Homesteading has played an important part in the history of America. It was initially the normal way of life.
Today, with people living a variety of self-created comfortable lifestyles, it might seem strange that there is a strong resurgence in the homesteading lifestyle.
More and more people, for many reasons, have the urge to live in a far more basic and natural way.
Although the homestead lifestyle is a more natural way of life, it is far from simple. The number of skills required to live in this way is many and varied and in some cases complex.
Let us look at what skills are required to ensure that this lifestyle is manageable and successful. I will break the list of skills down into different sections to be able to understand their relevance.
Table of Contents
The first section covers the basic personal skills that are needed to undertake the rest of the skills.
1. Being Organized
These are very important since living on a homestead is totally different to a normal lifestyle. In a traditional house, we want the light, on we press the switch, and the light is on.
The same is possible in a homestead but there are several processes that need to be completed before pressing the switch will make the light work.
There are lots of homestead planners on the Internet to help you become more productive.
2. Being a Quick Learner
A quick learner will be able to assimilate the knowledge required quickly. There is no time for degree courses on each skill as there are far too many required.
Personally, I would initially focus on the skills that are vital, then gradually work through some of the others, making sure I pick the ones I might enjoy first.
Don’t expect to try all of these on the list, you can’t become good at all of them, but don’t be afraid to experiment with whichever ones sound interesting.
3. Being Calm
There is the potential for many things to go wrong, and they will go wrong at the worst possible time. There is no benefit to becoming anxious and stressed at these times, as this will only make matters worse.
Years ago, I found myself becoming stressed as I just had too many things that I needed to undertake.
Finding that I was actually achieving nothing apart from stressing about what I needed to do, I wrote everything down prioritized, and set a realistic schedule.
I soon had everything completed in far less time than I had allocated.
4. Being Resourceful
Resourcefulness is an essential skill on the homestead since most of the tasks required on a homestead will not have the benefit of off-the-shelf products.
So if something goes wrong with the task or the finished article isn’t good enough, it is important to be able to think out of the box and find another solution. I absolutely love making odds and ends into functional items.
I believe this stem back to when I was young when I used to collect old broken bikes and make new ones from them.
5. Math Skills
With systems such as solar being installed and articles being made a good understanding of math is a very important skill. The old adage of measure twice cut once is very true.
This saying is so true after wasting much time cutting thins to the wrong size I always measure twice and the right dimensions down.
6. Living Within Your Means
This is a skill that sounds easy but isn’t for many. With credit being so readily available, it’s so easy to buy new things that are not really necessary because it is only a few extra dollars per month.
Previously, most people would save up until they had the money for the item or go without. Prioritizing and preparing a realistic budget is a way to ensure that you live within your means.
7. Knowing Your Limits
Utilizing this skill will ensure sanity prevails. It is very easy to become upset when unrealistic targets are not met. This is a skill that I struggle to come to terms with, and I have several hernias to prove it.
By keeping a good record it is easier to plan ahead by looking at past results. There is something satisfying to looking back at records and seeing how things are improving.
However, it is also an important tool to identify when things are going wrong. When problems are identified it is far easier to plan how to rectify them.
9. First Aid Skills
Who knows what is going to happen, and when first aid, especially CPR skills, will be needed. This skill is important especially if the homestead is remote.
I believe I can tackle most emergencies, and have done so a few times. I’d hate to be in a situation where somebody needed help, and I couldn’t do anything. Remember, the first hour of a serious injury is critical.
Do not hide away; there will be other homesteaders in your area. Share skills, expertise, and trade produce.
I love the feeling of tranquility from living in a remote location, it is, however good to be able to team up with like-minded individuals to share knowledge, and experiences and to laugh at our misfortunes.
Home skills are the skills that are required to make a homestead function and become livable.
11. Solar Power
Many homesteads will not have the benefit of national grid electricity. Solar power for many is a viable and satisfactory option.
Although it is possible to buy pre-made solar panel kits, this is a costly option. It is perfectly feasible for most people to install a solar system.
It does, however, take some skill in understanding what the homestead power requirements will be and what system will need to be installed to meet those needs.
