The Ultimate List of Homestead Skills

Building a homestead require masting a number of skills that are no longer taught and are often not relevant in the mordern world. Because many of these skills are outside of everday use, it often takes more time than anticipated to get started building a homestead.

As you embark on your homesteading journey, or continue finding new ways to homestead, it’s helpful to slowly and consistently build your homesteading skills.

In this article we will outline many homestead skills you can consider with ideas on how to go about acquiring new skills on the homestead. This is an important element of planning a new homestead or assessing your existing homestead and a key element to not experiencing homestead burnout.

Selecting new skills each year should be part of your yearly homestead planning process. You can learn more on our planning pages and take our free homestead Planning Challenge Mini Course.

homestead skills
Homestead Skills

Contents

How to Build New Skills on a Homestead

Building new homestead skills is fun but can also be hard work. Here are some possible ways to condier building new skills.

  1. Online Courses and Workshops: Explore online platforms that offer homesteading courses and workshops. Websites like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera often have classes on various homesteading skills, such as gardening, animal husbandry, and sustainable living.
  2. YouTube Tutorials and Channels: Utilize the vast resources available on YouTube. Many experienced homesteaders share their knowledge through video tutorials. Subscribe to channels dedicated to homesteading and follow step-by-step guides for practical skills.
  3. Books and Guides: Invest in books and guides written by seasoned homesteaders. Authors like Joel Salatin, Carla Emery, and John Seymour provide valuable insights into a wide range of homesteading practices, from permaculture to canning.
  4. Local Workshops and Classes: Check community centers, agricultural extension offices, or local farms for hands-on workshops and classes. Many communities offer events where you can learn directly from experienced homesteaders in your area.
  5. Join Homesteading Groups: Connect with like-minded individuals through online forums, social media groups, or local meetups. Joining homesteading communities allows you to ask questions, share experiences, and learn from the practical knowledge of others.
  6. Internships or Apprenticeships: Consider seeking internships or apprenticeships on established homesteads. This immersive learning experience will provide you with valuable skills while working alongside experienced practitioners.
  7. Experiment on a Small Scale: Start small by experimenting with homesteading skills on a smaller scale. You can practice gardening in pots, raise a few backyard chickens, or try your hand at basic woodworking. Learning incrementally can help build confidence.
  8. Podcasts and Audiobooks: Listen to homesteading podcasts and audiobooks during your commute or while doing chores. Podcasts often feature interviews with experts, while audiobooks can provide in-depth knowledge on various homesteading topics.
  9. Online Homesteading Communities: Participate in online homesteading forums and discussion groups. Websites like BackYardHerds, Homesteading Today, and The Homesteading Forum are great places to connect with experienced homesteaders and seek advice. Often your local cooperative office can point you in the right direction.
  10. Attend Homesteading Events and Fairs: Look for homesteading events, fairs, and conferences in your region. These gatherings often feature workshops, demonstrations, and vendor booths where you can learn from experts, ask questions, and purchase supplies for your homestead.

Homestead Skills

Below you can see some homesteading skills. There are many many other skills, some small and some large that can be helpful on a homestead. As you learn more and dig deepeer into homesteading, it’s imporant to keep learning and growing. Use this list as a starting point for developing skills on a homestead.

Gardening Homestead Skills

Gardening

  • Crop Selection: Choosing the right crops for your homestead involves considering factors such as climate, soil type, and available space. A thoughtful selection of vegetables, fruits, and herbs ensures a diverse and sustainable harvest throughout the growing season.
  • Soil Preparation: Successful homesteading begins with proper soil preparation, including tasks like tilling, composting, and pH adjustment. Well-prepared soil provides a fertile foundation for healthy plant growth, contributing to overall homestead productivity.
  • Planting and Harvesting Techniques: Mastering planting and harvesting techniques is essential for maximizing crop yields. Understanding the optimal planting depths, spacing, and timing for different crops, as well as employing efficient harvesting methods, ensures a bountiful and well-managed homestead garden.
  • Crop Rotation: Implementing a strategic crop rotation plan is crucial for maintaining soil health and preventing the buildup of pests and diseases. By rotating crops seasonally, homesteaders can optimize nutrient balance, minimize soil erosion, and foster a more resilient and sustainable agricultural system.

