Running a homestead without basic homesteading skills is like starting a marathon without a single day’s training. It rarely ends well.
If you’re relatively new to homesteading, lack of certain skills could turn your homesteading dream into a homesteading nightmare.
There are lots of skills you’ll need to learn, but what if, for starters, you just needed 7?
If you could master these 7, even at their most basic level, you could greatly increase your enjoyment of the homesteading lifestyle you’ve always yearned for.
7 Homesteading Skills You’ll Want To Learn As Soon As You Can
#1: Growing Your Own Food
Key to the homesteader (prepsteader) lifestyle is relying upon your own skills to provide food, rather than upon a supermarket that might be miles away.
A good place to begin is learning to start and maintain your own garden. Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. Here’s what you’ll want to learn first:
- How to select the best foods for your local climate
- How to plan your garden and crop rotation
- How to plant for maximum yield
- How to manage weeds and pests
- How to harvest crops and when
- How to can and dehydrate foods for delicious meals
#2: Cooking Like a Homesteader
Homesteaders rarely get their meals out of a box from the local grocery store. Instead, they prepare their own. That means they had to learn some very simple steps to preparing meals.
Instead of cooking ingredients out of a box, they cook with materials at hand. That might include vegetables, fruits and herbs from the garden or orchard, meat they themselves have butchered, or canned and hydrated foods from their food pantry.
It could also mean food they bartered from neighbors down the road. As a homesteader, you may be doing lots of that.
There’s a learning curve here, but we do it because of our love for the freedom and independence of the homesteader lifestyle. If you’re like us, you’ll want to start sharpening your cooking skills.
#3: Raising Animals
Along with a successful garden, raising animals could be an excellent food supply for you and your family. But just what do you know about that?
In acquiring this basic skill, you need to decide first upon which animals to raise. That could depend upon the space available, the shelters you have in which to house them—or which you need to build, plus the return in food versus the labor invested.
Don’t rush into this and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Experienced homesteaders advise to begin slowly with a small head of goats, pigs or cows, and then expanding only as you gain experience.
Chickens and rabbits are also good candidates for home grown food on 2 to 4 feet.
#4: Carpentry Skills
One of the handiest skills on a homestead is knowing how to build things. That includes everything from building a fence to a chicken hutch—and could also include building your cabin or house, as well.
You can accomplish a lot with some very elementary carpentry skills. Get familiar with things like measuring, sawing, joinery, nailing and more. Along the way, you’ll automatically get familiar with basic tools like saws, drills, hammers, etc.
Want to take it further? Learn:
- How to build a solid foundation
- How to frame a structure
- How to make common repairs to wood or drywall
This is one of those skill areas that can take a lifetime to master, especially if you do it only occasionally.
The best ways to learn include taking a local carpentry class at a community college or trade school, learn online, or best of all, work alongside a skilled carpentry who’s willing to share his tips and techniques.
#5. Basic Electrical Skills
You might be amazed at how many times you need basic electrical skills on your homestead. With no electrician available except through an expensive visit from a nearby town, you’re the only electrician you’ll have.
As such, you need to understand both the theory and the practical end of wiring your home and your outbuildings. The theory you can get out of books. The practical part comes by doing it, preferably with an experienced neighbor or friend.
But whatever you do, don’t attempt any kind of electrical project without knowing what you’re doing.
Of course, some projects are simple enough for anyone. You can always change a lightbulb on your own, or even add a ceiling fan or light switch—assuming you know how to do it safely!
Always check to see if you need permits and inspections. If the project is complex, this may be the time to bite the budget bullet and hire a qualified electrician.
#6: Basic Plumbing Skills
Knowing some basic plumbing skills can also be critically important when you’re running a homestead. And again, it’s a skill that can take years to master, if you ever do.
But all you really need are a few basic skills such as
- How to turn on and shut off water valves
- How to unclog a drain or toilet
- How to fix leaky faucets
- How to replace broken pipes
If you knew just these basics, you could handle the bulk of plumbing emergencies on your homestead. Where to learn these skills? Online videos and websites are excellent resources.
A brother-in-law who’s also a plumber might be another, but that’s too much to hope for, right?
Also, check out How Stuff Works for excellent info on hundreds of topics, including plumbing.
#7: Home Medicine Skills
Chances are, you live some distance from the nearest hospital or clinic, or even from a neighbor. So if you have a medical emergency, knowing basic medical treatments can be critical.
Start with your medical emergency kit. Be sure that it is always stocked with the essentials. Check this list from WebMD for an idea of what every kit should have.
As to skills, you should know how to handle basics like treating wounds, choking, accidental poisonings, broken bones, heat stokes, heart attacks, bug bites and stings, snake bites and more.
Learn what you should do to treat victims until you can get them to an emergency medical facility.
How do you learn this? Online resources such as this one are always a good place to start. Other resources such as home medical books are also recommended.
Start Learning Your Homesteading Basics Today.
It can take years to learn all you need to about homesteading. Decades from now, you could still be learning something new every day.
But the crucial thing is to understand that, unless you start acquiring some of these skills, your chances of having a good homesteading experience are slim.
Begin today, and never stop learning.