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  #1  
Old 08/15/13, 08:21 PM
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Skills to learn

Hello, i am just wondering what everyone thinks are good skills to learn for the homestead. I am in the military and have free time to learn i am want to learn some of the things before i get out.

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  #2  
Old 08/15/13, 08:33 PM
 
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Many of the essential skills sets you need to learn will be dependent on your homestead's geographic location and annual climate conditions and how you want to live on the homestead.

Do you have a homestead location already picked out in Maine or will you be relocating to a different part of the country after you get out of the service? Do you plan to keep livestock and do farming?

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  #3  
Old 08/15/13, 08:37 PM
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Learn how to lay out stairs and rafters, how to frame a building. Learn how to use guide books to id weeds,plant diseases and insect pests. Learn advanced first aid. ...

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  #4  
Old 08/15/13, 09:22 PM
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Plumbing, including how to work with PVC and galvanized pipe, plus how faucets and toilets work

Basic electrical work

Basic construction

Small engine repair

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  #5  
Old 08/15/13, 10:51 PM
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I am stationed in south dakota.
i have a piece of land that i just bought back home it's not big about 9.4 acres but its on a river it's nice....okay, i have skills with mechanics, i am also a good welder...so i have some skills sets. I will definitely look for more advanced first aid classes.

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  #6  
Old 08/16/13, 01:27 AM
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If just you, I'd recommend sewing, hot water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and smoking... Also, using a slingshot... Often, firearms are brought up, but I think it is just as important to learn other means (back up if you will or another option). Quiet options are often good. We will just refer to unwanted critters. Also, learning how to effectively grow your own fruit/veggies/nuts. You'd be surprised what you can learn from books, then apply with success. Learn about raising your own fish, how to care for any livestock you plan to get, and how to grow as much of the food for your critters as you can. What is your USDA Zone? I could refer you some excellent resources, as can many other HTers...

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  #7  
Old 08/16/13, 01:34 AM
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Just thought of another one...learning how to grow, harvest, and preserve medicinal herbs. I hang my herbs from hooks, attached to Cedar slats (mounted to the ceiling of my drying room). Soon, I will have about eight months of mint tea... I am drying Echinacea, Calendula, Comfrey, Wormwood, Feverfew, and others.

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  #8  
Old 08/16/13, 09:09 AM
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Get yourself some basic books on construction, gardening, plumbing and electrical circuits. If you can, take some on-hands skills training regarding the electrical and plumbing. That will at least get you started on some type of living structure. If you're not going to be building your own house, you will at least understand what to watch for while your contractors build it.

Add to that some basics on fence building. Set a correspondence with friends/relatives (even building inspection department and agricultural dept in the area where you land is located) talking with them about type of trees (fruit/nut/shade/privacy) do best, what type of predators you may be contending with once you get there and what type of storms show up and from which direction. (If you get a chance to visit you land prior to relocating to it, get a feel of how the water flows over it and where it tends to stand. Get your soil tested to see what type of minerals it may be lacking for what you want to use it for.)

Skills are easy as necessity is a great teacher. My son and I built out entire homestead without knowing how by making use of both books and the internet. The tools we found most needed were: circular skill saw, chain saw, electric drill with bits, long tape measure and levelers, along with the basic hammer/nails/screws. For working the ground, the pickax, spade, shovel, post hole digger, hoe and rake were a necessity.

You're real smart to be starting to learn before you get out there. That should save you a lot of do-overs.

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  #9  
Old 08/16/13, 09:43 AM
 
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Learn to hunt and hunt well and effectively. You can obviously shoot. Maybe you are a great hunter already, but if you pick a homestead in a good location, hunting can provide the vast proportion of your meat needs.

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  #10  
Old 08/16/13, 11:18 AM
 
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Location: Michigan's thumb
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If you aren't in the building trades, count on hiring someone to build your house. You can be a helper. Do your research before building any building. We did and ended up with radiant in-floor heat instead of a furnace and ducts. Much more economical, and it is something you may be able to do yourself. We also have a shallow frost free foundation, which you may or may not be allowed to do. Research windows, the ones that are advertised may only be midgrade rather than best. Give yourself a usable attic, one you can hang herbs in or otherwise use as storage. Give yourself a basement, you can then use it for long term pantry, and a rec room.

Spend time looking at kitchens. Even if you aren't much of a cook, you may marry someone who is, you may be canning. You can't have too much counter space, and the aisle should be able to accommodate a wheel chair/walker/two people back to back.

Get a real laundry room. In the basement is fine, and if it's in the basement, you need room for a folding table, ironing board, and place to hang ironed shirts, a sink for soaking your filthy work clothes.

If the area is low lying and holds water in the spring, put in a pond sooner rather than later. A bulldozer can create a nice berm around three sides and give you a nice private water feature. The pond will be your drain-off system and severely limit the number of mosquitos you have. Take a good look at your nine acres as to what is growing there and the slopes of the land. This will help to determine where you put buildings and where you put your gardens. If you plant trees, keep in mind that the final width and height of the tree matches the roots below. Keep them well away from the house. Don't plant bushes that you have to prune twice a year. Think about food. A maple tree is a lovely shade tree, but it doesn't give you nuts. Forsythia is lovely when in flower, but highbush cranberry is not only native to NA, but produces berries.

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  #11  
Old 08/16/13, 11:23 AM
 
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Learn everything you can about firewood .

