Homesteading is experiencing a resurgence in America for a number of reasons. The number of prepping families in the United States (5 million and counting) is just one of the reasons more Americans are striving to enhance their self-reliance skills and harkening back to a simpler, although far more back-breaking, time.
Some folks have begun to rediscover the ways of our ancestors for economic reasons. Others do it out of a desire to rid their bodies of potentially harmful GMOs and antibiotic-laden beef and poultry. Perhaps some homesteading newbies are choosing to make the lifestyle change because they’ve become disgruntled with the technology-addicted world in which their children are being raised.
The popularity of Alaska reality shows have enticed more than a few viewers to begin to ponder how food gets to their table and question their level of preparedness should nothing happen one day when they flip the light switch.
If you are considering joining the ranks of the American homesteader or simply want to enhance your chances of survival during a SHTF situation, here is a sampling of the most important homesteading skills you must begin learning right away.
1. Animal breeding – Failure on the homestead will result if you expect others to replenish your herd or flock, or if you assume that the males and females in your barn will not need any encouragement to keep food on your table.
2. Milk pasteurization – Raw milk has many benefits, but it also possesses a number of risks. Pasteurizing milk is not a difficult process to master and does not necessarily require any expensive equipment.
3. Canning – Sure, knowing how to can your garden harvest seems like a homesteading no-brainer, but when not done properly, dangerous or even deadly food poisoning can result. Canning butter and canning meat is a bit more time-consuming than canning fruits and veggies but is not too baffling a concept for a beginner to master.
4. Shallow Well Digging – Keep water flowing on the homestead by digging a shallow well, or a few if possible, near the house, garden or barn.
5. Meat stock – Learn how to make meat stock from scratch to make soups, stews, and broths more filling and nutritious. Making the stock helps to utilize all of the animal and reduces waste at the same time.
6. Weather forecasting – When you see most of the cows in the herd lying down in the pasture, rain is most likely on the way. Learning how to read the actions of animals, as well as understanding what temperature, wind, humidity and other weather fluctuations mean will help keep the family safe when working around the homestead.
7. Composting – Get the most out of your trash by composting the cast-offs and developing nutrient-rich soil for planting in the process.
8. Vinegar making – Make your own vinegar for use in home remedies, cooking and cleaning.
9. Bread baking – Save money by making your own bread, and help keep the body healthy by not ingesting the bleached flours used in most commercial varieties of the dinnertime staple.
10. Home remedies – Learn how to make your own salves, ointments, cough syrup, natural medications and antibiotics.
11. Rocket stove – Learn how to make your own rocket stove or emergency stove to cook on and help keep the homestead warm either year-round, or during a long-term disaster.
12. Homemade oil lamps and candles – Make your own light using natural ingredients. This skill will make a more comfortable homestead off the grid and will make you better prepared for a SHTF scenario.
13. Wheat grinding – Grind your own wheat for baking and never be forced to spend money on grocery store flour again. If disaster strikes, supermarket shelves will empty in just a few hours.
14. Homemade laundry detergent – Make your own powdered or liquid detergent to keep clothing clean and to avoid the spread of germs.
15. Foraging – After learning to identify the wild edibles in your region, it will be possible to forage for food year-round — yes, even during the winter.
16. Make your own chicken brooder – Set up your own brooder to keep the chickens producing and to grow the flock.
17. Chicken feed – Making your own chicken feed will keep livestock care costs down on the homestead. Plus, it offers a natural and organic diet for the poultry your family will consume.
18. Cheesemaking – Learn how to make cheese from scratch and how to preserve it in wax for use several years down the road.
19. Knife sharpening – A dull knife, ax, or other necessary homesteading tool will not properly perform its task, so this skill is very important.
20. Hide tanning – Knowing how to tan a hide helps make use of the entire animal and provides material to make other necessary items like footwear and clothing for the family.
21. Greenhouse building – Learn how to build an inconspicuous greenhouse, so as not to attract attention during a disaster. It will enhance the growing season and increase the amount of food the family can harvest and store.
22. Seed preservation – Use only heirloom seeds and learn how to preserve seeds for use during future planting seasons.
23. First Aid and CPR – Learning CPR and first-aid skills can save your life and the life of those you love. Accidents happen on homesteads due to the rugged nature of the lifestyle. Getting to medical care quickly can be a problem in remote or rural areas.
24. Driving skills – Learn how to drive something other than a car. Knowing how to ride a horse, tractor, 4-wheeler, or other heavy equipment used on homesteads will take more than a couple of hours behind the wheel or in the saddle.
25. Dehydrating – Preserving food is key to a successful homestead. In addition to canning, learn how to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat and even dairy products.
26. Firewood – Garner an understanding of the best types of wood for fires, as well as how to harvest, split, and stack firewood so it remains dry and ready for use.
27. Knot tying – Become a pseudo Boy Scout and learn how to tie a host of knots. This skill will be helpful both during the daily chores around the homestead and during survival situations.
28. Bug spray – Bugs abound on the farm, and mosquito bites and tiny wounds from other insects can ultimately infect both humans and livestock. Learn how to make your own spray to keep the bugs at bay.
29. Fire starters – Make your own fire starters and keep them handy in case of emergency. Learning how to start a fire without a match is a good skill to possess as well.
30. Guns – Knowing how to hunt for food and safely handle, shoot, clean, and repair a gun will serve you well when living on a homestead. Knowing how to reload your own ammunition is also a money-saving skill that helps to keep the family prepared in case a TEOTWAWKI event happens.