If you want to start homesteading, there are some skills that you will need to master. Some are more important than others but all of the skill on this list will help you along your journey.
You don’t need to be a master of any of these to get started, but you should be familiar with what to look for along the way. Just remember to learn from the mistakes of others and don’t be afraid to fail.
Here is my list of essential homesteading you should start working on right now. If you believe that I overlooked something, please leave me a comment and I will get it added to the list!
If you want to be self sufficient all year, you will need to learn how to can your own fruits and vegetables. They key to surviving winter is to grow enough that you can store extra for winter when you can’t go pick them from the garden. This is the easiest way to preserve foods and is very easy to store away until you need it. Canned homegrown organic produce are also very easy to sell, making them one of the best ways to make money on a homestead.
Any fruits or vegetables that you can’t or don’t want to can, you can dehydrate for later use. Dried foods are still very healthy and allow you to enjoy your favorite foods all year long, saving you from trips to the grocery store.
Compost is sometime referred to as “liquid gold” because of how much value it brings to a homestead. Taking something that you, or someone else, is about to throw away and making it into something that you need is basically a summary of homesteading. This is one of those homesteading skills that everyone needs to know because it brings to much value to everything that you do. We have even had success selling compost in old feed bags with very little effort.
Bread is one of those food items that is often overlooked when someone wants to become self sufficient because it does not grow on plants or come from animals. If you don’t want to take weekly trips to the grocery store to buy it, you better know how to bake it yourself!
Knowing Home Healing Remedies
While I am not going to say that I know everything there is to know about all the remedies that can be used to solve every health problem without going to the doctor, but you should know the basics. You should be able to solve your sons sunburn issue by using the aloe vera sitting on the coffee table instead of the $10 tube of it you can get at the pharmacy.
How To Make Play Dough
You can laugh all you want, but you need to have some way to keep your kids entertained at all times. Playdough is a great way to get them off the video games and doing something with their hands. I could probably fill my house with the amount of Playdough I have created for my kids.
Making Your Own Laundry Detergent
If you want to live self sufficient and use the least amount of chemically created product possible than making your own laundry detergent is one of those essential homesteading skills you should learn. There is no need to go to the big box store and buy something that you can create out of ingredients that most of us have just lying around the house!
Making Cheese From Scratch
Cheese is one of those products that you will need to know if you don’t want to live off baked chicken and green beans for the rest of your live. It healthy, can create a variety of different flavors, and is much easier than you would think!
Know First Aid and CPR
There is no denying that a homesteader is exposed to more potentially dangerous situations that your average person. If you also factor in that homesteads are usually well outside of city limits and you could have a very ugly situation if you aren’t prepared. Knowing first aid could be a lifesaver, literally.
Rope is another essential tools for homesteaders, naturally that means that tying a variety of knots is one of the homesteading skills that cannot be overlooked. Knowing how to tie the right not for each application helps keep you safe and save you time in the long run.
Operating A Tractor
One of the keys to homesteading is to be as efficient as you can with every minute of every day. Tractors allow you to get so much more work done alone so that you can wait to ask for help until you have much larger problems. You will also learn how to your tractor to give you mechanical advantage in everyday tasks you would usually do by hand. If you can get your hands on a tractor, you can start homesteading today!
Riding a Horse
Homesteads tend to have an abundance of land that you will need to travel from time to time. Vehicles are a nice way to get around but a horse is cheaper and much better at covering all terrains. If you know of a machine that can get me down the road, through the woods, across the pond, up mountain, and back again, better than a horse, please let me know!
If you want your horse to help you accomplish a common task, you will need to train them how to do so. The same goes for dogs, who can be very useful on a homestead if trainer properly. Our dog does a great job of herding the alpacas back into the pen at the end of the day so that I don’t have to chase them around.
Most people think of fields of produce when they consider homesteading, but ignore what they are stepping on at the same time. There is an abundance of edible and useful plantlife that grow all around us waiting to be collected. Just make sure that you have done your research and know what really is edible and what is not.
