71 Practical Homesteading Skills and Ideas You Can Learn Today

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Whether you’re already on a homestead or dreaming of being a homesteader, homesteading skills are invaluable – and lots of fun! They give you a real sense of accomplishment, you save money, and you’re becoming more self-reliant in the process.

Jump right in with the homesteading skills on this list. I’ve mainly included practical homesteading ideas – projects you can sink your teeth into today. One warning… Once you get started, you won’t be able to stop – homesteading is addictive!

Homesteading Skills and Ideas

I hope this list serves you as a source of inspiration for new homesteading skills – going back to a more simple life. Start by doing just one, pick a skill that sounds like fun (fun things are so much easier to learn!). Enjoy!

Table of contents

Gardening Skills


1. Germinate a Fruit Tree From Seed

You may have been told that you need to grow grafted fruit trees for a successful harvest. This isn’t true. You can grow resilient, fast-growing fruit trees by growing them from seed. And you can harvest the seed for free, from the fruit you buy!

Seed-grown fruit trees take a bit longer to fruit, that’s true. But, you’re getting a tree that is more adaptable and stronger. They’re much less likely to fall over in a storm, for example. You can grow almost any fruit tree from seed, from avocados to mandarins.

Learn more in our step-by-step tutorial on growing a peach tree from seed!

How To Germinate a Peach Pit & Grow a Peach Tree from Seed (Animated!)

2. Start a Worm Farm

My in-ground worm farm made from 6″ wide poly pipe.

Worm farms are a great way to recycle your kitchen scraps. They don’t smell and they’re small enough to fit anywhere, from a balcony to the backyard.

I have to be honest here. If you have a few animals, you probably won’t have enough scraps for a worm farm. My dogs, chickens, horses, and cattle clean me out of any scraps that come out of the kitchen.

That’s why I’ve installed a few in-ground worm farms. They’re super easy to DIY and the best thing is that they don’t need any TLC.

This worm farm is totally self-sufficient because the worms are earthworms, not compost worms. When you have scraps leftover, you can feed them. When you don’t, the worm tube looks after itself.

3. Learn How to Grow Food

When you are living on a farm or homestead and there is no store or market nearby, learning how to grow most or all of your own fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure a fairly reliable food source. You will also need to learn which foods will grow in your zone and soil type as well.

This is a fantastic book for getting started with your own veggies:

4. Grow a Backyard Food Forest

No garden is too big or too small for a food forest. Increase your self-sufficiency by creating different layers (see our articles on the ground cover, climbing, and canopy layers!) in your garden. Work with nature and you’ll be rewarded with a plentiful harvest and a minimal time investment.

Learn more:

Grow a Food Forest!
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No matter the size of your garden, you can create a lush food forest using forest garden techniques. Step-by-step, you’ll learn how to work with nature to grow edible crops, all the while creating a haven for wildlife.

A forest garden emulates the edge of woodland, working with nature to reduce the amount of watering and maintenance, with a permanent living ground cover and a self-sustaining ecosystem of nutrients & pest control. Mostly perennial plants are used, in all three dimensions, as they are more resilient, lower maintenance, and more nutritious.

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5. Plant Perennial Plants for Food Security

Perennial plants are plants you don’t have to replant every season. Once you’ve planted them, you’ll reap the benefits for many years afterward. The more perennials you grow, the less work you have to do and the more your garden looks after itself.

We work hard to become more self-reliant, and this is a way to get your garden to look after itself too.

6. Build a Greenhouse to Extend Your Growing Season


Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny vertical ones for your patio to giant hoop-style houses for large homesteads. Learning how to build a greenhouse is a useful homesteading skill to learn, particularly in cooler climates.

You can start propagating your vegetables a few weeks earlier and really extend your growing season. If you build a large greenhouse you can even grow vegetables inside and grow different varieties for your climate.

Read more: Greenhouse gardening in winter

In hot climates, you may need to look at building a shade house rather than a greenhouse. Find out if you need shade for your vegetable garden here: Does Your Vegetable Garden Need Shade?

