Homesteading Skills


On today’s podcast I will give a brief overview on many homesteading skills worth acquiring and I discuss how one would go about learning some of these skills.  This is not a list of every skill a homesteader may desire to have but a good list of basics. Every person may not desire to acquire every one of these skills but they could if they wanted to.

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Gardening

I believe gardening in some form is probably the most essential skill a homesteader can develop. Many people consider themselves poor gardeners with a brown thumb but it is a skill that can be learned.

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  • Large scale organic

The Organic Farming Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Running a Certified Organic Farm -by Ann Larkin Hansen

  • Small scale organic

The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-scale Organic Farming -by Jean-Martin Fortier

All New Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space 2nd Edition -by Mel Bartholomew

  • Container gardening

The great thing about learning this skill is that it can be done anywhere. Whether you live on a hundred acres or a small apartment gardening in containers is a great way to utilize spaces to grow things that might otherwise be unusable.

  • Indoor gardening

If you live in a place with a shorter growing season indoor gardening is a valuable skill to have. This is mostly about lighting, large south facing windows are a great place to grow otherwise you have to use artificial lighting.

  • Seed saving

A great resource for seed saving information – http://howtosaveseeds.com/

  • Hydroponics

A method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.

  • Aquaponics

A system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.

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Composting

I believe knowing how to compost is an important homestead skill because it makes the most of what you have including your waste products. Compost is an important addition to the vitality of your soil and the nutritional value of your plants.

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  • Hot composting 

Combining two parts high-carbon materials (shredded, dry plant matter such as leaves, twigs, woody stems) with one part high-nitrogen green plant matter (green plant and vegetable refuse, grass clippings, weeds, trimmings, kitchen scraps) in a pile approximately four foot cube and be kept about as moist as a squeezed out sponge. The pile will reach temperatures between 110 and 140 degrees fahrenheit and will need to be turned at least once a week.

  • Cold composting

This will use about the same materials but will not reach the high temperatures that will will destroy seeds and will take a year or longer to decompose but it will not need to be turned.

  • Vermicomposting

This is the process of using worms to break down organic material and turned into rich organic fertilizer called worm castings.

  • Compost tea

This is a liquid solution which contains the nutrients and beneficial organisms of compost. It is made by soaking compost in water while being oxygenated. 

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Animal Husbandry 

All aspects of raising and ethical care of animals from birth to maturity.

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  • Small livestock

Chickens, Rabbits, Quail, Goats

Read about 7 Reasons To Choose Small Livestock.

Check out the Keeping Urban Livestock eCourse.

  • Large livestock

Cattle, Pigs, Sheep

  • Fish

Bluegill, Crappie, Catfish, and Tilapia are some of the more common farm raised fish.

  • Beekeeping

The American Beekeeping Federation is an excellent resource for beginner beekeepers.

Excellent article on the benefits of different hive types from Mother Earth News –  Langstroth, Top-Bar or Warre?: Choose the Right Hive for You and Your Bees

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Butchering

Butchering your own livestock can be unpleasant work but a great skill to have if you desire to be self-sufficient.  

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  • Attend a workshop

It can be worth the cost of a great workshop to learn this valuable skill.

  • Volunteer to help someone with experience to butcher his animals.

Free labor is hard to turn down and just watching how it’s done can be a great way to learn.

  • Books

Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game β€“ by John J. Mettler

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Food Preservation

You worked so hard to grow it or raise it but you can only eat so much at once. Food preservation is a vital homesteading skill if you want to get the most out of what you have.

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  • Canning

Water bath – Pickling, high acid fruits and jams and jellies.

Water Bath Canning Infographic

Q & A Podcast “Is It Safe To Water Bath Can Vegetables?

Pressure canning – Necessary for canning vegetables and meats.

At Home Canning For Beginners And Beyond – DVD

 

  • Fermenting

Q & A Podcast “How To Get Started With Fermenting Food” 

  • Dehydrating

It’s Easy with an Excalibur Food Dehydrator.

