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If I ever teach butchery or dressing a carcass again

 
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This is a reminder to myself more than anything.  If I ever teach anyone to dress a carcass again, I must enforce the following:

The cost for my time reflects the amount of stress.  For this task, it is a minimum of $50 per hour up to the agreed amount of time (usually 2 hours to learn to dress a sheep or goat).  After that, it is $100 per half hour!
For every future bad experience I have in this area, the rates will go up and this list will get longer.

Please note (and this is IMPORTANT) that dressing a carcass does not mean butchering.  Dressing involves skinning, cleaning, and cutting into halves or quarters.  Butchering is the act of cutting into meal size chunks - this is a whole different lesson and is not done at the same time as dressing.  Please do not expect or demand that I include it in the dressing lesson as the time was not scheduled for it.  


Tools!
  • I no longer lend my edged tools (knives, saws, other kitchen cutting up tools)
  • You are welcome to rent my knife - cost is $100 per knife (it takes a minimum of two hours to repair the damage done to the blade when people borrow my knife so now it costs money to use it)
  • You can buy the same knife off me for $50
  • You can purchase the same knife from the shop for about $32 ($25 on sale in the House of Knives, and $13 on Amazon)
  • Same rate goes for borrowing my bone saw - rent=$100, buy = $50, buy in the shop = $12 ($4 on sale)
  • You will memorize the mantra: Knife is for Flesh.  Saw is for Bone.
  • Hint: I'm encouraging you to buy and bring your own equipment
  • If renting my knife, it will not be placed on the ground at any time.  If you must place it down, use the sheath it came with.  Place sheath on the belt for easy access.  The sheath is washable.
  • No tool will be placed on the ground at any time.  This is a tripping hazard and dangerous.  
  • You will not hand the knife to others point first.
  • When handing the knife to another person, you turn the knife so that the handle is towards the other person and the edge of the wepon is towards the ground.  



  • Farm!
  • you will not bring more people onto the farm than agreed.  
  • you will not endanger your children by encouraging them to interact with the livestock
  • if your children are not participating in the lesson, then they can wait in your vehicle with the windows appropriately down.
  • If there is a sign saying "beware of..." there is a very good reason for that sign.  If you disregard this sign you put your children's lives in danger.  If this continues, there will soon be a Beware of Farmer sign.  If you insist on trying to kill your children, please do it somewhere else!
  • This is not a free version of a petting zoo.  These are working animals who are trained to defend themselves.
  • You shall not smoke on the farm.  This includes but is not limited to e-cigs, regular cigs, cigars, pipes, and those special cigarettes.  There is an extreme risk of wildfires and I'm sick of emptying the well to put out grassfires thank you very much!
  • No drugs allowed on the farm
  • Do not bring your dog on the farm without first consulting us - this not for our chicken's protection.  This is for your dog's protection.  The chickens like the taste of dog.  The bigger and more lively the dog, the more our chickens enjoy eating it... if the geese don't get there first.  DO NOT expect us to dogsit.



  • Lessons!
  • At any time anyone can yell "HOLD!" at which time, EVERYONE freezes and waits for instruction.  This does not mean "finish cutting then look around"  This means  "STOP YOU BLEEPING BLEEPER AND DON'T DO A THING BECAUSE OF SERIOUS INJURY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!"
  • Do not take the piss with the HOLD rule.
  • If I am giving the lesson, I am in charge of this event.  These tools are designed to disembowel and carve up an animal roughly your size in under 20 min.  One mistake will seriously kill a human in less time than you can say "let me just reach in and grab this for you"
  • You asked me to show you how to do this because I have done it before and you have not.  Do not give me the girl treatment - push me to one side - get frustrated because it's 'too hard' - then act shocked when I can do in about 6 seconds what you struggled for 20 min to attempt.  I have done this before.  Yes, I am a Girl!  But I learned from the best and I learned by listening to the teacher.  I've done this many times in the past.
  • Dressing a carcass has nothing to do with strength.  It only requires two tools: a brain and a sharp knife.
  • One person with a knife at a time on the carcass - the person with the knife is 'in charge' of the carcass and all others will not touch the meat unless otherwise instructed - at which time they will ONLY touch the part as they were instructed and not attempt to anticipate the needs of the knife holder
  • if the gambrel was meant to stay fixed, it wouldn't swing around like that.  It hangs loose so that we can move the meat instead of spraining our wrists.  Suddenly grabbing hold (without first being asked) and steading the carcass can cause serious strain on the wrist or the knife to slip off course and end up in your wrist.  That was a very near miss.
  • You will not keep stopping the lesson for self-e or force your children to come and take pictures with my knife, thus delaying the lesson. It is disrespectful for the life that just ended and the teacher who has already cancelled two important appointments to help you learn this skill.



