What does it mean to be self-sufficient? For some, it might mean being able to provide for their own needs without relying on others. For others, it might mean having the skills and knowledge to take care of themselves no matter what situation they find themselves in. Whether you’re just getting started on your homesteading journey or you’ve been at it for a while, here are a few old-fashioned homesteading skills that can help make you self-sufficient.
1. Preserving Food
Preserving food is a necessary homesteading skill. While your produce may be fresh during the summer months, preserving food can help you save money and stay healthy during the winter months.
There are many different preservation methods available to homesteaders, including freezing, freeze drying, pickling, dehydrating, or canning. Depending on what type of food you are looking to preserve (and how much work you want to do), you might find that one method is easier than another.
For example, if you want to can chicken and green beans, it’s important to invest in a high-quality pressure canner that meets safety standards. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple sugar-free way to preserve strawberries or blueberries over the long term, freezing is likely the best option.
Ultimately, preserving food can help you reduce your grocery bill and stay healthy throughout the year – it just takes a bit of planning, organization, and patience.
2. Bread Making
Nothing tastes as good as freshly baked bread, and it is a skill that anyone can learn with a little practice. Baking your own bread comes with many nutritional benefits. One of the biggest benefits, much like gardening, is you are giving yourself control over what you eat. Many commercial bakeries use chemicals and preservatives that can be potentially harmful to your health. You also eliminate the worry about pesticides when baking your own bread.
Making your own bread is also a cheap alternative to eating out or buying prepared foods from the grocery store. Making your own bread costs just pennies compared with buying loaf after loaf at the supermarket. As long as you have flour, yeast, and water, you can make fresh loaves every day using minimal ingredients and effort.
When learning how to bake artisanal-style sourdough bread, it’s important to note that you should use local flour. You’ll be eliminating the risk of cross-contamination from other flours or grains by using your own regional ingredients.
Foraging is the act of searching for food in the wild and is a great/free way to supplement your pantry. This skill was once essential for survival, and it can still be useful today. Many grocery stores and farmers’ markets sell wild plants, but they can be expensive. Foraging involves more than just picking random berries or leafy greens off the side of the road. It requires a certain level of expertise to know which plants are edible and how to prepare them for consumption.
Wildcrafting is another form of foraging that entails finding, harvesting, and using edible wild species. This form of foraging is not only useful in a survival situation but also beneficial when looking to add some new flavors to your cooking repertoire. Many chefs around the world use various wild species in their dishes to create unique flavors.
It’s important to take time cultivating knowledge about which plants are potentially toxic and what precautions need to be taken when foraging. For example, you should avoid eating mushrooms unless you are absolutely sure about their identification. While foraging can be a fun and exciting hobby, it’s important that you always take safety precautions to ensure your personal health and well-being.
Fishing is another old-fashioned homesteading skill that can be useful today. Whether you are fishing for sport or as a means of adding to your family’s food supply, it can be an enjoyable pursuit that requires very little equipment and can be done almost anywhere.
One of the main benefits of fishing is that it provides you with access to fresh, healthy protein. Many commercial fish farms rely on antibiotics or other chemicals that can have negative effects on your health. When comparing farmed fish to wild fish, in many cases, wild fish contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fishing can also save you money in the long run. If you have access to a body of water, a fishing pole, and bait, it is a relatively inexpensive way to supplement your pantry. In addition, there are many budget-friendly online platforms where you can find quality used rods and reels at great prices. If you live near a body of water (or have your own), learning how to fish is a great way to become more self-sufficient.
5. Animal Husbandry
Animal husbandry is the care and management of animals, which in the case of homesteading, includes chickens, cows, rabbits, quail, sheep, and goats. There are many benefits to raising animals on your property, including access to fresh and nutritious meat, eggs, and milk.
Animal husbandry can require a great deal of time and effort, but it can also be a very rewarding activity. If you have any experience on a homestead, you know many veterinarians are not able to make house calls for large herd animals, and, in many cases, animals such as chickens are considered “exotic” and cannot be serviced at all. Learning how to take care of minor wounds and illnesses can save you the hassle of loading up an animal while also reducing your livestock bills.