7. Plant Pollination Species

Planning your garden for pollinators by the US Department of Agriculture

Fact is, without pollination you have no food. Learn about plants that attract pollinators in your area and plant them around your gardens. Plant lots of flowers, particularly native varieties. The aim is to have something flowering at all times.

Learn this homesteading skill:

8. Grow Tea and Coffee Plants

Imagine the number of grumpy people worldwide if we run out of coffee (or tea if that’s your thing)!

It’s incredibly satisfying to grow your own beverage. There’s nothing like drinking a cup of organic, homegrown tea in the morning, or the smell of your homegrown coffee beans roasting!

9. Grow Toilet Paper

Dombeya burgessiae, the toilet paper plant
Dombeya burgessiae, the toilet paper plant

It would’ve seemed impossible that supermarkets would run out of toilet paper – until recently.

Sure, you can use cotton strips to wipe and then wash them to reuse. I’d rather use a lovely soft Dombeya leaf (aptly named “the toilet paper plant”) or Mullein, both sustainable sources of toilet paper.

I can see other uses for these big-leafed plants too – face wipes, wound bandages, etc. A very useful homesteading skill to have!

10. Build an Arbor and Plant Grapes

Grapes are productive for 100s of years. The best time to plant a grape really was 100 years ago but, as the saying goes, the second-best time is now. Grow a few different varieties and make sure you build a very, very sturdy arbor or trellis for them.

There are some examples of very old grapevines in my article on sturdy DIY grape arbors – they’ll show you how big and productive these plants can get.

11. Plant an Olive Tree for Olive Oil


Olives love a Mediterranean climate so if your climate is similar, grow olives! Olives are incredibly hardy and barely need any water. That makes them great for that bare hill where nothing else will grow.

Olives grow for years and years. They’re an amazing self-sufficiency plant. You can preserve the olives and press them for olive oil, which you can drizzle on your homegrown salad!

12. Seed Saving

Seed saving is the key to growing fruit and vegetables for free. You can keep this going indefinitely. Save every seed from produce you buy from the shop, including fruit.

Seed saving is incredibly easy and it works for nearly every plant. Lettuce, tomato, herbs, fruit trees – save them all!

Learn more:

13. Grow Fish and Vegetables Together With Aquaponics

Most of us may be familiar with the concept of hydroponics, but aquaponics is quite different! It harnesses the benefits of a closed system where fish provide the nutrients for the plants, and plants provide the food for the fish.

Done right, this system provides a harvest of not only plants but fish as well!

14. Grow a Bamboo Plantation


Bamboo is one of the fastest plants you can grow for timber production. A big bamboo such as Gigantochlea pseudoarundinacea (my favorite) reaches its full height in 2-3 years and you can start harvesting timber a few years after that.

Choose the right variety of bamboo for your climate. There’s a bamboo variety to suit every garden, from frost-prone to humid climates.

Grow small-culm varieties for garden stakes and big-culm varieties for timber. Grow some for eating, too, or choose a timber variety that is edible.

Bamboo timber is a valuable resource and excellent for building your own furniture.

Learn more: Bamboo Farming for a Homestead Income

15. Grow Vegetables From Seeds

Me, planting some seeds!

This is the cheapest way to grow your own vegetables. Either buy packets of seeds or save all the seeds from the vegetables you buy.

You can save the seeds from many vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and lettuce.

The cucumber plant in the picture above is finished for the season, so I’m planting lettuce and basil seeds underneath. As the cucumber breaks down, it adds organic matter to the soil.

16. Grow Mushrooms

Mushrooms are an incredible crop to grow – you hardly need any space at all! There are mushroom varieties to suit different tastes and climates, and they’re easier to grow than you might think.

Homestead Cooking Skills

17. Build a Smoker


Building a smoker is a great family project, easily completed in a day or two. We built one for about $5 – it won’t last forever but it works perfectly. Some of our best family memories are built around the smoker circle!

18. Build a Traditional Stone Oven

After building a smoker, why not build a traditional stone oven too? There are a few different methods to build one, from a trench oven to a hillside oven. Some of them last for a few weeks while others are a permanent setup.

