Friday, May 23, 2014

A List of Homesteading Skills

A while back while blog hopping, I came across a great post at this blog. She had found a list of 121 homesteading skills to be mastered put out by The Prairie Homestead.  Then, she went through and crossed out all of the skills that she had. 

I loved the idea, and wanted to snag it.  I thought of some different ideas to add to the list too, so my list is now longer.

Since looking at a list of crossed off items can be hard to read, I instead broke it into a couple of categories. With the attitude of working as a team here at the farm, I've chosen the following categories:

Things either Bryan or I (or both!) can do well.

Things either or both of us are working on but need more practice with. 

Things we want to try.   

Things we aren't interested in, or are just not ready for. 

Ready?  Me too! Here we go: 

Things we can do well

1. Milk a cow, goat or sheep.  (Cows). 
Maggie, one of my milk cows.

2. Compost both kitchen scraps and animal manure.  (I feed kitchen scraps to chickens and compost that.  Also use cow manure as field dressings.)
3. Learn how to cook a whole chicken. 
4. Learn first aid and CPR.  (I have taken a couple of classes....and get to practice the first aid part quite a bit with six kids!)
5. Know how to dehydrate foods to preserve for later use. 
Plums drying...
6. Learn how to safely cut down a tree.  (Just for the husband is awesome at this!  Me?  Never tried and have no desire to. I'll just throw the cut up stuff in the truck, thank you very much!)
7.  Make good sausage gravy from scratch.  (Yum!)
8. Know how to drive a manual transmission and/or tractor.  (Way more fun than an automatic!) 
9.  Learn basic mechanic skills so you can fix your tractors and vehicles. (We know basics--always more to learn!)
10. Change a tire and change oil.  (I CAN do it, but am very thankful that Bryan DOES it!)
11.   Know how to properly handle, shoot, and clean a gun. (This is on my need practice list, but Bryan has it mastered!)
12. Learn the laws and regulations regarding hunting wild game in your area through a Hunter’s Safety course. (I have yet to take the class, but know many of the laws and regs, Bryan took the class.)
13. Learn how to kill and pluck a chicken (Bryan does the killing!)
14.  Learn how to fish.
15. Learn how to clean, fillet, and cook fish.
16. Learn how to tell if your chickens are molting.
17. Know how to tell if you can doctor an animal at home, or if it needs to be taken to the vet.
18. Dry laundry using a drying rack or clothesline.
19. Make your own laundry detergent. (I can, but I generally don't at this stage in life.)
20. Know how to build a fire.
21. Cook over an open fire or on a wood cookstove. (When the power goes out, we still have to eat!)

22. Learn how to make yogurt. (We go through a couple gallons of it in a week!)
23. Make sourdough bread and maintain your own starter. (Finally have this one down!)

24. Make basic yeast dough which can be turned into loaves, rolls, buns, pretzels, etc.
25.  Learn how to identify and manage a broody hen. 
26. Make your own jellies and jams.
27. Heat your home with wood or other sustainable sources.
28. Learn how to build and fix fence.
29. Use a water bath canner to preserve foods.
30. Make your own sauerkraut.
I turned this hunk of cabbage into sauerkraut.

31. Forage for wild edibles in your area.
 32. Grind your own wheat for baking. (We get bonus points for growing the wheat first!)
Ellie and the wheat grinder...

33. Repurpose everyday items to save them from the landfill.
34. Learn how to prepare for a wildfire. 
35. Understand the basics of animal breeding.
Rusty Redbull?  Yup--he's essential to our cow breeding plan!
36. Learn how to harvest, split, and stack firewood. (Though my stacking skills need improvement!)
37. Make your own skincare items.
38. Make your own cleaning supplies. (My favorite is a recipe I found at Raising Arrows--Grape Seed Extract, Water and Essential Oils...)
39. Learn how to make butter. (My Aunt gave me my Grandmother's old butter making bowl and paddle...what a blessing to be the third generation using it!!!)
 40. Understand how to identify the weeds in your yard/pastures and figure out which ones are edible.  (Plantain...dandelion...nettle....clover...they are all in our yard!  The pasture I need more work on, along with the woods!) 
41. Learn how to back up a trailer. (Bryan is great at this!)
42. Learn how to make bone broth.
43. Know how to use non-electric lighting.
44. Put food scraps like eggshells, coffee grounds, apple peels, and whey to good use.
45. Make simple meals from scratch. 
46. Know how to protect your livestock from predators.
47. Know how to humanely euthanize an animal.  (Thankfully Bryan does this too!)