  • Most importantly!
  • You will show respect for the life that just ended.
  • You will treat the farm with respect!  This farm is a source of food for many people. Do not trample the food.  
  • Just because you see something does not mean it is for sale.  
  • Just because it is a farm, does not mean that you can demand to pay less than in a shop.
  • you will treat me with respect.  My time is valuable.  I am not on vacation even if you are.
  • arriving 45 min late for the lesson does not show respect.
  • expecting me to drop everything I'm doing and give you free lessons without advance warning, does not show respect



  • This list is an accumulation of several times teaching this skill.  It may be that I won't teach it again because after I do, I come away feeling hugely disrespected.  I suspect this is because I did not lay down ground rules before we start.  

    Thinking about this more - the above also applies to butchery (the cutting up of the meat - which is a separate lesson from the dressing of the carcass).  I don't think I'll be doing this at home again so the student must provide a kitchen with the minumum counterspace and a pre-determined list of equipment.
     
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    Unfortunately common scene and common courtesy, have become not so common.
     
    r ranson
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    I know.  I sound harsh.

    But these issues keep coming up and I figure it's a misunderstanding and each party assumes the other side is thinking the same thing.

    So I'm putting down what I'm thinking in this rather harsh way in the hopes that people will read this and seek out a different instructor.  (preferably a man because I don't often get the girl treatment and I have zero patience for it.  Why hire a girl to teach this skill if you can't cope with taking instruction or make snarky comments about my sex.)

    It usually takes me about 8 days to recover from the stress of teaching this lesson.  
     
    gardener
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    Although you may be venting a little , every word is true. You have every right to expect to be treated as an adult sharing a valuable skill.
    Basic common curtesy is not to much to ask for.

    Have very clear rules.  Print them out and have them on hand.
    Prepaying  with no refunds, should help quite a bit with tardiness. Start time is start time. No excuses.
    Children have no need to be on site at all. Nobody but a paying student should be on site.   If they wish to teach their children butchery , they can do so themselves at home.

    As far as the "girl" thing.  You have a knife … expect them to behave or else :)

    Seriously you are the boss, you are sharing a valuable skill with them. Your gender should not even be an issue.  Ask them to leave if they can't follow the rules.

    Teaching a skill to someone should be an enjoyable experiance. If it contiues to stress you out then I can understand your thinking of quitting teaching.
    Its just sad you can't share your knowledge without being taken advantage of.

     
    r ranson
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    thomas rubino wrote:

    As far as the "girl" thing.  You have a knife … expect them to behave or else :)

    Seriously you are the boss, you are sharing a valuable skill with them. Your gender should not even be an issue.  Ask them to leave if they can't follow the rules.



    I wish I was this strong.

     
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    IMHO, people who have issues with gender/colour/religion, particularly in the teaching/learning arena, should give learning a miss and continue with their pointless lives.

    Since they’re paying $$ and time to attend, one would think they’d listen and be enthusiastically involved? Some people, eh?!

    Here, all tradesmen (‘trades people’) have their own tools: chefs, mechanics, blacksmiths, etc. So, when they enter their ‘office’, they unfurl their kit and commence work.

    Similarly, since the attendees will be using knives, etc after the training, it may be worthwhile to supply a beginners kit of tools in separate packages e.g. one for slaughter, one for dressing and one for butchering. Maybe the ‘complete package’ including the lot.

    Alternatively, make it a stipulation they MUST bring their own kit and simply list the things they will need to do the course and note that no tools are available for hire or purchase. If they turn up without anything: too bad, so sad, goodbye.

    That list you made above would be a good Condition of the course, where they have to sign, date and submit it to you BEFORE attending – that gives you something to point at when they arrive and obviously broken several ‘rules’.

    I don’t envy you – I’m a terrible teacher and really dislike it, though always seem to get chosen to ‘mentor’ newbies at work. First lesson: there’s only two ways to do things, my way and the wrong way!

     
    r ranson
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    F Agricola wrote:

    Since they’re paying $$ and time to attend,



    That's the biggest problem.

    I've never charged money for butchery or dressing lesson because I feel strongly that food independence should be free,

    Unfortunately giving these lessons for free does not work.  

    It seems that giving free lessons means that other people do not value my time.  Here endeth the lesson.
     
    pollinator
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    I've never charged money for butchery or dressing lesson because I feel strongly that food independence should be free,

    Unfortunately giving these lessons for free does not work.  

    It seems that giving free lessons means that other people do not value my time.  Here endeth the lesson.



