Basic Skills for the Modern Homesteader

A woman holding a basket with vegetables on a grassy lawn.

There is more to being a successful modern homesteader than meets the eye. From growing your own food to knowing how to mend clothes, there are a lot of skills that make a homestead prosperous. Here are 13 skills every homesteader should acquire.

1. Growing Food

Growing your own food is a big part of being a successful homesteader. Depending on where you live, you may find that some some vegetables and fruit grow better than others. Find out which veggies thrive in your climate to optimize your yearly output. With a target list in hand, research each vegetable to find out the optimal soil conditions, light requirements, and watering.

2. Canning Produce

Canned vegetables.

Once you've planted a successful crop, you will need to learn how to can the produce to preserve it for the coming months. Although this is a time-consuming project that takes a lot of practice, the result is definitely worth the work.

3. Creating Your Own Compost

A good compost pile is a vital part of a homesteader’s garden. Instead of throwing away food scraps, place them in a compost pile to be used as fertilizer for your plants. You’ll also reap the benefits of a more fruitful harvest.

4. Saving Seeds

Seeds in glass jars.

Saving seeds is an important part of being a great gardener. Not only will these seeds be reused for the next crop, but you can actually increase the quality of your vegetables by saving only the best seeds. This will help ensure that your plants survive in your climate and produce great tasting fruit.

5. Baking Bread

For those homesteaders who are tired of purchasing bread in the grocery store, learning how to bake this staple food is a must. By baking your own bread, you can avoid dealing with extra expenses and sorting through bleached flour alternatives.

6. Building a Fire

Reading a book by the fire.

It's never a good idea to rely on only one method to start a fire. When matches are not an option, you should know how to start a fire without them. It's also a good idea to make your own fire starter to cut down on the time it takes.

7. Herbal Medicine

Having a stockpile of natural medicine for emergencies is a must for the homestead. Many wild plants can be picked and used for various healing properties—just make sure to use the right herbs as many plants are also poisonous.

8. Basic Carpentry

Carpentry tools.

Things will break at some point on your homestead. Whether it’s mending a fence or constructing a raised garden, knowing the basics of carpentry will save you time and money. You can also use this skill to update or improve areas around the home.

9. Sewing

Mending clothes is a useful skill for the modern homesteader. Patching up a pair of torn jeans or sewing on a button can save you on costly replacements. (Not to mention that sewing comes in handy for leatherwork and other projects around the homestead.)

10. Vehicle Repair and Maintenance

Working on a car.

Vehicles are often the workhorses of a homestead, so knowing how to keep them in top shape is a good skill to have. Basic vehicle maintenance includes replacing oil, checking fluid levels, changing tires, and diagnostic skills.

11. Learning CPR and First-Aid

Emergencies can strike at any moment on the homestead, and knowing how to potentially save a life is a requirement. For the modern homesteader, you should know how to perform CPR and administer basic first aid during an emergency. You should also be aware of the dangers in your area, such as poisonous spiders and snakes, and how to respond appropriately.

12. Tying Knots

A knot made of rope against a green background.

Knots are useful for a number of different projects around the homestead, from hanging laundry to keeping animals penned up. But an improperly tied knot can lead to a lot of problems, depending on the application. Learning how to tie the right knot for each situation is an important skill to learn as a homesteader.