Animal Husbandry

  • Raising Chickens, Ducks, Goats, or Other Livestock: Successfully raising livestock on a homestead involves providing proper housing, nutrition, and care. From selecting appropriate breeds to understanding their behavioral needs, acquiring the skills to raise chickens, ducks, goats, or other animals is essential for a thriving and sustainable homestead.
  • Animal Health and Wellness: Ensuring the health and well-being of homestead animals requires knowledge of preventive care, disease management, and overall animal behavior. Learning to recognize signs of illness, implementing vaccination schedules, and providing a clean and comfortable environment contribute to the overall health and happiness of the livestock.
  • Breeding and Genetics: Mastering breeding and genetics is crucial for homesteaders aiming to improve the quality of their livestock. Understanding traits, selecting suitable breeding pairs, and managing breeding programs contribute to the development of strong, resilient, and productive animal populations on the homestead.
  • Pasture Management: Effective pasture management is key to providing nutritious forage for livestock while maintaining the health of the land. Homesteaders must learn about rotational grazing, soil fertility, and weed control to optimize pasture resources and ensure sustainable land use for the long-term health of both animals and the environment.
Homested Skills

Food Preservation

  • Canning: Canning is a valuable homesteading skill involving the preservation of food in airtight jars. Learning the art of canning, including proper sterilization, sealing techniques, and understanding appropriate recipes, allows homesteaders to store seasonal produce for an extended period, ensuring a readily available and diverse pantry throughout the year.
  • Fermentation: Fermentation is a natural preservation method that involves the conversion of sugars into acids, gases, or alcohol by microorganisms. Mastering fermentation techniques, such as making sauerkraut, kimchi, or fermented beverages, not only preserves food but also enhances its nutritional value by promoting the growth of beneficial probiotics.
  • Drying: Drying is an ancient method of food preservation that removes moisture from food items, inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and preventing spoilage. Developing skills in drying, whether using the sun, a dehydrator, or an oven, enables homesteaders to create long-lasting snacks like dried fruits, herbs, and jerky while maintaining the nutritional integrity of the food.
  • Root Cellar Storage: Root cellar storage is a traditional homesteading practice that involves creating a cool, dark, and humid environment for the long-term storage of root vegetables and other perishables. Building and maintaining a root cellar, and understanding the specific storage requirements of different crops, allow homesteaders to extend the shelf life of produce without the need for electricity, promoting self-sufficiency.

Permaculture Design

  1. Drying: Drying is an ancient method of food preservation that removes moisture from food items, inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and preventing spoilage. Developing skills in drying, whether using the sun, a dehydrator, or an oven, enables homesteaders to create long-lasting snacks like dried fruits, herbs, and jerky while maintaining the nutritional integrity of the food.
  2. Root Cellar Storage: Root cellar storage is a traditional homesteading practice that involves creating a cool, dark, and humid environment for the long-term storage of root vegetables and other perishables. Building and maintaining a root cellar, and understanding the specific storage requirements of different crops, allow homesteaders to extend the shelf life of produce without the need for electricity, promoting self-sufficiency.
  3. Sustainable Landscape Design: Sustainable landscape design focuses on creating environmentally friendly and resilient outdoor spaces. Acquiring skills in sustainable landscape design involves choosing native plants, implementing water-efficient irrigation, and utilizing eco-friendly materials, contributing to a harmonious and low-impact integration of the homestead with its natural surroundings.
  4. Agroforestry: Agroforestry is a holistic approach to land use that combines agriculture and forestry practices. Mastering agroforestry involves strategically integrating trees and shrubs with crops or livestock to enhance biodiversity, improve soil health, and create a more sustainable and productive homestead ecosystem.
  5. Companion Planting: Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves strategically placing plants to enhance each other’s growth and deter pests. Learning the principles of companion planting enables homesteaders to create mutually beneficial plant communities, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and fostering a more resilient and productive garden.
  6. Water Harvesting Techniques: Sustainable water management is essential in landscape design, especially in regions with limited water resources. Developing skills in water harvesting techniques, such as rain gardens, swales, and permeable surfaces, allows homesteaders to capture and efficiently utilize rainwater, reducing reliance on external water sources and promoting a more self-sufficient and environmentally conscious homestead.
Homestead Skills

