An old friend once told me “One is never too OLD or too SMART to learn something new!”  Any kind of hobby you take up usually involves learning new skills over a period of time.  Some can be learned quickly and others take years to acquire more than a ‘beginner status’.              

This has become vital now and may be even more so in years to come.  In our technical world of today, most workers are experts in one or two areas to the exclusion of almost anything else and there are very few people that could now be called ‘Jack of All Trades, master of none’.  While this is good in some areas including high wages, it also leaves you very dependent on that type of work and nothing else. If a company outsources or downsizes, a whole lot of folks are what you call ‘unemployed, or underemployed’ – which is not a good thing. And we have seen many jobs sent overseas or done away with entirely the past few years.
A useful hobby or two can not only afford many hours of enjoyment, but could possibly enable you to acquire new skills that you might use down the road.  Any new skill you may learn could also be a way to help you reduce your cost of living.
Learning to ‘cook from scratch’, raising part of your food supply in a home garden or even in a flower bed, landscaping skills of all kinds, home or apartment repairs and maintenance skills, any type of automotive servicing or repair, welding, baking and decorating cakes, cookies, etc., organizing spaces, just to name a few.
A hobby can also lead you to a home-based business. Some folks like to take things apart to see if they can fix what has gone wrong. Small appliance repair is one area as is small engine repair (think lawnmowers, tillers, etc.).  A good number of repair shops have started their business in the garage or back shed of the home or even the basement workshop. Many of these don’t have big advertising budgets and spread the word by posting signs on grocery store bulletin boards, spreading the word at work, church, etc.
A friend with a talent for metalworking and drawing now makes mailbox and overhead signs for folks all over the country living on small to large acreages.  He works after hours in his farm shop and has more business than he can handle.
Another friend has a series of part-time jobs that keep the family busy six days a week.  They help people with gardening (kids are good weed pullers), do a lot of lawn mowing, tree-trimming and other miscellaneous chores. They do some heavy cleaning for families on a semi-annual basis, like cleaning out the basement, garage, etc. (he has teen-aged boys that can lift a lot). The girls and guys both do heavy cleaning – washing walls and ceilings as well as moving furniture for carpet cleaning/removal.
They also do a lot of volunteer work – helping to clean public areas with local groups, setting up tables and chairs for community events, and other charities.
Some people make a business out of recycling things that would otherwise be trashed. Rugs and saddle blankets as well as quilts are made from worn clothing and sold to make extra income for a family and utilizing resources that would otherwise be discarded and pile up in a landfill.
Construction sites can be a source for scrap wood that can be fashioned into shelves, birdhouses and all manner of small wooden items that can be sold at craft fairs, thus adding to the family’s money supply.
A school teacher/woodworker found that he and his wife enjoy fixing up old houses and reselling them. It’s adding to their retirement income stash and the addition of a realtor’s license, means that he can sell what they ‘fix up’.
When job is lost and there is no more work to be found, gardening skills come into play and the family is fed at little cost. Surplus food is canned, dried or frozen for later use. When I listen to those who survived the Great Depression era of the ‘30’s, a garden was the first thing they did to help the family survive.
One dear lady said, “We weren’t poor, we just didn’t have any money.”  From listening to her talk, her family found many ways to stretch/recycle what was available and they survived and thrived during the bad times.
My own family has made many gifts over the years. Our children were taught life skills by their father they will have forever.
A hobby just might be worth looking into after all.
–Until next time, Paula


Paula Vogelgesang, the author of the monthly column "Pennywise", is a monthly contributor to the Farm And Livestock Directory. Email her at [email protected]Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.