Modern homesteading is a joyous but chore-filled way to live a self-sufficient lifestyle that enhances your chances of survival during a long-term disaster in the process. Starting and properly maintaining a homestead can feel quite overwhelming at times. Like most everything else in life, education, organization, and motivation are the keys to success.
Modern Homesteading Skills
Whether you are new to homesteading or have been enjoying the back-to-basics lifestyle for several years, there are still new things to learn and ways to hone your skills to enhance the bounty offered by the land and better prepare for any curveball either Mother Nature or man, could throw our way.
Cross-training should be a priority for the homesteading or prepping family. If the one person who knows how to complete an essential task becomes ill, breaks a leg, or even dies during a long-term disaster, the entire homestead could fail and vastly decrease the odds of survival of not merely the crops and the livestock, but the entire family.
Remember, the more you learn to do yourself, the less time and money are wasted. After mastering some basic homesteading skills, ample opportunity will exist to make money selling the fruits of your labors both locally and online.
Top 15 Homesteading Skills
1. Learn how to mill your own grains.
Making flour from crops you raised yourself is a valuable and money-saving farm to table endeavor.
2. While most homesteading families have a well to use for their drinking water and other water needs, redundancy is the key to both survival and sustaining the homestead.
A well can run dry, become contaminated, not be located conveniently to the garden or barn, or run off of electricity which, as well all know, can fail without warning. Having the skill to find, cleanse, and store drinking water should be a priority for all homesteaders, even if you have multiple wells or are connected to a county water line system. Having access to a source to maintain potable water, such as a creek, pond, or a rainwater catchment system – or all three, are the best water well back-up sources. Water must be filtered and boiled before it is safe to drink, skipping these steps or not having the supplies necessary to complete the steps for many months, could leave you without the water necessary to sustain life and keep plants thriving during a drought.
3. Capture your own wild yeast for making bread.
For hundreds of years bakers used a sourdough starter to keep a steady supply of live yeast handy.
4. Butchering your own meat is not only a money saver, it could be a money maker!
When we found our dream land after more than two years of searching for a perfect homestead/prepper retreat, is came with quite a self-sufficient bonus – a complete butcher shop. We didn’t know how to butcher at the time, but a member of our tribe (my favorite term for our self-reliant group of family and friends) did.
We delved into the process by first learning how to use all the saws, knives, and hydraulic lift – a massive back-saver when dealing with large livestock, at least until the power grid fails. Setting up a modest home butcher shop with a cooler would cost about $3,000, but would be a wise investment for any homesteader. Butchering your own beef, pork, and poultry not only defrays the cost of processing, but also ensure the humane treatment of the animals you raised and the safe handling of the raw meat before it hits your dinner plate.
5. Learn how to make your own butter from cream and to make cheese from the milk garnered from your cows and goats.
Successful homesteaders rarely, if ever, need to go to the grocery store to fill their refrigerators and cupboards! Making a homemade cheese press is quite simple and extremely inexpensive. Once you have the knack of making your own butter, learn how to pressure can it to make the butter shelf-stable for at least two years.
6. Composting is a simple skill.
But as I noted in my book, Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive After the Lights Go Out, not doing it to the best of your ability vastly detracts from the quality of dirt used when growing your own groceries and natural pharmacy. Learning the many, many things which can be composted but are often thrown away, and how to simply test the soil to detect nutrient levels problems, can greatly increase the annual crop yield and provide not only ample food to feed the family, but have plenty left over to sell.
7. Learn about all the uses for greywater around the homestead.
Never let a valuable and free resource go to waste! The collection of greywater on a regular basis will reduce the drain on your well or potable water stores during a drought, power outage, or disaster.
8. Growing your own sprouts to feed to small livestock.
During the winter this is a great money-saver and could be the only feed they get if disaster strikes during the cold winter months. No homesteader or prepper ever wants to be forced to eat their breeders and be left without a flock or colony of meat rabbits. Devoting some space to the growing of field corn for medium and large livestock can help preserve the herds during lean times as well.
9. Preserving what you grow and raise off grid.
This style will help reduce waste, save money, and ensure the shelves in food storage areas never go bare. Building you own solar dehydrator, root cellar, and smokehouse takes very little money and each can be completed in the space of a single weekend – depending upon the size of the root cellar and terrain.
10. Learn how to properly preserve your own seeds and plant starts for future plantings.
Not only will planting your own seeds save you money, it will also allow you to continue cultivating quality strains of plants and herbs which have produced strong yields for future harvests.
11. Stockpiling firewood properly involves more than just back-breaking work.
Every member of the homesteading family should be taught how to identify the various varieties of trees on the property – and learn which type of wood is best for specific aspects of fire building. Some wood is lightweight and is great for starting a fire, such as pine. Hardwoods, like red and white oak, take longer to get going, but are thick and heavy and perfect for stoking up the woodstove or fireplace to ensure the fire last throughout a long cold night – or when smoking meat.
12. Nearly every single part of the livestock raised on the homestead can be consumed or used in some manner.
Learning how to tan hides and turn them into useful or money-making projects, utilize bones, and to preserve unwanted yet edible portions of the animal to be used to make feed for the farm dogs, will help stretch the family budget while stockpiling necessary items to be either used or sold for profit at a later date.
13. Learn how to render tallow and lard from the animals butchered on the homestead.
There are a plethora of uses for lard and tallow around the homestead!
14. Become an amateur blacksmith and farrier.
It allows the homesteader to not only save time and money when horses need tending and farm projects need completed, but which could turn a profit or be bartered for goods or services from other homesteading or prepping families both now and during a long-term disaster.
15. Learn some basic sewing skills.
Then expand upon them so you can make and mend the clothing for the family – and even sale your wares for extra money. There is no need to spend a small fortune on buying patterns, ample exist online for free in a vast array of sizes and styles for all sewing levels. If a fiber flock is being raised on the homestead, learn how to dye and spin the fibers into yarn.