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30 Homesteading Skills to Start Learning TODAY (Wherever You Live)

Homestead dreaming but you're stuck in town? Here are 30 homesteading skills you'll need on the farm that you can start working on today!

Feeling the pull to homestead living but you are stuck in town? Here are 30 homesteading skills to build while you’re homestead dreaming!  You may not realize it, but now is a great time to start building homesteading skills even if you’re in the middle of the city!

We have always had the homesteading “bug”, however, it took some years to truly realize that dream.

We lived in rented spaces in various towns and cities for a number of years. A couple of those, we spent in a one bedroom, upstairs, apartment. Did I mention it was upstairs? Yup, top floor in a house style building… no balcony, no window boxes, nothing… on the north side of the building. My African violet loved it, but not much else did.

During that time, I learned to sew, garden using space in my mother in law’s garden, and can what I grew or other produce that friends gave me. I put these valuable homesteading skills into practice immediately when we finally moved into our own place in the country.

There are so many different “self-sufficient” homesteading skills that I would love to learn but since learning takes time, something which is more precious than gold to me, I’m unable to gain, practice, and perfect that knowledge.

You dream of the day you can homestead. In the meantime, slowly work toward gaining those homesteading skills while you don’t have farm chores or a bumper harvest to put up. These are so beneficial to you when you do finally make it to your piece of land!

30 Homesteading Skills to Start Learning TODAY

1.) Freshly Mill Your Own Whole Grains

Depending on where you live, storage issues for large quantities of whole grains or freshly milled flours might be a challenge, there’s nothing that says you have to grind whole grains 50 pounds at a time. Even grinding grains a few pounds at a time and storing the extra in a gallon bag in the freezer makes the most nutritious, high-quality flour you can bake with.

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2.) Bake Your Daily Bread

Freshly baked bread is economical and, frankly, it tastes better than store bought bread. The flavor and texture are so delicious. There is nothing like a warm fresh slice slathered thickly with butter.

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 3.) Capture Wild Yeast

Once you’ve learned to bake your own bread, it’s only a matter of time until you contemplate capturing wild yeast and creating homemade sourdough recipes with it. You’ll feel so self-sufficient!

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How To Can Crisp Apple Slices

4.) Can, Dehydrate, & Freeze Food

A vital homesteading skill to know is what to do with your bounty once you have reaped it. With all of the gardening and animal husbandry homesteading skills you’ll be learning in the future, now is a great time to build a collection of recipes that your family enjoys.

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5.) Ferment Fresh, Seasonal Foods

Purchase local, fresh, seasonal foods and learn to ferment them while you someone else is doing the farming instead of when you also have all the garden tasks and harvesting that need attending to on top of preserving the harvest.

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6.) Make Homemade Butter from Cream

You don’t need to wait until you have a Jersey cow to make homemade butter. All you need is a bit of cream to see the magic happen as the thick white liquid turns into a golden ball of butter.

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7.) Prepare Simple, Soft Cheeses

Dabble in home cheesemaking and start with some simple soft cheeses. They don’t require too many extra ingredients, lots of prep time, aging, or special equipment, but give you the experience and confidence you need to dig deeper in the future.

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a bowl of homemade vanilla yogurt with blackberries on top

8.) Make Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt tastes better, with no artificial ingredients, and is a very frugal alternative to store-bought yogurt. Plus it’s not really too much trouble to make – mix it, warm it, culture it, and incubate it. That’s it!

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9.) Grow Windowsill Herbs

Cultivate your green thumb, learn indoor seed starting techniques, and learn to cook with fresh herbs. Start growing a few pots of your favorite on a windowsill.

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10.) Render Tallow & Lard

Traditionally, less processed fats such as tallow and lard are among the most sustainable ones that we in America can use and otherwise would become a waste product. Plus, you’ve never had fried chicken till you’ve fried it in tallow.

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Farmstead Soap

11.) Make Your Own Soap

Soap making is frugal and fun (after you get over the fear of working with lye). Once set up, you can make 10 bars of soap for the price of one. Not to mention it cleans better and you know exactly what is going into your soap that ends up on the largest organ of your body, your skin.

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12.) Make Your Own Vanilla

I save so much money making my own vanilla! And it is so easy to the point of being ridiculous. Seriously, once you do it, you never (ever) want to go back to buying it again.