    So true. If you don't value yourself, others won't either.
     
    r ranson
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    I had hoped there were more ways to value another person's time than money.  

    Food independence skills are so important.  Vital.  

    I've always felt that these should be available to anyone, regardless of financial standing.  One had merely to demonstrate a willingness to learn.

    Because I felt these classes should be free, I offered them for free.  

    The most recent free lesson cost me a lot of time, money, and stress.

    I still feel they should be free.  I still feel that the world would be a better place if people didn't equate value with money.

    But I am understanding now why these lessons are not offered for free.

     
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    We have stopped butchering other peoples animals because of disrespect. I hate how the person whose animal we are butchering couldn't ever kill an innocent animal themselves and thinks us evil for having no problem with it, and yet desperately wants the animal dead.


    We are looking for someone in our area to teach us how to slaughter a pig. I think we've watched enough videos we could probably do it ourselves but the knowledge of someone experienced would be very valuable to us. I only have to be shown once! When it comes time we will likely pay for this lesson, if we can find someone.
     
    steward
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    I have two price-lists at my garden. One for people that only understand money, and a different one for people that understand the gifting economy.

    For example: I didn't grow tomato transplants this spring for market. A guy that has been getting tomatoes from me for years asked me to grow one of my varieties for him. So I grew a dozen plants. He came to pick them up, and asked "How much do I owe you?", my reply was "Nothing, because you understand the gifting economy, and brought me pickles, and bottled tomatoes from last year."

    I suppose that I have a third price-list for people that understand real money (silver).
     
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    I don't charge people to teach them, but then I don't invite strangers to my home to be taught.  I only invite people I already know well, and know they won't cause problems.
     
    pollinator
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    I've never charged money for butchery or dressing lesson because I feel strongly that food independence should be free,



    This is sad, but something I think belies a deeper truth. Value can be in money or time or whatever, but unless someone is willing to exchange something you value for something they value less, it isn't an economy. The "gift economy" done right in my opinion benefits both people (or more) but not in an exact quid pro quo. Still it takes a social structure or "good manners" to keep it from falling apart. This is the part missing, that is not a part of most people's upbringing these days. It can be learned (I learned as an adult), and I am fascinated by making small "gift economy" transactions as a way of generating trust, which allows larger ones. Just today I got the use of an equipment trailer from someone who I will help with a mechanical issue next weekend. No contract, just a history of good interactions. This takes time, because I am a skeptical person for all the reasons from the OP.

    I had a coworker ask me to please take her derelict washer from the third floor, load it on my truck from 30 miles away, and take it to the recycling center.  Instead of paying $20 to the company that is installing the new one. She makes $50k more than I do, but I'm a fit adult male with a beater truck, so it makes sense to her. I declined and got the cold shoulder for not acquiescing. Fast forward a few weeks, and a different friend who has no money wanted help, and is always there to help others. She got the washer done (actually got one I was fostering in the garage for a year) before I worked on my own projects.

    The social contract is vital, but I never make a big social contract without a bunch of little starters. It is frustrating because it take a lot longer to get there, but saves the ass-pain. From my limited experience, it is worth moving slower. Don't feel bad about the list, I know Salatin has a bunch of rules and he has been in the game a long time. Someone who wants their rules at your house is not your friend.
     
    pollinator
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    I know of a fellow in NZ who teaches ethical hunting skills who ran into the same type of problems. He's written 5 books on the topic, and had a shooting school intended to hone the skills learned from his books. A few years ago he at least doubled if not tripled his fee for this one-on-one training because of the ignorance and disrespectful nature of many who wanted to hire him. Same things, arriving late, telling him how to do it, etc. He wrote a post on it and it boiled down to him saying he was pushed to a point that he had to charge enough that only those who were truly serious about it would spend that kind of money for his time. Since then he's had pretty much no issues.

    Sounds like you are at a similar place. As much as we want to give information on a topic we are knowledgeable in, much of society doesn't see it as being worth much or important unless they have to pay for it.

    We're it me, I'd write up a contract based on what you posted so far with fees high enoungh that only the ones that really want to know will pay for it, and a non-refundable deposit that makes it worth my time if they flake.
     
    pollinator
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    Whenever I have to bring people onto my farm I feel like saying much of what you've said.  It's like adults show up and become 30-40 year old toddlers who don't appreciate being told they can't do something.  It's mind blowing.  And honestly I do believe it's because I'm a short female.  The toxicity of our culture and conditioned most people to have no idea how to behave appropriately around a woman.  I've had some of the most jaw-dropping experiences trying to "manage" strangers on my property.  They're like naughty goats that got loose and I'm not allowed to whip them with a cane to get them back in line >:[

    I also think that being a woman, other women are very inclined to come visit a female farmer.  They usually bring kids.  Small kids.  And I don't mind children coming along at all, but it does turn into a total babysitting situation!  Like, please, parent(s), your child is squeezing the life out of baby bunnies and young chickens and terrorizing the rest of the small animals and risking getting a very bad first introduction to goats that like to headbutt children... all while you turn the other way and ignore them... PLEASE make the child stop....  Gah....

