Are there essential skills you should build if you're going to homestead? Some skills to build are easy and some aren't so easy. But, I think there are some you should definitely build.
There are some things that are sort of necessary to know how to accomplish, or else homesteading will become very costly. For instance, if you're not gardening and canning your own food then the land isn't really paying for itself.
Most of these are sort of “no-brainer” things, but some aren't.
One thing about being a homesteader is trying to be as self-sufficient as possible. Meaning trying to make anything you eat, fixing anything you have, and working your land in a way that can keep you alive. Some things might not seem feasible to make or to learn, but considering there are folks out there that are completely self-sufficient I think they're worth learning.
Related Post: Why We’re Transitioning to Become Self-Sufficient
30 Skills to Build For New Homesteaders
You might think that building a house completely on your own is asinine, but our ancestors did it.
Heck, you might even wonder if it's a necessary skill to learn, but what if something happened and you needed to know? It might seem hard or even impossible, but knowing how could be beneficial one day.
Should you learn all of these skills? Well, you don't have to, but I would say it would be helpful.
Well, you don't have to, but I would say it would be helpful. Knowing how to bake your own bread, can your own food and even knowing what herbs/plants can be used as medicine is extremely helpful in this day and age. It's also helpful in the event of a disaster or emergency.
What if you're on a trip somewhere and get lost, stranded or need to know how to make a shelter or forage for food? Having some skills for those times is what preparation is all about.
Are Preppers & Homesteaders Alike?
People call “preppers” crazy or ludicrous, but in reality, if something happens they're probably the ones that would survive. Them and anyone that knows how to live a self-sufficient life of course. Might as well prepare now and learn some awesome new skills too.
Homesteaders and preppers are alike in the fact that preppers can be self-sufficient. They are preparing for some sort of disaster, even if that disaster is a zombie attack. Either way, they're preparing and working on skills to build that might be useful.
So, why should we focus on these skills to build for homesteading?
Knowing that you are able and even capable of surviving on your own is an amazing thing. There aren't really a lot of folks out there that think about it. They're all in big cities and relying on stores, cars, and others for what they need. Don't get me wrong, cities aren't bad and neither are the people living there.
Some people in cities even homestead! And that's what's amazing about homesteading; you can do it anywhere.
What if all the stores and food being shipped goes away? Can you produce your own food? Sure the idea that it will go away seems silly and even preposterous, but it's completely possible.
Skills for New Homesteaders to Grow and Foster:
Note: This list is not in order of importance, but they're skills that I think anyone should learn.
Growing your own food is an amazing feeling. Seeing your seeds start, take off and even produce edible produce is wonderful. It tastes amazing, too!
It tastes amazing, too!
When you can grow your own food the need for shopping greatly diminishes and you can save money.
This goes along with growing your own food. After you've grown your garden, you'll need to know how to store all your extras.
In theory, your garden will likely produce way more than you can eat on a daily basis. So, unless you're selling all your leftovers, which can be good, you'll need to preserve the rest. Canning is a great option.
Canning is a great option.
You can both water bath can and pressure can. Water bath canning is the process of using a big stock pot of boiling water to can your product. Pressure canning uses a pressure canner to can. Each one has its specific purposes. Be sure to learn when to use either in your canning.
3 Growing & Storing Medicinal Herbs
Knowing what plants are good as medicine is a useful skill that anyone should learn.
We'll take Lavender, for example, it's used for more things than just trying to relax. Check out this post from Wellness Mama that details different uses of Lavender. There are some basic herbs and plants that you can grow in a very small space that would be beneficial.
They're not hard to grow and they're easy to harvest also.
4 Baking Bread
Sounds easy right? That's because it is. Bread is super easy to make, and pretty tasty too.
Even if you can't eat gluten or wheat you should learn how to make bread. There are many, many recipes out there that use alternative flour options that are wheat/gluten free. Just because you can't eat wheat or gluten doesn't mean you should give up the pleasure of eating bread :).