Ensure that power requirements are overestimated since solar is not 100% efficient and requirements may change. Overestimating helps to take these factors into account.
12. Electrical Skills
Installing wiring is not complicated, however, it is important to ensure that it is adequate and safe. Ensure that wiring plans are drawn and double-check everything. Planning an electrical system will ensure that is safe and fit for its purpose.
Electricity is invisible and very dangerous. It only takes a screwdriver to accidentally make contact with the positive and negative to create a life-threatening scenario.
13. Maintaining a Wind Turbine
A DIY wind turbine has many functions that can help to make life easier. It can generate electricity in times of reduced solar power and can be used to pump water.
The positioning of wind turbines is specific for them to work effectively, making them useful in some locations but not others.
14. Log Burners
Learning how to keep warm without main sources of electricity is critical, as blackouts happen all the time.
Log burners and open fires are an option. With the correct seasoned wood, these burners can produce large amounts of heat that can keep a homestead nice and warm, and there is something about the crackling of the wood and the flickering flames that is very relaxing.
15. Making Hot Water from Logs
Some log burners are able to heat a hot water system. I love it when you can hit two birds with one stone.
16. Making and Using a Solar Heater
For homesteads in areas with high levels of winter sun learn how to make a solar heater. These are relatively easy to make from bits and pieces of soda cans, and metal downpipes can all be used to construct these heaters.
If you don’t want to make your own but, instead, want something more sophisticated, you can opt for something store-bought.
These devices amaze me: sometimes the water is too hot to put your hands in, and this is just from shining on a black panel.
17. Keeping Your House and Yourself Cool without AC
A house can be kept cool by creating airflow from a small fan over water. Construction techniques and the planting of trees and shrubs outside can help to keep the homestead cool by blocking the sun. In addition, there are other tricks you can employ.
18. How to Insulate a House and Other Structures
There are many forms of natural insulation that can be used to keep the house warm and cool. Straw and sheep’s wool are both very effective natural insulators.
Learn how to cut glass (and mirrors) and glaze windows. This could save you a lot of money on home repairs and upgrades.
20. Harvesting River and Well Water
With no water utilities available on the homestead it is necessary to find a source of water. There may be a natural spring or possibly a well, but it is necessary to find a way to move the water to where it is required.
Today’s plumbing equipment makes plumbing far easier, but plumbing skills will still be useful as there will possibly be distance or level issues that may require pumps.
21. How to Dowse for Water
If there is not an immediately obvious supply of water learn to dowse, there may be a water supply hidden from sight. Be sure to check with the local authority regarding any water rights, though.
22. Collecting Rainwater
Rainwater is a useful resource for watering gardens and many home uses. Some states have legislation regarding rainwater collection so it is best to get informed before you do anything.
There are many ways of collecting rainwater, and it is amazing how much can be collected from a small amount of rain. In autumn, I also manage to collect significant quantities of dew.
It is important to be careful if you are collecting water from your roof that the materials from which the roof has been constructed have not been treated with any chemicals as these, can leach into the water, and cause illness.
23. How to Filter and Purify Water
Whatever the supply of water being used, it is important that it is clean and free from bacteria.
There are various commercial applications that can purify water but it is also possible to make a homemade system from sand and charcoal.
24. Waste Management
Although most states require that any waste management system be installed by a licensed professional, the system will require some skill in maintaining it to ensure that it is functioning correctly.
The trick with any waste management system is taking care of what is put into it.
25. Setting Up and Maintaining Chemical Toilets
These can be a simple option, although not all states will allow their use. I am not a fan of them, but for some, they do make sense.
It’s important to learn what wood is good for what purpose. Not all wood is good for burning, yes it will burn but not as well and will not produce as much heat.
I use olive and almond wood, they burn for a long time and produce an abundance of heat.
27. How to Season Wood
When wood has been seasoned it will burn more effectively and efficiently. Start preparing the wood this year for burning the next.
It seems nonsense to be cutting wood during the summer but it is essential to ensure that your store of wood is sufficient for the winter months.