    I sympathize.  And I hope your new ground rules work out for ya.  I personally gave up.  Those experiences make me too negative about the general public, I don't like feeling like everyone I meet is desperately incompetent.
     
    Jen Fan
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    Also; thorough contract and lots of release of liability!  As others have said!  Hold them accountable for their own wits (or lack thereof).
     
    Jen Fan
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    Andrew Mayflower wrote:I don't charge people to teach them, but then I don't invite strangers to my home to be taught.  I only invite people I already know well, and know they won't cause problems.



    A compromise could be a contract that says the lesson is free unless you f*** it up  Every transgression has a price, like tool abuse, irresponsibility, disrespect, etc.

    I would LOVE to teach folks how to do this kind of stuff, for free, but I wouldn't DARE invite the general public onto my farm to cut up bodies.  
     
    elle sagenev
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    Jen Fan wrote:
    I also think that being a woman, other women are very inclined to come visit a female farmer.  They usually bring kids.  Small kids.  And I don't mind children coming along at all, but it does turn into a total babysitting situation!  Like, please, parent(s), your child is squeezing the life out of baby bunnies and young chickens and terrorizing the rest of the small animals and risking getting a very bad first introduction to goats that like to headbutt children... all while you turn the other way and ignore them OR are too busy taking photos of them as they squeeze the eyeballs out of the baby animal... PLEASE make the child stop....  Gah....



    I haven't really had bad experiences with kids. Perhaps because of my drill instructor voice and willingness to use it on EVERYONE! lol

    I did catch someone stealing my field once though. I let the dogs loose on him.  



     
    r ranson
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    My experience is that The Girl Treatment has nothing to do with the penis.

    I get the Girl Treatment a lot more from women than from men.  It's as if they need to justify that they don't have this skill by putting me down for having it.
     
    master steward
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    Maybe you could offer "free" lessons in exchange for X amount of hours of help on the farm? Though, I fear that "help" might not be very helpful if the people don't know what they're doing. But, maybe there's easy, drudgery tasks that don't involve risk or livestock that they could do? Thinking about my own property, I have a hard time thinking of something I wouldn't worry that a stranger would mess up, other than maybe picking up sticks or picking berries...
     
    pollinator
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    Wow, this thread has been an unexpectedly great read. I have never taught or learned how to dress a carcass. But I do deal with the public in my job. And that's what this thread is really about. The really, really hard job of dealing with the public, i.e., Joe Blow or whoever comes your way.

    I have escaped from some of the problems of dealing with the public by really limiting the audience, the kind of people that I deal with. I made damn sure I was only dealing with truly interested folks. And it certainly helps that they pay.

    Laying down ground rules is also super important. (It's another way to limit your audience.) Any project involving more than one person needs to have people on the same page about a lot of things from the outset, otherwise, it's only by chance if anything good gets done. It is really, really important to value and respect yourself, and what you know and what you're teaching. Deep down to your bones. r, obviously, this is where you were coming from when you wrote that list, which is why it kicks ass. It's perfect. You are not being harsh. You are being great and respectful of what you're teaching and of yourself. Any violation of the ground rules or the teacher or the teaching is a clear sign that the student is not ready to be taught.

    "When the student is ready, the teacher appears" -- then and only then, I might add for this occasion.

    There are lots of people out there that think they want to learn something, but they are really not prepared for it. They may need some more or different life experience before they're ready to learn what you're teaching. If what they really want is to learn that, they will discipline themselves however they need to to cut the bullshit and just listen and watch, and follow your instructions. And it also really helps that you're very clear, before and during, that that's what they have to do, and it's a no-BS environment. So bravo on the list. Sign in blood and return by snail mail and then I will think about accepting your non-refundable deposit to book an appointment.

    I really like a lot of what I've read here. elle's drill sargeant voice. Caleb's kiwi friend's price hike. TJ's "little starters" as a test run with individuals to see if a gift economy will work with them. Andrew's caution before inviting strangers over. Joseph's 2 or 3 price lists. F's sell-em-a-starter-kit idea. thomas's no nonsense strictness. Lots of really good ideas.

