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25 Homesteading Skills For Preppers (Basic & Advanced)

These essential homesteading skills will help you overcome difficult times, increase your self-sufficiency, and feel a sense of self-confidence and peace of mind that can only come with true preparedness.

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Preppers have one goal: to be prepared for when SHTF, no matter what that may look like. For many of us, this leads us on a lifelong journey of learning new skills and changing our habits.

Our main goal should be to be as self-sufficient as possible.

For many people, this might mean going completely off-grid. For others, it may look more like making do with what we have.

No matter what your situation is, there are some basic homesteading skills that you will need to work on. 

Whether you are in the city, the suburbs, or out in the woods, these essential homesteading skills will help you overcome difficult times, increase your self-sufficiency, and feel a sense of self-confidence and peace of mind that can only come with true preparedness. 

What is the Modern Homesteading Movement?

Modern homesteading embraces the mentality of not relying on modern society to meet your basic needs. While not every prepper is a homesteader, and not every homesteader is a prepper, they have a lot in common and can learn a lot from each other.

The main idea is to preserve and maintain the skills and traditional knowledge that have kept humans alive since time immemorial. Not everyone has access to a 100-acre spread nowadays. The modern homesteader dedicates themself to applying these skills to our modern living situations. 

Homesteading and prepping go hand in hand.

How do I Prepare for Homesteading? 

So let's get something straight. Homesteading is not something you just decide to do. You don´t train for it and then one day you´re a homesteader. 

It doesn’t work like that. There´s no certification or graduation date.

Before modern times, many homesteading skills were considered to be common sense, everyday knowledge. They would have been taught hands-on, working side by side with your mother, father, grandparents, or other extended family members.

Considering that, you need to think of modern homesteading as a way of life. It is a process of continual growth, constantly educating yourself, and putting into practice the fundamental skills you will need to survive.

The best way to prepare for homesteading is to jump in and do it. Get your hands dirty. Develop those callouses, and harden your back.

Even if you do not want to dedicate yourself to becoming a modern homesteader, there are some must-have homesteading skills that every prepper should know.

10 Basic Homesteading Skills for Preppers

If you are going to undertake the journey toward self-sufficiency, it is hard to know where to start. What are the most essential homesteading skills a beginner should learn?

Consider the following list as a jumping-off point to get started. It's up to you to decide which ones are of the highest priority.

1. Gardening

If you haven't already, start a survival garden. No matter how big or small your space, you need to learn to grow as much of your own food as possible. Be sure to check out our guide on how to start a survival garden if you haven't already.

2. Food Preservation Techniques

Before you ever start a survival garden, you can practice food preservation techniques while building up your emergency survival food cache. Be sure to read about the six best methods for survival food preservation to get a jump start on your learning.

Whether it be putting up a bountiful harvest or taking advantage of bulk purchasing opportunities, knowing how to process fresh foods and preserve them for long term storage is an essential homesteading skill for preppers.

3. The Trades

What do we mean by ¨the trades¨?  Basically, if you would call a handyman for it, it is something you should learn.

Basic plumbing, carpentry, automotive mechanics, and even electrical knowledge are all skills that will save you money and make you more self-reliant. These are also high-demand skills that you can barter with if the need ever arises.

Take a course or two at your local trade school or just keep a couple of handy how-to books in your survivalist library. When the need arises, try to handle your problem yourself.

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4. Sewing and Shoe Repair

If your pants rip, do you know how to patch them? Would you just throw your boots away if the sole ripped off? What if your tent blows a seam?

If SHTF, it won´t be so easy to run to the store and replace anything that wears out. You need to know how to extend the life of everyday items with just a needle and a thread.  Learn the basics of simple repairs and hand sewing.

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This essential homesteading skill can be applied in your everyday life to help you live more frugally and get the most out of your hard-earned clothing and gear.

5. Cooking from Scratch

You might have a five year supply of canned soups and MREs, but you still need to learn how to cook. We never know what kind of survival situation we may find ourselves in, and we might end up separated from our survival food cache.

Knowing how to prepare food that you may scavenge or forage is a basic homesteading skill everyone should know.

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6.  Budgeting your Time, Food, and Money

Successfully budgeting your time, food, and money is an important skill that every homesteader knows well.

Being able to prioritize what needs to get done, set realistic goals, make your food stretch, and live within a strict budget will help you be able to survive, recover, and keep moving forward after SHTF.

7. Foraging

No matter where you live, there is a whole supermarket worth of free food out there just waiting to be harvested. Foraging is the practice of harvesting wild foods that grow outside of your garden. So many amazing foods can be foraged for; nuts, fruits and berries, mushrooms, edible roots and greens, and even medicinal plants.

