100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 45 – How to Dry Herbs

Drying herbs is an art that is often needed on the homestead. Not just to preserve the harvest for future use but also to preserve them as a useful bartering tool, for gifting to family or friends, or as a valuable income producing item.

There are many ways to dry and preserve herbs. The way shown in the picture here, bunching and drying upside down from the kitchen rafters, is the method most people think of. Yet, it is not the only way to do it. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 44 – How to Make Cleaning Supplies

vinegar-768948Many household cleaners contain toxic chemicals. Some of those have been linked to asthma, cancer, and neurotoxicity.

This isn’t healthy for yourself, your children, or your pets. How can you tell which ones are safe and which aren’t? Very few actually tell you on the label if they are unsafe for pets or if they are known to cause cancer and even when they do, the warnings are so small that it is difficult to take notice.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 42 – How to Use Herbs as Medicine

herbs-2523119When homesteading, you are often very remote. This makes access to conventional Western medicine and doctors very difficult.

Some of us don’t mind that at all and prefer to treat with herbal remedies before resorting to conventional treatments. Some of us use herbal medicine out of necessity. Regardless of your reasons, knowing which herbs can help and which might hurt in certain situations is very helpful, if not a necessity on the remote homestead.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 41 – How to Wash Clothes Without a Machine

laundry-963150Being a homesteader is dirty work and when you live off grid it becomes increasingly more difficult to launder your clothing. Dirt, mud, and compost goes EVERYWHERE!

Many choose to take their clothing to town and get it done at a laundry mat but there are many other methods for washing your laundry at home, even if you don’t have a washing machine.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 40 – How to Grow Herbs


Herbs are a very valuable crop on the homestead. Whether you are growing culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, or a cash crop, herbs are just handy to have around.

We grow herbs for medicine, both for ourselves and our animals. We also grow culinary herbs. However, we often find that we have so much abundance, that we simply can’t use all the herbs we have grown. In that case, we either barter or sell our excess herbs.

You will have to determine for yourself what herbs you need most in your household. Like most things on this site, we recommend starting small and working up from there.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 39 – How to Plant a Tree

apple-tree-nature-branch-blossom-plant-666692-pxhere.comI’m told that there is a Chinese Proverb that goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” I believe whoever came up with that had it right. Mature trees have a lot going for them but you can’t get mature trees without someone planting them. That’s why it should be one of the first things you do on your homestead.

The years will roll by faster than you realize and before you know it, you could be harvesting fruit from the trees you should have planted when you first moved in. Make sure that fruit and nut trees are in your plan before you ever look at a property. If you have property now, start thinking about what you will be planting this season.

In 3-5 years your trees will be throwing so much fruit and nuts at you that you will barely be able to keep up. In 10 years, you will be actually giving it away or feeding it to your animals just to keep up with production because you’ve already canned, frozen, and dried more than your family will eat. Continue reading

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 38 – How to Keep Pipes from Freezing

icicle-1954827When you live off-grid you are often your own carpenter, electrician, and plumber. Especially in the cold winter in the middle of the night.

There are very few professionals that will send someone out to you when you need them most. It is best to get some very excellent books on these topics or take a few basic courses to be well-prepared.

One thing few folks think about when they have lived in the city or have never owned their own property before is winterizing their pipes, including their well, to prevent freezing. Especially if they have never lived in a cold region before.

Frozen pipes are a big problem in and of themselves because they require repair but they can also burst. This can cause flooding and damage to your property.

There are a few things you can do to prevent this inside the house. The easiest of these is to keep the temperature in the house above 50 degrees. Leave the faucets on to drip just slightly, this includes your exterior faucets and the faucets at your wells and pumps (remember to turn them off in the morning or put timers on them so that they turn on and off an hour before sunset and after sunrise). Seal up holes or cracks near pipes with caulk. Keep interior doors open to allow heat to flow throughout the house. Wrap accessible pipes with foam sleeves to keep them insulated.

It is important to winterize your well and pump too, especially if you live in an area where the weather routinely drops below freezing.  Covering your
pipes with foam insulating sleeves will help prevent freezing. In my area, wells and pumps are generally not housed in a well-house but in colder regions, not doing so is asking for trouble. Well-houses provide protection from the elements and heating elements can be added with thermostats attached so that they can switch on in the case of freezing temperatures.

Have you ever had a frozen pipe? What happened and how did you deal with it? Share your experience with your fellow readers.

100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 37 – How to Reuse Citrus Peels

citrus peelsHere on our homestead, we try to reuse everything. The problem is, we love citrus and we can’t feed that to our chickens, our pigs won’t touch them, and they don’t compost well. While I do cook with citrus rind and occasionally have call to use it in teas I don’t have that many uses for it.

So it used to sit in large bags in our freezer until someone is coming for a visit. At which point, I would stuff some down the garbage disposal to make the house smell nice. That was all well and good except that folks don’t come out to the boonies for a visit that often. I started looking up other ways to use those darn peels.

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100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 36 – Make Your Own Soap

food-cheese-fudge-soap-hand-made-parmigiano-reggiano-588469-pxhere.comI won’t lye (pun intended) this one probably won’t save you money, but it will be fun, it makes nice gifts, and it is a good use for excess milk.

One of the things we always have a lot of on the homestead is goat milk. Sure we drink it, feed it to the chickens and the pigs, make cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. Still, we have a LOT of goat milk.

That’s where soap comes in. We make the extra milk into soap for ourselves, our friends, our family, and to barter with. Our favorite one to make is coffee soap. It gets rid of nasty odors like barnyard and fish guts. Plus it uses up another extra thing we have a lot of, coffee grounds.

That’s the recipe we’re going to share with you today.  Continue reading