Checklist for Homesteaders

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mid Tn Mama, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Sometimes I read the threads about folks who are saving for their homestead and ask what they should do in the meantime (or think there is nothing they CAN do in the meantime). I believe you can homestead where you are currently. This list is from Robert Waldrop of better times and it's a list of self -sufficiency items. I think it's a good start for what you may want to begin collecting (and doing) as a homesteader:

    A meta-list of sustainable technologies for Okies |
    1. Rainwater collection systems (gutters and cisterns)
    2. clothes line
    3. wash tub and scrub board
    4. solar small battery chargers and rechargeable batteries
    5. urban agriculture, including (6) indoor growing, (7) container growing, (8) "square foot gardening", (9) de-paving, (10) greenhouses, (11) cold frames, (12) hydroponics, (13) seed saving, (14) non-hybrid heirloom varieties, (15) composting systems (piles, bins, worms)
    16. Siphon hose
    17. water wheel
    18. windmill
    19. bicycle
    20. cart
    21. Hand pump (water and air)
    22. passive and active solar water and space heating
    23. hand tools
    24. hand looms and spinning wheels
    25. acoustical instruments (from tracker pipe organs to violins,
    banjos, tin whistles, snare drums, and all points between.)
    26. pressure cooker
    27. boiling water bath canner
    28. mason jars and lids
    29. Solar dehydrators
    30. clothes line
    31. board games
    32. playing cards
    33. ice houses
    34. ice boxes
    35. non-refrigerated air conditioning
    36. chicken coop
    37. rabbit hutch
    38. aquaculture
    39. permaculture
    40. orchards
    41. wood lots
    42. steam engines
    43. distillation of alcohol (both methanol and ethanol)
    44. wine-making
    45. yeast-growing
    46. companion planting
    47. Cast iron cookware
    48. ax, sledgehammer and wedge
    49. strawbale housing
    50. cob construction techniques
    56. earth-sheltered housing
    57. mixed-use neighborhoods
    58. cooperatives and microenterprise.
    59. Recycling, reusing
    60. rolling pins, sifter
    61. Threshing machine,
    62. Grain mill, meat, nut, coffee, spice grinders
    63. Tortilla press/roller
    64. Outdoor ovens
    65. Pottery wheel
    66. Potters kiln.
    67. Dye-pot and dye plants
    68. Eating with the season.
    69. Home, neighborhood, community, and regional food production,
    processing and distribution.
    70. Quilting frame
    71. co-intelligent group processes, including (72) precinct community assembly/discussion circles, (73) neighborhood friendship net/web
    74. Non-electric crockpot/hotpot cookers, dutch ovens, solar ovens.
    75. Wheelbarrow
    76. Public transportation
    77. Local money
    78. Extended families living together or in close proximity (families by birth, necessity, or choice), elders staying living as part of the family.
    79. Strong bonds and connections within the local geographical community, transcending divisions race, ethnicity, religion, world-view, or class.
    80. Natural family planning.
    81. Schools, including (82) community, (83) religious, (84) vocational/practical, (85) great universities,
    86. Wellness systems (health care as it should be)
    87. Woodburning stoves
    88. Choirs
    89. Poetry readings
    90. Books and bookmaking
    91. Papermaking
    92. Ink-making
    93. Printing
    94. Libraries and reading rooms, including (95) community, (96) religious, (97) "storehouses of knowledge" e.g. great university, (98) "world view".
    99. Leather-crafting, including (100) shoe and sandal making
    100. Hand sewing
    101. Methane digester
    102. Producer gas generator
    103. Soap-making
    104. Flower arranging (fresh and dried)
    105. Newspapers
    106. Painting, jewelry making, natural cosmetics, perfume and incense making,
    107. Live theater, acting troupes, musical ensembles, opera, bands, orchestras
    108. Wells
    109. Chalkboards
    110. Bulletin board
    111. Chimney and stove pipe
    112. Nets and bags
    113. Baskets and basketmaking
    114. Cabinet and furniture making
    115. Railroads (steam, electric, or soybean oil)
    116. Small towns and communities
    117. Singing, song-writing, composing, musical notation
    118. Writing.
    119. Organic farming
    120. Natural fiber ropes and cords
    121. Oil presses/expellers
    122. Scarecrow
    123. Geodesic domes
    124. Calendars
    125. Mathematics
    126. Window screens
    127. Fishing poles and reels
    128. Bucket
    129. Pulley
    130. Hand crank pasta maker
    131. Steamer
    132. Juicer
    133. Mortar and pestle
    134. Sharpening stone
    135. Scissors
  2. cchapman84

    cchapman84 Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 2003
    This is an awesome list! I'm currently stuck on a tiny, L-shaped lot in town (probably for another year) and am planning on implementing some of the above now. If I were going to be here longer, I would tear up our entire lawn and just have gardens (including fruit trees and edible flowers), but resale value is what's going to get us some more land, so I need to keep that in mind. Luckily, our market hasn't been hit too badly, and property that's reasonably priced is still moving.

