Ready to jump into the world of homesteading? Start with these seven homesteading skills that you can begin mastering today.
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If you haven’t heard, homesteading is all the rage lately, and for good reason. Not familiar with the term homesteading? Homesteading is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a house and the farmland that its on”. So that’s the technical definition, but what does that really mean? Modern homesteading in today’s day and age is usually defined as the art of living a self-sufficient lifestyle in whatever degree you are able.
There are homesteaders on thousands of acres in the country, and there are homesteaders in tall apartment buildings in the cities, taking advantage of community garden plots and learning how to be self-sufficient however they can.
Homesteaders make a continuous effort to learn skills that will allow them to rely less on modern society and culture, and more on their own abilities. This can mean so many different things.
Are you interested in taking the jump into the world of homesteading? Or maybe dipping your toes in? If you’re feeling a tug on your heart strings to embrace the ‘country living’ lifestyle, then these homesteading skills will be the perfect place to start. Read along for 7 skills you can start mastering today that will get you started on your homesteading journey.
7 Homesteading Skills You Can Start Mastering Today
In the past, the art of canning was often times essential for a family’s survival through the winter. It was the only way that they could continue to enjoy and utilize their spring and summer harvests through the winter months when hardly anything would grow.
Today, most people overlook how convenient our food is. We can grab a couple cans of stewed tomatoes in the tomato aisle, pair it with some seasonings and a box of of pasta, and we have spaghetti. Throw in a side of canned veggies and its a meal.
How often do you think about where that canned food came from or how it was produced and made? Where were the tomatoes harvested? What kind pesticides may have been used on the plants? Were they harvested at peak flavor? What about the spices? Is there anything in the lining of the cans?
If you are asking yourself these questions, you may be the perfect candidate to learn canning. You will be able to control everything that is involved in the process, and you’ll be surprised at how delicious your home-canned recipes can turn out.
In addition, canning doesn’t take much investment at all. You can purchase a whole kit of canning supplies, or you can make do with supplies you already have in your kitchen.
With a little practice, canning can be easy to learn and you will be a pro in no time. Just be sure you are completely familiar with the process as well as the risks before you begin.
Check out the video below to learn some of the basics of canning for newbie homesteaders.
We also shared a post this week on 6 different methods for preserving apples, four of which are canning recipes. Head over HERE to check it out, we think you’ll love it!
Grow Your Own Food
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Whether you have a couple of pots on a crowded, apartment balcony, or 40 acres of fertile soil to dig your hands into, you can start producing your own food today by planting your favorite herbs, fruits, vegetables, and even grains. If you don’t live on 40 acres or you don’t feel like you have the space or land to plant a garden, don’t lose hope. Growing your own food can be as easy as keeping a few herbs on your windowsill.
Learning how to grow and care for plants is a process and a skill that you can continuously be honing. If its your dream to someday have a garden that feeds your whole family throughout the year, start to learn what it takes to care for smaller plants now. How much water do they need? How much sunlight? What the heck is soil ph and why does it matter?! These are things you can start learning today.
There is a lot involved in gardening and growing your own food; in order to become very skilled you will likely have to learn all of that along with things such as companion planting, harvest times, and pest control.
Start small, with a few herbs such as rosemary, mint, basil, etc. Did you catch our article HERE on growing and caring for an indoor rosemary plant? If you have some kind of outdoor area, even be it just a small porch or patio, you can grow several different plants in pots including salad greens, beans, onions, peppers, radishes, garlic, tomatoes, and a plethora of herbs.
I want to repeat, all of that mentioned above can be grown in pots on your patio!! Even if you don’t have a ton of land or available space, we are confident you can start feeding your family home-grown, garden fresh produce today.
Cook From Scratch
In the past, women and men and homemakers alike, knew how to cook food and cook it from scratch. There were no pre-packaged convenience foods, just good, wholesome, home-cooked meals.
Have you ever had fresh baked bread before? Give it a try and you’ll never go back to store bought bread, unless you’re in a pickle. Invest in a few high-quality cookbooks that appreciate the art of cooking from scratch, and put in the time as often as you are able.
Like anything, cooking food from scratch is a skill that you can master. The more you practice and the more time and effort and learning you put into it, the better and more comfortable you will be.
Cooking from scratch can prove to be more economical, better tasting, and very fulfilling. Challenge yourself to not buying any pre-packaged foods for an allotted amount of time. This means no crackers, cereal, pre-made pastries, one-meal dinners, even condiments, and then work at mastering recipes for all of those foods. You don’t have to never have crackers again, simply learn how to make them yourself!
When you are skilled in making food from scratch, you’ll most likely start feeding your family better, and you’ll no longer be reliant on pre-packaged foods, and many of the foods from the store. You’ll be moving towards self-sufficiency, and that’s the ultimate goal right?!
Basic Animal Husbandry
Whether you have animals or not, you can start to learn the skills of basic, animal husbandry. Head to your local library, and grab some books on the animals that you already have or that you dream of having in the future. When you do have your dairy cow or meat chickens, you’ll be better equipped to care for them right off the bat.
