10 Homesteading Skills You Can Use Without the Homestead
Hello! How are you? I have been wanting to do a little round up post like this for a while now, not only because it digs into the archives of the Under A Tin Roof blog, but also because it seems about time to get in the mood for a little inspiration. It was around this time last year that I first even thought of trying to have our own garden. Looking back, I am not even sure what sparked that idea. I had been growing some herbs on my dresser for a handful of months, learning how to bake bread and cook better meals, knitting and weaving and creating things with my hands. I had just started diving into make bath teas and lip balms. It really seems like it has been a lot longer, but I have grown and learned so many new things in such a short span of time, and I just keep finding more room to store more information.
You see, whenever we have business meetings to talk about the future of our business, of our brand, it always comes down to this single mantra in the back of mind: anyone can do this. And that's not to be said in a negative way, it's something that I want you to try. You see, this all really comes down to food. I know, right? But the more I am learning about gardening, about living on an urban homestead, the more I realize that all of my life is wrapped up in the plants that I grow and sustain myself with. That is sustainability to me! And I never would have known that I had this deep rooted passion for growing food if I had never planted some herb seeds in clay pots on my windowsill. Plants are magic; we are connected to them in deep ways that I cannot even explain. When I see a new green shoot sprouting from the ground, I feel something bigger than myself,. Some would call that God, someone could say magic, and some would say it's an outer body experience that connects us to the earth. Whatever it is, or whatever you call it, I don't want to let that feeling go.
You can do this, too. Anyone can grow their own food and anyone can live a homesteading lifestyle even if you don't have a homestead! It really all starts with implementing one new habit into your daily life. If you are new around here, perusing our blog and website for the very first time, I am hoping to provide you with a resource for living a simpler, holistic, plant-filled, and wholesome life. You don't need a lot to be happy, and learning new skills to take better care of ourselves with less, in my opinion, is the best way to do that! Here are some ways that you can try sticking in homesteading skills into your everyday life without the pressure of having land.
Starting a Bulk Pantry
This has been one of our most popular blog posts this year! Starting a bulk pantry can be a little bit overwhelming. We've been working on ours for a lot longer than a day, which I feel when you see posts like this, can be discouraging. Bulk pantries do not happen overnight, and ours took several months before it looked like this! The benefits? Well, you don't run out of things as much. Our pantry is always fully stocked, and I quickly realize what I use the most of. It's also a great way to start creating less waste. Most grocery stores that sell bulk ingredients will let you bring in your own containers. That's such a bonus! So far the biggest benefit of having a constant supply of ingredients is that we cook a lot more. It's such a treat to walk inside and find exactly what you need without the hassle of a clean up. I enjoy it so much!
Baking Weekly Bread
This is one that I actually still find difficult to keep up with in my "weekly" schedule, but when I do bake a loaf or two for our week, it's just so much for satisfying! Honestly. We try really hard to stay away from processed, packaged bread. That may not be your style, but I think it's gross and mostly made of sugar, something I don't want. I started making bread in 2015 and never looked back! It's really not that difficult and doesn't take you all day. At most, you'll need about 4-5 hours at home to get your bread done, but most of the recipes I write here on the blog only require 3 hours of time at the most. That's pretty good for a delicious loaf of homemade bread! Here are some of my favorite recipes:
Growing Your Own Produce
You know that this is going to be my favorite! I started growing my own food for the first time early this spring, have had an amazing run, won an award for Best Edible Garden, and am now the path to becoming a Master Gardener. It's been SO fun! And even with all of those awesome things happening, I have some really exciting plans for the upcoming year to share with you soon. But why is growing your own produce important? I started writing about the truths I've learned about eating organically grown food, food that isn't processed at all, at the beginning of the year. If you're looking for a direct answer, I'd suggest reading my latest post about pesticides. Whether you like to eat organic produce from the store or not, there's still a fairly high chance that it was still sprayed. I am beginning to learn that the only way to get pesticide-free produce is by growing it yourself. And you don't have to have a lot of land to grow the things you eat everyday. I promise you, it will taste better and make you feel better. Here are some posts to help you get started
Making Herbal Remedies
There are so many amazing things at home you can create with dried herbs! From bath teas, lip balms, healing salves, bath bombs, and even just a simple herbal tea the options seem endless. You'll be so happy you tried making these, I tell ya! I am fascinated every time I set up a successful salve and am able to use it for something as common around our home as a scraped knee or cut finger tip. Herbs are powerful, and they can be used to heal! Try some of my favorite remedy recipes; if you're brand new to herbal remedies, definitely check out my herbal medicine research round up. It's a great place to start!