28. Splitting Wood
Splitting wood is hard work, but by using various techniques it is possible to make it easier. It’s one of those things that pops into your head when you think about homesteading, so you’re going to have to learn it if you decide to become self-reliant.
29. Felling a Tree with an Axe or Chainsaw
A chainsaw is a must-have tool if trees need to be cut. These are very dangerous machines if care and attention are not taken whilst using them.
Protective clothing and eye protection are not something to be dismissed, as they could easily prevent a serious injury or even your life.
Learn how to fell a tree safely.
The consequence of not learning felling skills is that there is no control over where the tree is going to fall. It could damage your house, or even hurt someone.
30. Using an Axe
Be it for splitting wood or chopping down a tree, an axe is a valuable tool. This is another dangerous piece of equipment that requires careful handling and, again, wearing safety equipment is important.
31. Storing Wood
It’s not a good idea to cut down a tree and make something from the wood straight away. Wood requires a period of adjustment as it becomes dry.
Wood needs to be stored and protected during this phase if it is going to be any good for later use.
32. Building a House
The skill of building a house is a complex one, but if you want the homestead of your dreams to look exactly the way you want to, then why not learn it, and save a TON of money?
This assumes you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, though, and that you’re in no hurry to move it. It could take years to finish building a house with just one or two friends helping out.
Some of the things you should learn include:
- laying out the foundation
- using different types of materials
- prepping and applying whitewash
- and many more
33. Laying Dry Stone Walls
Laying dry stone walls is an effective way of containing animals or keeping animals out of a garden.
34. Setting up Electric Fencing
There are times when electric fences or wires are an effective method for segregating animals. These are also useful when animals need to contain, or for keeping predators away.
35. How to Make a Wattle Fence
A wattle fence made by bending and weaving green branches is a handy skill to have.
36. Defending Yourself and Your Homestead
A self-defense weapon is an important asset if you have to defend your homestead, but it is also critical that you’re proficient in its use, and in following strict safety guidelines.
You never know when someone will trespass your property, even if you’ll be the target of a burglar, or when someone will try to steal your crops, your tools, or even your livestock!
37. Shooting a Bow
Although the bow and arrow is an old style of weapon it could useful in some hunting situations.
38. Making a Bow
Anyone with good carpentry skills and an understanding of layering and bending wood can make a bow.
39. Dealing With Trespassers
It is important to be able to deal with any unwanted visitors who appear on the property. They may not want to harm you, but you have to be aware of the laws, and handle the situation accordingly.
For large homesteads getting around on a horse or quad bike is essential.
Kitchen skills are more than learning how to cook. Food preservation and storage are important things to have.
41. Off-Grid Cooking
The homestead will not have a double electric oven, and possibly no microwave or other electric gadgets that we all can’t live without (blenders, egg boilers, etc).
There are many other ways to cook, using wood or propane, but it does take some skill to master these alternative methods. The good news is they can actually be very enjoyable!
The use of a cast-iron skillet goes back to the original homestead days. It is amazing what can be done with one of these, and it is just as useful today.
42. Cooking Outside
It is often a good option to cook many items outside. A rocket stove makes this practical and ensures minimum wood usage. You can also use an outdoor wood-burning stove or even a solar cooker.
43. Using a Dutch Oven
By using a Dutch oven either inside or out on an open fire it is possible to cook many kinds of food including bread. Mastering it is less intimidating than you think.
44. Using a Pressure Cooker
A pressure cooker is a handy gadget to master as it cooks quicker and uses far less energy. Timing can be an issue at times, however, practice makes perfect.
Note: do NOT use a pressure cooker to do pressure canning. Use a dedicated pressure canner instead!
45. Cooking in Ash
By using the heat in ash it is possible to cook some items. It’s a fun skill to at least tryout.
46. Pit Cooking
By heating rocks, it is possible to cook whole animals in a pit.
47. Stocking a Pantry
This is much more than just buying and/or adding things to your pantry. You have to be very careful about the food storage enemies such as light, oxygen, and humidity.
An understanding of how long different pantry items will last is very important, particularly for long-term emergency storage.