19. Make Your Own Cheese


I love making cheese. There’s nothing quite as satisfying, or as tasty, as homemade cheese.

Learn from my mistakes and don’t start with blue cheese. Start with some simple DIY cheeses like ricotta, creme fraiche, cream cheese, and cottage cheese. Ease your way into feta and some of the harder cheeses.

20. Learn to Make Bread

Making your own bread sounds easier than it actually is, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t look back. The smell of bread baking in the oven is incredible and seriously, nothing beats fresh-baked sourdough, right?

Ideally, you’ll learn how to make bread with and without yeast, in case the shops run out of yeast. You can store yeast for years in the freezer but for true self-sufficiency, baking bread without yeast is an indispensable homesteading skill.

21. Make Traditional Hand-Cranked Ice Cream

Work your muscles and turn cream, milk, eggs, and sugar into delicious, traditional ice cream.  This is a great job to do with the kids, you’ll end up having “cranking” competitions every Saturday afternoon.

Not just that – you know exactly what goes into the food you eat!

22. Learn How to Store Meat Without Electricity


This is a useful homesteading skill to learn whether you’re off the grid or not. If the power system fails, you’ve got the skills to back yourself up.

I’ve listed 11 ways of storing meat without power in a previous article, including pemmican, confit, potted meat, and terrines.

23. Discover New Recipes for Odd Cuts of Meat

When you’re raising animals for meat, you will end up with bulk lots. This is where your creativity comes in.

At the moment, I have 50 pounds of corned beef to use up, for example. This is the last of the meat left. Research all the different ways in which you can use these cuts of meat, you’ll be amazed at what you can cook.

Learn how to use the offal as well so you don’t waste a single part of the animal. Steak and kidney pie, liverwurst, rendering the tallow – the more you learn, the more parts you’ll use.

24. How to Preserve Food

There are many ways to preserve food, from canning to dehydrating and fermenting. Learning how to preserve food for future use is a good way to enjoy the fruits of the summer and fall harvest during winter when you otherwise would not be able to enjoy these foods.

Being able to preserve foods is also a good way to have extra stores in case of a bad or low harvest.

25. Make Jerky

Whether you learn to make jerky in a dehydrator or in a smoker, this is a great homesteading skill to have. Jerky can be stored without refrigeration, and you can make it from pretty much any meat. You can make it in the DIY smoker you built, too!

Learn this homesteading skill:

26. Make Your Own Yoghurt


Homemade yogurt is one of my favorite things to make. It costs about a dollar per liter, it’s delicious, and it gives me a real sense of achievement. You’ll know exactly what goes into it and you can add extra probiotics to raise its nutritional value even more.

You can whip up a batch of yogurt in 10 minutes or less, so this is a great homesteading skill to learn!

27. Learn to Dehydrate Fruit and Vegetables

Once you start growing your own food, you’ll quickly realize that you end up with an excess of one thing or another.

Learn to dehydrate your excess produce so you can make long-lasting snacks like fruit leather, crispy sauerkraut – even dog snacks! (P.s. – The dog snacks use up offal cuts too!)

28. How to Identify Wild Plants and Foraging

There are many people who enjoy foraging for wild nuts, berries, and mushrooms among other things. Being able to correctly identify plants and tell them apart from non-edible look-alike plants is key to foraging properly, as well as being able to tell when plants are in season and keep from overusing what nature provides.

Get a good book with lots of pictures, like “A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants” by Samuel Thayer.

Read more: Wild Lettuce vs Dandelion, what’s the difference?

29. Learn How to Use and Store Bacon Grease

It’s a real waste to throw all your used grease out, learn how to use left-over bacon grease (and other cooking greases) and how to store it so you can use it later.

Homesteading Skills for Health & Personal Care


30. Learn How to Deal With a Medical Emergency

This is a useful homesteading skill to have, whether you live minutes from the hospital or hours.

If you’re hours away, you need to know what to do in an emergency. It could be a long time before help arrives – if any.

Even if you’re near a hospital, you can’t rely on their help during a serious emergency. They may be overwhelmed with patients or not available at all.