Preserving Your Food
So you're growing your own food, or maybe you enjoy picking some yummy things up at the farmer's market? A really great way to save money is to preserve your own food at home! It's really not that difficult. When you purchase things in bulk, you'll get a great discount and when you can find ways to keep that food for a long period of time, like over winter, then you've just saved yourself some time, money, and energy. For us, that looks like freezing most of our fresh fruit and even kale, spinach, and winter squash. We also started canning our garden this year, and it has been awesome! If you have the option to try canning, I highly suggest you do so. It will fill you with so much pride afterwards. Check out my preserving guide to get started! I am hoping to dive more into these topics in the next year.
Composting Your Waste
Compost! I am really into composting your own waste, and it's something that is seriously SO easy, I wonder why everyone doesn't do it. Not only is it a great way to help grow plants in your garden, but you are literally saving the environment by keeping your waste out a landfill. Why wouldn't you want that?! Compost is the by-product of decomposing waste and beneficial microbes. It's essentially bug poop! It is filled with amazing things that help your plants grow and can be used as a soil amendment to return your soil's composition and pH back to neutral. Pretty amazing. Check out my composting basics guide, or even try looking into these in-home systems if you live somewhere without space to host an outdoor pile!
Learning to Knit + Sew
These are great skills to learn if you are wanting to become more sustainable, or look less to retail shops to provide you with clothing and other things you find unnecessary. Learning to knit has helped me not only create items myself like socks and mittens, but it has also made me realize the value of quality handmade piece. Never again will I question a handmade shop that's using high quality wool! Sewing is another great skill to learn, even if it's just for patching up your clothing. Being able to repair your clothes is another great way to save money and get into the sustainable clothing movement. Throw-away clothing is just not worth it! Looking for some knitting patterns to try? Click HERE.
Cooking Your Own Meals
Along with growing your own food and composting, being able to cook your own meals is something that is high on my priority list for becoming a homesteader, even without the homestead. Cooking is so important; you use real ingredients, you control what goes inside, and you get to spend time with your family. If you live alone, well, it's just a great way to feed your body well and to hone in on a new craft. Have a little one around? Try getting them involved. Tad has been "cooking" with me since he could sit in one of those little supportive baby chairs on the counter, and he loves helping me measure things out. We have never been as happy or healthy as when we started cooking meal together as a family. Now we go out to eat and becoming disappointed. That seems crazy to me, but it's the truth! There's nothing better than cooking with your own vegetables. We have so many awesome recipes here on UATR!
Raising Small Livestock
This is one that not everyone can do, which is why it's towards the bottom of my list. Raising chickens doesn't require a lot of space, but it might just not be possible in your neighborhood. Look into your city's ordinances to see if raising a small flock of chickens is possible for your family! If it is, then you are in luck. Chickens have changed our lives for the better, and we absolutely adore our flock. They're such an interesting animal, and they even provide you with breakfast. That's a kind pet, right there! They've taught Tad lessons about gratitude and empathy, which is something I am not sure he would have picked up on so quickly if these girls weren't in our lives. You can read all about our chickens HERE. You only need two to begin! We're also starting a new adventure... beekeeping! Keeping bees is something you can literally do anywhere!
This is something that we actually don't practice as often as I would like and one we are looking into trying for the year ahead. Conserving energy is really important on a homestead. Though homesteading can appear to help save money, all of the costs to keep the show running can be expensive. An option we're looking into for saving some energy is by installing a drip system for our garden and saving rain water. We have been watering by hand or with an overhead sprinkler for the past year, and it probably wasn't the best option for our plants, even though they did pretty decent. Something else we've thought of is solar panels, but that might be in the distant future! What are some ways you conserve energy in your home?
Do you consider yourself a homesteader? Do you live on some land or in the city? I'd love to hear about your experience! Slowing down and living life a little more simply has made such a positive impact on our family dynamic, and though farming isn't the solution for everyone, becoming a little more sustainable in our everyday lives is an option that I think we all could benefit from. I was lying on the living room floor the other day and had to pose the question to my family, "What would life be like if we all grew a majority of the produce we eat in our backyards, the price of produce went down, and families that were in need of that food could afford to purchase it?" Wouldn't that be amazing? There is power in doing things yourself! I know it wouldn't be as easy as that, but the idea is something to ponder over. How can you become more sustainable?