Systematic storage and dates on everything make a pantry easier to operate, and could potentially avoid a foodborne illness.
The technique of canning allows many foods to be stored for the winter. This can be a bit tricky with your first attempt, it is, however well worth persisting as it will provide an abundance of food at times when fresh is limited.
The number one rule with canning is to follow the recipe to the letter.
49. Drying / Dehydrating
Drying food is a great technique for preserving fresh food enabling them to be used a long time after harvest and their growing season.
Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and figs are all good for drying, but there are literally dozens more you can try.
50. Smoking Food
Smoking is another way of preserving food to extend its life. This technique is good for fish and meats.
Creating a smoke hut is a brilliant idea to smoke all sorts of products, but two old oven trays with a metal rack inside can produce the same results.
51. Making Jams, and Jellies
Jam, marmalade, and chutney are an easy way to keep the pantry stocked with summer fruits.
This is a good skill to pay special attention too as it makes such good use of the summer fruits that do not last very long, but if it is not completed correctly, it can make you ill.
52. Vacuum Sealing
Providing air is kept from food, it will last for some time. Vacuum sealing helps make this a viable option.
Foods can also be cooked whilst in the vacuum sealant. This cooks chicken fabulously, as it locks the moisture in.
53. Making a Root Cellar
Create a root cellar to store vegetables past the growing season. Whilst some locations can grow vegetables throughout the year, most will benefit from a cool, dark place.
54. Baking Bread
Bread is the staple of most people’s diets, and there is nothing quite like the taste of home-baked bread. This skill should definitely be a high priority.
The beauty of homemade bread is that the recipe can be adapted using seeds, nuts, and many other items to make the bread just as you like it.
55. Making Starter Dough
For baking bread consider making a homemade starter dough, it is very simple and very effective.
56. Making Vanilla
Learn how to make vanilla, and you will never want to buy it from the supermarket ever again.
57. Rendering Tallow and Lard
Rendering tallow and lard provides a good source of incredibly tasty cooking fat, much healthier than margarine and other hydrogenated fats.
58. Make Flour
It is possible to make flour even if a grinding stone is not available. I find it best not to make too much at a time, and ensure that it is stored well to keep out the weevils.
59. Freezing Herbs
For those fortunate to have a freezer, freezing herbs is a very good skill to learn. Many herbs do not have a year-round growing season and can be frozen in various ways to ensure a good supply year-round.
60. Make Vinegar
With a supply of apples, it is possible to brew cider and make very good vinegar. Vinegar is good for cooking, and also makes a very good cleaning product.
With the varied products that it is possible to grow on a homestead with a little skill, it is possible to brew a variety of wines and beers. This will enable anyone to create the ultimate designer beer.
62. Cleaning and Cooking Fish
For any Homestead that is fortunate to have a supply of fish nearby it makes common sense to develop these skills to enable this resource to be utilized correctly.
With the correct animals on the homestead, it is possible to produce butter.
After the milk has been processed to make butter what is left can be used to make cheese.
65. Preparing Raw Milk
The human body doesn’t particularly like raw milk, learning how to process this milk will turn it into a much more acceptable product.
There are, however, laws and regulations pertaining to this raw product, so be sure to check them out before you start.
Around the House
There are many skills required to keep home, especially for those that wish to make their own natural eco-friendly products.
Most of these products are just as good and often better than commercially manufactured products.
66. Chores for the Little Ones
Involve children with learning homestead skills, and set them a chore to undertake. Giving children easy things to do around the house helps them understand personal responsibility at a young age, and provides them with a sound background in self-sufficiency.
When older they may not wish to remain a homesteader but the skills that they learn will be a very useful knowledge base for any way of life.
67. Hand washing Laundry
For some, this may sound a step too far but using the correct hand washing methods this does not need to be a chore.
68. Line Drying Laundry
With some wind and possibly some sun on the laundry hanging on a line, it will be dry and soft in no time at all. Setting one up is easy as pie.
69. Cleaning and Sanitizing
There are many natural agents that can be used to clean and sanitize the home, the skill is recognizing what agent or combination of agents has what effect.
