30+ Basic Homestead Skills You Need to Learn

When you hear the word “homestead” what comes to mind? Is it acres upon acres of land? Living off the grid? Livestock grazing? A homestead can be all of those things, but it can also be none of them. Some people homestead on less than an acre of land and others work on their practical skills while living in a city apartment. With these basic homestead skills, you can start your homestead wherever you are.

31 Basic Homestead Skills to Practice Right Where You Are

This list contains over 30 homestead skills that you can practice with little to no land. DO NOT try to do all of them at once or you risk burning yourself out and setting yourself up for failure. Pick one of these valuable skills and start learning today!

Homesteading Skills to Learn With or Without Land

1. Gardening

Growing your own garden is one of the most basic homesteading skills. Gardening can be done indoors or outdoors and it allows you to provide food for your family that doesn’t come from the grocery store.

If you have space outside for a vegetable garden, you can plant straight into the ground (I prefer the Back to Eden method) or into a raised bed. To extend your growing season, you can build a cold frame to grow vegetables in cooler months.

Take the time to learn about different gardening methods, soil preparation, and companion planting to make the most of your homestead garden. 

Clipping fresh mint with scissors
Window or Wall Garden

If you do not have the land to garden outside, you can plant a window garden or a vertical garden. Growing Plants indoors is convenient and it helps to purify the air in your home.

Herbs grow great on a windowsill or in hanging wall planters. You can also grow flowers and greens this way. You can even use aquaponic planters in your window garden!

Vertical Garden

Veggies can be grown in a vertical hydroponic garden along a wall or on a floor stand. This is a great option for year-round indoor gardening.

A Greenstalk Vertical Garden Tower is a great option for small-space gardeners. The garden tower can be used inside, on the porch, or in any space with sunlight that you have available.

Starting Seeds

Starting seeds isn’t necessary to grow a garden if that thought overwhelms you right now. You can purchase transplants from a local nursery instead. If you do want to start seeds, all you really need are some seed trays, seed starting mix, light, and heat mats (if your trays are stored in a cold area like a garage). 

2. Food Preservation

If you put in all the work to grow and raise food on your homestead, but it all goes to waste because you don’t know how to preserve it, then the sustainability of the homestead is compromised. 

Even if you don’t grow your own food yet, you can still tock your pantry and freezer for the winter months. 

Learn to make and preserve jams & jellies, apple butter, pickles, bone broth, herbs & spices, and more through canning, dehydrating, cold storage, and freezing fruit & veggies from your local farmer’s market!

Canning to Preserve Food

Canning is, in my opinion, an essential homestead skill.

Pressure canner and bone broth
Pressure Canner

You can learn to can by asking someone to mentor you, reading articles, or watching video tutorials. If you don’t know anyone who can teach you face to face, then I highly recommend checking out my friend Ann’s Sustainable Canning Course.

I also recommend starting out with hot water bath canning high-acid foods before moving on to pressure canning. Be sure to do your research before canning any food because different types of food require different canning methods and you want to be sure that you are using safe food preservation methods.

I also recommend starting out with hot water bath canning before moving onto pressure canning. Be sure to do your research before canning any food because different types of food require different canning methods and you want to be sure that you are using safe storage methods.

Dehydrating to Preserve Food

You can preserve many foods by dehydrating them. Do this with a dehydrator, an oven, or a solar oven. Store dehydrated food in airtight containers until ready to use.

Filled Excalibur dehydrator
Freezing to Preserve Food

Another option for food preservation is freezing. Some foods require blanching before freezing, but many foods can be frozen without any additional prep.

3. From Scratch Cooking 

Even if you don’t grow your own produce or raise animals for meat, you can start cooking from scratch. This is a simple way to move toward self-sufficiency.

Replace pre-packaged and processed foods with homemade goodies! A good place to start is with these recipes for biscuits and bread.

Keep your pantry stocked with staples that will allow you to make just about any food from scratch without needing to make a trip to the store.

Want my favorite from-scratch recipes for staples, breakfasts, entrees, breads, and desserts? Take a look at The Homemade Household: From-Scratch Cooking e-book!

biscuits and gravy

4. Make Household Supplies

DIY Cleaning & Laundry Supplies

I started making my own household supplies because I ran out of cleaning spray and I couldn’t get to the store to purchase more (we live way out of town). 

