I've been trying to think of ways to earn extra income out here in the boonies and started thinking about skill sets. That, in turn, got me to thinking about niches that need to be filled. A lot of people in rural areas wear more than one hat; that is, they aren't just farmers or storekeepers. When you drive by farms at the end of the driveway you often can see signs that say "tool sharpening" and "excavation work" or "wells drilled" and "welding done". Even shops in town have signs in their windows that announce skills or services available besides their primary offering like "keys made" or "zippers mended while you wait".
While I am confident in my ability to do various kinds of needlecraft, I would like to add some of what I consider "mechanical" skills. For instance, one of the schools around here (and I can't remember which one) advertised a welding class to be held this Fall for adult learners. I plan to go to that class. I don't have a welder, but welding is a skill I'm certain has a strong long term value and is a good skill to have.
I'm also interested in tool sharpening. I remember asking my Dad one time how he learned to sharpen tools (a lot of people used to bring him their tools to sharpen when he could see better) and he told me to just take some tools that needed sharpening and sharpen them. Well, I didn't consider that to be much help at the time, but now I understand: Learn By Doing. That was why I bought The Complete Guide To Sharpening by Leonard Lee. I'm not very good yet at sharpening, but I'm working on it.
There is one skill I'm learning that I'm pleased with how I'm progressing --
Yep. Piano tuning. For the last two years I've been wanting to get my piano tuned as a Mother's Day present to myself but never managed to get it done. So, a couple of weeks ago I searched the Internet for how to tune your own piano and came up with this web site. I remembered that it cost me $150 to get my piano tuned nine years ago just before we moved to Wisconsin, and while the cost of Pete's teaching materials was around $190, I figured it would take less time and be cheaper now and over the long term to learn how to tune my piano myself. The best part is that I do have a piano on which to practice the skill of piano tuning. And it really isn't that difficult to learn. I find Pete's books very easy to understand (I wonder if he's left-handed like me), and I thoroughly enjoy getting rid of my "twanging" keys. I think I could like piano tuning as a side job. I just loved opening up my piano and seeing this --
I remember buying this piano at a used piano warehouse in Forest Park, Illinois probably close to 30 years ago. The price was $1,800 but I paid $800 for it plus $100 moving expense to our house. The man in the warehouse went from piano to piano playing a little ragtime music while I listened. I didn't like the sound of any of the pianos he played until he played on this one. The tone was just right! I made a good choice in choosing a Gulbransen piano. And the fact that this piano was made in America testifies to quality American craftsmanship and manufacturing. We aren't a poor nation; we just need to remember who we are and what we can do when we put our mind to it.
Do what you love.