The key to a successful homestead does not only lie on being able to grow your own food but on other skills as well. Here is our list of homesteading skills that will surely help you be successful in your urban homesteading journey.
Keep in mind that learning these skills will take time, patience and perseverance, and not all of these skills are applicable to certain situations. Hopefully, though, you’ll be able to pick up some great ideas that will inspire you and get you started!
Click HERE for our Homesteading Quick Start Guide For Beginners
133 Homesteading Skills:
Preserve fruits and vegetables from your homestead naturally so you can eat holistically all year long.
Don’t throw out all your recyclable odds and ends. Put them in a compost and make your garden thrive with compost tea.
Never rely again on grocery store breads with bleached flours or expensive healthy loaves. Bake your own at home!
Take the time to heal yourself naturally with these home remedies!
Make your own chemical-free detergent in either liquid or powder form.
The kiddos will love it. And if they eat it, it’s made from organic ingredients so it’s not a risk to their health.
Use your milk product to make your choice of fresh, delicious cheese.
Correctly storing your compost will save your backyard from smelling like a dumpster.
9. Grow plants in your climate.
Every climate has a different time period for planting various seeds. Find the best one for your homestead.
Create a never-ending supply of seeds for your garden by learning how to correctly save and store seeds.
Just in case there is an accident on the homestead, you should always be prepared (especially if you live out in the boonies like I do).
12. Learn how to drive a tractor and a dirt bike.
This can greatly decrease the amount of time you spend walking back and forth from various chores on the homestead and is a great help when you need to carry heavy loads of supplies from one place to another.
13. Know how to ride a horse.
An alternative to the tractor and dirt bike (and much less of a gas hog) is the horse. Be sure you are conscious of weight limits for your breed if you are planning on using your horse to help carry supplies.
Believe me when I say this will save you loads of time in the future. If you have to stop gardening to discipline a dog that’s using his digging skills in your garden and then replant the dissembled plants, you will waste more time than it takes to properly train him.
15. Learn how to tie various knots.
If you have a very stubborn dog or horse that you have to keep tied up to stay out of trouble or if you just want to hang a line for your laundry you will need to know a variety of knots.
Keep those pesky squirrels out of your cow’s feed or simply trap them for a little extra protein.
17. Change a tire and change oil.
Life on the homestead means no guarantees that someone is nearby at any given time. Learn this self-reliant skill so you don’t lose a whole day of work due to a busted tire.
Preparation for emergencies is key, but in the event of injury in a natural disaster you may have to forage for plants with healing properties. Be very cautious when using herbs you did not plant yourself and do not use them unless you’re 100% sure that you have the correct plant.
Many people in Ireland still make their own natural fire starters today. This saves time when needing instant warmth on those blistering cold winter days.
No one should ever rely completely on one method or another. Learn how to start a fire in a variety of ways in case you are ever without matches.
Predators and threats on the homestead are inevitable. Don’t let lack of gun knowledge be the reason that your family doesn’t get the protection they need.
Part of knowing how to use a gun is learning to store is safely away from children and possible attackers. You’ll sleep more soundly at night knowing it’s in a safe place.
23. Know basic mechanic skills so you can fix your tractors and other vehicles.
Again, you wouldn’t want to lose an entire day of work just because a switch needed flipped or a bolt needed tightening.
Make sure you have the proper licenses to hunt game and provide more protein for your family and keep your livestock’s predators at bay.
It is only legal to hunt certain animals during specific seasons and the consequences for hunting game outside of it’s respective season can end in costly fines or the restriction/loss of your hunting license.
Whether you butcher your own livestock or hunt wild game you will need a way to preserve the meat properly.
Learn which techniques work best for different types of meat.
28. Know how to milk a cow and goat.
You may think that one is exactly like the other, but I assure you it is not. Learn the basics of milking your livestock. Every cow and goat is different and so you will have to learn to adjust your techniques accordingly, but the basics remain the same.
Fish is packed full of rich vitamins our bodies love. Hopefully your nearest waterbed is also packed full of fish. Make sure you check any rules or legislation regarding catching different breeds of fish as they can be seasonal as well.
30. Know how to clean and cook fish.
It can be tricky to clean a fish because of all the tiny bones. Learn the proper way to clean and cook fish so that you can avoid any sharp bones while eating your catch.
