July 27, 2015

Five Homestead Skills You Need

Many homestead gurus suggest taking an inventory of your skills before beginning your homestead adventure. It's good advice, but I don't want you to be put off if your list isn't very long.

Five homestead skills you need to succeed in life and on the homestead.

The "accepted" list of skills might contain such things as construction, knowledge of firearms and mechanical expertise. You might think you need to be a master gardener, a goat whisperer, able to cook from scratch, and a food preservation expert.

But I have a secret for you: you can learn those things. In my mind, the five most important skills in homesteading are:
Persistence - "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" was my father's favorite saying. He taught me that persistence is everything. If you try to make yogurt or vinegar or soap and fail, do you quit or do you keep trying until you're successful? My father's second favorite saying was "practice makes perfect."
Five homesteading skills you need to succeed.
Be a self-starter - no one is going to push you out the door to feed your livestock, or tell you to get yourself out into the garden to pull weeds. You're on your own here! On the other hand, homesteading gives you the freedom to focus on projects that interest you, and no one tells you that you can't stop to smell the roses, or eat the first red tomato right there in the garden. The perks are outstanding!

Be willing to learn - you can learn anything you put your mind to. Information is everywhere. You might think you're not good at math, but it's so much easier to solve a real-life problem than one in a textbook. Do you remember asking your algebra teacher "when will I ever need this in real life?" Well, how much medication do you give an 87-pound goat at a rate of 1 cc per 2.5 lbs? How many tons of hay do you need to get 5 horses, 4 sheep and 10 goats through an average Oklahoma winter? If a single broccoli plant produces an average of x servings, how many seedlings do you need to transplant into your garden so that your family of four can eat broccoli with dinner once a week? You can figure it out, believe me. It makes so much more sense in real life.
Five skills you need to succeed on the homestead - and in life.
Be a good observer - pay attention to the details and you'll never go wrong. Are your goats acting a bit "off"? What sort of clouds are those on the horizon, and what kind of weather can you expect from them? Do you remember where the plantain grows? Good observation skills are important, and you can impress your friends by knowing the difference between Indian blanket and Indian paintbrush.

Have a good memory - or at least remember to write everything down. When you learn something, write it down. Not only will you have a record of it, but the act of writing it down helps to cement it in your memory (or at least in mine). Write down when you planted the lettuce, when you noticed the goats were in heat, the date you put eggs in the incubator. It will make your life much easier.
With these five traits and a good attitude, you've got it covered! You'll be a great homesteader.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
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  1. Anonymous12:32 PM

    What great insights.

    I think your list could be extrapolated to to the most important skills for life.

  2. Maybe they are at that. Thank you!

  3. My husband and I both have agricultural degrees and that's not enough. You have to have all the traits you mentioned. I especially think that you have to be self-motivated and VERY persistent because this endeavor will knock you down again and again. But if you love it, it'll never seem like work and you'll get up every time from getting knocked down! Thanks for the great reminder!

  4. Thank you, Margaret. Definitely there are days when it's hard to keep doing what we're doing, but the benefits and the good days make it worthwhile. I think an agricultural degree would be a nice help though. :-)

  5. Anonymous8:01 PM

    I love your Have a good memory - or at least remember to write everything down I'm in the write it down and remember where you wrote it stage. It is canning season you know lol!!!

    Have a great week!!!!


  6. Very good list, Kathi. Not many things come intuitively to a new homesteader. There are lots of nuts and bolts to learn and with your list of five in hand, that learning will be more successful. Thanks!


  7. Stellar list! This lineup would get you through just about anything, homestead or not!

  8. Sue, sometimes having too much going on can really affect your memory. Writing things down is a good way to cope!

  9. Fern, thank you. Yes, there is so much to learn but being willing to try (and try again) is the only way to succeed.

  10. Thank you, Daisy!

  11. Thank you for sharing this great post with us at Good Morning Mondays. These skills you listed are great. I think being a "self starter" is one of the most important things when farming. If you can get up in the morning and get stuck into it you are half way there. Blessings

  12. That's very true, Terri. Some days it's hard to get out of bed. Some days it's hard to put on boots and go outside (especially when it's really cold). But chores have to be done!

  13. A helpful list too. I might also add "ability to learn." One can have the desire but not the actual ability. I have a college degree in education. I now realize that what this 4-years of college REALLY taught me was how to research and how to gather new and needed information. This has served me well all of my adult life.
    I may not know all the answers but I know how to find them! That is much more valuable than my actual degree. Donna at The Small House Big Sky Homestead in SW Michigan.

  14. Yes, Donna, knowing where to find the answers (or who to ask) is as important as the knowledge itself. I think people can even learn how to learn.

  15. Love, love, love! You are going to be this weeks feature at the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop.

  16. Thank you, Mindie!

  17. Through the Country Fair Blog Party I have loved learning more about Homesteading. Thanks for linking up this month! Great list for everyone.

  18. Thank you for stopping by, Val. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  19. It's so refreshing to see a post like this and I'm sure anyone who is contemplating homesteading would find it very encouraging! I've pinned it to my Sustainable Living Board. Thank you so much for sharing it with us at Hearth and Soul, Kathi.

  20. Thank you for the Pin, April!

  21. Great advice - When we started our little farm we did and still do everything by hand. Our major equipment consists of a push tiller - the big one and a weed eater mower along with some heavy duty chain saws. Everything else we just think outside the box and work it. The muscle I've gained in the last five years has been a great reward for all the hard work.
    Carole @ Garden Up Green

  22. Carole, I totally agree with you. At my age, keeping muscle mass is a good thing! We're pretty low-tech here too, although we did eventually pick up a used tractor. "Use it or lose it" applies to our physical health too.

  23. I love this post! What a great list of attributes, not only for homesteaders, but for life.

  24. Thank you, Mandi!

  25. I really liked your article, it's very good!
    I was reading along enjoying it while drinking my coffee, and I got down to the last point that said "have a good memory" and I nearly spit my coffee across the room! Lol, I clearly need to work on that one!
    Have a great weekend friend

    1. LOL, Jamie! I'm learning how to compensate for my not-as-good-as-it-used-to-be memory. It can be done. ;-)


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