Foraging is an urban homesteading skill too! Many plants and trees that have been planted in the human environment are productive in some way. Take the time to learn about your surroundings.  Learn to identify edible plants and get harvesting!

8. Natural Medicine and First Aid

Back in the day, homesteaders lived far from hospitals. They needed to know how to respond to emergencies and take care of the sick. Start by taking a basic first aid class in your community. If you want to go a step further, enroll in first responder training to learn to deal with more advanced scenarios.

At the same time, take up the study of natural medicines to reduce your dependence on pharmaceuticals. Plant medicinals in your survival garden, learn where to forage them, and become proficient at using them to maintain your health.

Be sure to check out our guide on the best medicinal plants to include in your survival garden.

9. Recognizing Good Wood

The importance of this homesteading skill cannot be overstated. Wood is essential to survival in many parts of the world. Where wood is in short supply, you must study up on wood alternatives.

Not all wood makes good firewood. Certain trees are more appropriate than others for building and carpentry.

Learn to recognize different woods and their uses. Learn to identify trees.  Recognize the resources you have around you.

10. Building Community

In this day and age, this homesteading skill may be amongst the hardest of all to learn. We often find community with like-minded individuals online or maybe across town.

But do you know your next-door neighbor? Take the time to build relationships with the people around you, even if you don´t think you have very much in common.

Strong communities are essential to the long term survival of humans. If SHTF, you are going to want to count on the added security of strength in numbers. Each individual will have unique skills and talents that you may be able to count on in a pinch.

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15 Advanced Homesteading Skills For Preppers

As you quickly discover, learning one homesteading skill will immediately inspire you to learn another.  The more you know, the more you need to know - right?

Here is a list of the more advanced practical skills you will inevitably want to explore in your journey towards self-sufficiency. No matter what kind of prepper you are, or where you live, these homesteading skills will serve you well if and when SHTF.

Let's dive deep here. These homesteading skills build upon and expand upon the ones we just mentioned.

1. Composting

Learn how to recycle your kitchen scraps and other waste into valuable fertilizer for your garden. There are many ways to compost; you can use worms in a vermiculture setup, composting toilets to process human waste, create a hot composting system, or just make a pile in a corner of your yard.

We recommend David the Good´s book Compost Everything to get you started.

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2. Raising Chickens and Other Small Animals

Most people start their journey into raising small animals by keeping a small flock of laying hens. These multi-purpose birds can be put to use processing compost, used in the garden to scratch up planting areas, and will provide you with a valuable source of fats and proteins with their eggs.

Other small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs can be easily raised in small spaces. These animals can also be a valuable source of fertilizer and soil amendments for your garden.  They can also be butchered for meat and furs.

3. Animal Husbandry

If you have space and time, you may eventually choose to get into the practice of breeding and raising larger animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, or even cattle.

Each of these animals can contribute greatly to a small homestead with milk, cheese, furs or wool, meat, and leather production.

Raising animals can be a way to increase your self-sufficiency in every sense and also provide you with a modest income.

4. Processing you own Meats

If you decide to raise small animals or leap into the world of raising larger ones, you will naturally want to learn how to process your own meat. Harvesting an animal that you have cared for is one of the most intensely satisfying homesteading skills you can acquire.

Each animal has its own way to be processed. If you can´t learn hands-on with a neighbor or a friend, consider investing in Adam Danforth’s book, Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork.  It is a photographic guide that will walk you through humanely harvesting your animals step by step.

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5. Basic Veterinary Medicine

If you venture into raising small animals or livestock, this is another survivalist homesteading skill you will eventually want to study.

It is easy to entrust the care of your animals to a qualified veterinarian, but you will soon come to realize that there are many things you can simply take care of yourself.

As you gain confidence, you will call the vet less and less. And if SHTF you will be prepared to handle most things yourself.

6. Dairy Processing

Even if you never raise your own milk cow, sheep, or goats, dairy processing is still a valuable homesteading skill to have. Learn to make cheeses, butter, yogurt, and other survival foods like condensed milk to add to your pantry.

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Fresh milk can often be purchased directly from local dairies or small producers. Knowing how to make these products will allow you to eat the highest quality dairy products while increasing your self-efficiency and food independence.

7. Hunting and Fishing

If you want to increase your food self-efficiency, you can do what humans have done for survival since time immemorial.

Hunting and fishing require some practice to master, but once you become proficient at them, they are enjoyable activities that will allow you to bring home important sources of protein, iron, healthy fats, and other vitamins and minerals without committing yourself to raising livestock.

If hunting and fishing are not common activities in your social circle, it might be intimidating to jump into it on your own. Join a hunters safety class and look for clubs in your local area. Don´t be afraid to be open about your lack of experience, most people are thrilled to teach newcomers.

