8 Essential Skills for The Modern Homesteader - Melissa K. Norris

8 Essential Skills for The Modern Homesteader

By Rhonda Crank | Homestead-Life

Feb 16

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase. Regardless, I only link to products we use on our homestead or believe in.

I was blessed to be born into a family with generations of farming or homesteading experience.  Just because someone like me is a “lifer” doesn’t necessarily mean we know all there is to know on the subject. As my Papa always said, “There’s as many ways of gettin’ a farm job done as there’s farmers. Ya gotta be willing to listen, help, and learn from ’em, even if it’s just to see what not to do.”

This lifestyle means we are ever learning and that’s part of the excitement and joy we find in it. Learning new skills or how to utilize old skills in a more modern, efficient way is one of my favorite things about the homesteading life.

Chicken eggs in a basket on a wooden table

If you’re just beginning your homesteading journey, you can quickly become overwhelmed with all there is to know and learn. I want to put your mind and heart at ease by telling you it’s ok. Take small steps. Choose the skills you want to learn, set the goals you want for your homestead, and just start. Dread of a thing is half the battle.

We all must start somewhere. Some of us start as a child learning from our family. Some of us start in our teens, others as young adults, and some as more mature individuals. You don’t have to be anyone but yourself.

I am a serious list maker. I always suggest to new homesteaders and experienced homesteaders looking to be more productive to make a list of homesteading skills they want to learn and just get started. 

Keeping a list will help you know when you’ve reached a goal and to determine where you want to focus your energy next.

To help you get started, I’ve come up with a list of 8 essential skills for the modern homesteader. You may already have mastered these, if so, share with us what you’re working on now. If you’re a new homesteader, just pick one or two and begin.

8 Essential Skills for the Modern Homesteader

  1. Learn to milk and how to use the milk. If you have a cow or goat, depending on your needs and the space you have available, you probably have it for milk and all the delicious milk products they provide. Learn how to make butter, cheese, buttermilk, soap, lotions…, in other words utilize the milk to its fullest potential. Milking was one of the first things I learned as girl and it’s still one of my favorite chores.
  1. Save your own seeds. Not only will this skill save you time and money, it will ensure you have what you need for growing next year’s crops. The first step is to choose your healthiest plants and allow the fruit to mature its seeds in the garden. When you properly harvest and preserve healthy seeds, they will be viable for years. I learned this lesson from my Papa and Granny. They always told me, “You never know when something could happen and you lose your whole garden or you won’t be able to buy seeds. You have to be able to start over.”Want to get some of my families heirloom green pole bean seed we’ve been seed saving for over 100 years in my family along with my seed saving e-course? I’m offering them as a bonus for this week only! Learn more by clicking here 
  1. Keeping accurate records. I cannot express how far reaching this skill can be. Keeping accurate records can save you time, energy, money, and even the life of your livestock. Birthing records can help you accurately remember how each animal did in childbirth and the specifics of it. This will help you know whether to breed that animal again or to cull it from the herd or flock as well as which you want to continue the line of.

A garden journal will help with accurate crop rotation. It will give you information on what grew well and what didn’t, what you liked and what you didn’t. Keeping track of your soil maintenance and insect problems will save you heartache in the end.

Get these free printables for your harvest and crop planning record keeping here in How to Plan Your Best Garden & Harvest for a Years Worth of Food

If you want to make a profit from your homestead, an accurate record of productivity, expense, and income will guide you. There are all kinds of records which will can be helpful to you. You have to decide what you want from your homestead and choose your record keeping from there.

  1. Beekeeping and honey harvesting. I can’t think of a skill I want to learn more than that of beekeeping. Having bees is important to any homestead no matter the size. Their honey and its many health benefits, not to mention its deliciousness, is reason enough for me to have them. Their pollination work, however, is vital. We can support them by planting fruits, veggies, and flowers for them to eat and they reward us with honey and pollinated plants. Win-Win!
  1. Cooking from scratch. We all know pre-packaged, fast foods are dangerous for our health, but in this day of ever increasing food prices, it’s important to be able to cook a meal from scratch. It’s healthier and saves money.Check out our recipe section here on the blog, filled with only from scratch cooking and whole food ingredients.
  1. Learn to preserve meat. We often think of freezing meat as the best way to preserve it. I don’t like depending on electricity to keep my food preserved. Having a propane freezer may be a better option, but still you have risk involved with all your meat preserved in one place.Pressure canning meat is an excellent way to provide shelf stable preservation. Get our entire Home Canning with Confidence, including a full pressure canning series focusing on safety, including how to smoke meat for canning, with the Pioneering Today Academy but hurry, enrollment closes Saturday February 24th, click here to learn more.

Smoking, canning, and dehydrating are my personal preferences for preserving meat. You can know that no matter what happens to the power, your meat supply is safe.

  1. Food preservation methods. Preserving the harvest is one of the most basic of homesteading skills. You’ve put time, energy, and money into your crops so you don’t want to waste them. This skill will ensure your food supply for years to come.Find all of our home food preservation tutorials, articles, and recipes by clicking here 

Don’t be afraid of using a pressure canner to preserve your harvest. There are a few basic safety rules to know and if you follow them, you’ll be thrilled with your results. I dehydrate more than I can these days. This is my personal favorite method of food preservation, but you will find your own preference.

  1. Learn to raise poultry. I’m not talking about the cutesy little coops for people who keep chickens and ducks for backyard pets. I’m talking about the homestead skill of raising poultry for meat and eggs.We raise and butcher our own meat chickens, as well as cattle and pork for meat. Learn more about our raising livestock course here. 

Some people choose to raise chickens for the eggs only. Some homesteaders have a wide variety of fowl from quail to geese. You will have to decide for yourself what want for your homestead. You will also have to choose the right breeds for your goals and climate. Besides eggs and meat, you’ll have a source of entertainment and endless pleasure.

For more on raising chickens check out these articles

I’m not suggesting this list is comprehensive. It’s only meant to be a list of basic skills for the modern homesteader. We could go on for hours on each of these skills and add endlessly to the list.

What skills would you add to the 8 essential skills for the modern homesteader list? Share your experience and knowledge with us.

Safe and Happy Journey,





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