70. Making Homemade Low-Tox Products
It’s astounding what chemicals and unnatural agents are used to make some personal care products. In some cases, manufacturers aren’t even required to list some of them on the label.
Homemade natural organic products take little to make, may be more effective, and are far cheaper.
71. Homemade Remedies
Many commercial remedies for minor ailments such as coughs and colds have natural products as their base.
There are many plants that have medicinal and healing properties. Learning how to recognize the, and how to prepare them for use cuts out all the unnatural additives.
72. Building and Using a First Aid Kit
Keep a good first aid kit, and know how to use it. Ideally, you should be familiar with every little thing in your FAK.
Personal injuries are possible at any time and may be minor or serious. It is important to be able to deal with any injury promptly to ensure that no long-lasting effects are felt.
Perhaps there is the possibility that midwifery skills may be important.
Most people carried out their own dental procedures before dentistry became widespread. This won’t be easy but in a long-term emergency situation… you might not have a choice.
If you are aware of poisonous snakes in your area keep some anti-venom and know how to use it.
76. Candle Making
Even with a perfectly adequate solar system, there may be times when power is limited. Candles are a good standby for these times and emergencies.
This is a skill that was in widespread use by many until recently. It is a skill that will allow a homesteader to make woolen clothes possibly from kept animals that are exceedingly functional and practical.
Again this is a skill from times gone by that is great for making clothes and all sort of household items.
79. Rug making
Rug making may seem a little extreme but if the resources are there, homemade rugs are very practical, relaxing, and therapeutic.
Sometimes, an item of clothes may become worn in a particular area, elbows and knees are normal areas, this does not mean they are no good and should be thrown away.
A little needlework and they will be as good as new. This will surely save you a ton of money in the long run.
The art of spinning is fun to learn if you have a good supply of wool.
Learning how to weave can provide many home items.
Using dye to change the color of fabrics.
84. Broom making
There are many materials on a homestead that are good for making brooms, and they will work much better than the plastic shop-bought ones. They will last longer, too.
85. Basket Weaving
A variety of materials can be used to weave baskets that are very functional and can be sold or bartered with.
Many edible plants, berries, and seeds may grow naturally on your homestead. Recognizing what is edible and what is not is a very good method of supplementing a pantry and your diet with literally free food.
87. Identifying Mushrooms
Learn the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms, but never eat a mushroom unless you are absolutely, 100% sure it is edible.
There are many lookalikes that could fool you into thinking they are safe, when in fact they could make you gravely ill.
88. Starting and Building a Fire
A homesteader must know the best way to build a fire whether it be inside or outside, there are skills to making it easy.
Another skill many forget is that of putting out a fire. Never leave a fire unattended unless you’re sure it’s been put out.
It is not always easy lighting a fire pine cones, needles, and many other plants once dried make good tinder and kindling.
It’s also possible to light a fire without matches. Steel wool and a 9V battery will make a fire in just about any weather conditions, but there are easier ways, such as using ferro rods, which should also do the trick.
89. Make Matches
Waterproof matches are a good thing to make and have.
90. Prepare Your Homestead for Disasters and Emergencies
If the homestead is in an area that is susceptible to flooding or forest fire learn how to best prepare for such an event.
In addition, blackouts are becoming increasingly common, mostly due to the aging power grid.
Learning some basic knots can be very useful.
A garden is certainly essential for any homestead and there are numerous skills to be mastered if a garden is to flourish.
92. Installing a polytunnel
By installing a homemade polytunnel it is possible to extend the growing season of many crops, with the added benefit of protecting them from unwanted visitors.
This doesn’t need to be complex or expensive if spare materials are used.
93. Setting Up Cold Frames
The construction of a cold frame that can be used in conjunction with a polytunnel is useful.
94. Indoor Propagation
Learn how it is possible and sometimes necessary to start some seeds indoors.
95. Soil Preparation
The key to any good garden is the preparation of the soil. Time is taken in the preparation and planning of what you are going to plant where is well spent and will result in better harvests.
