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5 Skills Every Modern Homesteader Should Know

With it being International Homesteading Education Month, I've been thinking a bit about the types of skills today's homesteaders should know.  I've come up with a list of my "Top 5" homesteading skills that I think are essential.

You won't find things like "butcher a chicken" or "milk a cow" on my list, because I wanted to focus on skills that every homesteader could learn no matter where they lived.  In short, skills that can be developed by anyone, anywhere.  Because today's modern homesteaders are just as likely to live in the suburbs as they are on 20 acres.

So, here's my list.  What's on yours?

1.  Bake bread from scratch. 
This is a definite must!  Fresh baked bread is delicious and not too hard once you've practiced it a few times.  Every homesteader worth their salt should know how to make homemade bread.

Ask an older friend or relative to show you how, they probably know.  Or, get yourself a good cookbook.  Heck, you can even get on You Tube and watch how it's done.

I have an old Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cookbook that has become my favorite.  It was published in the '70s.  I found it at a book sale at my local library.  What a find!  The recipes are absolutely delicious.  You can find it on Amazon, too.

If you're ready to get started right away, here are a few of my favorite tried-and-true bread recipes:
Best Bread Recipe Ever
Quick and Simple Home-Baked Bread

2.  Grow something. 
If you've never eaten a home-grown tomato, you really haven't lived.  Home-grown food just tastes better than the stuff you get at the grocery store.  Plus, there's something so satisfying about caring for a plant, watching it grow, and eating the fruits of your labor.

You don't need a large garden.  Try growing a cherry tomato plant in a pot on the back porch.  Or get a few potted herbs and put them in a sunny windowsill.

If you don't have the patience and need to see some tangible reward quickly, try sprouts.  My colleague has a great article that explains how.  As I've never grown sprouts before, I'm going to try them!  

3.  Learn basic sewing skills.
I don't necessarily love sewing, but I'm fairly handy with a sewing machine.  I've made valances for the windows, and tons of throw pillows, out of inexpensive but pretty fabric.  I've made a totally cute apron for Kaylin.  I've even sewed up a pioneer-style bonnet for a Pioneer Days activity we did with the kid's homeschool charter (and I think it's so darned cute that I'd wear it more often, except that my children would probably die from embarrassment.  I already do all of my outdoor chores in shorts and tall black muck boots.  Add a gingham bonnet to the ensemble and even I wouldn't blame my family for not wanting to be seen with me.)

But back to sewing!  Everyone should know how to do the basics: sew a button, mend a tear, hem a cuff.  Who knows?  You might find you actually like to sew and take up a new hobby.

4.  Do basic repair work. 
I'm a complete DIYer.  I've never really known any other way to be.  As a child, my family had very little money.  If something broke, you fixed it yourself.  If you wanted something done, you did it yourself.  Otherwise, things would never get fixed, or done.  Because you need money to do these things.  And we had none.

Then hubby and I married, at the ripe old age of 18, and still didn't have any money.  Over the years we have scraped wallpaper, painted houses inside and out, repaired leaky pipes and broken toilets, laid tile, built loafing sheds and chicken coops, put up fences and torn them down.

It may take a little more time and a lot more effort, but it gets done and it saves us money.  The only things we won't touch are electrical work and heavy-duty plumbing problems, because if you don't know enough about what you're doing you could do some serious damage or end up dead.  I rather like being alive so we happily outsource these jobs.

But otherwise, I like knowing that I can handle most anything that comes up without having to rely on someone else.
5.  Make your own cleaning supplies.
At the store, there is an entire aisle of products created for cleaning just about every single item in your home.  If you we're to buy one product for the floors, one for the window, one for countertops, one for carpets, one for the kitchen table (and so on and so on) you'd end up with dozens and dozens of products.  And you'd spend tons of money to boot.

I can clean my entire house (rather well, in fact) with just three items -- baking soda, white vinegar, and liquid Castile soap.  Sometimes I'll add in borax for extra dirty objects, and essential oils for deodorizing and freshening up.  That's all you need.

The best thing is, it's all natural so you don't have to worry about using these around kids and pets, and it saves you so much money.  Try this simple soft scrub and you'll be hooked on DIY household cleansers.

So, those are my Top 5's.  What are yours?      

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