Electricity is another luxury on a homestead, especially during storms and power outages. Making your own candle’s will save you money and keep you from early evening’s spent in the dark
Save your husband’s favorite pair of jeans, upcycle an old dress into a beautiful blouse, or adjust your children’s hemlines so that they’re not tripping over pants that are too long.
Power is not only never a guarantee, it is also costly to run this large machinery. Save money and electricity by cleaning your washables by hand.
Give your clothes a breath of fresh air and dry them outdoors instead of opting for the costly electric dryer option.
Every homesteader should know a few ways to cook without any power. We’ve gone a step further and made a tutorial on how to bake without the help of electricity.
35. Know how to humanely kill, gut and clean an animal.
Butchering time is never a happy time on the farm, but it’s necessary to know how to humanely put your livestock down so they do not suffer. You must also know how to gut and clean them so the meat does not spoil.
36. Know how to properly kill and pluck a chicken.
Once chickens have stopped laying eggs and are ready to be butchered, they must also be killed and cleaned properly to ensure there is no spoilage to the meat. They require a little extra work due to the plucking process, but it is well worth it.
My mother always used a portion of others starter’s and would be reluctant to leave it for more than a couple days, worrying that it would die and she would be forced to bum more from a friend. That’s why I learned to make my own (I also like being the generous friend who shares).
Cut the chemicals and opt for natural ingredients in your cleaning supplies. You’ll spend a little time to save a lot of money.
39. Know how to cut, bale, and stack hay.
Keeping your hay organized will cut chaos out of your homestead.
This skill will provide a relaxing hobby that the whole family can benefit from.
Grow produce all year long in a homemade greenhouse.
42. Grind your own wheat for baking.
Never spend money on flour again! Grind your own grains and create an assortment of flours. If you have a grinder this process is infinitely easier.
If you don’t have a grinder or wheat mill, there is another technique I learned to prepare wheat.
Skip the hassle of feeding your chickens by hand every day by setting up this easy chicken brooder.
Find a recipe that works for your chickens. You may even be able to use things you have on hand already!
46. Learn how to tell if your chickens are molting.
Deciphering chicken behavior is important so that you will know when health problems arise or what to expect during certain seasons or times in a chicken’s life (like molting season).
You can use this structure for extra storage, a chicken coop or as a greenhouse. Either way, these domes are useful additions for homesteads.
48. Grow herbs.
Herbs can be used for their medicinal properties, to flavor an otherwise bland meal, or just to look pretty in your garden. Generally they are low maintenance plants with a wealth of uses.
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Preserve your herbs for teas, spices, or to hang in your home as an acting air freshener.
50. Learn how to make herbal extracts, salves, infusions, poultices and tinctures.
Herbs have long been used as natural medicines. Learn this art and heal yourself and your loved ones naturally before you head to the pharmacy.
The ingredients in mosquito repellent can be harmful to skin and some have even been linked to cancer. Make your own natural mosquito repellent free from these harmful chemicals.
Learn how to trap these pesky insects with traps made from all natural ingredients.
53. Prepare your homestead for wildfire.
Be sure that you are taking every precaution against wildfire spreading across your homestead.
54. Prepare your homestead for tornadoes.
Every homestead should have a storm shelter in the event that this natural disaster blows through your neck of the woods.
Make sure your family and your livestock are protected against freezing temperatures.
Make your homemade cheese last throughout the year(s) with this storage method!
I find myself putting tomatoes in almost every recipe during the summer. Tomatoes are easy to plant and maintain once you get into the habit.
Nothing makes me more excited for the summer than popping open a can of salsa or canned tomatoes on a cold winter day.
Each food requires a different amount of time and slight variations on the dehydration process. Using this method means that you can enjoy your favorite foods even when they’re not in season.
Reduce the amount of harsh chemicals you expose your skin to and protect it from the harsh conditions of the environment organically with these recipes.
Even though I spend most of my days covered in mud and smelling like a barn, I like to take care of myself and look good the natural way.
Give your pups an organic diet to keep them healthy longer.
Bonus points: Make your own doggy treats.
Give your dog the treats they deserve. After all, they’re part of the family too.
