OK, this is probably going to be rather unpopular with some, but I just have to say it…and it may be long. And keep in mind I generally don’t rant, but this issue has become so prevelant that I just can’t sit back and simply watch it anymore.
My issue is with “homesteading” classes. Not so much the classes…ok, maybe a little to do with the classes…but mostly to do with the cost of these classes. Now mind you, this doesn’t relate to classes that deal with specialized skills like spinning that you can only really learn by having a mentor teach you. This has to do with non-specialized homesteading skills that anyone can learn by simply picking up a book or watching a video online. And it also has to do with the exorbitant prices surrounding those classes.
I recently came across a class on how to make mozzarella. It cost $75 per person for an hour and a half of instruction. $75! I’d rather just get a book, watch a youtube video and go through trial and error. If I fail my first time, that’s ok. I learned something in the process and I still have something somewhat edible.
I’ve seen whole animal butchery classes that are $300 for three hours. Really? For couples that both want to take the class, that’s $600. Sure you get to keep the meat, but it is only worth a third of the class’ cost – retail. I can take a class for half the cost that also includes slaughtering, dressing and making use of the entire animal PLUS a dinner and overnight camping.
And don’t even get me started on canning classes. $100 for a class on canning? Save your money and buy a book on canning that uses the USDA’s guidelines for safety. I prefer the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
However, they charge these fees because people are willing to pay them. So that begs the question – why are they willing to pay such steep prices? I feel it’s because of our instant gratification society. No one wants to do something the first time and fail. They need to know how to master it right away. And time = money. Do you really learn anything that way though? That’s the thing with failure, it shouldn’t be feared, but embraced as a learning experience.
Like many people, I’m homesteading because the economy has really done a number on us and we needed to trim as much fat as possible from our budget. Sure there are skills I don’t know yet but would like to learn, but I won’t be paying a premium for a class on them. If I do need to take a class I’ll find one that’s reasonably priced that fits our budget. I really like the classes with sliding scales because it shows that the instructors are aware that not everyone has unlimited funds. I’ll try not to pay at the bottom of the scale, but sometimes it’s all we can afford and I appreciate the instructors for offering that option.