    But there's plenty of things on the list that don't require any permanent changes to the house, so that's what I'll be focusing on. Thanks!

  3. netandtim

    netandtim Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2007
    North Florida
    Thank you for this great list. I've got it printed out and we'll start checking things off as we go. Much the same as we did with the "100 things to go first in an emergency" list.

    For those who don't recognize the login (I'm sure no one does! ) I am a frequent (pretty much daily) lurker with only a couple of posts but I expect to change that over the next few weeks. DH and I currently live in the city, but have 12 acres (old homestead) out in the woods and are looking to move there within a couple of years.

  4. giddy

    giddy Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    Mama-if this is Robert Waldrop from Oklahoma City, he is the one who started the Oklahoma Food Coop. I'm a member of this group. There are several states that are wanting to adopt this for their states. Farmers and producers from all over the state can sell and deliver once a month. It's a great system!
  5. stranger

    stranger Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    If anyone thinks about filling that list, the first thing they should think about is putting a 30X30 two story addition on their house.. that list is for a wall streeter that has butlers and maids, there are at least 70 things on that list that are unnecessary to substain life and would never be needed by the average family if the SHTF, if things get real bad,people surly aren't going to be setting by a spinning wheel or making jeweley.
  6. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Giddy: Yes, that is from the Oklahoma Food Coop and Robert Waldrop. That is certainly a good model for other states to follow. Robert Waldrop is committed to feeding the poor.

    Stranger: If you read what I said, it's a good START. It's not meant to be a survivalist list. In other words, I didn't mess with the list removing things that were on it for it's original purpose. I think it's a place to look for things that would be helpful for folks beginning.

    I know we spent the years leading up to being able to buy some land acquiring tools and skills. We don't have all those things, but I say--good deal if Wall streeters want a clothesline and scrubber! You go guys!
  7. mommys2gr8kids

    mommys2gr8kids Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2008
  8. stranger

    stranger Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    I'm not trying to shoot the messanger but in my opinion, that list is for people that are bombed back to the stone age are going to reinvent the wheel or start the world over from the beginning. If people try to prep enough food,water,fuel ,cloths and the over the counter medicines for a couple years, the country should be getting back on its feet by then.. actually i'm saying that there are some pretty stupid people in the world and they would try to get everything on the list even if they didn't know what it was for.
  9. Jerngen

    Jerngen Perpetually curious! Supporter

    May 22, 2006
    North Central Michigan
    Good list, thank you :)
  10. ksfarmer

    ksfarmer Retired farmer-rancher

    Apr 27, 2007
    north-central Kansas
    I'm with stranger. Over half that list is not practical for each family. Maybe all those things could be useful in a small town, but, not each and everybody needs them.
  11. CowgirlGloria

    CowgirlGloria Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2008
    the edge of the forest
    Well, since the list is of sustainable technologies, and it includes things like public transportation and railroads, I think it is probably a reasonable thing to conclude that someone won't go out and try to acquire their own railroad! ;)

    It is a good list of sustainable technologies, however, and as such has some good things to learn about for wannabe homesteaders. And, there are a few skills in there that someone in town could begin with, such as learning to garden, collecting rain water, using a clothesline, sewing, soap-making, and the various old-time crafts listed. Cooking from scratch using some of those technologies would be a good first step for a lot of people.

    The list was clearly not intended as a homesteader or a survivalist list. If this were looked at from a survivalist point of view, for example, I question whether natural family planning would be a good idea - pregnancy and childbirth during a complete societal meltdown would not be my choice. But, to each her own.

    It is a good list of some things which are relatively sustainable and some things which are debatable (newspapers, for example).

    Interesting list anyway. Thanks for sharing!
  12. cindy-e

    cindy-e Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 14, 2008
    Thanks, that is helpful!