Learn to make some extra cha-ching by mining the nearest river. (E-book available here)
If you’re composting you should be using this method to help breakdown all the contents of your bin.
I promise you your entire homestead will thrive if you implement permaculture correctly.
Cook like your grandmother with a cast iron skillet – but first learn how to properly season and clean it!
Depending on the varieties you plan to plant, you may need to learn a few different processes. Also, you should learn to prune and harvest anything that grows on your trees.
68. Know how to properly cut down a tree.
If a tree has reached the end of it’s cycle or poses a threat to your safety, you should cut it down carefully using the correct techniques. Do not assume you know how to do this without having the knowledge you need.
69. Know how to propagate plants through root cuttings.
Just like seeds can be harvested and replanted, so can roots of certain plants. Save yourself some money and a trip to a nursery by re-planting roots of certain plants.
70. Learn how to assist an animal having difficulty giving birth.
I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t always wait on a vet to assist in an emergency situation. Pregnant animals will not always give birth with much warning so you have to be prepared to jump in and help where you can.
Even in a healthy birth, you will still need to be near to take care of your animals after they are born. Be sure to do your homework for whichever animals will be giving birth and learning anything you can do to help the process go more smoothly. Mostly be there to keep the mother calm and hydrated.
72. Learn to tell whether an animal needs to be taken to the vet or if you can just do the doctoring yourself at home.
If you live way out there it can be quite a hassle (and a fee) to get a vet to come out for something that could have been easily fixed yourself. Learn about your animal’s anatomy, behavior and special needs so you’ll be better equipped to help them before you make a phone call.
Even if you have an urban homestead, you can keep bees in your backyard! Learn how to keep your hive healthy and honey harvesting tips and techniques.
Each flock is different and requires a different amount of space. Learn to scale and build your own chicken coop in 4 easy steps. (You’ll love these DIY plans).
Use various methods to make sure that you always have access to clean water.
Purify your water or, if you’re of the right age, make some moonshine in your own distiller.
Building things with your hands not only will save you money, but will also make you swell with pride when you see your handiwork.
78. Know how to build and fix a fence.
Keep your livestock in and predators out by learning to build and repair a fence.
Keep your tools sharp and prolong their lives by sharpening them yourself.
This will save you lots of money and could even earn you some if you decide to sell some of the animals you breed.
Using every part of the animal has always been very important to me. Not only does it reduce waste, it also seems more respectful to the animal to me.
Avoid buying things over and over again when what you have can be used for what you need. This will challenge your creativity!
83. Know How To Stay Warm In A Sleep Bag
Staying warm is essential for survival.
This lamp made from organic materials is an easy project that provides a good light source for those nights without power.
Use a different energy with this homemade solar lamp.
This could save you lots of money in the long run and provides a natural source of power for cleaner energy.
Just learning to thread the machine took me a while. But the more you know about your machine, the easier time you will have using it.
This can either be used for cooking, cleaning or even for medicinal properties. Either way, it’s a handy thing to know!
Learn to make an outdoor stove for warmth or too cook outdoors.
Some things may be as simple as creating a predator-proof lock or home for your livestock, other times you may have to take more drastic measures with brute force. Know your predators and figure out your best line of defense.
To make certain types of cheeses, you will absolutely need this equipment (which can be expensive, so it’s best to make your own).
Making your own beer is rewarding and delicious. Also, the process is easy once you get the hang of it.
This may seem like a game for cheapskate’s, but it is actually handy to make sure you’re not getting ripped off when you know what something is worth.
There are certain things homesteaders can live without. What items are you wiling to give up?
95. Learn how to properly determine an animal’s age by its teeth.
This will be especially helpful when a stray wanders into your home or to when buying animals it will help you determine whether or not the dealer or farmer you are buying from is being honest about the age of livestock.
You’ll love these winter hacks for staying warm. Homesteaders are excellent at utilizing all of their resources and thinking outside the box.
97. Know how to properly restrain livestock.
Animals can be a bit unpredictable at times and if they need to be restrained for one reason or another, you should know how to do so for each animal on your homestead.
Homesteaders should consider their appraoch to agriculture and farming, and how it affects the world at large.
Recycling the water you use around your homestead will do wonders for the environment.