My all-purpose spray is my favorite homemade cleaner and I use it on everything from counters to floors to toilets and more. 

homemade cleaning spray | homestead skills

Other cleaners that I like to make are dish detergent cubes, laundry powder, furniture polish, drain cleaner, glass cleaner, and citrus scrap cleaning spray.

DIY Bath & Body Products

Make your own soap, lotion, body butter, salves, balms, bath bombs, makeup, and more! I LOVE using fresh goat milk for all of these products! Source local ingredients like beeswax, milk, and herbs if you don’t have your own.

The Homemade Household: DIY Cleaning Supplies contains ALL of my homemade cleaning supply recipes!

5. Learn to Use Herbs

Herbs have many different uses in the home & on the farm. They can be used in food, drinks, tinctures, salves, essential oils, and oil infusions. They can also play a role in human and livestock health & wellness. 

Amy Fewell’s book The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion: The Ultimate Guide to Growing, Preserving, and Using Herbs outlines how to use medicinal herbs all over your homestead so you don’t have to do any guesswork on your herbal remedies.

6. Make Home Remedies

Reduce dependency on the pharmaceutical industry by learning how different plants can be used to treat & prevent illnesses. My favorite home remedies to make are fire cider and elderberry syrup.

fire cider & elderberry syrup

7. Budgeting & Frugal Living

Frugal living isn’t limited to homesteaders, but it is vital to living a homestead lifestyle. Be conscious of your spending habits and make sure that everything you spend money on serves a valuable purpose.

  • Start by creating a budget. Make sure that you set realistic numbers so that you don’t get discouraged as soon as you start. You will want this budget to work for you, not set you up to fail.
  • Implement a cash envelope system for your monthly spending categories. This will help you avoid frivolous spending and overdraft fees.
  • Plan your meals and stick to a grocery list. Don’t buy anything that isn’t on your list.
  • Download grocery rebate apps to give you cash back for your shopping trips.
  • The art of bartering is another way that you can save money. If you have herbs that you have grown, maybe you can trade them for some honey or produce.
  • Shop second-hand for clothing and toys. You can often find quality pieces at your local thrift store.
  • Track your finances with The Homestead Finance Tracker
Homestead Finance Tracker | basic homestead skills

8. Raise Livestock

This homestead skill is a little trickier if you live inside city limits, but there might be an option that will allow you to raise your own meat. 

It can be difficult to raise large livestock like cattle when you don’t have acreage, but there are small animals that you can raise if you have a little space in your yard like rabbits, backyard chickens, goats, quail, fish, and bees.I currently have a half-acre in city limits, but I still raise laying hens and 3-4 batches of meat birds each year. I have also kept meat rabbits and honeybees on this property.

rabbits

The Livestock Management Binder can help you keep up with all of the important pedigree, breeding, and medical information.


9. Waste Less Food

One of the easiest of these new skills is to simply waste less of your food. Make use of pieces of food that typically get thrown in the trash.

You can make vinegar with apple cores, bone broth with leftover bones, compost everything that you can, feed scraps to your animals, make banana bread with mushy bananas… the options are truly endless.

compost pail in fridge
Kitchen Compost Pail

10. Cheese & Butter Making

If you own a dairy goat or cow, this one is a no-brainer. Otherwise, you can purchase locally sourced milk & cream to make cheeses and homemade butter for your family.

homemade butter

If you are making a small amount of butter, you can make it in a jar or even a zip-lock bag. For larger amounts, use a stand mixer, blender, or food processor.

11. Reduce Your Household Waste & Carbon Footprint

Being a good steward of the land and natural resources is a God-given duty. We should take it seriously and do the best we can to leave Earth better than we found it. You can reduce your waste & your carbon footprint in many ways:

picking blueberries

12. Composting

You can compost almost any leftover food plus a few other things like grass clippings and newspapers. Keep a small compost pail in your kitchen to store scraps until you can take it to your outdoor heap or bin.

You can make your own simple & small compost bin out of a 5-gallon bucket. To make faster use of your compost, you could add worms to your bin or heap. A pallet compost bin is a great affordable option for a larger compost system.

They will eat the scraps and break it down much more quickly. 

This post will walk you through composting basics. You can also download my Garden Compost Guide in the Member Resource Library.

Pallet Compost Bin | 30+ Basic Homestead Skills You Need to Learn | Mama on the Homestead

13. Grind your own grains

Grinding your own grain has many benefits. You can grind grain using the KitchenAid Grain Mill Attachment or a stand-alone mill. Do some research and decide what kind of grain will work best for your family. Here is a quick guide to home-milled grain

14. Render Fat

Excess fat from meat can be rendered down for use in cooking as well as for making candles, soaps, and balms. I made candles from tallow that turned out great!

Tallow candles in mason jars | 30+ Basic Homestead Skills You Need to Learn | Mama on the Homestead

15. Needlework

Add some needlework knowledge to your homestead skills repertoire. Learn basic sewing skills, how to follow crochet patterns, and/or how to knit. You can mend clothing and make items (like dishcloths, hats, and pot holders) that are needed around your home.

16. Learn to Cook Without Electricity

I currently live in a home without a gas stove… This HAS to change soon because cooking on a glass-top stove is just not my thing. If you have gas, then cherish it (but don’t rub it in).

Even without an indoor gas cooking option, you can make hot food without using electricity with a solar oven or a propane stove. I love using the Camp Chef Explorer stove for outdoor cooking and canning.

You don’t have to live on a farm to start learning new homestead skills!

17. Cook with Cast Iron

Cast Iron will last for.ev.er and that is no exaggeration. I have one skillet that was made before 1890 (I know this because of the gatemark on the bottom) and it is easily my best pan!

Don’t be intimidated by caring for cast iron… The internet can make it look scary, but it is actually pretty simple. If your pan is seasoned well, simply wipe it out to clean it. If it needs washing, use water and (gasp!) soap if you want. Modern soap is fine to use on these skillets, but it isn’t necessary. I also highly recommend using a chain mail scrubber to get stuck bits of food off. Then you can dry and re-oil. 

My cast-iron care routine looks like this:

Cook> Wash with soap, water, & chain mail scrubber > Dry with a towel > Rub lard over the surface of the pan & wipe off excess > Hang back up

cast iron skillets
Cast Iron Skillets

18. Cook According to what is in season

When you eat produce that is not in season, it has been shipped from (most likely) another country. Part of homesteading is supporting your local community and buying food from other countries isn’t the most community-based sustainable option.

Try to buy local produce from stores (just check labels for growing location), directly from local farmers, or grow seasonal fruits & veggies yourself.

19. Line Dry Clothes

Line drying saves money by reducing the amount of electricity used on laundry and it can make your clothes feel & smell fresher. If you can’t hang them outside, purchase a drying rack to keep in your laundry room.

20. Start a Seed Bank

Saving seeds from year to year is one of my favorite of these homestead skills. If you preserve them well, they can last several years and be used as a “just-in-case” seed bank as well as a yearly seed starting stash.

You can use pre-made seed pack labels to keep your seeds properly labeled. Store your labeled seed containers in a cool, dark, and dry place.

seeed pack labels

21. Growing Fodder for Livestock

Fodder is an affordable, fast-growing, nutritious feed for livestock. While fodder doesn’t completely replace feed, it is a wonderful companion to regular livestock feed & hay and cuts back on the amount that you would typically use.

You can grow this indoors or outdoors in a DIY system with plastic mesh-bottom trays.

22. Foraging

Foraging is a homesteading skill that you can learn whether you have your own land or not. Many of the plants can be found in your yard. If you don’t have a yard or can’t find any wild edible plants, you can check at local state parks or other public land that allows foraging. 

White Clover, dandelions, purple dead nettle, violets, and mushrooms are just a few of the edible plants that you can look for. 

girl foraging purple dead nettle

23. Hunting to fill your freezer

Hunting wild game is an excellent way to fill your freezer with meat without breaking the bank. Many landowners will lease land to hunters so that is an option if you don’t have land of your own or access to public hunting grounds. 

You will need to decide if you want to process the animals yourself or send them to a processor. I always opt to do the processing on my own to save money and develop my skills further, but using a processor can save time and keep you from purchasing tools for butchering. 