8. Leather Tanning and Crafts

We all know that leather is one of the highest quality materials available for making everything from boots to backpacks. If you are butchering animals that either you hunt or raise, you will want to take advantage of those hides.

Once you know how to cure, tan, and process your hides into usable leather, start experimenting with different leather crafts. Make a belt. Make simple bags and carrying pouches or satchels. Go crazy and make a pair of boots or moccasins. 

Check out this awesome video that explains step by step how to brain tan a deer hide to get a fine workable leather.

9. Bee Keeping

Humans love sugar and sweets. Keeping honey bees can be easier than growing and processing sugar cane or tapping maple trees, both of which are also invaluable homesteading skills that you should learn if you live where they can be done.

The benefits of keeping bees are many; you obviously get to harvest the honey, you can also harvest valuable beeswax, and bees will pollinate your survival garden and fruit trees.

10. Soap Making

Soap is an essential survival item because it is necessary to clean wounds, disinfect the hands, bathe yourself, and maintain a hygienic home. Learning to make your own soap is one of those homesteading skills that all preppers should learn.

Soap can be made with fancy oils or with simple pigs lard or beef tallow. If you want to take your self-sufficiency a step further, learn how to process lye from wood ash. 

As you develop your skills, you can make laundry soap, moisturizing bath soap, specialized medicated soaps, and even insecticidal soaps for your survival garden.

11. Flour Grinding and Bread Making

If SHTF, you can kiss those store-bought loaves of pre-sliced white bread goodbye. You must know how to make your own bread if it is something you hope to eat in an uncertain future. In the meantime, knowing how to bake your own bread will help you save money and eat more healthily.

If you want to take your self-sufficiency a step further, learning to grind your own flour is the next step. Flours can be made from many different grains, not just wheat. Get yourself a grain mill and start experimenting. 

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12. Spinning Fibers

This is a particularly useful skill if you will be raising sheep for their wool or can grow cotton on your property.

Knowing how to spin these fibers into useful yarns will allow you to eventually create new and useful things such as socks, mittens, hats, sweaters, and blankets.

13. Basket Making

Basket making is one of the most traditional homesteading skills that anyone can easily incorporate into their prepper practice.

Knowing how to make a practical vessel that works for carrying and storing whatever you may need is useful not only for the homesteader but also for the wilderness survivalist. Understanding the basics of basket weaving can help you in a pinch.

Check out this video that explains how to make a simple improvised basket out of blackberry vines.

14. Learning to Handle Arms

The word ´arms´ is typically understood to mean firearms. In this article, we are also talking about other traditional arms such as bows and arrows, knives, and whatever else you may encounter out there.

Knowing how to use weapons appropriately will make you a more efficient hunter and more capable of defending yourself and your property.

Be sure to learn not only how to use the arm of your choice, but how to maintain and repair it as well. It will do you no good, and could even be dangerous, if it malfunctions. Knowing how to do the maintenance yourself is an important skill for preppers.

15. Advanced Medicine Making and Personal Care Products

This is a separate category from soap making or from generally understanding what your medicinal herbs are useful for. This is taking it to the next level.

Put your knowledge of natural medicines to work making creams, salves, tinctures, or capsules. You could even branch out to making products such as deodorant or sunscreen.

Just think of all the personal care products you use in your home - nearly all of them can be made naturally using ingredients you produce in your survival garden or that are easy to purchase.

These products are highly saleable and can provide a valuable income to your homestead.

Why Preppers Need Homesteading Skills

If you read through that list of essential homesteading skills and didn't immediately see how they can benefit your prepping game, then you should probably reanalyze what prepping means to you.

Obviously, you want to have a solid survival food cache built up. Of course, it is absolutely necessary to have a plan for personal defense. Making sure that you have high-quality survival gear and tools is definitely important.

But it is your knowledge that is going to save you in the long run. Knowing the skills that kept our ancestors alive is the most important prep that money can´t buy.

Homesteading Skills FAQs

What states are good for homesteading?

First off, let's just put it out there that homesteading as a lifestyle choice can be practiced in any state, no matter where you live. Even if you live in the thick of suburbia, you can implement homesteading practices into your daily life.

Now, if your goal is to do a real deal, rural homestead, you need to keep a few things in mind. Each state has varying laws that either help or hurt people wanting to start a modern homestead.  Be sure to look into tax laws, agricultural laws, building codes, seasonal weather patterns, costs of living, and land prices. 

A few states pop up over and over again as being ideal for the modern homesteader; Tennessee, Michigan, Missouri, and Idaho being just a few.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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