96. Break Ground and Plow
Land that has not been used for agriculture will need to be broken, either by hand or plow.
97. Clear Brush
Land that has not been used before will probably have vegetation and brush. Find easy ways to achieve this.
98. Garden Implements
Find techniques that allow the use of shovels and other garden implements without damaging your back.
99. Straw Bale Gardening
For areas where the soil quality is very poor, straw bale gardening is a viable option.
100. Hydroponic Gardening
In some unfavorable areas, hydroponic gardening is the best option.
Learning about this organic form of gardening can be a great benefit, particularly if you like the idea of minimizing and reusing nature’s resources, and if you don’t want to do much watering or even digging.
Permaculture techniques can work on large plots of land as well as in containers.
102. Dealing with Weeds
Weeds are a large problem in any garden, they drain vital nutrients and reduce the space for the roots of the crops. No harsh chemicals here though, only natural remedies.
103. Dealing with Pests
Anyone who has ever grown vegetables will know that sinking feeling when they see that their crops have been eaten by unwanted guests.
Many pests can be dealt with naturally often by planting non-crop plants that pests do not like. Some insects can be discouraged with a simple soapy water spray.
104. Using a Pressure Tank Sprayer
To spray a large area or numerous plants a pressure tank sprayer is an effective piece of equipment.
105. Growing Plants from Seed
Growing produce from seed can be difficult as the techniques for propagation vary according to the crop.
Always plant more seeds than you are going to need as there will always be a percentage that does not grow. This also allows the best-looking seeds to be progressed to the next stage.
Heirloom seeds are probably the only ones you should look at when making your pick of seeds.
106. Harvesting Seed from Crops
This is an excellent way of developing a seed bank for growing future produce. Apple and orange trees, as well as many other fruit trees, can all be raised from seeds.
107. Store Seeds
A seed does not have to be used straight away it can be stored for some time.
Different seeds have a different lifespan, a date on everything will help you to see when they are likely to be past their best.
If the date has gone try a few to see if they are OK before throwing them away.
108. Plant Cuttings
Many plants including trees can be propagated by taking cuttings. Some take some time to grow, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead if you need trees for a particular purpose.
There is a skill to composting that provides a rich soil improved and planting material and it has the benefit of disposing of unwanted plant material and vegetable peelings from the kitchen.
The timing of harvesting is vital if it is too early the crop is not ready, too late and the crop is spoiled.
Mastering the use of a traditional scythe will make ground clearance and harvesting easier.
112. Cash Crops
For Homesteads of a reasonable size, it is possible to grow cash crops. Investigating local markets and co-operatives can help to find what cash crops are in demand.
Check for any legislation related to selling produce, as some many not be allowed to be traded.
113. Meteorology Skills
The weather is very important in all aspects of the homestead but especially in the garden. Extremes such as dry hot spells, and frost require certain actions to maintain crops.
By learning to read and forecast the weather, you’ll take necessary actions to protect your plants, and avoid a catastrophe.
114. Install a Watering System
Water is a vital requirement to grow anything in a garden. Different plants require different quantities of water.
By installing a watering system that enables flow to be adjusted gardens can be zoned to provide the correct amount.
115. Trellis Obelisk
The construction of trellis obelisks is necessary for some climbing plants.
One of the most useful planting devices for a garden is a dibber. Learn how to make your own.
If you are not sure what a dibber is, it is a device to make holes in the ground ready for plants or bulbs. It’s not needed if you want to make one or two holes, but if you need loads, a dibber will be very useful.
117. Planting and Caring for Trees
There are numerous fruit trees you can plant on your homestead that will yield delicious fruits year-round.
For homesteads fortunate to have maple trees they can be tapped in late winter to provide a valuable product for the pantry or possibly even a cash crop.
Without a great deal of care and attention, an almond tree will produce an abundance of almonds. These can be used to eat, to cook with or make almond milk and flour.
Olive trees need a lot of water and careful pruning, but a harvest of olives is definitely something to be proud of.
118. Making Olive Oil
With a crop of olives, it is easy to make olive oil. Cold-pressed olive oil produces a very useful oil for seasoning salad, cooking, and many other uses.
