100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 56 – Foraging for Wild Edibles

nature-plant-fruit-berry-sweet-flower-566085-pxhere.comAs a family, we enjoy collecting wild grapes, fennel, blackberries, dandelion, chicory, chickweed, miner’s lettuce, mushrooms, elderberries, and more to augment our own supply of fresh and preserved foods. Foraged foods are free, and they are fun to collect.

We usually spend a day doing it, take a packed breakfast, snacks, and a picnic lunch. Bringing swimming clothes in the summer is also a good choice because you never know when you might come across a nice, cool body of water to wade in.

You don’t have to live on a farm to enjoy foraging. You can do it now, wherever you live. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 54 – How to Freeze Vegetables, Meat, and Milk Products

Putting up food for the freezer is just as important as drying, smoking, curing, and canning. Its also one of the simplist ways to preserve it.

However, freezer mistakes can happen and there are some ways that are better than others to freeze food. Don’t let your hard work become food for your chickens and pigs.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 53 – How to Freeze Herbs

We’ve already talked about preserving herbs by drying them. Its an excellent method. However, sometimes you just want the fresh herb flavor, especially in a pesto or something calling for fresh garlic.

In the middle of the winter, my body sometimes calls out for fresh green herbs that just aren’t available in my garden. However, I wouldn’t dare purchase them in the grocery store knowing that they had to have travelled a very long way to get there. Remember, we’re trying to lower our footprint on the environment in our household?

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 52 – How to Can Food and Make Jams or Jellies

Preserving food is at the heart of homesteading. There are many ways to preserve food but canning is one that many of us think of when we think of putting food up.

Jams and jellies are among one of the easiest to do for beginners. They do not require a pressure canner, only a water bath and the possiblities for recipes are as endless as the canners who have made them.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 51 – How to Make a Mosquito Trap

Mosquitos are a nuisance but they are more than that, they are a common cause of disease. If they are a major pest in your area, you will look for many ways to mitigate the problem.

Planting mosquito repelling plants and keeping standing water sources away from your home can only do so much if you live in an area plaqued by this blood-thirsty insect.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 50 – How to Make Laundry Detergent

Homesteaders learn to make a lot of their own things. Not always due to a calling for sustainability, though that is definitely a major reason for most, sometimes out of necessity.

We started making our own laundry detergent, shampoo, dish soap, house cleaners, and other household products out of a need for frugality. We lived nearly an hour away from any major stores in the mountains and a trip to town cost us $25 in gas, round trip.

Self-sustainable took on a whole new meaning for us when we moved to our homestead. Looking for affordable home-made options with ingredients we could purchase in bulk made all the difference.

We began to look for other ways to make our own laundry soap, shampoo, conditioner, dishwashing liquid, and body soap. It didn’t just have to be adequate it had to be excellent to stand up to the level of stains and messes homesteading had to offer.

Until WWI all laundry was washed using soap but soap is made using fats or oils and there was a shortage of these during the war. This is when detergents emerged.

In our home, we chose to use soap, rather than detergent, in our recipes because we are on a septic tank and also close to a waterway. Detergents are generally known to be toxic to wildlife and fish. We figure this extends to livestock. A big issue for homesteaders.

All laundry “detergent” as we call all laundry cleaning agents these days, whether they actually contain detergent or soap, must also have an alkali to soften hard water. Washing soda works well for this.

Most commercial detergents also contain brighteners, sodium percarbonate is a good off-grid natural alternative to the chemical options.


  • 2 parts Washing Soda (this is not baking soda)
  • 2 parts Borax (optional, double Washing Soda if you don’t use this)
  • 2 parts grated bar of soap, 3-4 ounces each bar (we use Castile soap or homemade goat milk soap)
  • 1 part Sodium Percarbonate

As far as getting your laundry white goes, most whitening products on the market are optical brighteners. They don’t actually whiten your clothing but coat it with a substance that makes the clothing appear more white. On the homestead, we avoid white clothing in general but there are always a few items that must be washed separately in a “whites” load.

For this, we soak the items in a hydrogen-peroxide and hot water-filled tub. Lemon juice and water or Sodium Percarbonate work too. Then, use warm water and put the clothes in for an extra-long cycle and line dry them in full sun.

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 48 – How to Make Mosquito Repellent

Mosquitos are more than a nuisance they are a constant threat on the homestead. They can carry serious disease and many people are very reactive to them.

The science behind who they chose as victims and why is complicated. Some species are drawn to bacteria and sweat, others to hand odors and carbon dioxide.

While it is agreed in the medical community that DEET is effective at keeping them at bay it is also agreed that it is harmful to your health and environment. Many choose to turn to alternative, natural methods instead. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 47 – How to Quilt

One of my earliest memories is of snuggling into my mother’s handmade quilt. It was a giant Texas Star made in muted earthy tones and it smelled just like her, warm sunshine and good dark earth.

We were homesteaders then, living in a little farm house in Oklahoma and I wanted nothing more than to be just like her when I grew up. To have a little farm with a huge garden, lots of land, a good nanny goat, and lots of warm, snuggly, handmade quilts.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 46 – How to Knit or Crochet

One of my favorite items was a heavy, warm crocheted wool sweater made by my grandmother. It was tough, warm, and outlasted me, eventually needing to be handed down to younger siblings, sigh! There will never be another like it.

Why do we say that knitting or crocheting is a useful homesteading skill? Does it really save you money, make money, or help out on the homestead?

That depends on who you talk to and how you do it.

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