    Regarding the "girl" thing. If you get a chance, maybe find yourself a particularly sassy woman from the Deep South of the US and watch how they run everyone around them. No one messes with a proper Southern b-b-b-belle. Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind was a wilting flower compared to some of the ones I've come across. No one messes with them. And we all need a little inner Scarlett at times! 😉

    Anyway, it seems like whatever you decide to do, you're in a much better place to do it now. Fantastic list. Keep being great!!!
     
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    I wonder if there are any early warning signs you can keep an eye out for, and that way can still teach for free to respectful people, and charge the rude people?

    Is it a matter of getting to know people a bit first? Or offering barter or work exchange as a form of payment for those who prefer not to use money?

    I teach skills for free, to the right people. It's been something that's developed naturally through friendship and gift economy, but if I were being treated as you are being treated, I would probably also be writing up rules and considering charging for it. When I am teaching, it is either an informal arrangement between friends, or to my homeschooling group. If it ever were a formal class outside of this, I would probably have to do things differently.
     
    r ranson
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    Wow!  There are some great responses here.  Thank you, everyone, for helping to transform my frustration into learning.

    I always felt bad about selling what I make at so high a price - even though the price is directly related to my cost.  But I balance that by my willingness to teach anyone anything upon request - for whatever they can afford (usually free).  I need to re-examine this approach.  

    Maybe I simply stop teaching entirely and focus on book writing.  Books go well in libraries - so the teaching is still free for those who need it.  

    I have two more classes that I'm teaching with a friend this year.  One for free, one for money.  After that, maybe I stop trying to interact with the humans that surround me.  

    I love teaching because I can feel that I have something to contribute to society.  

    But if I'm not wanted, I shouldn't waste my effort.  

     
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    Dave de Basque wrote:
    Regarding the "girl" thing. If you get a chance, maybe find yourself a particularly sassy woman from the Deep South of the US and watch how they run everyone around them. No one messes with a proper Southern b-b-b-belle. Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind was a wilting flower compared to some of the ones I've come across. No one messes with them. And we all need a little inner Scarlett at times! 😉



    Ha ha. We men here in the South know exactly what you are talking about. We learned to say "yes mam" about 40 times a minute when we were boys. The concept really stuck after getting slapped 39 times a minute for not saying it.

    Northern men still have a long way to go. Up North if your mother slaps you for not showing respect she goes to jail. Around these parts if someone sees your mother slap you they form a line behind her for their chance to smack you too.
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    r ranson wrote:
    I love teaching because I can feel that I have something to contribute to society.  

    But if I'm not wanted, I shouldn't waste my effort.  



    You DO contribute to society, and you are wanted! I know that I would LOVE to take a class from you, and I know that there are many others that would as well. You've met some bad apples. There's a lot of those people in life, and sadly, they are the loud ones that demand stuff. The fact that people were jerks does not mean that your efforts are not desired or worthy. They are. But, you need boundaries. Boundaries are healthy. Use the stern voice that you use on your rams on these types of people. Practice sets of responses, so you know what to do when someone demands, at the last moment, for you to teach them. Say, "I'm sorry. I wish you had told me that sooner, because I already have made arrangements for today. If you would like to come back another day and buy another sheep and sign these disclosures, we can arrange a lesson."

    If you want to maintain free lessons, maybe do a nice disclosure about the cost of knives, just like you outlined in your first post. Maybe even raise the price for the knives higher--high enough that it covers the cost of the class. When they arrive, ask to see their knives. If they do not have knives, have them pay for the use of your equipment. The simple fact that they DID NOT take the time to find and buy their own knives, shows that they are going to probably be pains in the rears. Think of the knife-buying as a kind of vetting, if you will. It's a way to see if this person (1) Takes learning about butchering seriously, (2) Can follow directions. If they can do those things, the lesson is going to probably be a whole lot nicer.

    As for kids on farms, I watch mine like a hawk. I KNOW what kind of trouble they can get into, and most of the time, I just don't do things. Joseph Lofthouse once came to my area and did a presentation, but I would have had to bring my kids because there was no one else to watch them. So, I didn't go. I know (1) I wouldn't have learned much, because I would be watching them, and (2) Even with me watching them, they'd be a disruption. I haven't gone on fun nature walks or taken classes, because I have kids. It's one of the sacrifices of being a parent. And, I know that when they're older, I'll get to do more adult stuff. But, for now, I just find joy in what I can do. So, even if you were closer, I wouldn't go to a butchering class, because I'd have my kids, and I know I wouldn't be doing justice to you, myself, or my kids. There's a time and a place for everything, and if I can't watch my kids on someone else's property, then I shouldn't be there.

