Tag Archive for homestead

101 Basic Homesteading Skills

What follows below is a partial list of homesteading skills that my husband and I share between us.
I offer this list as a starting point to hopefully inspire young couples or new homesteaders to learn at least one or two new skills in the coming new year.

Homesteading Skills

A Young Cornish X Rock Chick

Why not finally get rid of the TV and ditch Facebook in 2013?
Dare to find a new way of life.
Every skill that you learn will be one step closer to a life of greater self-reliance and independence.

101 Basic Homesteading Skills
1. Learn how to safely use a chainsaw
2. Learn how to grow a vegetable plant
3. Learn how to sharpen any edge tool – knife, axe, hoe, chisel etc.
4. Learn basic firearm safety and gun proof your children and grandchildren
5. Learn how to dub a chicken
6. Learn how to read the weather
7. Learn how to spin wool, cotton or flax into thread or yarn on a spinning wheel or with a drop spindle
8. Learn how to use a garden shovel, spade or hoe without hurting your back
9. Learn how to light a fire indoors or outdoors
10. Learn how to go to a country auction and not get skinned
11. Learn how to crochet
12. Learn how to butcher small livestock like rabbits or chickens
13. Learn how to hang clothes on a clothesline
14. Learn basic tractor maintenance
15. Learn the differences between trees and the unique properties of various types of wood
16. Learn how to cook 10 basic meals from scratch
17. Learn how to pasteurize milk
18. Learn how to witch for water with a forked branch or a bent metal hanger
19. Learn how distinguish healthy plants and animals from unhealthy plants or animals
20. Learn basic sewing skills
21. Learn how to set an ear tag or tattoo for animal identification
22. Learn how determine an animal’s age by its teeth
23. Learn how to cut and glaze glass
24. Learn how to drive a standard transmission vehicle
25. Learn how to thaw out frozen pipes without busting them
26. Learn how and when to use hybrid seeds
27. Learn how to hand thresh and winnow wheat or oats and other small grains
28. Learn how to train a working cattle or sheep dog
29. Learn how to read the moon and stars
30. Learn how to make soft or hard cheeses
31. Learn how to live within your financial means
32. Learn how to fillet and clean a fish
33. Learn how use a wash tub, hand-wringer and washboard
34. Learn how to make soap from wood ashes and animal fat
35. Learn how to lay basic brick or build a stone wall
36. Learn basic home canning and food preservation
37. Learn how to save open pollinated seeds
38. Learn how to de-horn livestock
39. Learn how to use an awl and basic leather repair
40. Learn how to make long-term plans for the future – plan an orchard or a livestock breeding program
41. Learn the mental skills necessary to jury rig anything with duct tape, baling twine and whatever is on hand
42. Learn how to read an almanac
43. Learn how to euthanize large livestock
44. Learn how to cook on a cook stove
45. Learn how entertain yourself and live without electronic media
46. Learn how to shear a sheep
47. Learn how to manage human urine and feces without plumbing
48. Learn how to swap, barter and network with like-minded people
49. Learn how to make a candle
50. Learn how to dig and properly use a shallow well

51. Learn how to refinish furniture
52. Learn how drive a draft animal
53. Learn the mental and spiritual skills to realistically deal with life, death and failure
54. Learn how to use non-electric lighting
55. Learn how to caponize a chicken
56. Learn how to restrain large livestock
57. Learn how to use a treadle sewing machine
58. Learn how to give an injection
59. Learn how to properly use a handsaw, hammer & nails, screw driver, wire cutters, and measuring tape
60. Learn how to recognize your own physical and mental skill limits
61. Learn how and when to prune grapes and fruit trees
62. Learn how to hatch out chicken, duck or other poultry eggs
63. Learn how to use a scythe
64. Learn how to skin a furbearer and stretch the skin
65. Learn how to tell the time of day by the sun
66. Learn how to milk a goat, sheep or cow
67. Learn how to stomach tube a newborn animal
68. Learn how to break ground and plow
69. Learn how to use a wood stove and how to bank a fire
70. Learn how to make butter
71. Learn how to knit
72. Learn how to make and use a hot bed or cold frame
73. Learn how to deliver a foal, calf, lamb or kid
74. Learn how to know when winter is over
75. Learn how to plant a tree
76. Learn how to brood day-old chicks
77. Learn how to dye yarn or cloth from plants
78. Learn how to haggle like a horse trader
79. Learn how to bake bread
80. Learn how to use a pressure tank garden sprayer
81. Learn how to halter break a horse or cow
82. Learn how to graft baby animals onto a foster-mother
83. Learn how to weave cloth
84. Learn how grow everyday kitchen herbs
85. Learn how to make sausage
86. Learn how to set and bait traps for unwanted vermin and predators
87. Learn how to grind wheat into flour
88. Learn how to make paper and ink
89. Learn when it is more economical to buy something ready-made or when to make it yourself
90. Learn how to castrate livestock
91. Learn how choose a location for a vegetable garden or orchard
92. Learn how to weave a basket
93. Learn how to use electric netting or fencing
94. Learn how to make fire starters from corn cobs or pine cones
95. Learn how to use a pressure cooker
96. Learn how to correctly attach 3 point hitch implements to a tractor
97. Learn how to trim the hooves of goats or sheep
98. Learn how to sew your own underwear
99. Learn how to make your own wine.
100.Learn basic plumbing and how to sweat copper pipes and joints
101.Learn how to reload ammunition

Survivalist, Prepper or Housewife?

