95 Skills for the Urban Homesteader



If only we had room for piggies …(image source)

Over the past few years, I have fallen in love with a number of homesteader blogs where people from all over the world share their stories of living off the land, whether as urban backyard farmers maximizing their city spaces or as good old fashioned homesteaders enjoying (and working their bums off in) some acreage in the country. As one on the backyard side of things who occasionally has those grass-is-greener moments thinking wistfully about homesteading a la Ashley English‘s clan in North Carolina (yet not having a clue how we’d get by without a cafe within walking distance nor being able to imagine saying goodbye to the gorgeous diversity of our neighborhood), there are many things I’m realizing I can still do and learn right here in the city. The Tattooed Homesteader did a great post about the 165 homesteading skills she and her husband would like to gain, highlighting what they’ve learned so far – a bucket list of sorts.

I went through the list and there were a bunch of cool things that on our city lot of 0.10 acre (50×100′) however aren’t exactly realistic,  so I removed those and put together a modified version for the Urban Homesteader and answer the questions myself with a “√”. For those diggin’ this kind of thing (or wanting to…?), I’d love to hear what’s on your bucket list or a recent thing you’ve learned that’s made your life more sustainable!

95 Homesteading Skills for the Urban Homesteader

  1. Bake bread from scratch
  2. Cook a whole chicken in a cast iron skillet
  3. Cook beans from scratch
  4. Make a Quilt √  (well, I did all the knot-ties and then paid a seamstress to sew up the borders since I don’t know how to use a sewing machine)
  5. Crochet a blanket
  6. Crochet a beanie/hat
  7. Darn a sock
  8. Mend a rip in a shirt
  9. Build a beehive & keep bees
  10. Catch a swarm
  11. De-bone a chicken
  12. Dehydrate Foods
  13. Dehydrate Herbs
  14. Use scrap wood to build a structure
  15. Harvest Honey our hive started a bit late so we’ve decided to wait til next year to harvest honey and leave the existing comb for the bees to have over winter – their health first, our honey second!
  16. Knit a scarf
  17. Make a beeswax candle
  18. Build & use a compost Bin
  19. Compost meat with black soldier flies
  20. Make broth in a crockpot
  21. Make Marmalade / Jam / Jelly / Preserves
  22. Cure & store garlic
  23. Roast a pumpkin for freezing
  24. Make english muffins
  25. Make soap in a crockpot
  26. Make sourdough bread and maintain a starter we have tried, unsuccessfully, twice to make our own starter…any tips out there?
  27. Make your own laundry soap
  28. Use a sun oven
  29. Raise & milk a goat
  30. Render lard or tallow
  31. Give birth at home let’s hope this 5th round of DEIVF works…
  32. Preserve using a pressure cooker
  33. Learn to make the perfect pie crust 
  34. Use cloth diapers on our baby tbd…
  35. Learn basic First-Aid and CPR
  36. Learn home canning
  37. Set up a pantry
  38. Learn basic metalworking skills
  39. Learn basic plumbing maintenance skills
  40. Learn how to use a sewing machine
  41. Build an Earthquake Preparedness Kit I have a shopping list for this to keep, that’s it so far. However we did purchase earthquake insurance in 2016 since it’s cheaper than getting the house reinforced and heh, if the big Cascadia one hits we decided we’d rather rebuild than repair!
  42. Make homemade cough remedies
  43. Barter and trade
  44. Brood day-old chicks
  45. Build a greenhouse nursery I built a cold frame from windows but want a real one!
  46. Build a small fence
  47. Host a yard sale
  48. Roast a whole pig
  49. Butcher a chicken
  50. Change a tire
  51. Cook over an open fire
  52. Dye yarn or clothes from plants
  53. Forage locally for wild edibles
  54. Give an injection  Being a multiple IVFer, this is my husband’s job.
  55. Grind wheat into flour for baking
  56. Split and stack firewood
  57. Pay off credit cards and student loans
  58. Pay off mortgage
  59. Make butter
  60. Make cheese I tried unsuccessfully a few years ago not realizing I was using ultra-pasteurized goat’s milk. Pretty funny watching NOTHING happen after 10 hours on the stove (not).
  61. Make herbal extracts, infusions, poultices, and tinctures
  62. Brew cider
  63. Brew beer
  64. Grow hops
  65. Make beeswax & herb salves
  66. Make lotions
  67. Make sausage
  68. Make deodorant
  69. Make bacon and other cured meats Husband has charcuterie class on his Xmas list 🙂
  70. Make vinegar
  71. Plan and grow a vegetable garden
  72. Plan and grow a kitchen herb garden
  73. Properly handle and shoot a gun
  74. Prune and graft a fruit tree
  75. Save seeds
  76. Know crop planting times, season length, and when to harvest
  77. Season a cast iron skillet
  78. Sharpen a knife
  79. Sharpen a saw, mower blade, & other tools
  80. Build and use an outdoor clothesline for laundry 
  81. Propagate plants from cuttings
  82. Build a coop with nesting box and feeder
  83. Keep chickens or ducks for eggs
  84. Set up & use rain barrels
  85. Set up a gray water management system
  86. Store root vegetables (successfully) through an entire winter
  87. Home-school our children obviously this is a future goal
  88. Grow mushrooms
  89. Install solar panels on the house to get off the grid
  90. Build a smoker (DIY)
  91. Use lacto-fermentation to preserve foods
  92. Weave baskets
  93. Make organic pesticide
  94. Catch, prepare and cook that caught fish
  95. Build a Solar Dehydrator I put herbs on a cookie sheet on the back shelf of our hatchback Ford Focus, but I can’t really do this for everything 🙂