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  #12  
Old 08/16/13, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lorichristie View Post
Just thought of another one...learning how to grow, harvest, and preserve medicinal herbs. I hang my herbs from hooks, attached to Cedar slats (mounted to the ceiling of my drying room). Soon, I will have about eight months of mint tea... I am drying Echinacea, Calendula, Comfrey, Wormwood, Feverfew, and others.
We have a lot of molds and whatnot in this part of the south so I use paper bags and cardboard boxes for herb drying. It works very well, wicking the moisture out of the herbs. Just thought I'd put that out there for the OP and others.
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  #13  
Old 08/16/13, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahc View Post
We have a lot of molds and whatnot in this part of the south so I use paper bags and cardboard boxes for herb drying. It works very well, wicking the moisture out of the herbs. Just thought I'd put that out there for the OP and others.
Yes, good to do that, otherwise controlling moisture where you are drying herbs... As for our climate, we have plenty of humidity, but not as much during the warmer summer months. That is when I dry my herbs, and cure my garlic... Ventilation where herbs are drying is also necessary.
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  #14  
Old 08/16/13, 08:48 PM
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Learn to shoot well in different positions and with strong and weak hands. There are lots of training videos on the web. Learn how to shoot under pressure. Learn how to hit a target while you are moving to cover. Learn your weapon inside and out and learn how to take care of it and repair it. Learn how to clear jambs and reload quickly. I have been able to shoot well even as a kid but in stressful situations it is different. You need to be able to do all these things and more without having to think.

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  #15  
Old 08/17/13, 02:21 AM
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Good thread. I appreciate all the comments.

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  #16  
Old 08/17/13, 05:47 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: South Central MO
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Start yourself a reference library. Here is a list of books, subjects and magazines that I was advice to add to my library:

Magazines:
Hobby Farm
Grit
Mother Earth News

Subjects:
Homesteading
Livestock
Veterinary
Pluming
Small Engine Repair
Construction
Electric
Medical
Gardening: self, animals, preserving, herbs
Gun and Gun Repair: There is alot of information on gun repair get a manual for your
guns you are going to have on your homestead
If get a tractor be a manual for it.

Books, these to books where recommended to me from fellow HT members:
The Backyard Homestead edited by Carleen Madigan
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

If you ask on the different forums the members on them forums will give you titles of books on that particular subject.

Good Luck, Welcome

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  #17  
Old 08/20/13, 09:20 AM
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All good thoughts.

Once you have decided what livestock to start with, study it from all angles.

Good luck.

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  #18  
Old 08/20/13, 10:34 AM
 
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Mainewoodsman, do all that and enjoy. Also thank you for your service!

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  #19  
Old 08/21/13, 12:30 PM
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Two skills have served me well my whole life. Being able to make money WHEREVER I am and construction trades (sometimes they have matched but not always).

The one skill I wish I had now is masonry and cement work tho. Never had the opportunity to use that one yet and it is critical to saving money on a future homestead. It is hard to find someone to teach you. It is not like woodworking where a billion people know it.

One thing you can learn anywhere is the building codes of where you plan on moving too. Critical to know what is possible and what is not.

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  #20  
Old 08/21/13, 08:21 PM
 
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Location: Louisiana
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Basic country living skills 101:

1. Construction -primarily carpentry, but it helps to know at least a smattering of electrical, plumbing and concrete work.

2. Gardening - you want to grow enough for fresh eating and enough to preserve.

3. Food preservation - canning in particular, but also other methods such as drying or smoking.

4. Basic animal husbandry - poultry, pigs and cattle. In that order.

5. Growing feed for your animals.

6. Somebody said small engine repair - I agree.

7. Fruit production - whatever is good for your area.

There's lots more, but if you can do the above pretty well, you can get by just about anywhere you have decent soil and access to water.

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  #21  
Old 08/22/13, 04:01 AM
 
Join Date: May 2004
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You want skills to save you money, and skills to earn you money. Both are valuable.

You have basic mechanics and welding - brush up on them.
Small and large motor, motor vehicle and mechanical maintenance.
Basic building - carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical, cement work.

Advanced first aid, EMT, marksman, fireman.
If you can manage it, armory work and gunsmithing.

Community and state college by correspondence and on-line - agriculture, agronomy, animal husbandry, horticulture, viticulture, farm and rural business management. This is useful not only for running your land and business, but for getting business loans.
Basic biology degree that would get you into pathology or X-ray lab - always work available, like nursing, but without having to take the manure that nurses get handed these days.
Consider criminal justice and police courses - you may or may not think that would be a good way of earning off-farm income. In any case, being able to qualify as a volunteer MAY have some value to you.

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  #22  
Old 08/22/13, 06:42 AM
 
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Down here, a basic biology degree will get you accepted into xray or lab school. It will not get you a job as an entry level tech.

And be aware, all school slots are competitive.

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  #23  
Old 08/22/13, 07:17 AM
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Patience, perseverance and prayer. The three most important skills you will need.

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  #24  
Old 08/22/13, 03:30 PM
 
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Location: NW Oregon
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As everyone has said you need to know about everything and what you don't know you will figure out. Every piece of land is different and you never know what problem will come up next. Get to know your niegbors, they can be a world of information. I learned how to raise Goats, Sheep, Chickens and Ducks from my nieghbors, also how to keep my pastures productive. 40+ years ago we moved in to our first little farm and we got to know the 70+ year old nieghbor next door, he would come over everyday to tell me that I was doing whatever wrong. I learned so much from him and all the other nieghbors. I thank them all.

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  #25  
Old 08/23/13, 07:13 AM
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If you ever plan to heat with wood- learn how to split and stack cordwood and learn how to start a fire in the stove you have.

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  #26  
Old 08/23/13, 08:06 AM
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If you aren't in the building trades, count on hiring someone to build your house.
Why? Anything you could want to know is in a book or online. Building a house requires an attention to detail and specifics, but it's hardly rocket science. I'm a school teacher for heaven's sake, but I've designed and built our house almost entirely by myself.


To skills, I agree with pretty much everyone else's lists and would just add, don't get hung up in that whole "homesteading" thing.
People should know these things just because they're alive and productive!
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