The daily tasks are endless from pulling weeds in the garden to shoveling snow off the roof of the barns and house to turning over your compost heap. Some you do without thinking about. Many are daily chores that require little skill, but they have to be done to stay ahead of the game.
Other tasks require skill, tools, and a working knowledge of the equipment you are using. If the tractor breaks down, or if the wind turbine stops producing electricity or the water pump is no longer pumping, you have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
Then there are the jobs that have to be done, no matter what happens and yet they somehow seem irrelevant when it comes to planning for your homestead. People look at the big picture, which they should do of course, but the devil is always in the details and the smaller the detail the more likely it’s overlooked in the planning stages.
Everyone that lives on the homestead should have a working knowledge of everything that goes on. If only one person can cook or sew who picks up the slack if that person falls ill or otherwise cannot perform the needed jobs for a few days.
If you are the only one who can milk the cow or goat, and you fall ill, who will do it. Tasks on the homestead are not gender specific and many are not age specific. There are of course certain tasks that children and teenagers or others with physical impairments cannot or should not do, but for the most part everyone should be crossed trained in various skill sets.
The following obviously, are not the only skills or knowledge needed, but you have to start somewhere, so let’s start with the things that some may tend to overlook at the onset. Some things you can learn as you go, and then there are those things that you need to know how to do before anything else can get done.
1.) Everyone Should Know How to Cook
Some adults today simply do not know how to cook. One reason is they never had a reason to learn. As children, mom or dad did all the cooking, and as they transitioned to adulthood it was easier to eat out at restaurants, or order food to be delivered, or buy foods that simply went into the oven or microwave. There is less and less reason for people to learn how to cook.
On the homestead you would be expected to take a live chicken and by dinner time have it cooked and ready for eating. Can you do it now, and can you learn how.
The fish were biting and so now you have a string of trout. Do you know how to clean trout and prepare them for the table? There is much more to cooking than simply dumping a jar of sauce in the kettle and turning up the burner.
You need to know how to work with raw ingredients, fresh meats, vegetables, fresh milled flour, and corn meal, for example. Raw peas and string beans fresh from the garden have to be cooked, and not just simply heated up in the micro or in a pan. They have to be prepared.
A quality sewing machine will save you money providing you have the skills to use the machine. Hand sewing and knitting is also a must have skill for the homesteader. Children male and female alike, to adults should know the basics, and then gain advanced skills so clothing can be made. At the very least everyone would need to know how to reattach buttons and repair rips.
Sewing requires skill and the right tools. A sewing kit that you would buy at the checkout stand is not sufficient. You would need clothing patterns, special shears, such as pinking shears used to stop fraying, pins, needles and various threads.
Saddles and harnesses will need repairing at times, as well, so you would need to know how to work the leather and have the needles and thread needed, because you cannot afford to throw anything away and buy new.
If you cannot preserve foods all is lost, because gardens do not produce in the colder months and yet everyone has to eat every day. If you bring down a large elk, moose, or deer, for example, the meat has to be preserved, because you cannot eat it all at one meal. You need to know how to smoke, can, and dry meats and fish to preserve them. Surplus produce will have to be canned or pickled so you can eat well over the winter months and the food can be sold or used for bartering.
If you raise hogs some of your kitchen scraps may go to feeding them, but some should also be composted so you can make your own fertilizer. Learn how to compost and what you can and cannot do with kitchen scraps.
Some people do not believe in feeding hogs table scraps, and if you raise pork to sell there are laws governing how they are fed. If raising hogs for your own consumption keep in mind what you feed your hogs will have an effect on the quality of the meat. Diseases can be spread to hogs from some foods. Pigs and humans do share some of the same susceptibilities when it comes to viruses and certain other diseases.
5.) Everyone Needs To Know How to Drive the Tractor
Not everyone will have or even need a tractor, but if you have one everyone needs to know how to operate it. Many jobs on the homestead will take more than one person from getting your pickup out of the bog to snaking logs from the hillside to the cutting area. Someone will need to operate the tractor while you watch the load, hook, and unhook chains, harnesses, cables and so on. You cannot be the only one that knows how to operate it.