Preserving food? Check. Driving a tractor? Check. Milking a goat? Check.
For me, one of the most exciting aspects of modern-homesteading is learning new skills. When I first moved to Wyoming at the tender age of 18, I had an entire mental checklist of all the things I wanted learn and do.
And as I’ve morphed into a modern-day homesteader, that list has grown along with me.
There is something so empowering about learning how to do something new with your hands. Or mastering a skill that, at an earlier point in your lie, would have seemed completely foreign.
It’s actually quite addictive, really… Since we are at the start of a brand new year, I figure there’s no better time than to start making homestead plans.
So without further ado, may I present to you:
101 Skills for the Modern Homestead
(Keep in mind that no one person will likely master all of these skills. And some just aren’t applicable to certain situations. (I sadly won’t ever be harvesting maple syrup from my homestead… I know that.) But hopefully you can pick and choose some ideas to inspire you!)
2. Compost both kitchen scraps and animal manure.
4. Learn how to cook a whole chicken.
5. Grow a vegetable garden in your climate.
6. Know how to properly prune and graft a fruit tree.
7. Learn first-aid and CPR.
8. Know how to dehydrate foods to preserve for later use.
9. Give an animal an injection (the muscle, in the vein, or under the skin)
10. Assist with foaling, kidding, lambing, and/or calving.
11. Know how to assist an animal with a difficult birth.
12. Grow a windowsill herb garden.
13. Learn how to safely cut down a tree.
14. Make perfect sausage gravy from scratch.
15. Know how to drive a manual transmission and/or tractor.
16. Learn basic metal working skills and welding.
17. Master basic mechanic skills so you can fix your tractors and vehicles.
18. Change a tire and change oil.
19. Learn how to hunt wild game–both large and small.
20. Know how to properly handle, shoot, and clean a gun.
21. Learn the laws and regulations regarding hunting wild game in your area through a Hunter’s Safety course.
22. Learn how to humanely kill, gut, and clean an animal.
23. Know how to butcher an animal and the proper cuts of meat.
24. Learn how to kill and pluck a chicken.
25. Use a smoker to smoke cheeses, meat, bacon, hams, etc.
26. Learn how to fish.
27. Learn how to clean, fillet, and cook fish.
28. Learn how to tell if your chickens are molting.
29. Know how to tell if you can doctor an animal at home, or if it needs to be taken to the vet.
30. Dry laundry using a drying rack or clothesline.
32. Know how to build a fire.
33. Cook over an open fire or on a wood cookstove.
34. Make cheese–master simple soft cheeses and hard cheeses too.
35. Learn how to make yogurt.
36. Make sourdough bread and maintain your own starter.
37. Keep bees and harvest honey.
38. Make basic yeast dough which can be turned into loaves, rolls, buns, pretzels, etc.
39. Incubate fertilized eggs and hatch your own chicks.
40. Learn how to identify and manage a broody hen.
41. Learn how to cut, bale, and stack hay.
43. Master the art of intensive grazing so you can better manage your pastures.
44. Make your own soap.
45. Make your own candles.
46. Learn how to darn a sock.
47. Mend damaged clothes so they don’t have to be thrown away.
48. Sew clothing and fabric items from scratch.
49. Knit, quilt, or crochet
50. Learn the art of no-till gardening.
51. Learn how to candle eggs so you can tell if they are fertilized.
52. Cook outside with a dutch oven.
53. Heat your home with wood or other sustainable sources.
55. Learn how to build and fix fence.
56. Master basic carpentry skills so you can repair outbuildings or even build basic furniture pieces.
57. Learn how to tan a hide.
58. Learn how to save seeds.
59. Use a water bath canner to preserve foods.
60. Learn how to use lacto-fermentation to preserve foods.
61. Learn how to use a pressure canner and/or cooker.
62. Make your own sauerkraut.
63. Forage for wild edibles in your area.
64. Learn how to identify the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms.
65. Learn how to identify the difference between harmless and venomous snakes in your area.
66. Grind your own wheat for baking.
67. Repurpose everyday items to save them from the landfill.
68. Learn how to sharpen a knife or ax.
69. Learn how to prepare for a blizzard.
70. Learn how to prepare for a wildfire.
71. Understand the basics of animal breeding.
72. Learn how to work together with your neighbors to accomplish more and foster a sense of community.
73. Know how to halter-break and train an animal.
74. Learn how to harvest, split, and stack firewood.
75. Learn how to make butter.
77. Build/use a greenhouse or cold frame to extend your growing season.
78. Learn how to start seeds indoors.
79. Store food in a root cellar or in a cool basement.
80. Make your own vinegar.
81. Make your own skincare items.
82. Make your own cleaning supplies.
83. Learn how to make herbal extracts, infusions, poultices, and tinctures.
84. Learn how to render lard or tallow.
85. Learn how to chop ice.
86. Learn how to make and apply whitewash.
87. Tap trees for maple syrup.
88. Learn how to repair a roof.
89. Know how to humanely euthanize an animal.
90. Understand how to identify the weeds in your yard/pastures and figure out which ones are edible.
91. Learn how to back up a trailer.
92. Know how to purify water.
93. Learn how to make bone broth.
94. Know how to use non-electric lighting.
95. Put together a 72-hour kit for emergencies.
96. Learn how to cook eggs in a cast iron skillet without a sticky mess.
98. Make your own bacon and cured hams.
99. Know how to protect your livestock from predators.
100. Learn how to make your own chicken feed.
101. Live within your means and get out of debt.
And the list keeps growing! The following are from my lovely readers:
102. Learn about aquaponics or fish farming.
103. Make your own ammunition, or reload ammunition.
104. Shear a sheep and process the wool.
105. Learn how to spin wool.
106. Know basic plumbing skills (like unclogging a toilet!)
107. Learn how to install/use a composting toilet
108. Make your own paper.
109. Learn how to use vermiculture (composting with worms) to create nutrient-rich food for your garden.
110. Make your own fishing lures or spears.
111. Use alternative energy sources like solar or wind to power your homestead.
112. Implement natural pest control measures.
113. Learn how to tie a variety of basic knots.
114. Learn how to make and set traps.
115. Know how to clean, dress, stitch/staple a wound in the event of an emergency.
116. Learn how to weave.
117. Learn how to make natural dyes.
118. Understand how to propagate plants through root cuttings.
119. Learn how to clear pasture and brush.
120. Master the art of home brewing.
121. Learn how to make baskets.