Things we need to practice/are in process of learning

1. Learn how to use essential oils properly and safely.
 2. Make the perfect pie crust.  (Not yet.  I've found many pie crusts that are ok. And I do make pies.  But I haven't yet found the perfect recipe.  I've heard it takes lard.  So when we butcher the pigs this fall, I'll give it a whirl)
3. Grow a vegetable garden in your climate. (  My thumb is not green.  Will be trying again on a small scale again this year. Wish me luck! )
4. Learn how to humanely kill, gut, and clean an animal. (Only done a chicken...want to learn more!)
5. Know how to butcher an animal and the proper cuts of meat. (Have butchered out a ram)
6. Make cheese– simple soft cheeses and hard cheeses too. (Only the soft kinds...)
7. Learn how to cut, bale, and stack hay.
8. Master the art of intensive grazing so you can better manage your pastures (just learning this one!).
9. Make your own soap.
10. Mend damaged clothes so they don’t have to be thrown away.
11.  Master basic carpentry skills so you can repair outbuildings or even build basic furniture pieces.
12. Learn how to use lacto-fermentation to preserve foods. (Only done carrots and cabbage this way...)
13. Learn how to render lard or tallow.
14. Know how to halter-break and train an animal. 
15. Learn how to repair a roof. 
16. Know how to properly prune and graft a fruit tree (need to learn about grafting!)
17. Sew clothing and fabric items from scratch. (I'm trying!)
18. Knit, quilt,  or crochet (Learning crocheting...)
19. Learn how to identify the difference between harmless and venomous snakes in your area (Can't say I WANT to know this, but I should...and I'm learning.)
20. Learn how to sharpen a knife or ax.
21. Learn how to prepare for a blizzard. 
22.  Learn how to work together with your neighbors to accomplish more and foster a sense of community.
23. Store food in a root cellar or in a cool basement. 
24. Learn how to chop ice. 
25. Put together a 72-hour kit for emergencies. 
26. Learn how to cook in a cast iron skillet without a sticky mess.
27. Make your own sausage (Have done just ground, want to learn links!)
28. Live within your means and get out of debt (We started out at over $100,000 in debt and are down now to one student loan at $35,000--huge progress in the last five years!!!).
29. Know basic plumbing skills (like unclogging a toilet!)
30. Make your own paper. 
31. Learn how to tie a variety of basic knots.
32. Know how to clean, dress, stitch/staple a wound in the event of an emergency (Unfortunately, Owen gives us lots of practice...).
33. Learn how to clear pasture and brush.

Things we want to learn/try

1. Learn how to hunt wild game–both large and small.
2. Use a smoker to smoke cheeses, meat, bacon, hams, etc.
3. Know how to assist an animal with a difficult birth. 
 4. Grow a windowsill herb garden.
5. Keep bees and harvest honey.
6. Incubate fertilized eggs and hatch your own chicks.
7. Give an animal an injection (the muscle, in the vein, or under the skin). Thankfully never had to! But should learn so I'm prepared. 
8. Learn basic metal working skills and welding. They teach this at Between the Rivers (which takes place on our property annually.)  It looks neat!

9. Make your own candles.
10. Learn how to darn a sock.
11. Learn the art of no-till gardening.
12. Learn how to candle eggs so you can tell if they are fertilized. (My mom can do this, but I haven't asked her teach me yet...)
13. Cook outside with a dutch oven. (This would be fun!)
14. Learn how to tan a hide (another skill being taught this year at Between the Rivers)
15. Learn how to use a pressure canner and/or cooker.
16. Learn how to identify the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms. 
17. Learn how to start seeds indoors.
18. Make your own vinegar (Going to try apple cider vinegar this year!). 
19. Learn how to make herbal extracts, infusions, poultices, and tinctures. 
20. Tap trees for maple syrup. (Due to location, it'd have to be birch trees for birch syrup...)
21. Know how to purify water (I know how to boil it!). 
22.  Make your own bacon and cured hams.
23. Learn how to make your own chicken feed.
24. Make your own ammunition, or reload ammunition.
25. Learn how to install/use a composting toilet
26. Use alternative energy sources like solar or wind to power your homestead.
27. Implement natural pest control measures.
28. Learn how to make and set traps.
29. Understand how to propagate plants through root cuttings.
30. Implement a forest management plan.
31. Learn to identify forest problems (root rot, beetles, etc.)
32. Learn to brew kombucha 
33. Make water keifer 
34. Make milk keifer 


Things we aren't interested in or aren't ready for yet 

1. Assist with foaling, kidding, lambing, and/or calving.  (If they need help, my plan is to cull.  I don't want to make it a habit!)
2. Trim the feet of your goats and sheep.
3. Learn how to save seeds. (I'm not here yet! Want to have a successful garden for a few years before I try to worry about this...)
4. Build/use a greenhouse or cold frame to extend your growing season. (Same with #3, this will move to want to learn in a few years, but not yet!)
5. Learn how to make and apply whitewash.
6. Learn about aquaponics or fish farming (We have the creek for fishing....maybe someday?)
7. Shear a sheep and process the wool. (There's a reason we went with hair sheep when we had them...)
8. Learn how to spin wool.    
9. Learn how to use vermiculture (composting with worms) to create nutrient-rich food for your garden (I'll just leave the worms in the dirt, thank you very much!)
10. Make your own fishing lures or spears.
11. Learn how to weave.
12. Learn how to make natural dyes.
13. Master the art of home brewing (we don't drink).
14.  Learn how to make baskets. 

There you have it.  I have lots to learn!  If you know how to do the things on my "want to learn" list, feel free to pass some advice along!  

I know I forgot somethings.  Anyone have any additions for me?


  1. I love this list. So many awesome things to learn and broken down so nicely!

    So for starters, Mindy knows how to make an amazing no fail pie crust. Have her send you the recipe.

    I know how to do the following things: sharpen knives/axes; prepare a 72 hour kit; basic metal working (but not welding -- yet); cooking in Dutch ovens; starting seeds; purify H20; install and maintain composting toilets; and in principle (but not practice) how to install and maintain alternative energy sources.

    It would be great for all of us to pool our knowledge together -- I'm going to have Mindy go through this list and see what she knows, because I know it's a lot of it.

    1. Yeah! I emailed Mindy for the recipe, thanks. I agree that we should pool our knowledge. We don't all need to know everything--just know others who do! And who can teach us.


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