Build your own with these Solar Food Dehydrator Plans from Mother Earth News.

  • Freezing

This is one of the simplest ways to preserve food though with many vegetables blanching is important to maintain color and taste.

  • Curing / Smoking

The Hunter’s Guide to Butchering, Smoking, and Curing Wild Game and Fish Flexibound – by Philip Hasheider

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Food Preparation

Preparing your home grown and raised healthy food is an often underestimated valuable skill. If you truly want to fall in love with the homesteading lifestyle then good eating is the way to the heart.

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  • There are many great blogs, websites and Youtube channels specifically focusing on cooking food right from your garden and meat that you have raised or hunted.

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Water Security

There simply is nothing more important than plentiful clean water and sometimes it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Water security is a skill every homesteader should develop. 

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  • Well drilling

Depending on your water table this may not be that difficult. There are many videos and online resources explaining how someone would go about doing this.

  • Harnessing

Capturing runoff is easy but it requires a little setup. Here is an article with a few Ideas for setting up a DIY Rain Water Catchment System.

  • Storing

This could be anything from storing jugs of water in your home to putting in a large cistern for water storage. Either way knowing how and setting up a way to store water is an important skill to have.

  • Purifying

It’s not enough to just have water, you have to have clean water if it’s going to be used for consumption in any way. Purifying water is an excellent skill to have and a valuable one to have especially in certain situations. You should have a commercial Water purification system in your home like a Berkey but it’s also important to know how to purify water in other more primitive ways using natural materials

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Hunting

This is a great skill to have and can provide hundreds of pounds of meat for your homestead, plus it can be a lot of fun.

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  • Small Game 

Squirrel and Rabbit are the most common for meat.

  • Large Game

Deer, Elk, Moose, and Bear are the most common in North America.

  • Guns

Learn to Handle, Shoot, Clean, and Store

Q & A Podcast “What’s The Best Gun For Hunting Small Game

  • Archery

Learn to Handle, Shoot, and Maintain

  • Field dressing

Field Dressing Game: A Waterproof Folding Guide to What a Novice Needs to Know – by James Kavanagh

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Fishing

This is another great way to supply meat for the homestead and does require a little skill. It is something that can be learned though and will probably develop into a hobby you love.

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  • Lure

Fishing with lures is something that takes some practice but can yield a great abundance of fresh fish and can be a lot of fun. Many people even enjoy making their own lures.

  • Bait

Using live bait to catch fish is easy if you figure out what they like to eat. Worms, minnows, bee larvae, and leeches are common live baits to use. You can also make baits from bread and cereal into dough balls which work great for certain fish like carp and catfish.

  • Cleaning

Gutting, cleaning, and filleting fish are skills you are going to need to develop if your going to be a fisherman. It’s a little messy but when you put the fork to your mouth you will realize how worth the trouble it is.

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Foraging

This is a skill many people desire to have but are afraid to try because of the risk of eating something toxic. This is a legitimate fear but one that can be put aside with proper education and training.

  • Edible weeds

Youtube is an excellent resource for learning about wild edible weeds.

  • Mushrooms

There are few mushrooms that are fairly safe for foraging such as morel or chanterelle but many are dangerous so make sure you know what you’re picking. Find an experienced mushroom forager to show you the ropes.

  • Berries

Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are a few common berries for foraging and are very safe and easy to find.

  • Fruit

Apples, plums and mulberry are common to find in the woods and make for a great day of foraging.

  • Nuts

Walnuts are one of my favorites and expensive to buy but there are plenty in the woods. There are many others you can forage for, look for what’s common in your area.

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Other Bushcrafting Skills

There are hundreds of bushcrafting skills worth learning for the purpose of preparedness and for fun. Here are a few of the most useful ones. Youtube and books are excellent resources for learning these skills.