100. Learn The Process of Sugaring | Tapping Maple Trees To Make Syrup
Tapping maple trees in late winter is a great pastime, and the results are divine! Check out our tutorial.
101. Learn how to pasteurize milk.
To keep milk longer and break it down into a form that our bodies can find more friendly than raw milk, learn to pasteurize it.
Forecasting can be possible with subtle clues from Mother Nature. Predict when a storm is coming, how strong it is likely to be, and when it is likely to occur.
Knowing your tools is another key tool.
Often times I start to get down on myself for not accomplishing an impossibly long to-do list. Just accept that you are human, imperfect and only capable within your limitations. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you have to adjust your expectations and ask for help when it’s needed.
In case you haven’t noticed, most of these skills are about learning how to use what you have or make what you don’t have to save some money. That doesn’t mean that I’m cheap, it just means that I like to live with what I have and get what I need without accumulating a mountain of debt. Lift the burden of owing money and learn to live within your means!
106. Learn how to use a garden shovel, spade or hoe properly.
This may seem simple, but you can save yourself backaches and blisters by adjusting your grip slightly or using one muscle rather than another.
107. Learn how to identify the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms.
This is the difference between life and death. Don’t ever eat it unless you are sure. Learn where the varieties of mushrooms grow and any subtle differences between varieties. When in doubt, don’t eat it!
Again, if you are not growing the food yourself you must take every precaution before ingesting anything. Learn what edibles grow in your neck of the woods and which markers indicate a safe plant versus a harmful plant.
Take our QUIZ:
In the event of an emergency that requires you to be ready to leave your home at a moments notice, you should have kits or bug out bags put together so you can live temporarily with the essentials.
110. Make your own jams, jellies, salsas, chutneys and sauces.
This will keep your produce in your cupboards and filling your belly all year long.
111. Know how to butcher an animal and the proper cuts of meat.
The art of butchery is different for every animal. Different cuts should be cooked different ways so you should know which cuts work for every animal you are butchering before you start making cuts.
This will save you from those large heat bills during the winter if you use this in place of electric heat or it can act as an emergency heating source when your power goes out.
If your milk supply is too much for your family to keep up with, make your own yogurt and butter at home! It’s a tasty, natural alternative to store bought dairy.
In case you find yourself temporarily removed from your home and in need of a heat source, you should be prepared to start a fire even in inclement weather.
115. Learn how to prevent plumbing pipes from freezing and how to thaw them out during winter.
Ever turned the faucet on in winter only to get creaks and groans instead of water? I’ve been in that boat before, and it is not fun, my friend. Learn how to prevent freezing pipes and how to thaw them just in case they freeze up anyway.
116. Learn how to handle eggs and tell if they are fertilized or not.
If you have a rooster in your flock, this is crucial. You do not want to crack open an egg to find an unpleasant surprise – especially if you are trying to hatch chicks.
Bananas are a great energy source and easy to add to a large array of recipes. Make sure you know how to make a mean banan bread, as well as these other fantastic banana recipes.
118. Keep your livestock well fed with fresh homegrown fodder
Having your own fodder system will save you money, and ensure freshness with maxium nutrients.
Straw bale gardening is a game changer for those with poor soil.
I mentioned earlier that I believe every part of the animal should be utilized, and that include it’s hide. Learn techniques for tanning the skins of all your wild game.
121. Learn how to harvest, split and stack firewood.
Not all woods are good for fire – especially in an indoor fireplace or furnace. Learn which woods grow in your area and how to split it so that it will be easy to stack and store.
Orange Peels can be utilized on and around the homestead in various effective ways.
Turns out some flowers are edible, and even great additions to desserts and salads!
Charcoal has many benefits, you can even use activated charcoal around the homestead.
Always keep your barn equipped.
Understanding aquaponics will help you and your garden thrive!
This skill is a must if you plan on going off the grid and staying clean.
So They Stay Fresh Longer…
Keep these common spces in your pantry for easing ailments and for cooking.
Your food will easily go bad if you don’t seal it properly.
Behind every good homesteader is a great pancake recipe.
Great for Indoor Gardening
True homesteader’s have a soft spot for bees.
We probably missed some skills in there so please feel free to tell us some of the things you do or have learned on your homestead that we missed.