13 In 2013

Jack Spirko at the Survival Podcast mentioned something last week about a “13 in 2013” campaign where listeners pledge to learn 13 different skills in 2013.   I think we’re still waiting on the details on how the thing is going to play out, but I’m going to think out loud and try to list 13 things I’m going to try to get done.   The list is tenative, as different opportunities to do different things make come up.


1.  Beekeeping.  I’m pretty set on doing this in the spring.   I’ve been reading up on it and found a dude that lives near me who breeds and sells Russian bee nucs.  

2.    Chicken raising.   I meant to have this done by now, but I think I might wait until next spring.

3.    I’m going to build a chicken coop.    I think this is what is holding me back with the chickens – I’ve been torn on whether to buy one or whether to build one.    I see you can buy them for a few hundred bucks, but I’m not sure if the quality is exactly what I want.  I also know that I’ve got some limitations on my construction skills (to put it nicely).  I have gotten better in this regard over the past few years.   I think I’ll go with building one in order to get exactly what I want and the quality that I want (well, at least in the way of materials).  I think it will be a little more satisfying if I build it.

4.   Knot tying.   Yeah, this is a total merit-badge activity but it’s good to know these things.  I had a little bit of training in the Marine Corps, but forgot most of them.  I’d like to know at least a half dozen practical knots.

5.   Woodcarving.   I’m going to carve something.  

6.  I’m going to improve my Spanish.   I’m not sure how to quantify this, but I’m going to make some progress one way or another.  

7.   4-Seasons gardening.   I just had a major setback the other day with my dog tearing up a perfectly good cold weather vegetable bed, but I will celebrate New Year’s with a salad out of my garden.   I have a few low-tech methods I’m going to try this year.

8.   I’m going to make cheese.    Nothing fancy, but I’m going to do it.

9.   I will MASTER the art of yogurt making.   I’m not going to lie, I’m batting less than 50% on yogurt making attempts. 

10.  I will identify and consume five new wild edibles.   I already do lamb’s quarter, dandelions and forage blackberries.  

11.  I will improve my blogging skills.  I want to get better at making this look professional, putting out better material and most importantly, reaching out to people with it. 

12.   I’m going to practice the art of teaching and speaking.   I’m going to make a point to teach someone about something that I know one way or another.   I’ve been doing this with my job lately and I think I’ve been doing it well enough.  I’m going to try to translate that to the things that interest me.    I’ll also add to this list “networking”.   I’m going to do a better job of meeting up with like-minded people that I can learn from as well as connecting with old friends.

13.   I’m going to learn about energy through reading and some hands on stuff (maybe a solar oven or distilling alcohol or something).   I have a good textbook from a class I took a few years ago on energy that I’m going to re-read.  

So that’s how it’s looking right now.   A few big ones, a few small ones.    There’s the possibility that I might be able to do a basic blacksmithing course and some medical related things, so that would be cool too.    Either way, I hope that 2013 is a productive year for me.   I feel I’ve done and learned a lot over the past couple years and hopefully I can continue to build on it.  



  • Boy scout manual for knots… Spanish is easy depending on where you live. Drop me a line if you want some advice on learning la lengua bella…

    Build the coop, it will last longer and you can have some control on the materials… Unless you want your chicks scratching in chinese made shingle crumbles until it collapses.

    • Ryan

      I think there’s a knot section in Back To Basics but if that doesn’t suffice I’ll get ahold of a boy scout manual.

      There’s a local garden store that had a couple of chicken coops for sale that would’ve been better quality than the ones you can order off the internet, but I agree that building it would be better. I’d rather built it once and have it last for a while than spend money for something that I’ll be disapointed with and then replace. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do it over the winter – I wish I had a garage.

      I’d appreciate advice with Spanish – I’ve taken a couple of classes a few years ago, I travelled to Argentina a few years ago (only knowing a little bit of Spanish, but using what I knew) and listen to Spanish music and watch Spanish movies occasionally. Sometimes I’ll turn subtitles on. I think my weak point is actually using the language. It’s one thing to be able to read it or understand it, it’s another to speak it.

  • Rottenclam

    Good luck on your 13 in 13, Ryan. I’m too much of a wimp to try that this year, as I’m scared I’ll fail. I’m proud to say that I’ve accomplished a ton in the last 2 years (and I’ll give credit where credit is due – Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast has been a huge launchpad for all of these accomplishments). The biggest goal that I’ve met is leaving the State of California (for a litany of reasons) to relocate to a state with more freedoms, and more specifically, to a city with a smaller population.

    2011 was my big year for lots of smaller accomplishments, and it set the stage for the goal mentioned above (my big goal in 2012). I’m feeling like 2013 will mainly be spent “circling the wagons” on what the next big goal (or set of goals) will be in the wake of all the 2011 / 2012 stuff. I move slow like that. Slowly, but very deliberately.

    Anyway, I dont mean to detract from your 13 in 13. I hope you’re able to achieve all of those things.

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