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13.) Scratch Cooking

Don’t wait until you get to the farm to hone scratch cooking skills. Meal disasters create chaos in the home at mealtime and throw off the rest of the day. Learn to prepare the foods you plan to grow and raise now so it’s nearly effortless later. Go through your pantry one box at a time and learn to replace those packages with homemade food. I personally believe learning to cook from scratch is one of the most valuable homesteading skills!

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14.) Eat From Your Pantry

This is a stretch for so many of us (even who homestead already, believe it or not!) While you might not make it for several weeks, every now and then plan a week where you won’t buy any food from the grocery store for a week to practice being frugal and creative in the kitchen. After all, if you end up living in the country you’ll have to practice it more often than you might expect when you find something out of stock that you needed for dinner and the nearest store is a 40 minute (or more) round trip away.

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Homestead dreaming but you're stuck in town? Here are 30 homesteading skills you'll need on the farm that you can start working on today!

15.) Use & Care for Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware is a farm wife’s favorite, however, there is a bit of a learning curve when you first use it. After my early attempts, my first skillet sat in a cupboard for years. Once I learned the knack, I use cast iron daily. Proper care make your pans a family heirloom.

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16.) Grow Your Own Salad All Year Long

Your read that right! If you have a window, you can grow your own salad in your own home any time of the year. Self-sufficient salads in an apartment downtown is a big chunk out of your grocery bill and is better than many homesteaders on several acres are doing. (I know I’ve never had year-round salads… yet.)

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17.) Cut Up a Whole Chicken

After I began homesteading, it surprised me to learn just how many of the recipes in my cookbook called for “chicken breast.” What would I do with the rest of the bird? After you invested so much in raising your own meat, you’re certainly not going to waste a single bit! While most of my recipes now call for a whole chicken, there are some that still only call for breast meat. When there are only whole chickens in the freezer, you’ll need to learn how to cut them into pieces.

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18.) Roast a Whole Chicken & Make Gravy

Roasting a whole chicken is a beautiful way to showcase homegrown poultry! There’s no need to wait to cultivate the skill. (And it’s not really that hard.)

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19.) Make a Nourishing Bone Broth

Making your own bone broths not only taste wonderful, but are incredibly healthful, convenient, economical, and cultivate a mindful attitude of respecting the “whole beast.”

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20.) Reduce Your Waste

We live in a wasteful world. Be mindful of how much you consume and dispose of. It helps you live a more frugal, uncluttered life now, and when you get to your homestead, your new habits will help you use your excess food to decrease your livestock feed bill or create soil with your compost pile.

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21.) Basic Sewing Skills

Knowing simple sewing techniques, particularly hand sewing, is incredibly useful for mending clothes, darning socks, replacing buttons, finishing knitting projects, etc…

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Homestead dreaming but you're stuck in town? Here are 30 homesteading skills you'll need on the farm that you can start working on today!

22.) Prepare Herbal Home Remedies

Creating homemade medicine with herbs is often just as powerful and effective as modern medicine. More than that, it is empowering to take charge of your health with using herbs, roots, and flowers that the Lord created with healing properties.

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23.) Create Natural Beauty Products

It won’t be long after you start living a more natural lifestyle and making more conscientious decisions about your food that you’ll start contemplating the ingredients in your skincare products. (Hint: They are loaded with harmful chemicals.) Learning to make homemade lotion, deodorants, makeup, and more is something you can do now instead of when you’re learning the ropes on your farm.

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24.) Make Homemade Cleaning Products

Making your own homemade cleaning products saves you money in a big way! Compare a bottle of window cleaner at $4 to the homemade version that works just as well at $.04! You can find a plethora of excellent natural cleaning recipes to try including homemade laundry detergent.

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25.) Dye Natural Fibers & Spin Them Into Yarn

If you plan on raising a fiber flock, learning to care for the sheep, manage breeding, managing lambing, etc.. is quite the curve. If you’ve already built the homesteading skills to turn their wool into usable fiber that you can dye and spin, you’re less likely to feel burnout. (Which is my wool from last year is still sitting unwashed in the basement.)

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green knitting and a ball or yarn

26.) Knitting, Crocheting, & Quilting

From socks, to scarves, to hats, blankets, quilts and more, having a basic grasp of these handicrafts is not on therapeutic and relaxing (in my opinion at least), but it allows you to create useful, attractive, and functional gifts for your family.

