Not everyone grew up on a farm with learning opportunities like baling hay or shucking corn. Many of us interested in homesteading are curious for this lifestyle to get away from the hustle and bustle of where we are now. While the chance to move out to the country might still be several years away for now, here are 5 introductory and crucial skills to learn with a level up skill for those over achievers out there.
Learn to can your own vegetables and other food items– While you might not have a full garden with an abundance of vegetables to stockpile for the upcoming winter months, you should already have searched out your nearest farmer’s market to learn and taste the freshness of food that was just trucked in from a nearby location. Farmers markets are a wonderful introduction into the varieties of vegetables available and are a wonderful way to getting to identify ripe fruits and the seasons they come to market. Canning is an important cornerstone in homesteading life. You want to be able to preserve your food so that in the leaner months you have it available and there is less travel to replenish your pantry. You are able to can fruits, vegetables, pickled items, broths and even meat. Check out The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving or the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, 37th edition. There are over 500 recipes as well as information about equipment and step by step instructions on each preserving method. You can learn to pickle, dehydrate and freeze your food while knowing that you are one step closer to self-sufficiency. To Level up this skill: Learn how to smoke preserve meats and make sausage. Along with hunting and dressing your own catch, learning the cuts and methods of safe storage are crucial for homesteading. That alone is for another post. For now, you can still make your own sausage using a grinder and sausage making attachment on a food processor, if that is something you are curious about. Smokers are a part of barbecuing and can be made to sit on your porch without taking up too much space. There are tons of videos on YouTube to show you how to make a safe and effective smoker.
Grow your own herbs- Whether you want to use fresh thyme and rosemary for your baked chicken recipes or could really use a chamomile tea, these herbs are easily grown on a windowsill in your kitchen. Fresh herbs are always at your fingertips and drying them takes very little space and offer fragrant options to warm up your home. This is probably the easiest skill to acquire now and I hope you have already explored this in your home. To Level Up this Skill: Using your dried herbs, learn to make lotions, soaps and candles. There is an abundance of videos and websites dedicated to using natural oils and herbs in concocting beauty items. There is a certain personal satisfaction in washing your hands with soap you make that uses lavender you grew on your patio.
Learn to Sew- This is a given for both men and women. You should know how to sew a button back on a shirt or fix a hem. You don’t have to buy a sewing machine just yet. Just learn how to thread a needle first. After that, if you do decide to get a machine (and there are so many affordable machines out there and a few worth saving up for) you can start off making small items that you only need to sew in straight lines, like pillow cases and curtains. Eventually you can work your way up to making pajama pants (perfect for Christmas gifts, especially with all the character and licensed fleece available) and quilts. That’s right, you don’t necessarily need a quilting machine to make quilts, it can be done on a regular machine. Believe it or not, haha, you can even quilt by hand as many people still do when finishing their quilts. In the good ol’ days, that’s how down time in the evenings and through winters were spent, mending clothes and making new things as needed at home. If you knew how much time it took to make fabric, cut and sew like they had to do going as far back as the dawn of time, you can understand why keeping things repaired were required. Of course, now it’s too easy to pop on down to the store or order from a catalog, but basic skills like sewing are important to immersing yourself in a simpler life. You learn to appreciate what took time and love to create. To Level Up this Skill: Believe it or not, if you know how to knit you can also learn to make your own yarn. Yep, you can spin wool- which is available for purchase in a rainbow of colors, to make your own yarn. You don’t need a spinning wheel, you can use a spindle. It’s been done for thousands of years and learning would be the most amazing throwback to ANY throwback Thursday. If you really want to get crazy, you can even use the herbs and vegetables you got from the farmer’s market to DYE YOUR OWN WOOL! It’s all true. All this information can be accessed as well as steps on how to dye your wool and spin it into yarn on YouTube and the internet.
Change a Tire and Oil of your vehicle- This, in my humble opinion, is something that should be taught when you learn how to drive. Every person, man or woman, should know how to change their own tires in all kinds of weather. Being prepared at home and away while you are driving saves money and is plain common sense. Car jack, spare tire, working flashlight, flares- these items need to be stocked and replenished in your vehicle. Make this a priority and learn how to do it on your own, no playing the damsel in distress on the side of the road. Get your hands dirty and you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you improve on this skill. Changing your oil is simple and can save you a ton of money. Just be sure to know what the laws are of your city in regards to disposing of the used oil. Changing out air filters and windshield wipers are too easy as well, only involving opening a package and popping out the old and inserting the new. Headlights and taillights also just require the right screwdrivers and voila, you can replace a burned-out bulb. The next time you need an automotive update, bite the bullet and see if you can do it yourself. To Level Up this Skill: Learn how to hitch and unhitch a trailer, as well as drive and back one up. This is the ultimate skill to have and the opportunity to learn might not come as readily as changing a tire, but this is a crucial skill out in the country. You should learn if the ball hitch is the right size, how to back your vehicle up to whatever you are pulling, attaching the wires and syncing them up to make sure that the brake lights and turn signals are working. You would need to practice pulling away into traffic and backing a trailer up.
Learn how to use a saw and hammer: Power tools are fun. And dangerous. Building shelves, replacing doors and mending fences are chores that you will encounter out in the country. You want to be able to build a pen for your animals and repair your chicken coops and a saw and hammer are part of those activities. To get in the habit at home, start small and build your own book shelf. You should feel comfortable with power tools in your hands. Replace or add blinds, so that you can practice using a screw gun. Even one better, learn how to read a measuring tape. This is a required skill to teach all your kids, starting around eight years old, when they are learning fractions. Measure twice then cut once, is the saying. Learn how to use a wrench the right way so that you’re working smarter and not harder when it comes to repairing or replacing pipes. It’s no fun having to learn at the last minute how to turn off the water or unclog a drain when its already too late. Get in there and start learning how things work before they stop working. To Level Up this Skill: Learn basic first aid and lifesaving skills. Out in the country it might take time to get medical attention and getting a head start on CPR can be the difference between life and death. Learn how to stop bleeding, secure a broken bone and signal for help if you are out in a field. Having an emergency plan is always a smart thing to work on as a family and can be practiced in the city as well. Teach your kids how to communicate effectively when they are in an emergency, as well as being prepared for inclement weather at home or away. All tools as well as weapons, animals and weather should be respected with the knowledge that misuse can put everyone in danger. Do not underestimate that a dangerous situation can escalate, practice staying focused and self-control so that everyone can stay safe.
These are just basic skills, with the focus on what can and should be learned now. There are tons of other skills that you can add to it, like learning how to clean and shoot a gun, cleaning up after animals and recognizing when they are ill as well as preserving seeds, composting and building a fire. What would you like to learn to help you transition from your current home to a place out in the country? Let me know in the comments below.