Homesteading is a movement toward self-sufficiency. People are trying to relearn skills that used to be passed down generationally; many of those skills are now taken over by preprocessed items and conveniences. A homesteader has chosen to purposefully cultivate those skills anyway, for the purpose of being better educated and more prepared for an emergency.
I’ve been researching the idea of homesteading, and I found out that I already march to the same drum. I’ve been cultivating long-ignored skills like cooking from scratch and cleaning with simple (i.e. cheap) household items. In my browsing, I came across a great idea: make a list of the changes you would like to make, things you would like to do, and skills you would like to learn. Then pick one item at a time to work on.
Instead, I’ve made a two-fold list. First, I looked at the skills listed on various homesteading sites and compiled those I already have; it always feels good to recognize how far you’ve come. Secondly, I made a list of skills I’d like to develop. Some, like sewing, require more of an investment in machinery and other items than I can afford at the moment. Overall, though, I’ve made some decent goals for myself.
SKILLS I HAVE:
- Cooking from Scratch – I know how to prep and cook lots of foods from scratch, as well as knowing replacements for various items and “old school” skills like making gravy from scratch (rather than from a packet).
- Drying/Dehydrating Foods – I have a dehydrator, and I know how to use it (at least moderately) to dry foods. I’ve mostly just made jerky, but I’m not too slow to figure out other dried goods. I’d love an upgraded machine, though; mine’s very one-setting-only.
- Killing Food Animals – I haven’t hunted, but I’ve fished and killed/gutted my own fish and crawdads. I’m not squeamish, so I could easily add rabbits and fowl to my food set with minimal adjustment (other than figuring out proper fur/feather removal).
- Simple Cleaning – I’ve learned how to use baking soda, vinegar, and other similarly simple items to clean my house. I’m working on switching out my cosmetic/hygiene items as well, bit by bit. Overall, though, I’ve found cheaper and more earth-conscious ways to clean.
- Bread – I can bake bread, be it overnight stuff or four-hours-of-rising-just-to-annoy-you stuff. I could, if we ate bread more often, technically meet all of our needs with homemade bread.
SKILLS I’D LIKE TO HAVE:
- Fermentation – I’d like to have a good grasp of how to safely and effectively ferment foods for consumption. I’m actually working on this skill right now!
- Basic Sewing – I’d like to learn to use a sewing machine well enough to make decent skirts and other simple items.
- Crocheting – I’ve learned the basic single and double stitch, so I can technically make a washcloth, towel, or blanket with crochet. I’d like to learn how to properly make hats, socks, mittens, scarves, and similar useful items (as well as some fun patterns, like crocheted jewelry).
- Foraging – I’d like to learn the local flora and fauna well enough to be able to forage. I had that skill in Washington state, but I’ve never taken the time to adjust to Texas.
- Gardening – I haven’t successfully grown a plant since I was in high school. It might be the super lame lighting in our house; there are almost no windows, so the plants don’t get light. Outdoors, it’s so dry that my forgetfulness leads to baked, dead plants. I’d like to learn how to get some simple veggies like lettuce and bell peppers to grow (at least at our new house).
- Maintenance – I want to learn to use basic tools, and how to do basic home repairs (even though I rent). How do I thaw frozen pipes properly? How do I re-grout the tile in the bathroom? I’d like to know how to do these kinds of things without Google.
- Cheese-making – I bought a kit, but I never used it. I want to learn how to make cheese safely and correctly. I can make yogurt cheese, but that’s super simple (i.e. cheating).
- Soap-making – I’d like to learn how to make soap, at least from a curiosity standpoint. I’ll have to see how difficult it is before deciding whether it’s worth the trouble.
In realizing that I’m pretty self-sufficient already, I’ve decided I’m just an accidental homesteader. My hippie ways have guided me to this point, and I’ll keep walking down this road as long as it’s still groovy.