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27.) Basket Making

Baskets have many uses on the homestead and most that you’ll find are decorative. Making your own is a great way to get functional products for your future farm. They’re fun to make and the children really enjoy helping learn the new skill.

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28.) Learn How to Thrift Shop & Use Craigslist

What on earth does thrift shopping have to do with homesteading skills? Plenty. It addition to thrift shopping fitting in with the frugal lifestyle, it helps you achieve your homestead dream more quickly. Let’s face it, when you get to the farm, things don’t stay nice and clean long and it is a lot easier to take when you found a great deal. I’ve learned over the years that between the mud, manure, blood, grease, sweat, and rips, clothing on the homestead doesn’t last long. Sometimes not more than a season. In any case, you can still find attractive (even new!) clothes at a thrift store. Likewise, it’s not so upsetting when you only parted with a few bucks for the shirt instead of $20 or more for a new one.

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29.) Brew Your Own Alcohol

If you dream of making your own homemade brews, there is no need to wait until you have homegrown produce to learn the process. You can learn home brewing anywhere and then when you get to the farm you can concentrate on the growing.

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30.) Educate Yourself

We live in a culture that values education, yet many of us don’t ever really learn how to learn on our own. When we’re talking about homesteading skills, that have been lost over the generations, there aren’t many teachers available for us to glean from. Thankfully, that is changing in many parts of the world, but for many, we’re stuck learning on our own. And thankfully, there are many who are sharing their knowledge, albeit not in person or a real classroom setting, but it’s knowledge we can avail ourselves of none the less.

After we study up and gain the head knowledge, it’s time to put what you’ve learned to practice.

For those who desirous to build your homesteading skills set, but lack the mentors to guide us in the right way, remeber, it takes days, weeks, sometimes months of trial and error until you finally bake that beautiful loaf of sourdough you’re dreaming of. One of the hardest lessons to learn is how to experience failure. And then stand right back up, brush yourself off, and get your hands dirty all over again. It’s probably one of the most vital homesteading skills you’ll need on your future homestead.

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What homesteading skills are you working to build?

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24 Comments

  1. I love that I have found your blog. I have been learning many of these things and though I don’t use them all regularly because I am working full time, I use them enough to feel familiar with them. We have just bought a small acreage, but there is no house/garden etc yet so we won’t move there for a few years. I will enjoy transferring them to be a daily part of my life and great to know I am selecting the right skill set!! 🙂 Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Congratulations on your new land Deborah! So happy for you! I heard a guy talk once about living off grid and survivalism I think it was. He made the point that he learned how to live without many modern conveniences (such as electric lighting) so he was familiar with what he would need to do in a crisis, but then went back to using lights until if/when a crisis actually happens.

      Sometimes and for some circumstances, it’s just good to know how to do things- even if we don’t make them part of our regular routine! Bread is a good example for me- I know how to make dough without a bread machine but I save over an hour a week by letting the machine do the kneading for me 😉

    2. Great that you have your land now. Suggestions would be to learn how the sun travels over your land at different times of the year. Figure out your placement of your home, inform yourself with South facing windows, where will your garden be. If you have the opportunity to go there without much travelling then you can start adding compost and such to get a head start on improving the soil. I am grateful that I will soon be living my dream. Not with raising animals as my lot is city size by the lake. Enjoy

  2. This is such a wonderful list to help those who are either waiting to fulfill their dream or for those to be able to learn if the lifestyle is right for them. Also I love and agree with the comment about how some people did not learn certain skills growing up and how that may hinder their willingness to learn out of fear of being ridiculed, my advise is if you know of someone who can teach you something and you have the willingness to not only learn but the willingness to show that you will use your newfound skills then people would be more than happy to teach you.

    I totally agree with everything on your list, however I would like to add the following if that is alright.
    -Learn to hunt and fish
    -After you have learned new skills use those to barter for things you may need or to learn more skills.
    -Learn to forage for edibles
    Some may not agree with me about hunting , fishing, and foraging however those are good skills to have and may even help out once you start to homestead and have a bad year with not enough crops coming in due to drought or any other reasons or if you need to fill your freezer with protein for times that you may not have enough meat butchered from your farm.