119. Hay Baling
A vital source of animal feed for winter is hay. It is important to learn how to make stack and store hay.
120. Pruning Trees
With correct pruning, trees are healthier and will provide more crops.
Most homesteads will need and rely heavily on animals both for the production of food and other products.
Animals can also be an important source of income, but an animal will obviously need to be in good condition to be of any use. Animal husbandry is a skill that dates back many years.
121. Animal Husbandry
Whatever animals a homestead has and whether they are for cash crop or own use it is important that animals are looked after correctly.
122. Livestock Identification
Ear tag or tattoo an animal so that it can be easily identified.
Many animals require shearing which requires some skill but results in a product that can be sold or used to produce fabrics.
124. Horn Trimming
Goats and some sheep benefit from horn trimming.
125. Goat and Sheep Hooves
It is vital that sheep and goats have their hooves trimmed regularly to prevent them from going lame.
Dairy cattle and goats are excellent sources of milk that can be used to produce other products such as cheese and yogurt. Milking a cow is a little harder than it looks, but the technique is simple.
127. Dog Training
What homestead would be complete without that faithful friend? They are great for all sorts of tasks but do need to be trained to protect your homestead.
128. Homemade Dog and Cat Food
It is important to feed your companion with good quality organic food, and the best available is that which make yourself.
With many rodents around, cats are a good option to keep them under control. Many people let them live in the barn and don’t feed them, except when winters are very cold.
130. Livestock Rearing
Like many things to do with animals rearing them has complexities and an understanding of what is required for individual animals to breed successfully.
131. Intensive Grazing
Learning how to apply intensive grazing to any pasture will enable better pasture management.
132. Recognize Signs of Illness
Animals just as humans are susceptible to illness and injury. Learn to look for the signs that all is not well.
133. Learning Fist Aid for Livestock
Understand when an animal illness or injury is something that needs veterinary attention. There will be times when it is necessary to give animals injections.
134. Help Your Animals Give Birth
Many animals need a little assistance when giving birth.
135. Stomach Tube Newborn Animals
Some newborns have trouble feeding and need to be fed through a tube initially.
136. Suckling a Newborn Livestock
Some animals reject their young, making suckling skills vital.
A newborn animal that has been rejected needs to be introduced to a foster mother as soon as possible.
138. Castrating Livestock
This is a necessary task to be able to control behavior and animal numbers.
A horse is a valuable asset to any Homestead whether for ridding pulling carts or for selling horse skills are essential.
140. Shoeing Horses
This is normally done by a blacksmith. It is, however, possible to shoe horses without being one.
Keeping bees is a great way of securing another cash crop whilst also supply copious quantities of delicious honey.
Chickens provide a great supply of fresh eggs and meat. There is great skill in looking after them ensuring that they are healthy and provide eggs and meat that are disease-free.
143. Taking Care of Broody Hens
Broody hens are an important aspect of keeping chickens learn how to recognize and how best to manage them.
Breeding rabbits provide a meat and fur source.
145. Candle Eggs
Using a candle it is possible to determine if a chicken egg has been fertilized.
146. Incubating Eggs
By learning how to incubate eggs there will be a constant supply of chickens.
Keeping of pigs is a traditional craft as this animal is one that can provide the homestead with many products. It is possible to use all the pig.
148. Keeping Predators at Bay
Wild animals are always looking for an easy meal learn how to protect your livestock.
These pests need to be discouraged and trapped.
Many areas of the country have an abundance of wild animals that can be hunted and provide a valuable resource for the pantry.
151. Hunting Regulations
Most areas have regulations, it is always best to see what is permitted before undertaking any hunting.
It is no good waiting for animals to come to you learn to track and follow animals.
Animals have heightened senses it is therefore necessary to ensure that it is difficult for them to see and smell you.
154. How to Kill an Animal Humanely
There is no getting around the fact that animals need to be killed, there are, however, humane ways of doing this so that the animal does not suffer.
With plenty of available animals, it makes sense to be able to butcher them to be able to achieve the best use from them.