Growing Plants In Your Climate
Being an expert in growing bananas is not going to help use here in Massachusetts. We are very good at growing the staple produces of our climate like corn, green beans, and apples. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other local homesteaders and find out what is working for them.
Hunting is one of the main food source for our homestead and should probably be for yours. A single elk kill will stock our two freezers for the entire winter. This is what allows us to thrive throughout the winter!
You simply can’t pass up on free and natural food if it is available. Fishing is a great activity for you and your family can have some fun with while catching food. Fishing can be especially useful if you track the best times to fish each species to ensure that you get a plentiful harvest. Being so close to Cape Cod, we spend a whole weekend catching flounder in the fall every year. We will fill the boat each day and pack our freezer full of nutritious fish for the entire year.
Whether you are setting rabbit traps for fur or bear traps for safety, trapping is a great skill to learn and pass along. Trapping is one of those skills that was almost common knowledge when The United States of America was still young, but is a skill hard to come by today.
Harvesting Meat and Fish
You will need to know what to do with the fish and game you do catch, or you will be wasting your time. Keeping an entire animal in the freezer so you can remove chunks as you need is just not feasible. Trust me, my husband tried it. And yes, I know it’s a horrible idea.
Changing Your Own Tire and Oil
My father engrained into me the idea that I should how to perform basic maintenance on any car that I own, and you should consider that as well. Besides being a safety issue being stuck on the side of the rode without knowing how to mount your spare, homesteading is also about saving money. Doing your own oil changes will save you a few hundred dollars a year.
Save Seeds For Future Planting
While this one might sound obvious, this really is a skill that you will need to master if you want to be successful. You don’t want to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on seeds every spring because you didn’t know to save the seeds from last years harvest.
Making and Using Your Own Compost Bin
If you don’t want your back yard to smell like the dump, you will want to keep your composting in a bin of some sort. This will confine the orders while also encouraging the scraps to compost faster. You can find tons of different ideas for composting bins online.
If you live on a homestead, you should know how to get a fire started when you need to. While getting one started without a match or lighter is prefereable, it’s an issue if you can’t get one started with those tools!
Firing and Cleaning Guns
One of the most obvious homesteading skills that you will need to master is gun use. I rely on guns from both safety and as a provider of food for my family. Make sure that you can shoot it with accuracy, as well as clean it when you are done. There isn’t much worse than spending 36 hours tracking an elk to have your dirty gun jamb when you finally get a shot, scaring your target away.
Basic Mechanic Skills
I leave this one to my husband, but it is important that someone knows how to do it! You can’t lose a few days of work, and hundreds of dollars, over a loose bolt that fell out of the tractor. I’m not saying that you should be able to rebuild the engine while eating lunch, but you should be able to figure out why the seat is falling off of your tractor.
Smoking meat is a great way to preserve the meat you harvest while hunting. You need that meat to last your throughout the winter, and smoking will help get you there. Not to mention, it adds a great flavor to meats if you do it right!
Milking Cows and Goats
Milking an animal is one of the homesteading skills that you think you understand until you try it for yourself. Being able to milk your livestock is going to be essential for your homesteads survival.
Making Homemade Beauty Products
For many woman, living on a homestead is a huge transition from the way they lived before. A good way to help with that transition is by creating natural beauty products without spending the money you did before. It is a great way to look and smell good without having to pick up a second job so you can afford to do so!
Cutting Down Trees
Unless your homestead is in the middle of a desert, you will need to know how to properly cut down a tree. If you are thinking “it’s a tree, how hard could it be” right now, than you should probably do some research before you attempt to actually do it. Chainsaws and trees are the number one source of injuries on a homestead.
Carpentry is one of the homesteading skills that is almost mandatory if you want to be successful. If you need to hire someone every time you need to patch a whole in your chicken coop, you are going to run out of money fast.