Beekeeping

  • Hive Management: Successful hive management is a fundamental skill for beekeepers, involving tasks such as regular inspections, disease monitoring, and hive maintenance. Learning hive management techniques allows beekeepers to ensure the health and productivity of their colonies, fostering a sustainable and thriving apiary.
  • Honey Extraction: Honey extraction is a key process in beekeeping, involving the removal of honey from the honeycomb and its preparation for consumption. Acquiring skills in honey extraction, including the use of beekeeping equipment like extractors and filters, allows beekeepers to harvest honey efficiently while preserving the integrity of the hive.
  • Pollinator-Friendly Gardening: Creating a pollinator-friendly garden is a crucial aspect of supporting honeybee populations and biodiversity. Learning to select and cultivate plants that provide nectar and pollen for bees, as well as avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, contributes to the health of local pollinators and enhances the overall success of beekeeping operations.

Basic Carpentry

  • Building and Repairing Fences: Mastering the skills of building and repairing fences is essential for establishing secure boundaries on a homestead. Learning proper construction techniques, understanding the types of materials suitable for different purposes, and acquiring fence repair skills contribute to the overall safety and functionality of the homestead.
  • Constructing Simple Structures (Sheds, Coops): Constructing simple structures like sheds and coops is a valuable homesteading skill. Acquiring knowledge in basic carpentry, understanding the principles of structural integrity, and learning to work with different building materials allow homesteaders to create functional and durable spaces for storage, livestock, or other essential needs.
  • DIY Projects for Homestead Infrastructure: Engaging in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects for homestead infrastructure involves a range of skills, from basic carpentry to plumbing and electrical work. Learning to build and maintain essential infrastructure such as rainwater harvesting systems, compost bins, or solar-powered installations enhances the self-sufficiency and sustainability of the homestead while minimizing reliance on external services.

Water Management

  1. Rainwater Harvesting: Rainwater harvesting is a sustainable method of collecting and storing rainwater for later use. Developing skills in rainwater harvesting includes understanding the collection and storage systems, implementing proper filtration, and integrating rain barrels or tanks into the homestead’s water management strategy for a more self-sufficient water supply.
  2. Irrigation Systems: Efficient irrigation is essential for maintaining healthy crops and gardens on a homestead. Acquiring skills in irrigation involves designing and installing systems such as drip irrigation or soaker hoses, understanding the water needs of different plants, and managing irrigation schedules to optimize water usage and promote sustainable gardening practices.
  3. Greywater Recycling: Greywater recycling is the practice of reusing household wastewater for irrigation or other non-potable purposes. Learning about greywater systems involves understanding plumbing modifications, selecting appropriate filtration methods, and integrating greywater recycling systems into the homestead to reduce water waste and promote a more sustainable water management approach.

Composting

  • Creating and Maintaining Compost Piles: Creating and maintaining compost piles is a fundamental skill for homesteaders seeking to recycle organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. Developing expertise in composting involves understanding the balance of green and brown materials, proper layering, and regular turning of the compost to encourage decomposition. Successful composting contributes to soil health and fertility on the homestead.
  • Vermicomposting (Using Worms): Vermicomposting is an effective method of composting using worms, typically red wigglers. Learning the art of vermicomposting involves setting up and managing a worm bin, understanding the optimal conditions for worm activity, and providing appropriate food scraps. Vermicomposting accelerates the composting process and produces nutrient-rich worm castings that enhance soil fertility.
  • Compost Tea Preparation: Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer created by steeping compost in water, often with added ingredients like molasses or seaweed. Developing skills in compost tea preparation includes understanding the brewing process, selecting appropriate compost, and managing aeration for microbial activity. Applying compost tea to plants provides a boost of beneficial microorganisms and nutrients, promoting soil health and plant vitality on the homestead.