156. Skinning and Tanning
Animals, when butchered, can be skinned and when the skin is tanned it can be used for many things.
Having animals will also provide a supply of leather. The skill of working with leather can supply an abundance of products such as clothes and shoes.
158. Processing Fur
Again a supply of animals means a supply of fur that can be fashioned into clothes.
Learning how to fish effectively is a good way of relaxing away from the hard word work of the homestead, whilst being productive at the same time.
160. Making Your Own Fishing Equipment
Some of the things you can make:
- Fishing lures. Make your own fishing lures after identifying fish that are in your area.
- Fishing rods. Make your own fishing rods from materials that you have. They do not always need to be strong enough to catch a shark.
- Fishing nets. Fish can be caught in nets, and they are also good for keeping any catch alive whilst fishing. It is easy to make your own.
- Fish Bait. Homemade fish bait is easier than buying it from the store – sometimes.
161. Keeping Certain Critters at Bay
The most common ones to watch out for:
- Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can be dangerous learn how to avoid providing nesting grounds for them. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to repel them.
- Wasps. Keep an eye out for wasps’ nests, and burn them. Too many of these pests and they will hunt in swarms.
- Spiders. Most spiders are not poisonous but there are, however, a few that can inflict serious harm. Learn to identify them and their webs.
- Scorpions. They are plentiful in some areas; know how to handle them.
- Snakes. There are plenty of snakes in North America that are poisonous, as there are non-poisonous ones. You need to recognize them to avoid a potentially fatal snake bite.
The workshop is a vital area of the Homestead since it is here that many items for the Homestead can be built and repaired.
162. Laws and Legislation
You need to be aware of any restrictions that the state has imposed on what you can and cannot do on your property, to avoid legal issues later down the road.
163. Sharpening and Maintaining Your Tools
For those who use an axe or scythe, it is a good idea to learn how to keep them sharp, but even if you don’t use them, you should still be able to sharpen a dull knife.
Learning how to use and maintain a variety of tools will help when making or repairing things.
This is a valuable skill, as items made well from wood are very functional and, if protected, will last for a long time.
165. Making a Chicken Coup
Making a chicken coup will provide the correct habitat for productive chickens. All the materials will cost you, but definitely not more than if you were to buy it ready-made.
One way to decrease costs would be to find scrap wood that’s good enough to be used.
166. Building a Shed
There is never enough storage space, sheds can easily be built, so you can keep your tools, and much more.
167. Animal Shelters
In areas where the weather is bad in the winter, it is a good idea to build animal shelters.
168. Automatic Water Supply
By providing water automatically to shelters it ensures that animals always have a good supply of water.
Whether hand or horse-pulled carts these are a useful item to build.
170. Building a Fence
With many animals around some do need to be contained. Wooden Fencing is a good option for this.
Learning how to make and repair shoes and boots is important if you don’t want to buy a new par every time a hole pops up.
172. Metal Work
For the construction of some items, wood is not satisfactory. Metal is the best choice, learning how to work with metal is beneficial.
Welding is dangerous and quite technical but is a very good way of securing metal in a way that forms a very strong and resilient structure.
174. Engine Mechanics
Most homesteads with utilize some form of combustion engine whether it be powered by gas or diesel a basic understanding of function maintenance and repair is a very good skill.
This is a huge list of skills and I must admit that not everything will be relevant to everyone who is looking to establish a modern homestead but a vast proportion will.
With so many skills required it will take a long time to learn them and many will be learned whilst working on the homestead.
The important thing is don’t panic, prioritize what is vital and concentrate on these first. Reach out to others in the area, help them, and they will help you.
Three years ago, I bought an off-grid Cortijo in a small valley in the Andalucian mountains. Although, perhaps the lifestyle is in my genes as my grandfather and his four brothers were Homesteaders in Alberta Canada in the 1900s.
The mountains of Spain are a difficult place to grow many of the flowers that I was used to in the UK. However, veggies grow well year-round. Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, melons and chard all fare well in the Mediterranean climate. Almond trees provide me with a cash crop of around 1 ton while still retaining some to make almond milk and flour.