Staying calm is the most important thing in an emergency and the more you learn, the more in control you’ll feel.

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31. Grow Your Own Apothecary

Medicinal herbs are the perfect accompaniment for your emergency skills. Herbs are fantastic for dealing with minor injuries, preventing illnesses, and treating certain conditions.

They are, however, inadequate when your patient has a big cut that needs suturing or a dislocated shoulder that needs to be put back into place.

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32. Render Tallow or Lard

Whether you raise your own livestock or not, rending tallow or lard is a useful homesteading skill to have. Tallow is a fat that’s very close to our skin’s makeup, which makes it excellent for use in skincare products.

Properly rendered tallow and lard can be kept at room temperature, so you won’t need electricity to keep it good.

33. Make Your Own Soap


Once you’ve rendered your tallow, making soap is the next homestead skill to learn.

You can make a basic soap in as little as 30 minutes, which is all I do. You can, of course, create amazingly beautiful soaps as well, by adding colors, herbs, swirls, etc. These make a lovely gift or a homestead income.

I make my soap in huge batches. When we kill a cow, I render all the tallow at once in a big brewing vat outdoors (to avoid the whole house smelling bad while it’s rendering). I save some of the tallow for cooking and making skincare products, and the rest gets turned into plain, functional soap. One cook-up lasts us a year!

Learn how to make my super-simple, basic tallow soap.

34. Make Your Own Skin Products

This is one of the most rewarding homesteading skills. You can craft your own products to suit your skin and hair. Most creams and lotions contain at least 80% water – and they’re expensive too!

The best thing about making your own products is that you can add specific ingredients that suit you. You can add nourishing ingredients for dry skin, anti-acne ingredients, special ingredients for sun-damaged skin – you’re in control.

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35. Medicinal Plants and How to Use Them

Medicinal plants can come in handy on a homestead that may not be especially near a hospital or doctor’s office, or for basic first aid uses that wouldn’t otherwise warrant a trip to the doctor and a day away from necessary work.

There are many plants with medicinal uses, and most can be grown on a windowsill or tucked in a garden within all of the food plants. They can be made into tinctures, syrups, creams, balms, and put into food to help heal the body.

36. Make Your Own Haircare Products

Shampoo and conditioner are easy to make at home. You can craft them to suit your hair type. If you have kids at school, the lice-away spray below is a good one to start with!

37. Gun Safety and Accuracy

Firearm safety is a key component of owning a gun, and will help prevent unnecessary injuries. This will also help you get more comfortable and more familiar with your firearm, should you choose to own one. Being able to shoot accurately is key to hunting efficiently, as well as defending your property efficiently as well. 

A great guide to gun safety is Rick Sapp’s:

38. Self-Defense and Home Security

Being able to defend yourself and your home from intruders, both the two-legged and four-legged kind, might come in handy on a homestead that is far from neighbors. This does not necessarily entail using a firearm but could include other self-defense measures such as martial arts.

It is also helpful to be able to secure your home and other property, including livestock, from any animals that might try to harm them, and there are many dog breeds that are known to be protective of livestock.

39. How to Budget

Even if you don’t live on a homestead, knowing how to budget for life’s messes is an essential skill that all should know how to do.

This skill will allow you to be able to plan for anything that may come up and cut out unnecessary expenses that would otherwise cause problems. For families, budgeting also allows everyone to be on the same page.

40. Bushcraft and Survival Skills

Living on a homestead with some creature comforts, most people would not think about needing basic survival skills that our ancestors might have known. But being farther away from neighbors and in a lonely area, some basic survival skills such as knowing how to build a fire and how to build a temporary shelter might come in handy.


41. Build a Community

Living on a homestead with so many jobs to do, you will eventually realize the need for help. Building a community of neighbors and supporters is a good thing because this way, you have people around you whom you can trade knowledge and services with, as well as the occasional food item and party thrown.

Skills for Raising Animals

42. Build a Chicken Coop


Chickens are one of the best homesteading animals to start with. They’re small, easy to care for, resilient, and very useful. Whether you’re raising chickens for eggs or meat, they’ll appreciate a good coop!