5 Making & Keeping a Composting Pile/Bin
A quick search of Pinterest and you can find loads of resources on composting. How to start, troubleshooting issues, how to build a bin/pile, and so much more.
Composting is a great way to get a nutrient dense additive for your garden. It will not only increase crop yield but also improve the quality of your food. Don't toss your scraps in the garbage anymore, toss them in your composting area.
6 Make Home Medicine Ointments and Salves
Once you're confident you can spot, know, and can use medicinal herbs, the next step is creating medicines you can keep on hand. Making ointments and salves can help when you or someone you love gets a burn, cut or abrasion.
Think anti-microbial and anti-fungal and you can make things like a homemade version of A&D Ointment. Very useful and beneficial to have on hand especially on a homestead.
Making medicines is one of the really important skills to build in my opinion.
7 Homemade Laundry Soap
Modern laundry soaps contain so many additives, dyes and all sorts of nasty things. Knowing how to make your own from a few cheap safe ingredients is really awesome. You'll know exactly what's going into your laundry soap and you can tailor it for your family.
Again, there are tons of articles and even videos out there that will show you how to do this. Don't be afraid to search.
Note: I'll have a library in the future of how-to's and recipes.
8 Make Cheese
I'll admit right now that this one is still on my list of “to learn” items. We don't have a way to get raw milk right now, but once I find some raw milk you can bet your sweet bottom that I'll be making some cheese to learn the process.
Once we have our own land and cows this will be something I do on the regular. Our kids L-O-V-E cheese. Like, they'll devour a brick of cheddar from the store in a week if they had it their way.
9 Save & Store Seeds
Yes, and yes. This is definitely on my list of “skills to build” for anyone, but especially homesteaders!
You can't grow your own food if you don't have seeds. So, rather than buying seeds year after year, just buy them once and harvest the seeds from then on out. It's the best way to become self-sufficient.
10 Make a Root Cellar
Are you growing things that can be stored in a root cellar? Making one isn't all that hard, and it can store your crops all through winter.
I know we're planning on making at least a 10×10 root cellar. Though, my husband also wants to make it EMP proof and some other stuff that I didn't quite catch as he was rambling. If it can store my potatoes and such, I'm all for it.
11 Know First Aid & CPR
Thankfully, both my husband and I went through First Aid & CPR training in the military, but its good to refresh yourself from time to time.
Ah, I can still remember the sirens and crazy people screaming as we were doing our training. They tried to make it as realistic as possible before we went overseas. You can probably imagine how they made it look (tons of pieces every where, injured people, dark). Talk about interesting.
Talk about interesting.
Now, the likely hood that you'll need to know first aid or CPR for a bomb attack is not very high. But, those are skills to build in the event that you need them.
12 Foraging for Wild Edibles
Don't get caught in the wild without knowing what is poisonous and what isn't.
We all know there are some plants we can eat and some that will kill us. But, there are also some that are poisonous that we can cook and make edible too. Around here we have a plant called pokeweed. The roots are extremely toxic, and the leaves and berries aren't much better. However,
Around here we have a plant called pokeweed. The roots are extremely toxic, and the leaves and berries aren't much better. However, you can take the leaves and cook them to make them edible. We call it “Poke Sallet” and folks use to eat it quite a lot from what I've heard.
But, knowing how to prepare things is important. I'd start by going to your local college or university and finding a botanist to ask questions. Or your states Extension office should be able to point you in the right direction.
13 Build a Fire Without a Match
This might sound trivial, but have you ever had to start a fire without a match or lighter? Ever used a flint stick?
Unless you were a boy scout or you just decided to try, it can be kind of hard. You might not have enough kindling or your wood might not be dry enough. But, learning how to start a fire without matches is a definitely a skill you should build.
You never know when you might need a fire.
14 Know How to Hunt
This one comes in handy if you need to fill your freezer full of meat, but aren't raising animals for meat yet. We love to hunt deer and my husband loves duck hunting (even though we give it away).
This one isn't just one of those skills to build for just a little bit or only a season, but it will be something you hone over your lifetime.