  One thought on “95 Skills for the Urban Homesteader

  1. August 23, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Fantastic! I’d like to do ALL these things!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. August 23, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Oh my word. I have these aspirations but feel totally overwhelmed by this list! Where to start…???

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      I know, right?! You should see her original list of 165! My goal in 2017 is to overcome my fear of sewing, but I’m not convinced it’ll happen. I’d rather learn plumbing!


  3. jonsie13
    August 23, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I feel so inadequate. Hahahaha! Great list! I will happily shoot for 1/4 of this list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 23, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      I know what you mean!! Gives us lots of brainstorming ideas though right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • jonsie13
        August 23, 2016 at 5:03 pm

        For sure! I definitely want to learn to sew, and do more canning.


  4. August 24, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Interestingly one thing I have done from here is bake sourdough bread and maintain a starter for it thanks to lessons from a baker friend. How she got me to do the starter was mix 1 cup of wheat flour with 1/2 cup if water, keep it in a large glass bowl and cover with cling foil. The principle is to catch yeast from the environment and lock it in with the foil. In a day’s time (it was quite warm here) the mix had turned sluggish and had formed air bubbles. This means the yeast is active and now you need to nurture it. When I opened the cling foil it stank to high heavens, but hold your nose and throw HALF the mixture away. Then add one more cup of wheat flour and 1/2 more cup of water and mix well. Cover it again and keep. Keep throwing away half and adding more flour and water every 12 hours for 10 days. It’s a criminal waste, but that’s the only way to do it. After 10 days your starter is ready to support baking. You can keep it in the fridge and refresh it with fresh flour every 3-4 days. New flour is needed to feed the yeast, if you don’t refresh it’ll die off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 24, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Thanks! Will try with the foil! I think my husband was doing it in a jar but not monitoring it very well so I will try your way (myself!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. August 24, 2016 at 7:08 am

    There’s more to storing garlic than just sticking it in the pantry???


    • August 24, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Ha yeah I think the original author meant curing and storing it after harvest so it doesn’t grow garlic babies before its time 🙂


  6. August 27, 2016 at 7:32 am

    That is an interesting list. Any thing that has to do with chemical free cleaning/personal care, we’ve done using our Young living oils/products. We’ve been talked not about a garden for 3 years now and still haven’t managed it but there’s also a lot of stuff on this list I have no desire to do….but then again, I’ve always known I do better in a town/city, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 27, 2016 at 7:39 am

      FYI, we are city folk…we are in Portland…this list is for those in the city 🙂

      We only use vinegar and baking soda for most household cleaning, with a bit of Dr Bronners here and there. I did a series of posts inventorying our eco life called Tuesday Get an Eco Peek if you want to check those out (under the Mi Casa category) for other home and garden inspiration in the city 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. September 4, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Am currently pondering a move back to the country to get back to a quieter way of life. Jam making, veggie patches, home-made yoghurt and long walks. Perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 4, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I see you’re from Melbourne, which is where my husband is from (St Kilda)…we were just talking about the delicious food at Monk Bodhi Dharma and Fitzrovia tonight…mmm!


  8. October 6, 2016 at 8:23 am

    I have tried to maintain a starter as well. I specifically wanted a mild starter that I could use to make lots of different recipes. I used an extremely useful book called “The Art of Natural Bread Making.” However, I have only been successful using someone else’s starter and then nurturing it; I would try that first. There are lots of places that give dehydrated starters for free. The book gives several of those locations.


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