43. Veterinary Knowledge and Animal Care

Having some knowledge of basic animal care and some veterinary knowledge will allow you to keep an eye on your animals’ health, similar to how knowing basic first aid will allow you greater leeway in keeping an eye on the health of the people on your homestead.

There will be some things that you’ll be able to treat or administer to your animals yourself and some things a veterinarian will need to do, and having this basic knowledge will empower you to take care of your animals better and call for help when you need it.

Read this book from cover to cover for starters:

44. Build a Chicken Tunnel


Build a simple chicken tunnel and put your chickens to work for you. This tunnel goes right through the food forest. The chickens fertilize and weed the area for me.

Once they have finished in one area, you can move the tunnel to another area.

I’m now repurposing my chicken tunnel to keep chickens out, rather than in! I’ve broadcasted chicken foraging seed mix inside the tunnel. When the foraging mix grows, the chickens will be able to peck leaves to suit their needs and tastes.

45. Make and Grow Your Own Animal Food

For true self-sufficiency and sustainable living, it’s important to learn how to feed your animals without buying food from the shop. You’ll save a lot of money too!

If you raise chickens, grow lots of plants that feed chickens. The chickens could then feed your guard dogs with their meat or their eggs.

This homesteading skill depends on which animals you have. Think about what they eat and learn what they need to stay healthy.

46. How to Butcher and Process Animals

Along with being able to grow food and take care of the animals on the homestead, the time may come when you need to process farm animals for food. This is when knowing how to butcher multiple types of animals humanely and ethically will come in handy.

Adam Danforth’s books are kinda like your bible for butchering with images for each step. Below is his “butchering beef” book but he’s got other books on poultry, rabbits, lamb, goats, and more.

47. Raise a Duck or Two

Ducks are another easy-to-raise homesteading animal. They’re similar to chickens in their care, but they do need a pond. Your duck pond is a great source of fertilizer for your garden, which makes ducks such useful homestead animals.

You can eat your ducks, eat their eggs, use them as lawnmowers – they’re versatile and resilient.

48. Learn to Become a Backyard Beekeeper

A productive hive is a valuable source of food, pollination, and other byproducts. Harvest honey for cooking, beeswax for candles and skincare, propolis for medicinal purposes, whilst your bees are busy pollinating the garden!

49. Learn to Hunt

Being able to hunt, especially on a homestead or farm, is a good way to be able to provide for your family or community. You may also need this skill to protect your homestead animals from predators.

This skill comes in handy if you need to provide meat while starting up your homestead, or if you are unable to raise certain types of livestock on your property due to space restrictions, adverse weather, or poor grazing conditions.

Fixing and Building Skills


50. Learn How to Change Your Oil

You should change the oil in your car every 3000 miles or so. A tractor’s oil every 6 months. A lawnmower every 50 hours. That’s a lot of oil changes to pay someone else to do for you, considering this is one of the easiest maintenance tasks to learn.

The more farm equipment you acquire (and farm equipment seems to multiply!), the more oil you’ll need to change. The good thing is, once you know how to do one, you can do them all and save yourself 1000s of dollars.

51. Learn How to Diagnose a Flat Battery (and Fix it!)

OK, your car or tractor won’t start. That really, truly sucks. Especially when your tractor is stuck in a paddock somewhere. A flat battery is one of the most common causes of something not starting.

Learning how to recognize a flat battery is a useful skill to have and it’s one of the easiest to fix. You will still need to diagnose what caused the flat battery in the first place but it’s a good start to get your gear going again. 

We’ve installed isolator switches on most of our farm equipment to avoid things like power draw from unknown sources. These have nearly eliminated the dreaded flat battery.

52. Build a Shower Without Power

Build an outdoor off-grid shower and eliminate muddy boots and dirt inside the house. This is one of the best things we’ve built on our homestead – the more we shower outside, the less I have the clean the shower – a win-win situation.

There’s something very calming and peaceful about an outdoor shower too, especially if you grow a lush garden around it. Add a bamboo screen for privacy and you’ll feel like you’re on a tropical holiday.