    So, you had some jerks and people who lack parenting skills come on your property and abused and disrespected you and your skills and your animals and your property, That is NOT okay. It IS okay to set up boundaries. And, if these boundaries end up weeding out some unsavory folks, all the better.

    You could also set up requirements for a free class. If they buy their own knife and watch a youtube video on butchering and answer some questions in email about it, then they get a free lesson. If they don't, they get to pay $300. People who don't want to pay $300 will back out, and people who don't want to do homework and prepwork, will be weeded out. If it's "too much work" to buy some knives and watch a 15 minute video and answer some questions, then they're definitely not ready to learn or respect you.

     
    Dave de Basque
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    r ranson wrote:Wow!  There are some great responses here.  Thank you, everyone, for helping to transform my frustration into learning.

    I always felt bad about selling what I make at so high a price - even though the price is directly related to my cost.  But I balance that by my willingness to teach anyone anything upon request - for whatever they can afford (usually free).  I need to re-examine this approach.  

    Maybe I simply stop teaching entirely and focus on book writing.  Books go well in libraries - so the teaching is still free for those who need it.  

    I have two more classes that I'm teaching with a friend this year.  One for free, one for money.  After that, maybe I stop trying to interact with the humans that surround me.  

    I love teaching because I can feel that I have something to contribute to society.  

    But if I'm not wanted, I shouldn't waste my effort.  



    Oh gad I feel your pain but please, r, don't ever let yourself think you're not wanted or you don't have much to contribute to society or even that anyone thinks you don't have much to contribute. Just look at your apple collection! I am amazed by what you contribute and the things you know. And hundreds? thousands? of folks here agree with me. If I lived anywhere reasonably close, I would go sign up for whatever you're teaching -- I particularly would be gagging for a weaving class or something in the grow-fibre-to-make-textiles cycle. And I would know, like most people, how to shut up and listen and appreciate learning from a person who actually knows loads of cool stuff.

    One of the best investments ever of my time and money was doing some "personal development" type courses. As humans, we all accumulate lots of trash and dirt in our heads throughout our lives, just like it accumulates in other places, but we are never really taught to do a spring cleaning of our minds. I wish it were part of school curriculums. In some cases, as you experienced, people's brains have become a virtual garbage dump and it regularly overflows onto whoever is around.

    One of my favourite themes from these courses was the phrase "It's not about you!" I think that fits your situation perfectly. You had some people come by that were "working through issues" or whatever from their childhoods or adolescence, in public, in front of you, all while pretending to be an adult and take a class. Doesn't work. And remember nothing about those interactions was about you. The way they were acting was about them, and about whatever the particular type of garbage was that their heads got filled with way back when, and they have never bothered taking out. Their weirdness was actually disrespect towards themselves, even though it may have looked and felt very much like disrespect towards you. It wasn't about you. It was about those particular individuals. Lots of people in their lives, you can be sure, suffer similar treatment all the time.

    As far as I understand after the formation of the planet Earth, there were pools of amino acids sitting around waiting for something to happen for like a zillion years. Nothing really took off because everything was totally vulnerable to the environment around it. And then, the cell membrane happened. And things could develop inside the cell without being totally vulnerable to the outside environment. So bacteria began to flourish. And then developed into other things, and the rest is history. But it took a cell membrane. Not to keep everything out. Just to filter. I remember this in a lot of things I do. I don't want to shut anything out completely, I just want to be careful how much of what comes in and how much of what goes out. I think up to now you haven't had a cell membrane around your really generous and noble teaching efforts, and now you just need to develop a nice filtering membrane that works for you.

    You are definitely wanted and appreciated and have a lot to offer!!!
     
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    r ranson wrote:
    I love teaching because I can feel that I have something to contribute to society.  

    But if I'm not wanted, I shouldn't waste my effort.  



    It saddens me to see you despair so. I hope you never believe that you don't contribute to society.  Your posts are some of my favorite to read. Whenever you and Joseph are both posting in a thread I get excited because I know I'm going to learn a lot! I don't know if I have ever thanked you but now is as good a time as any.

    Thanks for all of your knowledge and wisdom you share freely. Thanks for the kind words you often share. Thanks for freely donating your time to help those who are still learning. Thanks for being a member here. Because without your help I wouldn't be as far as I am today!
     
    Andrew Mayflower
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:

    r ranson wrote:
    I love teaching because I can feel that I have something to contribute to society.  

    But if I'm not wanted, I shouldn't waste my effort.  



