, growing her own vegetables, knitting cowl scarves, raising two very different human boys, and planting fruit trees.
In my 20s, I was shaky in my confidence and going through first of many phases of trying to ‘find myself’. I think I secretly wanted to be confident like May. We are of course very different people that value different things. Despite differences, we can all draw inspiration from everyone.
When did you know you wanted to grow your own veggies and have your own chickens? My dad had a lot of DIY projects. As a child, I would go with nurseries with him. I bought and planted a few flower bulbs. I even asked my parents if they could carve out a portion of their grassy lawn for me to grow vegetables. Unfortunately, they said no since most of their yard was already developed. This is when I knew I wanted plant my own veggies.
As kid I have a vague recollection of my family owning a chicken for a short while. The chicken did not produce eggs. A grand uncle ended up taking it and it did lay eggs.
How did ceramics come about? I generally don’t like to buy plants that I cannot eat. There was one day though I saw a shelf online that had a lot of plants which turned out to be a point of inspiration. I started accumulating Hoya cuttings. As a result, I realized I needed planters.
I felt that planters were too expensive. I decided to take ceramic classes. The funny thing is while taking the class, I learned that planters are large and challenging to make. I did realize that plates and bowls are fun to make.
Do you have any interest in monetizing anything? I generally do not have an interest in selling things. That sounds like work. I may sell my ceramics just so I can get better and practice. I think I may just sell pieces at inexpensive prices to move inventory.
How have you gotten information or help? Youtube, the library, and Reddit is how I get information. Most of my hobbies are solo hobbies so I don’t really have to connect with too many people.
Fifteen years ago when I lived in Oakland the library didn’t have too many books on raising chickens. Fast forward to present day, things have changed a ton and I’ve noticed a wider assortment of books and even the size of the original books have increased.
What has been the biggest challenge for you? The biggest challenge has been realizing that each project has start up costs. I am generally very dollar conscious. I have had to get used to investing in infrastructure.
(Though she didn’t mention it this time in the interview — I remember that she has leaned on her husband on building some planter boxes, irrigation and the chicken coop. Encouraging him to build can be challenging with limited resources in time)
Have there been interests that you have abandoned? I investigated beekeeping and raising ducks however decided not to.Ducks are probably happier with a water source as they have to clean their duck bills.
What have you learned in the process of pursuing these hobbies? Time management is necessary as there is a lot to juggle. I also like to give myself an annual performance review to make sure I am making progress on each interest.
What are you hoping to work on in the future? I am not looking to take on extra hobbies. Though, I would like to try getting about making pasta and bread. I would like to also try making croissants.
Thanks May for being you!