Friday, January 3, 2014

What's this...Homesteading?

Homesteading. I admit, I don't know a whole heck of a lot about it. Ghon has mentioned it, and I know our friend Daniel has as well. I've seen some neat-o links on Facebook shared by my friend Becky, so I decided to learn a little more.

Hang tight while I consult Wikipedia.
Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.

OK, that I can handle. Ghon always calls it "living off the grid." I'm not ready to go all hardcore. I am still a city girl and always will be. However, I can see the good in being able to grow some veggies and fruits, have chickens (and eat them too!), and the like. Ghon is really hoping to turn Hummingbird Farm into a profitable business a few years down the road. I'm happy to take care of my family.

A couple days ago, Becky shared a post from the blog The Prairie Homestead, 101 Skills for the Modern Homesteader.

So credit given to Jill over at The Prairie Homestead. Here are her 101 Skills for the Modern Homesteader. Links within each skill will open to "how to" blogs on her site. Anything the either Ghon or I know how to do, I am going to strike-through. That mission is already accomplished.

1. Learn how to milk a goat, cow, or sheep.
2. Learn how to successfully compost kitchen scraps and manure. We have done the kitchen scraps before.
3. Learn how to make the perfect pie crust. As much as I love baking, I don't do pie. Between this and Ghon's dream, I guess I have to learn.
4. Learn how to cook a whole chicken. Both of us can cook a chicken. Fried is his department though.
5. Learn how to grow a vegetable garden in your climate. We have varied success, so I'm not scratching this off yet.
6. Learn how to prune a tree. We will be learning this in the fall. Our fruit trees should need a pruning.
7. Learn how to read the weather. right? Hmm, I wonder what this means.
8. Learn how to tell time without a clock by using the sun. Morning, noon, dusk. What more do I need to know?
9. Learn how to give an animal an injection. I've given Ghon injections. Does that count?
10. Learn how to foal, kid, lamb, and/or calve.
11. Learn how to pull a calf or baby goat during a difficult birth.
12. Learn how to grow a windowsill herb garden. I grow herbs in deck boxes. I should be able to manage this.
13. Learn how to properly cut down a tree. Lumberjack Ghon!
14. Learn how to make perfect sausage gravy from scratch.Thanks to my Dad, I can make some gravy!
15. Learn how to drive a manual transmission.  Ghon's department. I've been taught, but it isn't pretty.
16. Learn how to drive a tractor.
17. Learn basic mechanic skills so you can fix your tractors and vehicles. Thank God I married a mechanic.
18. Learn how to change a tire. See comment above.
19. Learn how to change oil. See comment above.
20. Learn how to properly handle, shoot, and clean a gun.
21. Learn the laws and regulations regarding hunting wild game in your area through a Hunter’s Safety course. Ghon's taken the Hunter's Safety courses. I know how to look online for the regulations. All set.
21. Learn how to hunt wild game–both large and small. Ghon's got this one too.
22. Learn how to humanely kill, gut, and clean an animal. Depends on the animal. Another one for Ghon.
23. Learn how to butcher an animal and the proper cuts of meat.
24. Learn how to pluck a chicken. I'm only partially striking this one. We got the idea, based on the turkey, but not perfected.
25. Learn how to use a smoker. Have you tried Ghon's pork shoulder? Ribs? No? Come work at the farm, we'll feed you.
26. Learn how to fish. Ghon knows how to fish. I know how to fish as long as the rod is ready to go. I will bait a hook too.
27. Learn how to clean and fillet a fish. Almost there. Ghon knows how to clean 'em, but not fillet them.
28. Learn how to tell if your chickens are molting. Chicken man has this one figured out.
29. Learn how to tell if you can doctor an animal at home, or if it needs to be taken to the vet.
30. Learn how to dry laundry using a drying rack or clothesline.  I know how to use the rack now. It's been a long time since I've hung clothes on the line. Kinda looking forward to doing it again. For sheets. I HATE crunchy jeans.
31. Learn how to make your own laundry detergent. I've wanted to try this.
32. Learn how to build a fire–both inside and outside.  I can do the outdoor fire, but Ghon is MUCH better. He knows how to do it inside. I will learn soon enough!
33. Learn how to cook over an open fire. Ghon was a certified Boy Scout Leader. He's certified in open cooking.
34. Learn how to make hard and soft cheeses.
35. Learn how to make yogurt.
36. Learn how to make sourdough bread. I've made my own bread, but never sourdough.
37. Learn how to keep bees and harvest honey.
38. Learn how to make basic yeast dough which can be turned into loaves, rolls, buns, pretzels, etc. Pizza dough uses yeast. Does that count?
39. Learn how to incubate fertilized eggs and hatch your own chicks.  We've had the suckers incubating on our nightstand. CHECK!
40. Learn how to identify and manage a broody hen. Ha, Ghon said he can identify them (and so can I), but he's not sure if picking them up and tossing them is proper management.
41. Learn how to cut and bale hay.
42. Learn how to stack hay.
