There are several basic skills to learn that are helpful when you are building and maintaining a homestead. It’s also important to know if you should learn it or hire it out. Learning how to do these 5 simple tasks on your property will save time and money.
We all think that simple living should be well…simple and that there isn’t much of a learning curve. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Once you embrace the simple living lifestyle there are many things to learn if you want to be self-reliant.
Not only do you need to know how to preserve food, you also need to know how to cook pantry staples like beans and turn them into a meal your family will eat. It’s handy to know how to grow herbs for your kitchen and turn them into herbal remedies, plus keeping chickens and bees on the homestead is a terrific way to save money. All of these skills are worth it, but they take time and effort to learn.
We’d like to cover a few different skills in this post. Ones that will help you build the infrastructure of your homestead. You can learn these basic skills online or ask a trusted friend to teach you. Better yet, offer to help with their next project and learn as you go!
Books and Beyond
The first thing you may reach for when learning a new skill is a good how-to book. The Encyclopedia of Country Living is an excellent resource for understanding the basics of self-reliance. We consider it a must-have book for every homestead library. Another book packed with knowledge is The Ultimate Guide to Old-Fashioned Country Skills by Abigail Gehring. For those already possessing a bit of knowledge, The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects has 76 projects to get you started.
Sometimes you may find that the skills you need to know are best shown rather than read about. Try one (or all) of these online tutorials to take you to the next level.
How to Use a Hammer
This may seem like a simple task and to some extent it is, but when you are standing in the hardware store looking at a wall of hammers do you know what each of them is designed to do? Watch the following video from This Old House and learn about the different kind of hammers that are available and what to use them for, how to use a hammer properly for the fastest nail set, and how to easily remove a nail using the claw.
How to Use a Chainsaw
Chainsaws are serious tools that are extremely handy around the homestead. You may need to turn a log into fireplace wood or remove a tree that has fallen during a storm. This 4 and a half minute video from This Old House will show you the safety equipment that you should consider, what to check on the saw before you get started, and how to use your bar to measure cuts.
How to Operate a Circular Saw
Building structures on the homestead? Anytime you want to add an additional shed or build a fence you will find the circular saw to be key to success. Being able to make precise cuts makes quick work of any project. This tutorial from Brittany Bailey of Pretty Handy Girl will walk you through the parts of a circular saw, safety issues to consider, and making your first cut.
Operating a circular saw is one of the skills that you might consider hiring out, especially if you do not have anyone to teach you with hands-on training.
How to Drive a Tractor
A tractor is essential if you have a lot of land to cultivate or if you have equipment that needs to be moved from one place to another. Small-scale farmers may be able to do without such a large piece of equipment, but even a small scale mower with a trailer can be helpful for moving soil and compost.
Watch Ryan at How Farms Work teach his girlfriend Jamie the basics of driving a tractor. You will want to watch a video that matches the tractor YOU are going to purchase but this will get you started on the basics of how a tractor works. Since tractors are a big ticket purchase for any farm, tilling and harvesting is another skill that you may consider hiring out.
Plumbing 101: How a Toilet Works
Plumbing repairs can be expensive so having some basic plumbing skills can save a ton of money on your homestead. It is hard to diagnose a problem if you don’t understand the basic concepts involved in the fix. This video from Habitat for Humanity explains how a toilet works. Even if you don’t expect to make plumbing repairs yourself, this basic knowledge will come in handy as you are talking with repair people.
Simple living skills are essential to those wishing to live frugally and save money. Knowing how to use a hammer, safely use a chainsaw and circular saw, how to drive a tractor, and basic plumbing techniques are just the beginning. What other basic skills do you think should be acquired by someone striving for a simple life?