New to homesteading? Start by mastering these essential homesteading skills…
Learning is constant and ongoing on the homestead, but if you’re new to the homesteading lifestyle, there are a few essential homesteading skills that you’ll want to focus on in particular as you get started.
No matter the size of your homestead – whether you have a 40-acre farm or an urban homestead – these skills will come in handy.
Growing your own food, raising animals, preserving food at home, making things for yourself, and cooking from scratch are all skills that you’ll need to be familiar with if you want to have a successful homestead. However, there’s no need to worry if you’re not accustomed to doing any of these things yet. Instead, take it one step at a time, and learn the basics before you move on to more advanced skills. For example, if you’ve never grown a garden before, start small with just a few of your favorite vegetables, learn from your successes and mistakes, and gradually add more to your garden as you become more comfortable. Eventually, you’ll be able to move on to things like saving seeds, natural pest management, cover crops, and more.
If you’re new to cooking, first you’ll want to master the basics, and then practice using every little bit of any ingredient you have on hand. Get creative, and try to avoid wasting anything. Once you’re feeling good about your basic cooking skills, then you can move on to more advanced topics like baking your own bread, or even making cheese!
Here are a few beginner ideas for getting started with these essential homesteading skills from the Pioneering Today podcast:
1.) Growing Your Own Food
The best way to start growing your own food is with a jar of sprouts on the windowsill of your kitchen.
From there, you can get a small box and grow some herbs on a windowsill.
If you have a back deck or a patio, you can grow a good amount of food in a container. This won’t be enough space if you want to grow all your food, but you can certainly grow a year’s worth of herbs in a few containers.
Even if you don’t have the yard space to grow a garden, perhaps you can find a strip of land in the community and turn it into a community garden. This will help you start learning the skills needed to grow a garden.
Keeping good records can greatly help you improve your gardening skills. By making note of what worked and what didn’t each season, you’ll have a reference to guide you in future seasons. A garden journal can help with accurate crop rotation, as well as give you information on what grew well for you and what didn’t, what you liked and didn’t. Keeping track of your soil maintenance and insect problems will also save you plenty of work and heartache in the future.
2.) Cooking from Scratch
No matter where you live, whether on a large homestead or an apartment in the city, we all have a kitchen, and we all have to eat.
Learn how to cook from scratch with different ingredients. Learn how to tenderize less expensive cuts of meat so they taste better. Learn how to use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker.
After you’ve mastered how to cook meats and how to utilize every bit of an ingredient. The next natural step is to start doing your baking at home. Bake your cupcakes, muffins, and quickbreads from scratch. Skip the boxed mixes and learn to make your own pantry mixes at home.
After gaining confidence with baking, you can even start grinding your own flour from home and learning the art of sourdough bread making.
When you buy whole grain, you save money and end up with a much fresher and healthier product…
3.) Make Your Own…
From household cleaning products, to cosmetics and skincare, and even clothing, there are so many things you can learn to make yourself at home that will save you money and reduce your environmental footprint.
Commercial cleaning and personal care products are often full of chemicals that may harm both your health and the environment. The good news is, it’s super easy to make many of these things at home, using just a few simple, natural, and safe ingredients.
Try these recipes for making your own…
Household Cleaning Products
You can even make your own clothing, although that’s not always cheaper in today’s world of “fast fashion.” However, at least knowing some basic sewing and mending skills to repair a torn garment, sew on a button, or mend a hem will save you money some money instead of tossing the garment and buying new.
4.) Raising Animals
Raising animals for food is an important step to food sufficiency on the homestead. While not everyone is in the right situation to raise livestock (and if you’re not, that’s fine – just make connections with local farmers who can provide you with what you don’t raise yourself), if you are, most homesteaders find that poultry is the easiest first step.
Chickens, ducks, quail, or even turkeys can provide both a source of fresh eggs and healthy meat. It’s up to you what you decide you want for your homestead, but you’ll want to consider needed infrastructure first, and be sure to choose the right breeds for your goals and climate.
Eventually, you might opt to add larger livestock to your homestead, such as goats, sheep, or cattle. Just be sure you do your research and are prepared for the necessary work, infrastructure, and upkeep that will be required.
And keeping bees can also be a rewarding addition to your homestead!
5.) Preserving Your Own Food
One of the best ways to become more self-sufficient is to start preserving your own food.
Preserving the harvest is one of the most basic homesteading skills. You’ve put time, energy, and money into your crops, so you don’t want to waste them. This skill will ensure your food supply for years to come.
In fact, you don’t even need to be a homesteader to learn and benefit from some basic food preservation skills! You can start as simple as freezing vegetables, fruits, and meats, or try your hand at pickling and making fermented foods (which are also amazing for your health!), dehydrating, canning, root cellaring, or even salt curing.
Regardless of which methods you choose, putting up some of your own food can be one of the most rewarding and useful skills that you’ll ever learn!
Check out the podcast here to hear more about these and other essential homesteading skills: