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We are still a couple of years (hopefully less) from moving to our dream land, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn the skills necessary to be successful hometeaders now.
Obviously, living in the suburbs limits the options we have to practice various skills. For instance, we can’t practice milking a cow or goat very easily as we don’t have room for our own. It’s on our list to learn though and we are hoping to connect with others locally to learn this. Butchering is limited to mostly our hunting adventures. Although, I did butcher a rooster for the first time in the backyard last year.
We are able to raise chickens in our backyard. This allows us to gather fresh eggs each day and sell the occasional overflow to Aaron’s coworkers. We will need to start finding some more buyers as we will have three new layers this summer. Bringing us to hopefully six eggs per day over our usual three. In reality, not every hen will lay everyday so an average of four is probably more likely.
Raising chickens has been a lot of fun! The boys love collecting eggs each day and since we finished the new run a couple of weeks ago, they love being able to go inside and pet the chickens. Wildchild loves to feed them treats the most. They’re pretty spoiled now with their new digs and all the treats they’ve been getting.
Here’s a pic of the chicken run. It isn’t the prettiest thing, but it was mostly free and it works! You can also see our garden boxes and makeshift compost area (free from pallets). From our previous post on spring, you’ll know we have big plans for the garden this year! I have started several seeds indoors for the first time ever and so far it’s looking good. It looks like we will be having a ton of tomatoes this year!
Which leads me to a very important homesteading skill: food preservation. I have long dreamed of learning to can and even have a water bath canner tucked into the pantry. I just haven’t been brave enough, or had enough time to accomplish it. This year, I will be getting it done. I will have to invest in a pressure canner though, to make sure I am doing things safely. Here you will find tips on canning safety. Since we are each hoping to get a deer and/or elk this year a pressure canner is definitely going to be a necessity. I am also going to have to look up some recipes for canning those. Making jerky and smoking are also on our list! Luckily, I was able to snag a large commercial smoker for FREE a couple of years ago!
This is a super important skill to have, regardless of being a homesteader or not. Knowing how to throw together a meal from items already in your pantry and fridge can help you out tremendously. It’s also great for your budget as well. I was super fortunate that my Mom helped us learn to cook by telling us to grab a recipe from her one of her cookbooks and give it a try. Now, that didn’t exactly help us girls out when we tried one of her recipes. My Mom doesn’t measure things, so her recipes to us are ingredient lists essentially. This has allowed me to experiment and come up with flavor combos we love.
Another important cooking skill to have is baking, especially bread. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have access to a breadmaker. I received one for Christmas once, but accidentally threw out the paddle attachment with a failed loaf of bread. Which I didn’t realize till the next time I attempted to use it. That was years ago. Lately, I have tried experimenting with no knead bread. It seems to be easier for our busy family. I found this great recipe on Pinterest (seriously, best place ever). My family loved it! I need to start making it more regularly. I tend to forget after the dinnertime to bedtime madness.
We should talk a bit more about some other skills that are less to do with food and raising animals that would be beneficial to the homestead. I think the most important of these would be to know where to look for help. We have Googled or used YouTube to learn something useful a lot.
If you can’t find someone to learn from, YouTube is most likely your best bet to learn the skills necessary. I have learned a lot of things from how to butcher a chicken, to how to replace the pull cord on a lawn mower. Heck, Aaron watched YouTube to learn how to change the oil on our car when we first inherited it after his Gramps passed. You can learn everything there.
Knowing your community resources is another. Being a part of Facebook community groups is a huge asset. It helps to connect you to information about the area, other people that might be helpful, classifieds, etc. I was able to secure the wood for our run through a local homesteading group for free thanks to Facebook. If you area doesn’t have a homesteading group, definitely check to see if there is a Buy Nothing Project group for your area. It’s where people get rid of items they no longer want/need and its all for free. That’s where I got our smoker from!
Survival skills. As in knowing how to build a fire, build a rudimentary shelter, etc. First aid skills as well. Now, when I say first aid, I am not just talking CPR. I am also talking about knowing the plants and herbs that are beneficial that you can find on your land. Grab yourself an herb book and a foraging book from Amazon and study them! We are very fortunate that we have nature’s band-aid, plantain, growing in our backyard right now. What can you find?
I am sure this isn’t the first time you have heard of these skills as necessary for being successful at homesteading. Likely, it won’t be the last either. For those already homesteading and to those dreaming about homesteading, what are some skills you think are important? Obviously, this is not an extensive list. It does encompass what we are mostly focusing on right now though. I hope this post was helpful in giving some ideas to think about!