100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 25 – Basic Mechanic Skills

car-truck-vehicle-motor-vehicle-vintage-car-ford-1057728-pxhere.comA few weeks ago, I wrote about knowing how to change a tire and change your oil but that isn’t all the mechanical knowledge you might need on a homestead. It really helps if you also have a basic understanding of how an engine works.

You could just call up a mechanic or get a tow truck to haul your vehicle, truck, tractor, etc. down to the shop. If you know how to do some basic repairs, you won’t have to spend the money on the mechanic or the tow truck and you’ll save yourself the downtime too.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 24 – How to Handle, Shoot, Clean, and Store a Gun

wood-oar-brown-weapon-logs-weapons-592186-pxhere.com If you are going to be living in the country, there are going to be predators and varmints. Occasionally, you may even have trespassers. Knowing how to safely handle, shoot, clean and store a gun is a necessity.

Some states, like CA, have online gun safety courses available. Here, you take your certificate to a gun shop, take a short quiz, present your ID and a small fee and they issue you a card which allows you to make purchases of long guns like shotguns or rifles, provided you pass a background check. Purchasing handguns is a different process. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 23 – Make Candles

light-glowing-group-night-dark-celebration-1002115-pxhere.comCandles are easy to make. They can save you money and you can make use of old, odd bits of candles that you would have otherwise thrown away. They also make great gifts for your family and friends.

One of my favorite things to do is pick up candles from thrift stores and yard sales for very little money and refashion them into something more attractive. Just make sure you don’t mind the smell of the candle you buy because that can rarely be masked.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 22 – Make Fire Starters

flame-fire-campfire-bonfire-brand-hearth-1001091-pxhere.comWhen it’s cold and you want a fire to warm your home, nothing works better than fatwood or a firestarter. Fatwood isn’t always easy to come by and buying it isn’t an inexpensive option.

We make our firestarters with leftover ends of candles, paper scraps, wood chips, pine cones, and even dried orange peels. A lot of folks use dryer lint as the combustible material but we live on a farm, so dryer lint is full of animal hair which smells horrible when burned. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 21 – Start a Fire Without a Match

Wooden_tinderbox_with_fire_steel_and_flintWhen you live in the boonies, convenience stores don’t exist. Sometimes the power or heat goes out when you least expect it and there you are, needing to start a fire but you can’t because your teenager thought it would be fun to use the last of the lighter fluid lighting cow patties on fire on the back 40 last week.  Its an hour to town and dinner needs to be cooked.

You could bundle everyone up and go eat in town, which would cost a fortune, or you could put a pot of soup on the wood stove and start a fire the old-fashioned way. We’d prefer to do the later and not reward the teen’s behavior.

There are many ways to start a fire without a match. I will list 3 of them in order of least to most difficult.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 20 – Know How to Stay Warm in a Sleeping Bag

71iys-1d5CL._SX480_I know what you’re going to say, “staying warm in a sleeping bag is easy, you get in, you zip it up, you get warm.” Not so. Not all sleeping bags are equal. Some are rated for very cold weather, many are not.

Even those that are rated for cold weather are often not as warm as they should be when you need them to be but there are hacks. I’ll share some of my favorites with you. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 19 – How to Compost

dish-meal-food-meat-barbecue-cuisine-775929-pxhere.comCompost is a valuable resource on the homestead. Most soil is lacking in something, compost can make up for that. As a homesteader, you will eventually have more than you can handle in the form of manure. Manure is rich in nitrogen, which in the composting world makes it a “green” and not a brown (even though common sense would have you thinking otherwise).

The brown matter will be harder to acquire, at least it is for us. We live in the mountains and our goats, donkeys, and other animals eat most of our fallen leaves before we can get them into the compost pile.

The making of compost comes down to just a few components:

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 18 – Build a Compost Bin

Full BinsCompost is not a dirty word. It is an essential building block on a homestead and if you have any vegetable matter or brown matter, you will want to make use of it to build the soil for your garden. All gardens and all animals create waste.

Even families who don’t garden or raise animals, create waste. Vegetable scraps, egg shells, leaves, grass clippings, all of this can be put in the compost pile if you don’t use them somehow as feed for an animal on your farm. Don’t forget to put those coffee grounds to work too (we usually save ours for an exfoliating coffee scented goat’s milk soap, another post for another time, but they are great in the compost bin too).

But there are tons of other places you can get compost materials from.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 17 – Haggling

hand-man-people-leg-finger-money-661535-pxhere.com.jpgHaggling, like bartering, is almost a lost art in the United States. In many countries, haggling is the norm but in the US it is often considered rude. Less so in non-traditional markets like yard sales, farmers markets, and swap meets but even in these venues you will find people very put off if you haggle with them.

That is if you haggle with them the wrong way. Haggling can be fun and playful it can also save you money.

You just need to know how to judge the person you are haggling with. Some people will not come off their prices even a little bit and will feel very offended if you haggle with them. Some are happy to deal with you and feel relieved to let go of their items, even at lower prices, so that they can make some money and get on to their next gig.

If you aren’t a great judge of character, that’s okay, you can still haggle just follow these tips.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 16 – Fish, Clean, and Cook Fish

sea-dish-meal-food-mediterranean-produce-595967-pxhere.comIf you don’t eat fish this article might not appeal to you but if you do, or if you raise chickens, ducks, or pigs, it still might. Fish is a cheap and easy source of protein for a homesteader. It can also serve as a fun family outing, providing some much-needed time to get-away from the farm.

Even if you don’t eat fish, your chickens, ducks, and pigs will enjoy what you bring home, providing you with an inexpensive form of protein. If you are fishing for this purpose, I recommend fishing for whatever fish your state has deemed invasive and has set no limit on. In California most fish have limits but panfish like Bluegill generally have very high limits or no limits in most areas. We bring home even the smallest of these and don’t bother gutting them as we give them whole to our birds. Continue reading