53. Learn Basic Knots

This sounds like a pretty boring homesteading skill until you’re outdoors fixing stuff – knot-knowledge is incredibly useful! Learn the basics for quick-releasing animals and gates, securing items for transport, and hoisting things up.

Promise – once you start using these knots you’ll see what I mean!

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54. Basic Carpentry Skills

Carpentry skills will serve you well on a homestead. Whether you need to fix something on the house, build a nesting box, or build furniture – there’s always something that needs your attention.

With so many wooden buildings like chicken coops, barns, sheds, and other buildings, knowing how to work with wood will help you gain the knowledge to enact basic repairs to all of these outbuildings.

Being able to build items out of wood can also be a good way to bring in some extra money for the homestead.

55. How to Sew

Knowing how to sew is the basis of clothing repair, quilt making, and making clothing. Learning to sew by hand is a vital skill that will allow you to be able to repair rips and tears in clothing and other fabric items.

Knowing how to use a sewing machine is a good step up from hand sewing, and is good for making clothing, curtains, and other decorative and wearable items.

56. How to Tan Hides

If you raise livestock on your homestead or are a hunter, knowing how to process and tan hides is a good skill to have to be able to use all parts of the animal.

Animal hides can be used in many ways around the homestead, from being used for clothes and bags to rugs and home décor.

57. Home Maintenance

Learning how to do basic home maintenance is a great skill to learn, whether it’s on or off the homestead.

Knowing how to do small jobs could save you a lot of money in the long run and also allow you to personalize your house, barn, or other building on your property. Keeping your house in good repair will help reduce any costs related to deferred maintenance since bigger repair jobs will lead to bigger costs.

58. Plumbing

You don’t have to have dreams of becoming a professional plumber to want to have some plumbing know-how.

Even if you’re not planning on running plumbing for an entire building, knowing how to fix basic issues in a current system can save a lot of time, money, and frustration, and it’s a good skill to barter with neighbors who have other valuable skills.

59. Welding and Metal Fabrication

Welding is a skill that is not often thought about but can come in handy. Knowing how to work with metal is a good way to build tools and small buildings. If you are handy enough, it might even be possible to build and repair larger buildings, as well as fabricate smaller parts for vehicles such as tractors and trucks.

60. How to Use Basic Tools

To master many of the skills listed above, knowledge and mastery of basic tools is a must.

Knowing how to use a hammer, screwdriver, and saw is necessary for anyone living on a homestead, or even for anyone living in a home that may be in an urban or suburban area. These three tools are the basis for all of the electric tools that can be used in bigger jobs.

Read more: Our Tools Category

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Additional Homesteading Skills

There are many, many more homesteading skills. You never truly stop learning on a homestead!

Other things to enhance your skillset:

61. Fencing

62. Propagation

63. Farrier skills (this really saves a lot of money if you have horses!)

64. Maple tapping

65. Homebrewing

66. Make sauerkraut, kombucha, and other probiotic foods

67. Start a compost pile

68. Plant a banana or coconut circle as per permaculture principles

69. Milking animals

70. Growing microgreens and sprouting

71. Learn about soil and how to improve it

You’ve all been incredibly helpful in the past with your suggestions – don’t hold back now! Do you have any skills to add, suggestions, or comments? Please add them in the comments below 🙂

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  1. This is awesome, thank you!!! I needed some good ideas of skills to teach children. I am starting a small after-school homeschool co-op this fall and I can’t wait to teach some children many of these wonderful skills!

    1. Hi Wanderlust,

      I’m so happy to hear that you got some ideas from this article! I often find myself coming back to it for some new things to try out, as well. I’m sure the kids will have a hoot, and I’m beyond happy to hear that this article is going toward making such a positive impact on our future generations. 🙂 Have a wonderful day!


  2. I love ALL the photos in this blog, especially the dog and the sweetest girl driving the car.
    My favorite homesteading skill you talk about is building a simple chicken tunnel and putting your chickens to work for you. Love the idea that the tunnel goes right through the food forest and the chickens fertilize and weed the area Brilliant. Saves all the chicken fence dilemmas…the chicken scratching out the plants and the dog chasing the chooks.

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