We recommend the book Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow (shop it now on Amazon). Its a comprehensive guide for raising and caring for ducks, chickens, geese, dairy cows, beef cows, rabbits, goats, and sheep.
We also have a free eBook on the 7 Essentials for a Backyard Chicken Coop. Chickens are a great place to start if you are just getting into raising animals and basic animal husbandry, annnnd you have at least a little bit of space. You don’t need much for just a few chickens, many people are able to raise urban chickens in neighborhoods and cities.
Did you see our post here on “5 Reasons Why You Should Learn How to Sew”? Check it out! Sewing is a lost art for many people, but it really shouldn’t be! Its such a valuable skill to learn. Even if you won’t be using it for survival purposes, it can add so much value to your life. You can create thoughtful, handmade gifts for friends and family, make custom fabric pieces to fit your lifestyle, and simply fix a ripped hole or fallen off button.
There are plenty of resources available that can teach you the basics of sewing and even help you along if you are a little more advanced. We LOVE this “Sewing For Beginners” article by Amber at Crazy Little Projects. She goes over everything from choosing a machine to how to use your machine and onto sewing projects, patterns, and next level tips.
Another resource we love for great sewing projects is Lisa at the blog Farmhouse on Boone. Lisa is passionate about creating a ‘handmade’ home, and she sews nearly all of the soft goods in her home. She has video tutorials for nearly anything you can think of! We LOVE the tutorial below that she did on sewing pajamas out of vintage sheets.
If you don’t have a sewing machine and you don’t feel like you have the money to purchase one brand new, start to look at your local thrifts stores, garage sales, and even Craigslist. Just be sure to plug the machine in and have them demonstrate that its in working condition. Once you are more comfortable with the basics of sewing you can keep your eye out for a newer model to invest in.
Composting can be as easy as keeping a compost pail on your kitchen counter and filling it with scraps throughout the day. If you are extra ambitious and you already have a garden that you can utilize your compost in, you can look into things such as Vermicomposting, where you use worm castings to compost.
If you don’t have a yard or a garden, but do have some house plants, you can develop a composting method that will provide you with fertile soil that will be perfect for growing your houseplants, herbs, and any other fruits and vegetables you’re growing inside.
One of the easiest ways to start composting is with a compost pail on your kitchen counter. Fill the pail with scraps throughout the day, such as:
fruit and vegetable waste, any old or stale pastry or bread products, grains, coffee and tea waste including the filters, egg shells, and more.
Stay away from meat, bones, fat, skin, dairy products, any form of oils, and any fish waste.
As your pail fills, you can do one of two things. You can either empty the contents directly into an outdoor compost bin (this would be preferred if you have a garden area and are planning on using your compost to fertilize your own garden. Or, you can keep an indoor compost bin that you add to and that composts right in your own home. This method is preferable if you don’t have the space outside to maintain a larger, outdoor compost bin.
If you don’t have the means to utilize all of the compost or food scraps you may be collecting, there are usually community compost centers that will take compost and then use it to fertilize local parks, gardens, etc. If you choose to go this route you can add your kitchen scraps from your pail into a five gallon bucket. Once the bucket is full, take it to the local compost center.
As can be assumed, composting can get really stinky if you don’t take protective measures. Be sure to rinse out your pail each time you empty it. You can also add a layer of good, finished soil or compost, sawdust, peat moss, etc. to each layer of food scraps that you empty into your five gallon bucket. This will keep the smells down and will help the scraps to compost quicker. This is also the method that you will use if you are keeping an indoor compost bin. Layers of food scraps combined with layers of soil and dried materials such as newspaper scraps.
However you decide to compost is up to you. Start small and continue to learn. Every little bit will help you in your journey of self-sufficiency.
Not only are fermented foods great for your gut and overall health, they are an easy way to preserve your food. Many cultures in the past and even today that don’t use canning as a preservation method, have used fermentation to keep their yield through the winter months. Think saurkraut, kombucha, kefir, pickles, etc. These are just the most common fermented foods, but really you can ferment SO MANY different foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy.
Kris Bordessa has a great article on Attainable Sustainable talking more about fermentation in general, some of the benefits, and over 50 recipes to get you started with fermenting. Check it out here!
To give you just a quick rundown, fermentation happens when microorganisms break down carbs into either alcohol or organic acids. The microorganisms will usually include yeast or bacteria. The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods is what is so good for you and what can help you with digestion.
Fermentation is also great for preserving the food, by producing alcohol, lactic acid, or acetic acid, which are all natural preservatives that keep your food from spoiling and help it retain all of its beneficial nutrients.
On that note, we want you to keep in mind that homesteading is a labor of love, and the ultimate goal is to gradually move towards self-sufficiency. Starting out with these skills will get you on your way. Remember to always be honing your skills, learning new ones, and never giving up if its what you really want. Happy homesteading!
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