17 Free Homesteading Downloads to Upgrade Your Skills

Interest in homesteading among Americans is surging. And that’s no wonder at all: with a skyrocketing and stagnant real estate market, increasing civil uncertainty, and an economy that looks like it’s circling the drain, more folks want to get back to a simpler way of living that is more affordable and also more fulfilling.

stacked homesteading books
stacked homesteading books

But living on an actual homestead involves a lot more than just moving out to the country. You’ll be producing more of your own food, or even all of it, managing your water, and maybe even producing your own power.

Running a functional homestead is a full-time job and there’s a lot to learn, but you don’t have to sweat it if you’ve got the right info.

To help you do your homework I’m bringing you free homesteading eBooks that you should start reading right now if you are thinking of taking the plunge. We’ll get straight into them!

Self-Sufficiency

Homesteading is synonymous with self-sufficiency, and if you are used to living in the middle of society with all of its civic infrastructure, you’ve got some reprogramming to do. These guys and books will help you do it.

Planning Your Sustainable Homestead

What all goes into a sustainable and functional homestead? Lots of different things, but it’s basically a three-part pie according to the EPA: quality of life, economics, and environmental stewardship.

Nailing all three will make your life easier and more comfortable, make it far less expensive, and make sure that your land and the natural resources surrounding you can support you and your family for years to come.

This handy checklist and accompanying webinar cover everything from building healthy soil to improving the aesthetics and ecosystem of your property by planting and maintaining various kinds of plant life.

Water management, animal husbandry, forestry, and other environmental factors are also covered in detail, along with intangibles like dealing with neighbors, zoning and building codes, finances and more.

If you love the idea of living on a homestead of your own, but truly don’t know where to start, this worksheet will help you wrap your head around everything.

Principles of Home Canning

A large part of your efforts on and around the homestead will be taken up growing your own food in a garden or, depending on the size of your property, fields of crops.

Both are good ways to remove a lot of links in your personal food chain, but keeping your harvest fresh and edible is an entirely separate set of skills. You’ll have to fall back on what your great-grandparents and their parents used to do and start canning what you can.

Canning is part art and part science, but it’s one of the very best ways to ensure fruits, vegetables, meat and more stay safe and edible for months on end with no refrigeration. Consider this skillset a must for serious homesteaders.

Water Storage Handbook

One of the most crucial resources of all is water. For drinking, washing, irrigation, giving to animals, cleaning and countless other tasks, you’ve got to have it. Wasting it is basically a sin on the homestead, especially if you don’t have access to public water or a well of your own.

Whether you do or not, storing your own on-demand water in tanks or reservoirs is the best way to hedge against a loss of service, contamination, drought and other calamities that will invariably hit homesteaders harder.

There’s more that goes into properly managing your water reserves than you might think, and this handbook will tell you what you need to know…

Good Cooking, Cheap!

Although not always the case, typically if you are on a homestead, you’re going to be eating a whole lot less takeout and delivery and more home cooking. It pays to be both a good cook and to be able to cook frugal meals that will save you $$$.

This simple cookbook is one of the very best and most comprehensive for making nutritious, clean and easy meals that you can whip up quickly using your own produce and meat with a few choice things you bring home from the grocery.

I can definitely recommend this one, because it saved me a ton of time and money and it helped me lose a lot of weight changing nothing else about my lifestyle. It’s a winner, and your family will love it!

Heating the Farm Home

You might think you are self-sufficient already, but if you’ve never lived a genuinely self-sufficient lifestyle on a homestead you have no idea what you’re up against.

Have you thought about how you would heat your home if you don’t have propane or natural gas? What if you don’t even have electricity?

Could you heat your home using a fireplace or a wood stove? Probably, but what if you had to build the fireplace or the wood stove? Yikes, now there is a chilling thought!

Like everything else you’ll have to do, this is an entirely new set of skills and one that you must develop. This book is an oldie, but a goodie, it will help you stay warm in the winter using traditional techniques.

How to Build a Farm Pond

Can you even say you live on a homestead if you don’t have a pond? I mean you can, but a pond is a great thing to have. A pond can be used to stock fish, keep ducks and even serve as another emergency reservoir of water.

And I guess it’s true that you can just start digging if you want a pond, but understanding the proper principles of construction and maintenance will make the whole endeavor easier and longer lasting.

This is another vintage book, but one that is absolutely sound in its approach and information. Well worth a read if you know that a pond is in your future.

DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner

Do you have anyone in your family who knows what to do no matter what the problem is or what solution is required? Someone that is genuinely crafty? Maybe you do, but whether you do or don’t it is time for you to become that person! Being a homesteader is it mostly a matter of being self-sufficient in all things and that doesn’t just mean bringing in your food and collecting your own water.

It’s a matter of solving problems with unconventional or elegant means, making the things you need like tools and furniture, and a whole lot more. This book has over a dozen projects and skills that every self-respecting homesteader should be able to do.

Creating the Low-Budget Homestead

I know plenty of homesteaders that look at beautiful, manicured hobby farms and despair; they know that a homestead like that requires a huge amount of capital! But don’t fall victim to that way of thinking. A homestead is what you make of it and also a way of life, and if you’ve got the determination your actual budget has very little to do with it as evidenced by the approach shown in this book.

Your low- or even no-budget homestead might look bohemian to some people, but it will be functional, effective and most importantly your very own.

Emergency Preparedness

Let’s face it, things can always go wrong no matter where you are, but when you’re out there on your own and first responders might be far away, or your neck of the woods is just deprioritized during a major disaster, you’ve got to become your own first responder.

