The other night I was thinking about the homesteading skills I learned from my grandmothers. They were very different women, each with their own skill set. Neither of these women were homesteaders really but they had vintage skills to share with me…sadly, at the time, I wasn’t very interested in learning them. But it got me thinking about homesteading skills; how important it is that we learn them and begin to teach them to others (especially the younger generation).
These vintage skills were naturally passed on for generations. That is until many of us moved into cities and found that we enjoyed convenience over quality. However in the last few years I have seen a revival of homesteading – from small backyard homesteaders to those leaving city life behind and moving onto acres in the country. But what homesteading skills do we really need? Where can we learn them and who needs to be taught?
Homesteading Skills We Need to Learn and Teach
Well I’m glad you asked! I formulated a little list of what I think are the most important homesteading skills that we need to learn. Now I’m not saying these are the only homesteading skills you need, nor am I saying you are not a homesteader if you do not know how to do some of these. But I do believe we all should be doing our best to acquire and then pass down these skills; and I’ll share why as well as some resources.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you, before we head into the list, is to take on one or two skills at a time. If you try to learn and execute them all at once, you are going to do them poorly and probably burn out.
These homesteading skills are not in any particular order – just as they came to my mind.
Learn to garden organically.
We need to know how to grow our own food without pesticides. That means learning to sow seeds (and save them), tend to growing plants, deal with pests and how to harvest our crops. See: How to Have an Amazing Backyard Vegetable Garden
Learn to tend animals.
When I say we need to learn to tend animals I mean the full circle. We need to learn to raise them from babies, breed them, keep them healthy naturally, make their feed if necessary, to provide a good life and how to butcher humanely. We should also know how to choose good breeding stock. We should know to milk our dairy animals and how often. Lastly we should know the requirements for those animals because quail, chicken, rabbits, hogs, goats and cows all have very different needs. Even backyard farmers can have livestock!
Cooking from scratch.
Learning to cook from scratch is a vintage and homesteading skill we all need! Learn to use whole ingredients that aren’t processed, pre-cooked or convenient. You’ll use more of the food you grow and you’ll be healthier for it. From Scratch Cookbook
Learn How to Prepare and Use Home Remedies.
Long before drug stores and western medicine there were herbs and those who knew how to prepare them for the body. This is a more natural approach to health and healing for you, your family and even your animals. I am not saying you should stop seeing your doctor but you should know how to care for the body when one is not readily available. I recommend signing up for some online herb courses to get you going.
Needlework – Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting, Quilting
Long before mega stores were around every corner, we created our own clothing, blankets and other household items with our own 2 hands. We also put buttons back on, darned socks and repaired clothing instead of tossing it. These are not only practical skills but ones that can create special keepsakes as well. And hey, if I want a closet full of chicken print dresses I can darn well make them! So learn to read and make patterns, sew, knit a blanket or some socks, crochet a wash cloth or a cute beanie and quilt anything you can!
Did you know you can learn a lot of Vintage Skills on YouTube?
Canning and Preserving
I’m assuming most of you were expecting this to be on the list. If we are going to grow and raise food then we absolutely need to know how to preserve it. You should know how to can, dehydrate and store your food for a season or longer.
Making Cheese and Butter
Ok this sort of goes along the lines of cooking from scratch but I felt these two homesteading skills needed their own place on the list. If you are going to have dairy animals you, most likely, won’t be drinking all the milk. You need to learn to make butter and cheeses from your bounty! Did you know you can make butter from goat’s milk too?
Waste not, want not. Rendered fat is wonderful for cooking but you can also make soap with it and use it medicinally. And it isn’t hard to render fat. I do recommend you do this with grass fed or pastured raised animals for the healthiest quality.
If you’re going to garden organically, you’re going to need compost. This is the black gold of our gardens! Composting isn’t hard but there are a few things to learn before you get started. And if amazing soil wasn’t enough, composting helps you and your homestead produce less waste! Winner! I have several articles to help your composting efforts!
Solar cooking may not be high on your skills list but it should be. This is a great way to cook without heating your house up in the summer, reduce your energy costs and how to cook “off-grid”. I use my All-American Sun Oven all the time – it is a workhorse for me in the desert when the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven.
Reuse and Re-purpose
A homestead is more efficient when it isn’t spending money left and right. Learn to reuse and re-purpose items around your home. You’ll be less wasteful, thrifty and pretty dang crafty overtime! See: How to Use Old Egg Shells and How to Reuse Coffee Grinds
Learn to DIY Household Items
Learn How to Barter!
No matter how skilled you are or how much land you have…you can’t do it all! You’ll need to know how to barter for food, items and skills you simply do not have. Bartering to learn skills is another great option.
Basic First Aid and CPR
Going back to know how to make your how herbal remedies, you also need to know first aid and CPR. This is especially crucial if you live further out from a city or ambulance service. And don’t learn this just for people, your animals need your too!
Basic Home and Car Maintenance / Repair
To be a successful homesteader you’ll need to learn how to do things on your own. Not only if you’re in the country but because homesteading is all about self sufficiency. So learn how to fix things around the house and keep your car and other motorized equipment going. And for the love of DIY do not count on YouTube to show you everything. You need some printed manuals for the home and car.
What homesteading skill would you add to my list? Remember it isn’t just about learning these skills but teaching others about them as well. Let us not lose the beautiful art of homesteading!