If you’re serious about becoming self-sufficient by practicing animal husbandry, it’s important to build relationships with local farmers and ranchers who can provide guidance along the way. Additionally, you will need to purchase the necessary equipment and supplies for your animals. While animal husbandry can be a time-consuming activity, it is well worth the effort if you are looking to become more independent and self-sufficient.
Beekeeping is another old-fashioned homesteading skill that is especially useful today. Bees are incredibly useful creatures, as they pollinate many types of plants and vegetables, leading to higher crop yields.
When it comes to beekeeping, there are a few important considerations. First, you should make sure that your property is the right environment for bees – this includes having adequate space for hives and enough sun exposure. Secondly, if you are interested in harvesting honey from your hives, it’s important to understand how much work goes into extraction – leaving some extra honey behind ensures that your bees have access to food during the colder months when flowers aren’t blooming as frequently.
Beekeeping can be a great way to supplement your grocery budget while also benefiting from quality crops produced by your bees. If you are interested in learning more about beekeeping, there are a number of resources available online, including books and instructional videos. With the right equipment, knowledge, and patience, beekeeping can be an easy way to become more self-sufficient and independent.
Gardening is not only an essential skill when homesteading, but it is a great way to become more self-sufficient. Not only will you be able to grow your own food, but you’ll also save money on groceries. There is a lot more to gardening than simply planting some seeds and letting them grow. You should learn about different techniques, such as the back to Eden method, companion planting, succession sowing, and crop rotation.
Growing your own food eliminates the need to ingest harmful chemicals that can be found in many pre-packaged store-bought meals. While they may serve the purpose of preserving your food long enough for it to get to you, many of these chemicals can be potentially harmful to your health. Bisphenol A and phthalates are two chemicals that are commonly found in foods and food packaging. They’ve been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and developmental problems.
Another advantage to gardening is that you can make it fit into your budget. Whether you have money to blow or less than $100 to spare, there are many ways to get started with gardening. Keeping a garden doesn’t have to break the bank. If you find that growing your own food is too expensive for your budget, try starting smaller. You can optimize how much space and money you put into gardening by growing crops that yield more such as potatoes, tomatoes, or squash.
8. Soap Making
Soap making is a useful homesteading skill that can save you money and provide you with natural, healthy soap products. While soap-making can seem like a daunting task, there are many simple tutorials available online that make the process accessible to any homesteader.
One key consideration when it comes to soap making is which oils you want to use in your recipe – olive oil or coconut oil are both popular options. While olive oil is thought to be gentler on skin and better for dry skin, coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and can help kill bacteria. Ultimately, the choice depends on what type of soap you’re looking for – whether it’s for cleaning dishes, your hands, or the body.
Over time, you may find that your homemade soap lasts longer than store-bought options and provides a better experience overall.
Herbalism is another useful homesteading skill for anyone interested in staying healthy and self-sufficient. There are many herbs that can be grown at home, including popular options like lavender, roselle, lemon balm, and mint. These herbs can aid in everything from managing stress and anxiety to improving digestion.
Once you have started growing your own herbs, the next step is learning how to use them effectively. Many herbal remedies can be made simply by combining dried or fresh herbs with water, oil, or honey. If you want to make more complex herbal remedies, it’s important to learn about different extraction methods and what types of ailments each remedy can treat.
With some research and experimentation, you may find that herbalism is a great way to stay healthy without relying on doctor’s visits or expensive prescription medications.
Last but certainly not least, every homesteader should have at least a basic understanding of building techniques and materials. Whether you want to build a deck or start constructing your own barn, having the right tools and knowledge is essential for success.
To get started on your building journey, it’s important to invest in the right tools – including hammers, nails, levels, saws, and jigsaws – as well as safety equipment like goggles and work gloves. You should also explore different materials that could be used in your projects – from wood and metal to plastic and glass.
Once you have gathered all of your materials and supplies, take some time to learn about basic building techniques – things like framing structures or working with concrete. With a bit of practice and dedication, you will soon find yourself developing new skills that can help you create your own homestead.
Learning Old-fashioned Homesteading Skills
Whether you are looking to become more self-sufficient or simply want to learn something new, there are many old-fashioned homesteading skills to study. From preserving food and practicing herbalism to building your own structures, these skills will allow you to take control of your life and live a healthier, more satisfying life.