Living on a homestead seems like sunshine and rainbows from afar. But there’s actually more to homesteading once you get up close and personal. You’ll need to know more than just how to keep the house clean, the animals fed and the vegetables watered.
But don’t fret. Each homesteading skill you learn will take you one step closer to a life of self-sufficiency.
Listed below are some of the most important skills you need to learn and master to become a successful homesteader.
Driving to the grocery store to buy food doesn’t exactly count as being self-sufficient. Homesteaders grow their own foods so they don’t starve. Growing your own food is also a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce when you buy processed or ready-made food and fresh fruits and vegetables sold in plastic containers.
Gardening is also the easiest skill you can learn if you want to be adequately prepared for when SHTF. For one, hunting depends greatly on the abundance of wildlife in a given area. With gardening, you can harvest nutrient-rich food numerous times within a single growing season.
When learning how to grow your own food, start by studying which crops grow best in your climate or region, given available water source and soil quality. You can then move on to studying which crops grow best in which climates because you might need to move to a different area in case of a disaster or SHTF scenario.
Gardening also means knowing how to save seeds. Saving seeds from your own plants helps you save money in the long run.
2. Finding water
There are many water sources you can consider when you’re living on a homestead. You could dig a well to access groundwater supplies or collect rainwater. If you’re like most preppers, you likely also have a significant store of water in case something happens to your usual water sources.
However, water stores can only last so long before you need to replenish them. This is why you should also know how to find and use water in your immediate environment. For instance, knowing that trees typically grow near bodies of water could help you find a river or creek more easily.
But don’t stop there. Make sure you know how to clean water sourced from bodies of water. You wouldn’t want to get sick from harmful bacteria, fungi or parasites lurking in the water. (Related: Homesteading 101: How to purify dirty well water.)
Gardening is more than enough for vegans. But for practicing omnivores, there’s a lot of protein to be collected from wildlife. When learning to hunt, it helps to look up hunting laws or regulations in your area. Make sure you practice utmost safety when you’re out hunting. This is where proper hunting techniques and good quality hunting tools, such as traps and firearms, come in. You’ll also need to learn to gut, clean and butcher animal carcasses if you plan to hunt for the long term.
4. General maintenance
There’s always something to fix, improve or build on a homestead. As such, it helps to learn carpentry skills. These will come in handy when you need to build a shed, repair broken fences or create equipment to make homestead life easier.
You don’t have to be an expert in building or repairing things either. Just learning the basics can go a long way in what you’ll be able to accomplish when SHTF.
5. Raising animals
Part of homesteading is knowing how to properly raise chickens, goats, cows and other animals you need to run a completely self-sufficient homestead. Make sure to do your research before bringing an animal home.
6. Providing first aid
You can’t predict when an injury or illness will occur. And if you live on a homestead, chances are you don’t have a lot of neighbors close by. Therefore, it’s important to learn basic first-aid skills for you and your family’s sake. Knowing basic first-aid skills means you can easily treat minor injuries, such as cuts and burns. It also means you can prepare for serious injuries before emergency medical services arrive.
Have a first-aid kit ready on your homestead. Keep one in your survival kit or bugout bag as well.
Remember: Being a successful homesteader won’t happen overnight. If you’re new to homesteading, it’s important to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed. Take at least 10 minutes out of your day to brush up on your homesteading skills. You’ll eventually get the hang of things as long as you work on them consistently.