    You DO contribute to society, and you are wanted! I know that I would LOVE to take a class from you, and I know that there are many others that would as well. You've met some bad apples. There's a lot of those people in life, and sadly, they are the loud ones that demand stuff. The fact that people were jerks does not mean that your efforts are not desired or worthy. They are. But, you need boundaries. Boundaries are healthy. Use the stern voice that you use on your rams on these types of people. Practice sets of responses, so you know what to do when someone demands, at the last moment, for you to teach them. Say, "I'm sorry. I wish you had told me that sooner, because I already have made arrangements for today. If you would like to come back another day and buy another sheep and sign these disclosures, we can arrange a lesson."

    If you want to maintain free lessons, maybe do a nice disclosure about the cost of knives, just like you outlined in your first post. Maybe even raise the price for the knives higher--high enough that it covers the cost of the class. When they arrive, ask to see their knives. If they do not have knives, have them pay for the use of your equipment. The simple fact that they DID NOT take the time to find and buy their own knives, shows that they are going to probably be pains in the rears. Think of the knife-buying as a kind of vetting, if you will. It's a way to see if this person (1) Takes learning about butchering seriously, (2) Can follow directions. If they can do those things, the lesson is going to probably be a whole lot nicer.

    As for kids on farms, I watch mine like a hawk. I KNOW what kind of trouble they can get into, and most of the time, I just don't do things. Joseph Lofthouse once came to my area and did a presentation, but I would have had to bring my kids because there was no one else to watch them. So, I didn't go. I know (1) I wouldn't have learned much, because I would be watching them, and (2) Even with me watching them, they'd be a disruption. I haven't gone on fun nature walks or taken classes, because I have kids. It's one of the sacrifices of being a parent. And, I know that when they're older, I'll get to do more adult stuff. But, for now, I just find joy in what I can do. So, even if you were closer, I wouldn't go to a butchering class, because I'd have my kids, and I know I wouldn't be doing justice to you, myself, or my kids. There's a time and a place for everything, and if I can't watch my kids on someone else's property, then I shouldn't be there.

    So, you had some jerks and people who lack parenting skills come on your property and abused and disrespected you and your skills and your animals and your property, That is NOT okay. It IS okay to set up boundaries. And, if these boundaries end up weeding out some unsavory folks, all the better.

    You could also set up requirements for a free class. If they buy their own knife and watch a youtube video on butchering and answer some questions in email about it, then they get a free lesson. If they don't, they get to pay $300. People who don't want to pay $300 will back out, and people who don't want to do homework and prepwork, will be weeded out. If it's "too much work" to buy some knives and watch a 15 minute video and answer some questions, then they're definitely not ready to learn or respect you.



    Emphasis added to the single most important advice.  It's not just your in-laws you need boundaries with.

    The other thing I'd suggest is management of expectations (closely related to setting boundaries).  Whether verbally or in some written communication explaining why, e.g., they can't bring kids under some age (say 13) will go a long way to eliminating problems.  If it's a free class make sure they understand the limitations of what you'll teach.  If paid, make sure they understand what they're getting for the fee, and that nothing beyond that will be provided without additional fees (if at all).  Emphasize the importance of keeping an open mind, and following all instructions in order to maximize the learning they can accomplish.  
     
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    I back the idea of asking for payment far enough in advance that the cheque has cleared!
    That said, one idea I had was that you could "pay them" for good behavior by gifting them products of value from your farm if they follow all the items on your list. These "gifts" would reduce the effective cost of what they paid for the course.
    I'm wondering if some of the inappropriate behavior you've seen relating to this comes down to our current society's love/hate relationship with death. Many people eat meat, but many fewer of them have anything at all with either producing or butchering any animal. In some circles, hunting is frowned upon to the point that deer and Canada geese are a nuisance. I'm in favor of regulation as it can be difficult for a hunter or fisher-person to see the big picture over a large geographical area (although many, maybe most, hunters have a better sense of it than non-hunters, and the authorities have been known to blow it entirely at times by failing to look at changes in technology that improve the human's odds). That said, modern society needs to grow up and take more responsibility for basic skills that are being rapidly lost because it's cheaper to just go buy it. We need to respect our hunters and permaculture "farmers" for the great skills they have.
     
    Andrew Mayflower
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    Jay Angler wrote:I'm wondering if some of the inappropriate behavior you've seen relating to this comes down to our current society's love/hate relationship with death. Many people eat meat, but many fewer of them have anything at all with either producing or butchering any animal. In some circles, hunting is frowned upon to the point that deer and Canada geese are a nuisance.