Lately my husband and I have been having an ongoing conversation about the so-called “survival” and “prepper” movement. We both are more than a little dismayed with the entire phenomena.

Aladdin Lamp On Table

Aladdin Lamp On Table During a Snow Storm

Many people don’t understand the concepts, skills or life choices often associated with “prepping” or survivalism by any other name.
And that fact alone caused me to change the way I used advertising, meta tags and links for the old GRANNY MILLER website. Survivalism and Prepping, and the ignorance and fear mongering that often accompanies it has become a big business.

Frankly I find the terms “survivalism” or “prepping” to be positively inane.
From my point of view, much of the “prepper” and “survivalist” mentality seems born of an apocalyptic Hollywood and TV Land fantasy founded upon fear, ignorance and on unabashed consumerism. The fact of the matter is, many of the skills and life choices often associated with modern survivalist living or prepping, were at one time the everyday skills and choices of simple living and traditional, old fashion common sense.

Small Kitchen Garden

A Small Kitchen Garden

So you can imagine my chagrin when 10 or 12 years ago a dear friend described my life as that of “being a survivalist”.
I knew what she meant and what she was trying to convey. I took her description as a backhanded compliment.
My friend was trying to find the words to communicate and illustrate a lifestyle that is self-sustaining, non-consumer oriented and not completely dependent upon “the grid”.

Her comment gave me food for thought.
I found it curious that a way of life that would have been considered quite normal and middle class in western Pennsylvania from the 1920s to1970s, was by the year 2000, considered to be extraordinary, radical and a tad kooky.
I also found it interesting that in less than 2 generations the average American household had become for the most part, an isolated and non-productive, debt driven economic model.
The concept of a traditional and contained productive household economy had become alien. The American “housewife” was rare and becoming an anathema in modern America.
She was going the way of the dodo bird.

Whole Wheat Bread Rising In Bread Pans

Whole Wheat Bread Rising In Bread Pans

The most basic of human needs revolve around food, clothing and shelter.

And those needs are only met by an understanding of who we are as people and of our particular environment; combined with a good and sensible stewardship of our individual circumstances. The exact ideas and concepts that preppers and survivalists have as of late begun to realize – and that’s a really good thing.

The lack of traditional housewifery and the lost concept of self-contained household economies which are interconnected with other traditional households, seems in part to have been the breeding ground for the modern survivalist and prepper moment.
America became a helpless and dependent society the day American housewives quit working for themselves and their households, and became wage slaves for someone else.

Laundry Drying By Cook Stove In Kitchen

Laundry Drying By Cook Stove In Kitchen

The average American housewife for most of the 20th century didn’t work for wages. Food, clothing and shelter were her specialties. She knew how to cook, sew family clothing, kill and dress a chicken and get by without electricity or indoor plumbing if she had to. She had a full pantry, backyard garden, raised her own children and had plenty of time for her outside interests and community. She also didn’t have a car payment, a TV, credit card debt and managed to marry and stay married.
The average American housewife from 1920 – 1970 would today be considered a survivalist. For many of you reading this, your great-grandma was a hard-core prepper.

Today most American households are non-producing households.

The concept of a contained domestic economy has been long forgotten along with the skills to sustain that household economy. The average American household is now a consumer based closed system economy.

Just about everything – from food – to entertainment – to underwear – is produced outside the confines of the home. And most adults work to make money so that they can pay someone else to make or provide their most basic material and non-material life needs.
Many American households actually produce very little for themselves except for debt, depression, divorce and bratty kids.

Basement Pantry Storage

A Basement Pantry Stocked With a Year’s Worth of Food and Household Supplies

The notion of a self-contained, interior based household fueled by self-labor, traditional sex roles and frugality was the exception years ago when my friend described how I lived my life. Hopefully for America I think there may be the beginnings of a social change and so-called preppers and survivalists could be the first hints of a reawakening. For me my life has been that of a traditional housewife and farmwife and I have no need to call it other than that.

Seed Pots On A Kitchen Window Sill

Seed Pots On A Kitchen Window Sill

The basics of what I have done with my life and the way that I have consciously chosen to live my life could have been achieved while living in town or in the suburbs or the Upper West side of Manhattan.

While I could not raise cows or sheep on a 100’X60’ town lot, I most certainly could provide for my household by sewing, gardening, raising rabbits (in my basement or garage if I had too), canning and having an off grid source or back-up for water, heat, lighting and toilet needs. It takes no great skill to refuse all consumer debt, to use only cash and to live beneath your means. It only takes a dream, lots of hard work and plenty of self-control and discipline.

So the next time you see a picture of my pantry, or read how I spin yarn or plant onions – remember I’m doing what every traditional household economy has always done and it is not exceptional. Fact is a household that doesn’t provide for its own needs is the historical exception.

I work for myself and provide for my own household. I literally make a living by the sweat of my brow and by my own labor. You can do it too.
I’m not a survivalist or a prepper.
I’m a traditional housewife.