15 How to Make a Smokehouse
If you don't have a big freezer or separate one, smoking and curing meat is another great option! You can make many yummy tasting types of meat with a smokehouse.
16 Know the Right Way to Tan a Hide
Ok, so there isn't really a “right way” to tan a hide, but there are wrong ways. Be sure to learn how to tan a hide so that you're getting the finished product that you're desiring. There's nothing worse than botching a perfectly good hide.
Beleive me, it's not cool.
17 Know How to Fish
This one is pretty easy, but learn what different types of fish respond to. Each type is different and responds to lures different. What one might go crazy over another won't even look at.
It's helpful to know. Typically, a bait shop will be able to help you choose what type of lure is good for what type of fish.
18 Learn How to Make Candles
Simple and easy to make and greatly helpful if your lights go out! Never be without candles again.
You can make candles from soy, beeswax or a synthetic wax. Personally, I like making candles from beeswax.
19 Know How to Sew Basic Stitches
Some of the skills to build are easy, just like this one. Knowing how to sew and mend things is really useful and thankfully sewing is easy. Don't overcomplicate it if you can. Just practice different stitch types on old clothes until you feel comfortable.
Once you're happy with your practice stitches you can try mending clothes or even hand stitching a few pieces!
20 Learn How to Process & Store an Animal Carcass
If you're hunting or fishing it should stand to reason that you should know how to process your meat. Unless you're taking it to a processor at least.
But, knowing how to process your own meat is really a great feeling. Don't be squeamish now, just get off in there and learn. It's best if you consult someone who knows how though. It can be quite a disaster if you puncture the wrong thing (like the intestines).
21 Cut, Bale & Store Hay
Keeping animals can get expensive, especially in the winter. If you're able to cut, bale and store your own hay you can cut your feed bill by a good bit. It's helpful if you have enough land, but if not just make friends with someone who has enough land.
Often times you can barter with someone to allow you to use their fields for hay. Give it a shot.
22 Crochet & Knit
When I initially made the list of skills to build before writing this crocheting and knitting were top of my list. They still are actually. This list is sort of out of order, but this skill is very helpful.
You can make so many things if you know how to knit or crochet!
23 Grow, Harvest, & Grind Your Own Wheat
If you use wheat to make bread, biscuits or anything else, then this would come in handy for you.
Personally, we're getting a hand-crank grinding mill that we can use to grind all sorts of grains. I think it will be really satisfying to grind my own flour to make bread from. 🙂
24 How to Harvest & Dry Herbs
You can make your own fresh-made dried herb spices and rubs. Nothing like fresh!
The quality beats anything store bought hands down.
25 How to Dehydrate & Store Fruits and Vegetables
If you're wanting different options for storing fruit then dehydrating is a good option. You can vacuum seal the fruits or veggies for long term storage.
Keeping bees is definitely a great thing to do. Not only is it important with the bee population hurting right now, but it's also great for your garden. With bees around your garden will flourish.
Pinterest is my go-to for finding lots of information about keeping bees.
27 How to Purify Water in Different Ways
If you've ever been in an emergency situation with water, you know how important water purification is. Knowing how to purify water can save you if all you have is dirty water.
28 Learn to Make Your Own Vinegar
Making apple cider vinegar is pretty easy. All you really need are apple peels and sugars!
29 Know How to Make Butter
Whipping cream and a mason jar! That's all you need. Stick the cream in a mason jar and start shaking it vigorously!
This is a fun project for kids, and it will knock a skill off of their own “skills to build” list!
30 How to Make Your Own Soap
Goats milk soap is one of my favorites and it's pretty easy to make if you have goats milk soap base. There are quite a number of recipes you can find on Pinterest that are amazing.
I've used a couple, but am testing some of my own. I'll be creating a post on this really soon. Stay tuned.
Stay tuned for updates or new skills to build and add to your list as we go along!
This post may grow or shrink based on our journey through homesteading. If you want more skills to build for homesteading check out Pinterest. There are loads of articles specific to homesteading and the skills you might need.
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