43. Learn the art of intensive grazing so you can better manage your pastures.
44. Learn how to make your own soap.
45. Learn how to make your own candles.
46. Learn how to darn a sock.  Mr. Outdoors surprised me on this one!
47. Learn how to mend damaged clothes so they don’t have to be thrown away.  And again with this one.
48. Learn how to sew clothing from scratch.
49. Learn how to knit, quilt,  or crochet  I can crochet! I will keep us warm!
50. Learn the art of no-till gardening.
51. Learn how to candle eggs so you can tell if they are fertilized.  We've done this!
52. Learn how to cook outside with a dutch oven.Queue the Boy Scout!
53. Learn how to heat your home with wood or other sustainable sources.  We will when the insert arrives!
54. Learn how to trim the feet of your goats and sheep.
55. Learn how to build and fix fence. Ghon says he's got this.
56. Learn carpentry skills so you can repair outbuildings or even build basic furniture pieces. I've seen the coop Ghon built. He had training as a cabinet maker. CHECK!
57. Learn how to tan a hide.
58. Learn how to save seeds. Ghon is sounding pretty handy...
59. Learn how to use a water bath canner. Ah, something I know how to do.
60. Learn how to lacto-ferment foods to preserve them.
61. Learn how to use a pressure canner and/or cooker.
62. Learn how to make saukerkraut.
63. Learn how to forage for wild edibles in your area.
64. Learn how to identify the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms.
65. Learn how to identify the difference between harmless and venomous snakes in your area. Ghon feels he knows this one. We know how I hate all snakes. I do think I need to know this on my own, so it only gets a half credit.
66. Learn how to grind your own wheat.
67. Learn how to repurpose everyday items to save them from the landfill. I try to do this, but not enough that I'm ready to scratch it off the list.
68. Learn how to sharpen a knife or ax.  Ghon. Again.
69. Learn how to prepare for a blizzard. Ghon said "buy toilet paper." That long time ago city boy is coming out now.
70. Learn how to prepare for a wildfire.
71. Learn the basics of animal breeding.
72. Learn how to work together with your neighbors to accomplish more and foster a sense of community. This is where Daniel comes in. :)
73. Learn how to halter-break an animal.
74. Learn how to split and stack firewood. Ah-ha! I know how to use a chainsaw! I have used a log splitter. Stacking can't be too hard (I know it is strenuous).  Ghon knows how to do it without a splitter too.
75. Learn how to make butter.
76. Learn how to use essential oils properly and safely.
77. Learn how to build/use a greenhouse or cold frame to extend your growing season.
78. Learn how to start seeds indoors. We've done this!
79. Learn how to store food in a root cellar or in a cool basement. I am totally going to use our root cellar. Just need to learn the right way how.
80. Learn how to make vinegar.
81. Learn how to make your own skincare items. This website had a 'recipe' for deodorant that I totally want to try.
82. Learn how to make your own cleaning supplies. More than just vinegar?
83. Learn how to make herbal extracts, infusions, poultices, and tinctures.
84. Learn how to render lard or tallow.
85. Learn how to chop ice.
86. Learn how to make and apply whitewash.
87. Learn how to tap trees for maple syrup.
88. Learn how to repair a roof.
89. Learn how to humanely euthanize an animal.
90. Learn to identify the weeds in your yard/pastures and figure out which ones are edible.
91. Learn how to back up a trailer. I won't even it drive it forward, let alone backward. Again, Scoutmaster and Band Roadie Ghon comes in handy here.
92. Learn how to purify water.
93. Learn how to make bone broth.
94. Learn how to use non-electric lighting. If this means lanterns and candles, CHECK!
95. Learn how to put together a 72-hour kit for emergencies.
96. Learn how to cook eggs in a cast iron skillet without a sticky mess. I'll never forget the time I cooked in a cast iron skillet. It was the first and last time. I apparently cooked a non-egg product in an egg pan. Never again... Ghon has an egg pan. He can use it. I will stick to my stones.
97. Learn how to put food scraps like eggshells, coffee grounds, apple peels, and whey to good use.
98. Learn how to make bacon and cure hams.
99. Learn how to protect your livestock from predators.
100. Learn how to make your own chicken feed.
101. Learn how to live within your means and get out of debt. Almost, but not quite.

Wow. We are almost half way there! We apparently know, or almost know all of 41 things on the list. However, if you take out those that I either learned with Ghon or am totally dependent on him for, my total is somewhere near 14. See? City girl, not a country girl. I need my redneck to make it when it comes to farm life.

I am going to try to learn more of these skills. And I'm pretty sure Ghon does as well.  Keep an eye out for updates on our homesteading skills! Anyone care to join me?


  1. I'm impressed with your range of homesteading skills. Are you planning on goats, cows, pigs, horses,etc?

    1. Cows, no. Goats, probably not. Ghon would like to have a few horses to ride, but not anytime soon. Pigs on the other hand, yes, Ghon is really itching to have some pigs. Right now, it's just chickens.