  13. Jerngen

    Jerngen Perpetually curious! Supporter

    May 22, 2006
    North Central Michigan
    Where are people getting that this is a list for survivalists?? It says homesteading. I imagine that the author feels most people reading this list will pick and choose from the it as they feel fit to do so. No where do I see that this is a "Must Have" list. Relax folks! :)
  14. stranger

    stranger Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    it certianly would be a great list for an antique collector
  15. InHisName

    InHisName Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 25, 2006
    NE WA
    Great list! It reminds me that if I do not have the skills or items on it- maybe I can make friends with someone else who does- we can trade off, or buy a good book on the issue. (like orchards, I have 2 great books, and STILL kill the trees- ugh! ) Also, if a local class is offering a skill class, perhaps I can take it and be better prepared. Took the Master Food Preserver class 23 ish years ago, what a help to our family that has been.
  16. Mo-Town

    Mo-Town Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    CA Central Valley
    I think the list is interesting. But as someone that's about two years away from moving out to the country and living more of a homesteading lifestyle, I understand where Stranger's coming from with his criticism. The list itself doesn't purport to be a checklist of topics someone should master in preparation for homesteading, but it was submitted in connection with a post concerning actions somebody could take while they were saving up the money needed to start a homestead.

    In any case, here's a (much shorter) list of things my wife and I are doing while we save the money to purchase our country property:

    1) Gardening - right now we have a small garden in the backyard (about 200 sq/ft) set up around the John Jeavons / french intensive gardening method. Next year, we'll add another 100 sq/ft and install a drip irrigation system. The idea is to start small and make incrimental improvements so that when we move out to the country we'll have the experience needed to handle a much larger garden and small fruit and nute tree orchard.

    2) Cooking/Canning/Freezing - we cook about 95% of our meals and take our lunches to work instead of buying lunch in town. We're learning how to freeze/can the extra vegetables from the garden, and we're keeping our eye on Craigslist for an inexpensive chest freezer.

    3) Keeping a well stocked pantry/freezer - we've learned where and when to get groceries at a significant discount. When we see a good price on something we know we'll use a lot of, we buy it in bulk and store it properly. When we see a great price on meat, we buy as much as our freezer will hold. Took a few months, but we've got an extremely well stocked pantry, and we've cut our grocery bill by close to 75% (even with the increased food prices).

    4) Practical home repair - when something breaks down around the house, I make a point of learning how to fix it. I'm slowly becoming a lot more "handy."

    5) Alternate Engergy / Alternate Construction Materials - rather than buying our "dream home" on 3-5 acres, our current plan is to buy a smaller home on a 3-5 acre lot and slowly build our "dream home." We'd like to use straw bale construction and incorporate solar electric as much as possible to make ourselves as energy independent as possible.

    I'd definitely be interested in hearing what other "homesteaders in training" are doing and would certainly appreciate any advice from experienced homesteaders on things to learn before you leave the city for the country. :cowboy:
  17. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    We started as you did, mo-town without the ability to garden. What I learned to preserve was from the farmers market.

    Since being on the farm, we have invested via "snowball savings" (which we talk about on the tightwad tips thread on the countryside families forum in pressure canning equipment. Each year we add something from our wish list as we are able. We have added things like: a hand crank pasta maker, a dehydrator, etc..If we did it all at once, it would not have made financial sense. And you can only learn so many things at the same time.

    By having a list of our own, we can let folks know what we are interested in --and usually someone is throwing out just what we wanted or wants to sell it for a very low price. Very few things on our list were bought full price. Most are gently used.

    Each year I have added more skills, I sew, can, garden, soap make, etc..These are things I couldn't do ten years ago when I first found the countryside forum--a precursor to this).

    On the list of things we hope to add are a chicken tractor. For now we are in the stage of scrounging things to make the chicken tractor. We have a coop for the chickens, but I'd like to experiment closer to (actually IN) the garden.

    Some of the things on that list I posted (copied from Waldrop--it isn't my personal one) were energy related. We would like to be less reliant on the energy grid, less hurt financially by rising energy costs. Some of the things we do are small, like line drying clothes, but we hope someday to have solar electricity or at least solar hot water.

    Now that's not everyone's idea of homesteading. That's ok. Many of the things on Waldrop's list have to do with homestead entertaining. Well, I don't sing, compose or play the pennywhistle.

    I think his point is about living a simple life--having the ability of entertaining yourself without having to buy $50 tickets to a concert or ball game or car race. Do you HAVE to live simply? No, certainly not. Sometimes we DO enjoy what are in our case a splurge.