Food Crafting

  • Baking and Bread Making: Baking and bread making are essential homesteading skills that involve the art of creating delicious, homemade baked goods. Acquiring expertise in this area includes mastering techniques such as kneading, proofing, and understanding the science behind baking. Learning to make bread from scratch allows homesteaders to provide wholesome, fresh products for their households while fostering a deeper connection to the food they consume.
  • Cheese and Yogurt Production: Cheese and yogurt production on the homestead involves transforming milk into dairy products through fermentation and other processes. Developing skills in cheese and yogurt production includes understanding milk composition, learning about different cultures and enzymes, and mastering techniques like curdling and aging. Producing cheese and yogurt at home allows homesteaders to enjoy a diverse range of dairy products with the satisfaction of crafting them from start to finish.
  • Soap and Candle Making: Soap and candle making are valuable homesteading skills that involve creating essential household items from simple ingredients. Acquiring skills in soap making includes understanding the saponification process, selecting ingredients, and experimenting with scents and additives. Candle making involves mastering techniques such as wicking, melting, and molding. Producing soap and candles at home not only contributes to self-sufficiency but also allows homesteaders to control the ingredients, promoting a more natural and sustainable lifestyle.

Herbalism

  • Growing Medicinal Herbs: Growing medicinal herbs is a valuable homesteading skill that involves cultivating plants with therapeutic properties. Developing expertise in growing medicinal herbs includes understanding soil requirements, optimal growing conditions, and proper harvesting techniques. Cultivating a medicinal herb garden allows homesteaders to have a sustainable source of natural remedies at their fingertips.
  • Herbal Remedies for Common Ailments: Creating herbal remedies for common ailments is a practical application of medicinal herb knowledge. Acquiring skills in herbal medicine involves identifying herbs with specific healing properties, preparing infusions, decoctions, or salves, and understanding their applications for ailments such as colds, digestive issues, or skin irritations. Utilizing herbal remedies promotes a holistic approach to health and wellness on the homestead.
  • Herbal Teas and Tinctures: Crafting herbal teas and tinctures is an extension of herbal medicine skills, offering convenient and palatable ways to consume medicinal herbs. Learning to prepare herbal teas involves blending dried or fresh herbs for infusions, while tinctures involve extracting herbal compounds in alcohol or glycerin. Both methods provide an accessible and enjoyable way to incorporate the healing properties of herbs into daily life on the homestead.

Foraging

  • Identifying Wild Edibles: Identifying wild edibles is a crucial skill for homesteaders interested in incorporating a diverse range of foraged foods into their diets. Developing expertise in plant identification involves learning to recognize edible plants, understanding their growth habitats, and differentiating them from potentially toxic counterparts. This skill promotes a deeper connection with the local environment and enhances the homesteader’s ability to sustainably harvest wild foods.
  • Ethical Foraging Practices: Ethical foraging practices are essential for maintaining ecological balance and preserving wild ecosystems. Acquiring skills in ethical foraging involves understanding principles such as sustainable harvesting, respecting plant populations, and minimizing environmental impact. Practicing ethical foraging ensures the continued availability of wild edibles and contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.
  • Preserving and Preparing Foraged Foods: Preserving and preparing foraged foods is a valuable homesteading skill that extends the availability of seasonal harvests. Learning methods such as drying, canning, or fermenting allows homesteaders to store and enjoy wild edibles throughout the year. Additionally, mastering techniques for preparing foraged foods, such as cleaning, cooking, and incorporating them into recipes, ensures a safe and delicious culinary experience.
Homestead Skills