24. Proper use of a firearm

Homesteaders need to know how to use a firearm safely especially if they raise animals. Many predators pose a threat to livestock and you have to be able to protect them if needed.

You also want to be able to defend your family because, if you live outside of city limits, police response time isn’t as fast as you would need it to be in a dire situation.

Read through this post to help you determine which firearm is right for you.

25. Catch, Clean, and Cook Fish

In addition to hunting and raising livestock, fishing is a great way to stock up on meat. You can learn how to catch, clean & cook fish whether you fish in your own pond, in a neighbor’s pond or in a public lake.

Young boy holding a bass in front of a pond | 30+ Basic Homestead Skills You Need to Learn | Mama on the Homestead

26. Learn Basic First Aid

CPR, Wound care, and basic medication knowledge for humans and livestock is a must-learn on the homestead skills list.

You can start working on this skill now whether you currently live on a farm, in an apartment, or somewhere in between. You can purchase a good First Aid Kit or make one yourself.

27. Water Purification

Knowing how to purify water for drinking is an important skill to have no matter where you live. You can make your own filtration systems (you need to be sure that you really know what you are doing for safety’s sake) or you can use a tried & tested filtration system like Boroux Filters.

Berkey

28. Make your own essential oils

Making your own DIY essential oil isn’t as hard as you may think. You can also make infused oils and floral waters (like rose water).

29. Carpentry & General Handywork

Knowing how to build and fix things is one of the most important homestead skills. In the past two years, we have saved a ton of money by building our own furniture (specifically our children’s beds, meat chicken tractors, a farmhouse baby gate, and an office desk), doing our own basic plumbing (fixing pipes), and completing other projects on our own without hiring help.

boy helping to build a chicken tractor

30. Vehicle Maintenance

This one is really great whether you desire to become a homesteader or not. Knowing how to change your oil, change a tire, add air, check tire pressure, and other basic vehicle maintenance can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle.

YouTube can become your best friend when it comes to this topic if you aren’t mechanically inclined.

31. Harness Alternative Energy Sources

Putting in solar panels has become a very popular energy option for homes and businesses recently. It seems expensive on the front end, but it pays for itself over the first few years.

There are also portable solar panels that can be used to charge small devices like cell phones. 

32. Home Brewing

If you enjoy the occasional beer or glass of wine, you can brew your own at home! My friend Scott at North Country Farmer has a great post about the equipment needed for home brewing. You can also learn to brew your own probiotic kombucha.

kombucha

>>More Homesteading Resources<<


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14 Comments

  1. Hi Jessica

    Nice list, those are some of the simplest things people can do to make a big difference, not only to their impact on the planet, but also for their health.

    I am super into gardening and fermentation in particular, sauerkraut and kimchi are my go-to condiments, always some in the fridge.

    I also really try to create a more ‘closed system’, at least as far as waste leaving my property. Composting, fall leaf collection to use on my beds, it’s all great stuff.

    What part of this wonderful homesteading journey do you like the best?

    Keep on keeping on, lovely looking site and great writing style too. Good luck with it all!

  2. This is an amazing post. I love your article. Your vertical garden looking is super. It has very impressed me, I can’t wait, and I will try to my indoor home. You are so creative. Really, Thanks for share!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing your post with us. lovely pictures. Nowadays homesteading is more popular and every one wan to start homesteading business, But most of the people don’t have experience and skills.

  4. Nice post!
    Thanks for sharing so useful information, I grew up in the city and I was totally ignorant about the homestead, I´m learning and start growing my own herbs and veggies at home.
    Love your blog!

  5. Incredible! This is an awesome post. I enjoy your content. Your straight garden seeking is very. It has extremely impressed myself, I cannot wait around, and I will endeavour to our indoor residence. You are thus creative. Genuinely, Thanks for talk about !!!

  6. Strongly believe that learning basic homestead skills is the key to achieving a self-sufficient lifestyle. Gardening, food preservation, and cooking from scratch are just some of the valuable skills that we can practice no matter where we are. We can grow a thriving window or wall garden, make our own all-purpose spray, and even raise small livestock such as rabbits or quail if we have limited space

  7. I noticed that “shop second hand” had a line through it, along with “raise honeybees.”

    Was that accidental, and if not, why?

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