    In my case, I'd like to see how close I could get to a zero input garden/animal raising by saving my seeds, growing organically without buying fertilizer or pesticides. Is it for everyone? Certainly not. But someone may find it interesting and useful. Could I really get to the point of being totally self suffient in growing my own food? Definately not. But that doesn't mean that I should reject the whole thing because it can't be perfect for me or anyone else.

    I've spent years adding tips to the tightwad tips thread knowing that they are not a FINITE list of things you MUST do. And often someone will say, that's ridiculous! But over these years, I have heard from many, many, many MORE folks who really needed those ideas, or really used them because they had no choice. My ideas often help others say, "That reminds me, here is something my grandma did...." and so on... That thread is almost always one of the most visited threads on any of these forums. Many months there are over 10,000 hits!

    My point is-- if this thread doesn't help you in any way and you don't have anything to suggest that is positive, you might look elsewhere for encouragement and let others who may want to take what they will from it to use it.
  18. jlxian

    jlxian Also known as Jean Supporter

    Feb 14, 2005
    As always, Mid Tn Mama, I love your posts. Thanks for the list --- I'm printing it off and will adapt it to my own situation.
  19. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Each year on our checklist we add perrennial edibles. The first year we put in asparagus, then each year we add a different fruit/berry/nut tree to the mix. This fall according to our plan it will be pecan trees. Now that I have these, I trade them for things I don't have. In other words, they are barter for me.

    Also each year we have added more vertical structures to our yard to use the space efficiently for edibles and for shade that helps us reduce the energy we must use to cool the house.

    while we paid for one structure this year, we now can copy what the man did and repeat it several other places around the house.

    I am trying to plan for the eventual removal of 1/2 the grass and replace with things that are edible.

    In my plan--something I haven't done yet, is to add edibles that are for wildlife. This is because I have read that birds actually PREFER berries, fruit that people don't usually eat. If these are offered, they stay away from YOUR berries and fruits. I'll be researching these this year and adding at least one this fall.

    Also in my plan, to be done yet: Erect purple martin houses. These birds eat mosquitos and other bugs in the garden.

    Again, because I have my plan, I know that if I'm at a yardsale and find a purple martin house--I get it!

    Also, on my plan are rocks and bricks to make cobblestone paths around and in my garden. When I go places, I look for these. Sometimes people have rocks left over from projects and just want them gone--so guess who gets them? I just got pavers from someone who used them at church to make a fake well and they needed it taken down.
  20. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2002
    For all those planning on a move soon to the country or building a city place into a mini-homestead should try to save money aside for a small orchard/berry planting. So easy to say "we'll get to it" but dearly remember my BIL telling us how the people who bought our house in MI got 5 bushels of grapes the year after we moved,arrrgh. So the first year we moved here we planted 20 apple/pear/peach trees and 5 grapevines and each year we add another variety. We get enough fruit after 20 years to provide for our whole family. We keep them well-mulched to cut down on mowing and rarely spray unless for spot problems. Deer are the biggest problem with a big fat one eyeing my Lodi yesterday! Means its time to pick...they always know!

    If you need large amts. of landscape mulch contact tree trimming companies who often have to pay to dump their cuttings....we got 5 mountains of mulch a couple of years ago...used most and one has composted to our secret blend of chocolately goodness that revives any ailing plant.

    Don't forget the value of trees in cooling your home in the summer and shielding it from cold winter blasts. We spent $200 having a 100' Chinese elm trimmed as it has started to split down the middle and it is now healthy specimen. Needed some major branches removed to reduce the weight. Plus we learned alot from the tree trimmer.

    When you move don't be in a rush to there awhile and really get a feel for how the house and property work together. If we had our big pole barn/garage wouldn't face north and would have been a better arrangement for pulling in trailers. The previous owners had burnt a number of small buildings which would have been handy to have now as all that was left was an ancient barn and a small chicken house. But everything was newly fenced and crossed-fenced which was a big savings.

    I think this is an interesting list--alot we do, some we've tried just for kicks, some we aren't vaguely interested in and a few not on the list like beekeeping anyone could do anywhere. We kept bees on a suburban lot for years before we move to the country. As usual, Mama has brought us something interesting to think on. I like to learn how to do new things,not necessarily to do them all the time but to have the knowledge.Another thing any homestead,city or country needs is a good home library. I'm always ill at ease when I go to houses where there aren't books. DEE