Monday, 10 June 2013

Smallholding: social skills

I think the most important skill to have or be prepared to learn when starting on the road to self-sufficiency or a smallholding is good social skills.

Social skills are much underrated and little discussed when it comes to farming, smallholding or even prepping. And yet I feel they are the most important factor on the successful outcome of the endeavour.

It is a skill that is almost lost in many places and especially in the youth. We focus a lot of energy on our kids to acquire as much as possible. It can only be a benefit.

I can only speak of my area and what I hear and see within it. I live in a tight rural community. I am from the area and have family here but I lived away for many years and only moved back three years ago. My husband is from the city centre where his family ran a shop.
I feel this gives me a foot on either side of the fence. I can see the point of view of both locals and 'blow in's.

Can I point out that we had 'city tinted glasses' on when we moved and that they only came off after a year or so.

These are some points that I have relearnt and now put to practise:

It is seen as rude to be shy.
Salute your neighbours and make small chat with them when you met them at the side of the road or pass them on the road or in the shop. Even if you think they don't know you, they do!

Call and visit your neighbours, especially if they are elderly. It is better to be too friendly than too distant. Don't be worrying about interrupting their busy lives.

Ask neighbours for help and be happy to give it. It is the biggest compliment to give or receive.

Funerals are a big thing here. You always attend them even if you barely knew them. Very rude not to as its a community gathering.

Young families instead of retirees are more valued and welcomed as they fuel the community. Their kids will go to the local schools and play local sport. The parents will work locally if possible and establish a tie to the area.
Where retirees are seen to compete against young couples for houses and outbid them and also contribute to ghost/holiday homes. These give nothing to a community but high property prices.

When people move in and keep to themselves, the locals consider them to have 'opted out' of community and then deem them odd.

While the truth might be very different. They could be lonely and isolated and longing for community. They simply don't have the skills to do so.
A good solutions to this would be to visit an elderly neighbour regularly and get them to teach the social norms of the area.


  1. All excellent points! Maybe required reading for new comrrs...we have a lot of people in this area who move in to this area from New York City and bring along their city ways....the new neighbors put up an expensive barn, bought llamas and then immediately hired help to care for them. They feel it their right to let their dogs run, as they own TEN acres (but the dogs don't seem to know which 10 is theirs...). I enjoy your blog!

  2. Somebody could write a whole book on the dog problem in the country.
    I'm glad you enjoy the blog, I love getting feedback from readers!


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