    1. Also shop for produce at your local farmers market that way you will learn how to shuck corn among other things not to mention most produce sold at local farmers markets are grown using organic methods, however ask if they are heirloom varieties (heirloom=gmo free) that way you will save money on gmo free organic produce while picking the brains of the local vendors. You will learn that most of us local vendors are very helpful and are willing to share what we know with others. I sometimes print out instructions on how to make homemade preserves, jelly, and jam and give them out to those who are interested, along with some instructions of how to make homemade from scratch fried okra.

      1. Great tip! I love that you share recipes with your customers! Such an awesome idea for those folks who aren’t used to cooking with some of the more unusual vegetables, but sharing preservation recipes is a great way to get them embracing the inner homesteader 😀

  3. So excited to dive into your blog! This list was the perfect introduction <3 So many things that I love to do already ex: canning, using the whole chicken and sewing but so many more skills to hone ex: soap making and baking my own bread! I am looking forward to learning more! Thank you!

  4. This is such a fantastic list and had many ideas that I haven't seem mentioned in other homesteading blogs. Can't wait to implement some of these in my urban homestead 🙂

  5. Cutting up a whole chicken? Roasting a chicken and making gravy? Kind of sad that these aren’t considered basic common knowledge for every adult. I would have thought most of us could do this by age 12 or 13.

    1. People are here because they are interested in learning! I think part of the reason people don’t bother trying to learn is because of those who belittle and mock them for not already knowing. Not everyone grew up on a farm or in a home where skills like this were taught. The average 12 year old doesn’t even know this is a thing to try and learn. I can do those things, but I can’t do everything on this list, and that’s okay. Maybe there is something you can’t do, too…all we can do is learn.

      1. Spot on Crystal! Shaming anyone who is showing up and willing to learn is unacceptable! We’re all in different places in the journey- and that’s awesome. I love that there are folks out there willing to share their knowledge and teach me what they know (because I didn’t know how to cut up a whole chicken till I was a homesteader- I had to learn from someone else) and I love that there are folks who don’t know as much as I do because then I can speak about something I’m passionate about and hopefully inspire and challenge them to learn something new. Blessings 🙂

    2. Everyone is different. I have been sewing and gardening since I was about 6. I can knit, bake bread from scratch, make all sorts of homemade beauty products and produce a tasty, healthy meal from an apparently empty pantry and the contents of my tiny garden, but I have only once cut up a whole chicken, and never roasted one, as I don’t eat much meat. It’s on my to-do list now though, thank you! Still, I don’t consider myself hopelessly unskilled at the age of 27.

      1. Guess so. Once upon a time, most people grew up rural or had grandparents that were – definitely the exception today. Even rural is not the same as it was 40 years ago as it is often more “suburban” than truly rural.

  6. Great list!! I was pleasantly surprised at what I do already know how to do and thinking forward on what I do need to learn!
    We start our homestead in July!

  7. Love this article!! I think this is a wonderful idea. I don't own my home, we live on a ranch my husband works on, but I still do as many of these things as I can with what I have–while dreaming of having our own place one day! thanks!

  8. Quinn, this is such sound, encouraging advice. The only skill I brought to our 8 acre homestead was canning, but that first summer bringing in our garden harvest, I was SO grateful that I wasn’t trying to learn how to can at the same time. I would have been completely overwhelmed. If I could go back I would certainly cultivate a few of these skills you’ve listed prior to our move. I do encourage my friends in the city who dream of a country life to get chickens (it’s legal in our city) because having chickens “figured out” will certainly give you a head start. I think for me now, I will use this list as ideas for skills to work on in the winter when things are somewhat slower around here.

    I read your blog back when we were on our city lot and you were on “just a couple of acres”. You have been very inspiring to our journey. You strike just the right balance of beauty, information, and humility in your writing and photos. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and life with your readers.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing both your kind words and your experience Kara! Winter is a fantastic time to work on skills building. The farm definitely has a much slower pace during the cold months and I love to use the time to do extra reading and learn a new thing or two. Blessings!

    2. Love this! I, too, am planning to work on building my skill set for the spring. We bought our place at the end of May and had a crazy busy summer with lots of ridiculous things happening, trying to fix up our house and get moved in, etc. We got a garden in and got some food put away, and kept 3 of our 8 chicks alive into adulthood but that’s all so far. Looking forward to the future. I’d love to hear more about your journey of starting a homestead from scratch!

    1. I tried making bread, cinnamon rolls and I always end up with a finish product that taste yeast.
      How do You make bread without having to taste the yeast in it?

      Thank you.