  • Shelter building
  • Tracking
  • Fire starting
  • Open fire cooking
  • Trapping

Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival

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Leatherworking

Make your own belts, bags, sheathes, slings, holsters, crafts, etc. from the animals you raise or hunt, making full use of resources.

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Leathercraft-Set

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  • Books


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Blacksmithing

Make your own tools, equipment, parts or crafts using metal.

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Get Started

  • Take a welding class at a local vocational training center

 

  • Online Resources – Training Courses, DVD’s, Youtube Video’s

 

  • Books

The art of blacksmithing – Paperback – 1969 – by Alex W. Bealer

The (new) Edge of the Anvil – by Jack Andrews

 blacksmithing

  • Tools

HammerAnvilForge (build your own), TongsViseApronGlovesSafety Glasses.

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Carpentry / Building

It seems like I always have a hammer or a cordless drill in my hands these days. Knowing how to build things is a very handy skill to develop on the homestead. For some this skill comes naturally I think but I also believe with practice it can be learned.

  • Start with small, simple projects.
  • Find someone with building skills to help you and show you the basics.

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General Maintenance and Repair

If you want to keep your finely tuned homestead running without the huge expense of hiring people to do everything for you then you will need to learn general maintenance and repair skills.

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  • Engine

Lawnmowers, generators, tractors and vehicles all have engines and they occasionally need serviced and repaired. Learning engine basics can save you a lot of money and go a long way to helping you be more self-sufficient.

  • Electrical

If you’re not comfortable messing around with electricity than this is the one thing worth paying someone else to do. But it’s also a learnable skill that when done correctly can be safe. This will require some training from someone with experience.

  • Plumbing

For some reason this can be one of the most expensive things to hire out and quite honestly I find it fairly simple. This can be a very valuable skill to learn for when a pipe bursts.

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Sewing / Knitting

I have to admit this is not one I don’t know much about but I would like to. This can range from sewing on a button (which I can do) to making all your own clothes, blankets, etc. (which I can’t do). However I do recognize this as an extremely valuable skill to have when it comes to homesteading.

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Make Household Products

Making your own household products is a valuable skill because it can save you a lot of money and provide you with healthier substitutes to the toxic commercial products.

  • Cleaners

10 All-Natural, DIY Cleaners to Scrub Every Inch of Your Home from RealSimple.com

  • Soap

How to make Handmade All Natural Soap For Face & Body from diynatural.com.

  • Laundry detergent

A recipe for a simple inexpensive Homemade Laundry Detergent.

  • Candles

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Herbalism

This is the study and practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants. A valuable skill to have when you grow your own herbs and medicinal plants.

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Bartering

This is one I hadn’t thought of until recently when it was mentioned as a skill a person was desiring to work on and develop. no doubt it is a valuable skill to have on the homestead.

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Shownotes for this podcast episode can be found at http://smalltownhomestead.com/31

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Harold

Harold

Homesteader, Blogger and Podcaster at Small Town Homestead
I am a husband to Mary and father to three daughters. My family and I are striving to become more self sufficient everyday as we grow our own food and pursue a more natural and organic lifestyle.
Harold

Posted in DIY, Homesteading, Hunting & Fishing, Podcast, Preparedness and tagged , , , , , , , .

2 Comments

  1. Wow! What a great list! Definitely thought of quite a few I wouldn’t have thought of right off the top of my head. That is the beauty of homesteading, though. There are so many aspects that can be included and it is not the same for everyone. πŸ™‚ Personally, I will definitely be checking out Herb Geek. Herbalism is something I’ve been meaning to learn more about for years!

    • Thanks Alicia, you’re right about how it can be different for everyone, one person’s main focus in homesteading can be totally different from another’s. I think that’s why community is so important among homesteaders, we all have the things we love to do and do it better than others and when we all come together we can all benefit from each other’s best. It’s still fun and beneficial to learn all we can about several different skills and be more self-sufficient though. Thanks for the comment.

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