Skills in the Home

  1. Sewing: Sewing is a versatile and essential homemaking skill that involves joining fabrics using a needle and thread. Homesteaders proficient in sewing can create or mend a wide range of items, including clothing, linens, and home decor. This skill allows for customization and repurposing, reducing the need for constant replacements and promoting a sustainable approach to textiles. From basic stitches to intricate designs, sewing provides the means to tailor fabrics to individual preferences, making it an indispensable skill for homesteaders aiming for self-sufficiency.
  2. Knitting: Knitting is a traditional craft that involves creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn with needles. Homesteaders skilled in knitting can produce a variety of items, from warm winter garments like scarves and sweaters to household items like blankets and dishcloths. This portable and meditative skill not only provides practical and cozy additions to the homestead but also fosters a sense of accomplishment as intricate patterns and designs take shape. Knitting is a valuable skill for creating personalized, handmade items that contribute to the warmth and comfort of a homestead.
  3. Spinning: Spinning is the art of transforming raw fibers, such as wool or cotton, into yarn through a spinning wheel or spindle. Homesteaders proficient in spinning can create their own yarn for knitting, weaving, or other textile crafts. This skill involves understanding the properties of different fibers, the mechanics of a spinning wheel, and the techniques for achieving various yarn thicknesses. Spinning allows homesteaders to have direct control over the quality and characteristics of their yarn, providing a deeper connection to the entire process of creating textiles on the homestead.
  4. Quilting: Quilting is a traditional skill that involves sewing together layers of fabric to create a warm and functional blanket. Homesteaders can use this skill to repurpose old fabrics, create custom bedding, or even add a decorative touch to their homes.
  5. Weaving: Weaving is the art of creating fabric by interlacing threads on a loom. Homesteaders can use weaving skills to make their own rugs, tablecloths, or even simple garments. It’s a versatile skill that adds a personal touch to home decor.
  6. Embroidery: Embroidery involves decorating fabric with needle and thread, creating intricate patterns or designs. This skill can be applied to personalizing linens, clothing, or creating decorative pieces for the home.
  7. Candle Making: Candle making is a creative and practical skill. Homesteaders can make their own candles for both functional lighting and decorative purposes, using various molds, scents, and colors to suit their preferences.
  8. Home Herbalism and Apothecary: Homesteaders can develop skills in creating herbal remedies and natural beauty products. This includes making herbal teas, salves, and skincare products from plants grown in their gardens.
  9. Bread Baking: Baking bread from scratch is a fulfilling and practical skill. Homesteaders can experiment with different grains, seeds, and techniques to create a variety of homemade bread, fostering a self-sufficient approach to food.
  10. Natural Dyeing: Natural dyeing involves using plant-based materials to color fabrics. Homesteaders can explore this skill to create unique and eco-friendly textiles, adding a personal touch to their clothing or home decor.

Mechanical Repair Skills

  • Basic Engine Maintenance (Tractors, Tools): Basic engine maintenance is a fundamental skill for homesteaders, especially when it comes to tractors and tools. Acquiring expertise in engine maintenance involves learning to check and change oil, replace air filters, inspect spark plugs, and understand basic troubleshooting. Regular maintenance ensures the longevity and reliable performance of essential homestead equipment.
  • Small Machinery Repair: Small machinery repair skills are essential for addressing issues that may arise with various homestead tools and equipment. Developing proficiency in small machinery repair includes diagnosing problems, replacing damaged parts, and ensuring proper calibration. Being able to troubleshoot and repair small machinery on the homestead reduces downtime and saves on repair costs.
  • DIY Repairs for Homestead Equipment: DIY repairs for homestead equipment encompass a broad range of skills, from welding and carpentry to electrical work. Acquiring a versatile set of repair skills allows homesteaders to address issues with infrastructure, fencing, and other essential equipment. Learning to troubleshoot, source replacement parts, and execute repairs independently enhances self-sufficiency and reduces the need for external services.

Community Building

  1. Networking with Local Farmers and Homesteaders: Networking with local farmers and homesteaders is a valuable practice that fosters community connections and resource-sharing. Developing networking skills involves attending local agricultural events, joining community organizations, and actively engaging with fellow homesteaders. Building a network provides opportunities for knowledge exchange, collaboration on projects, and mutual support within the local homesteading community.
  2. Participating in Community Events: Actively participating in community events is an excellent way to connect with neighbors, share experiences, and contribute to the local homesteading community. Involvement in events such as farmers’ markets, agricultural fairs, or workshops provides a platform for exchanging ideas, showcasing products, and building relationships with like-minded individuals. Community participation strengthens the collective knowledge base and promotes a sense of shared responsibility among homesteaders.
  3. Sharing Knowledge and Resources: Sharing knowledge and resources is a key aspect of community building among homesteaders. Developing skills in effective communication and collaboration involves freely sharing information, tips, and resources with neighbors. Whether through informal conversations, workshops, or online platforms, creating a culture of knowledge-sharing contributes to the overall resilience and success of the local homesteading community.

There are so many more homesteading skills. After homesteading for almost 15 years, my top advice is to choose one or two new skills to learn each year and keep growing your knowledge base.

You may also like: Top Systems for Backyard Farming.

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