The following downloads will help you get ready for emergencies in all of their forms…

Fires on Farms and How to Prevent Them

One of the single most devastating disasters that can befall anyone is a fire, and fires on homesteads tend to be even worse because they can blaze across fields of crops and multiple structures.

Especially with the lives of your animals also hanging in the balance, preventing and combating fires quickly and efficiently before they get out of control is paramount.

This is another classic book, one from the 1940s, but the lessons it will teach you are still just as viable today as way back then.

Community Emergency Response Communications

Natural disasters have a way of knocking out all sorts of communications technology, especially landlines but increasingly cell phone networks.

Getting set up with an amateur radio system of one kind or another and organizing with neighbors and civilian volunteers in your area can help you stay in touch or summon help if required, even if all other methods of electronic communication are down.

This handbook from FEMA is the perfect starting point for organizing community emergency communications.

First-Aid Manual

There is no shortage of ways to get hurt on your homestead, and I don’t say that to talk you out! It’s just the way it is.

From running power tools and heavy equipment to working around large, powerful and often ornery animals, you’ll be accumulating dings, dents and scratches at an alarming rate, and sometimes more substantial injuries.

Knowing how to tend to minor injuries yourself will allow you to get back to work or heal more quickly, and in the case of serious injury can even save your life or the life of someone you love.

The Army first-aid manual FM4-25 might be ubiquitous, but it’s still a great resource.

Gardening and Irrigation

Growing your own food is, as mentioned, a core component of homesteading. These downloads will take you from complete newbie to veteran green thumb in no time.

Planning a Garden

If you just want to scratch up some dirt and throw down some seeds, your harvest is going to remain the stuff of dreams. A proper garden is meticulously planned in addition to being managed and tended to.

Before you ever put spade to soil, you need to have a plan and that’s why you need this guide.

Container Vegetable Gardening

Sometimes you’ll want to plant fruits, veggies or other things in containers. Maybe this is to keep them portable for moving in and out of a building or greenhouse. It might be because you are eager to get them growing and have simply run out of room in your usual spot.

Whatever the case, container gardening requires a slightly different approach and considerations, but mastering them will make you flexible, adaptable and able to garden indoors during the cold season if you want to.

Permaculture Organic Gardening

When it comes to sustainment, nothing beats permaculture. Permaculture is something of a nebulous term, and its precise definition depends on which organization, or person tries to coin the term…

Ultimately, it refers to gardening and managing your land and plantings in a way that they are harmonious and not in competition with the ecosystem on your property, but instead support one another.

It’s definitely more involved and complicated than traditional gardening, but ultimately more rewarding and much better for your land – in addition to having higher yields. Implement these practices as soon as possible and you might just fall in love with it!

Drip Irrigation Handbook

All plants, no matter what kind, need water and lots of it. If you have a large garden, a bunch of raised beds or actual fields of crops to tend to you’ve got to institute real-deal irrigation.

It is simple in principle, and can even be easy to implement, but there’s a whole lot to know when it comes to hardware and best practices. This handbook is invaluable to that end.

Plant Disease Diagnosis and Management

Whether you grow a small garden, are tending to large fields of crops or just raise a few of your favorite veggies and buckets, dealing with plant diseases is it going to be a part of your life. And it’s a part of your life that is both maddening and frustrating!

Watching your plans fall prey to parasites, blight or something else when you’ve done everything right and tended to them diligently is heartbreaking and makes you feel helpless.

But that’s only because you don’t know what you are dealing with this introduction to diagnosing, managing and treating plant diseases from the University of Idaho Extension is an excellent intro and will tell you everything you need to know to ID, prevent and quarantine various plant ailments.

Livestock

The other component of your personal food plan is livestock, and they can also be a great source of income if you play your cards right.

The basic principles of animal husbandry are complicated enough in their own right, and then it’s further complicated by the many differences between different species.

Cattle Care and Handling Guidelines

A family cow, or maybe two, can be an indispensable part of your homestead keeping you and your family stocked up on delicious high-quality milk and other dairy products.

But cows are big, expensive, dangerous and need lots of room and a steady hand to manage them. Harvesting them for meat is an entirely different problem!

Make sure you read this guide before you commit and bring home that adorable calf!

Raising Your Own Small Flock of Sheep

Sheep aren’t particularly popular in North America compared to other livestock species, but they have a lot to recommend them because they are so versatile. Wool, meat and milk, and being highly resistant to cold wet weather, are some of the pros you might find interesting.

But as flock animals your approach to caring for and managing them needs to be tailored accordingly. This manual will tell you what you need to know to raise a small flock of your very own.

Intro Guide to Raising Chickens

For many homesteaders, chickens are the first and last stop when it comes to livestock. Ultra affordable, highly productive, very easy to handle and easy to care for, yardbirds are a fixture for so many folks.

Those little chicks at the tractor supply store are certainly tantalizing, but do not bring them home with the idea of figuring it out as you go; do your homework and then get yourself a bunch. You won’t regret it!

DIY Coop Plans

Unlike larger animals that require larger shelters or even a proper Barn for housing, chickens can get by with a coop which might only be a little bit larger than a large dog house.

You can make your own with just a little bit of lumber and fasteners. You can get plenty of DIY coop plans at the link above.

Note: be sure to click the individual coop plans buttons, NOT the big red button at the bottom of the page.

P.S. Be sure to check our other article with even more resources right here.

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