    Minor thread-jack.  My mother-in-laws neighborhood is getting totally over-run with wild turkeys.  And the only thing they'll do (they being the local government), or allow anyone else to do, about wildlife overpopulation, apparently, is kill the coyotes.  Which, of course, allows the turkeys to overpopulate even more.  It's gotten to the point the turkeys are damaging not just landscaping, but even people's roofs because they'll roost up there and then between their claws damaging shingles, the poop is also a big problem.  Flocks upwards of 2 dozen are commonly sighted just in the immediate vicinity of my in-laws house.  Honestly, if I lived there I'd be really tempted to try to clandestinely trap and kill a large number of the birds.  It's just too bad the city/county won't do that.  It could feed a lot of the homeless/hungry with some fantastic meat.

    Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled discussion of Ms Ranson's slaughter/butchery classes.
     
    Jay Angler
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    This is why it's so important for people to teach responsible, ethical and safe butchery! "Wild" creatures need proper butchering to feed people quality meat, produced with little to no fossil fuel involvement. If people see local over-abundance of a wild edible, it will also support city bans on pesticides and herbicides, because they won't want birds/animals/fruit they see as future meals being contaminated with nasty chemicals (good chemicals like the H2O and chlorophyll I'm totally good with). This will then help urban permaculture people to be safer from secondary contamination (not to mention our local bees that so often get caught in the crossfire). It's all a big circle, of which humane and safe butchery is an important foundation piece in my opinion. I suggested to my husband that I should consider teaching such a course for chickens/ducks, but he was concerned about all the possible regulations and risk involved. From Ms Ranson's experiences, his concerns were justified! I suspect I would be equally stressed out by experiences she's describing.  
     
    Caleb Mayfield
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    Another thing that came to mind last night was not everyone is good at dealing with people. That's totally fine. That also means some people ARE good at dealing with people. Maybe you know or can find someone to serve as an "event coordinator" for you to deal with the things that are not your strengths. That means you get to focus on the teaching and they can be bouncer and toss those that need tossing.
    Just another idea to add to the list.

    I do have to admit though that I really liked the idea of requiring people to purchase a specific kit in order to attend. It resonated with me because when I have free time (ha! Free time...) I make knives. Partner with a local bladesmith so make a custom butcher knife for you and require attendees to buy one of them. Maybe work out a kickback for you, helps out the blacksmith, and narrows down who is really serious about learning.

    On the book thing, let us know when you're ready to publish it and put me down for a copy.
     
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    r ranson wrote:Wow!  There are some great responses here.  Thank you, everyone, for helping to transform my frustration into learning.

    I always felt bad about selling what I make at so high a price - even though the price is directly related to my cost.  But I balance that by my willingness to teach anyone anything upon request - for whatever they can afford (usually free).  I need to re-examine this approach.  

    Maybe I simply stop teaching entirely and focus on book writing.  Books go well in libraries - so the teaching is still free for those who need it.  

    I have two more classes that I'm teaching with a friend this year.  One for free, one for money.  After that, maybe I stop trying to interact with the humans that surround me.  

    I love teaching because I can feel that I have something to contribute to society.  

    But if I'm not wanted, I shouldn't waste my effort.  



    R, I'm about to teach some folks an entirely different topic (machine shop), but your concerns and the suggestions in the replies are all timely things to think about... (some similar issues around safety with sharp tools, also scope of the lessons, and dealing with new people...ugh., and the price.)
    (I'll be doing this under the umbrella of a maker-space, so the price might be out of my hands, but at least a lot of the administration will fall on someone else's shoulders.)

    I think that an investment in the basic tools and personal protection equipment should be a prerequisite for a hands-on lesson. (for everything else, there's YouTube.)
    An agreement covering safety rules and liability ought to be signed by attendees, or they can go home.
    "Everyone" in attendance has to be a paid ticket, there for the lesson, no hangers on... along with a "settling up" at the start, or they can go home. (As Joseph suggests, there may be different "prices", even if it involves a bit of theater with a friend who is not paying in ca$h... "thank you Joseph, for bringing your payment with you today...")
    And a cut-off for age for children (maybe one age that defines an "adult" child that could attend alone at an adult rate, and another age for attending with their parent and possibly at a bundled "one parent with one child" rate)

    Lots of places that offer lessons have a minimum class size needed to make it worth running, which I'm sure has something to do with the overhead and paying the instructor... and giving a one-on-one class could either be a super deal and quite wonderful or a huge pain in the ass.
    Often times there's an additional "materials fee" which covers tools and materials (often provided by the instructor) that are necessary for actually conducting the lesson. (the "right", sharp, butchering knife, for example... not just someone's steak knife from the drawer) I think this helps frame the value of the price for the instruction, and honest about the costs.

     
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