Pioneering Skills for Everyone: Modern Homesteading
Greg Pryor is a Professor of Biology at Francis Marion University. He earned baccalaureate degrees in Biology and Art at the State University of New York at Oswego and master’s and doctorate degrees in Zoology at the University of Florida. He later taught at the University of Florida and received the Teacher of the Year Award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Greg specializes in zoology and microbiology. His publications include peer-reviewed research articles, textbook contributions, and newspaper and magazine articles, and he is a coauthor of the second edition of Microbiology: A Clinical Approach. He also writes a monthly newspaper column and maintains a popular YouTube channel that has more than 5 million views.
01: What Is Modern Homesteading?
Explore the many ways modern homesteading can bring some of the spirit and benefits of traditional homesteading into your life. Once you identify your own goals and skills—both the skills you bring and the ones you want to learn—you’re ready to get started. Even with a tiny garden, you can begin your own version of modern homesteading.
02: Keeping Bees and Harvesting Honey
There are many benefits of apiculture, but you’ll have a bit to learn if you want to stay safe. Discover your options for building or buying the hive itself, how to recognize bees in various stages of development, and see the best way to harvest the honey. With just a few hives, you’ll have plenty of honey for yourself, family, and friends, and your garden will be pollinated.
03: Raising Goats on Your Homestead
Goats are relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain as livestock. But you’ll need to build your goat shelter before the animals arrive! With step-by-step directions, you’ll learn how to shelter, feed, and breed your goats to develop a healthy herd that’s the appropriate size for your homestead.
04: Milking Goats and Making Cheese
Examine the nutritional relationship between nannies and their kids, and learn the “when, why, and how” of milking goats. Discover how to make paneer, chevre, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese, fresh from the milk of your own livestock.
05: Processing and Butchering Goats for Meat
If you do keep goats and want to use some for meat, you’ll need to know the most humane and the safest ways to kill and butcher the animals. Following this detailed visual guide, you could produce about many pounds of meat from each goat, including loins, roasts, stew meat, and burgers.
06: Raising Chickens on Your Homestead
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to choose the variety of chickens that best meet your specific needs. With detailed guidance, you’ll discover how to build the appropriate housing for chicks and older chickens, as well as nest boxes and perches. And should you decide to eat your chickens, this lesson will also teach you how to kill and butcher them.
07: Fencing for Livestock and Gardens
Inadequate fencing can cause the loss of plants and animals and make it impossible to regulate the growth of your livestock herd. With step-by-step guidance, you’ll discover how to build the most effective fencing to keep female goats, male goats, and chickens in (and separate from each other), and deer and rabbits out.
08: Grapevines and Small Vineyards
Learn how to start from the ground up to grow grapevines that produce a maximum yield of large sugary fruit. With these easy-to-learn planting, trellising, pruning, and harvesting techniques, each of your homestead grapevines could produce 100 pounds of fruit per year, possibly for decades.
09: How to Make Homemade Wine
If you do plant a vineyard on your homestead, you can easily make your own basic wine following these step-by-step instructions. You can also take your process to the next level to create a consistent, high-quality wine by using a hydrometer and understanding specific gravity. With those tools, you can develop just the taste you’re looking for.
10: Fundamentals of Gardening and Soil
Compare the pros and cons of various types of gardening—tillage, mulch, container, and raised bed—to determine which is best for your homestead. You’ll also learn about the five main components of soil, how to determine which macro- and micronutrients your plants need, and how to supply those with the appropriate fertilizer.
11: Vegetable Gardening Made Easy
Homegrown tomatoes are as delicious as they come. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to plant, physically support, and protect your tomato plants throughout their life cycle. And while cultivating other vegetables can be a bit more involved, with this step-by-step guide, you should be able to enjoy eating many different vegetables straight from the homestead garden.
12: Greenhouse and Hoop House Gardening
While greenhouses can be time-consuming and expensive, they have maintained their allure throughout the ages. Learn how to build a greenhouse and why a hoop house might be a much better option for you. And discover the biochemical processes that make compost a reasonable winter heat source for your plants.
13: Seeds, Seedlings, and Transplants
Discover which plants work best as transplants from seedlings and which are best grown by sowing seeds directly into your garden at just the right time. For transplanting vegetables, learn to propagate from cuttings and crown division, and the best way to plant the seedlings for successful growth.
14: Generators, Solar Power, and Water Wells
While you might have considered taking your homestead completely off the grid, that’s just not practical in most instances. Instead, with a much smaller investment, you can learn how to prepare for occasional power outages. Consider a wide variety of alternatives, including solar power and hand pumps for your well.
15: Preserving Food by Canning
The process of canning uses heat to kill the microbes that cause food to spoil—and it is safe and easy when you follow the guidelines presented in this lesson. Learn how to can some common fruits and vegetables with both a pressure canner and a boiling-water canner.
16: Preserving Food by Dehydrating and Freezing
In addition to canning, your harvest can be preserved via dehydration or freezing. Discover how to use an electric food dehydrator and a DIY solar dehydrator for preserving fruits and vegetables, and the step-by-step process for creating beef, goat, or deer jerky, and biltong.
17: Preserving Food by Pickling and Fermenting
Acids preserve foods by killing the pathogenic bacteria that can cause illness. Pickling uses vinegar to provide that acidic environment, and in fermentation, specific bacteria produce acids as a metabolic waste product. In this lesson, you’ll learn to use both pickling and fermentation to preserve food, as well as how to make kimchi and kombucha.
18: How to Make Homemade Soap
Soap has always been made from two basic components—fat and lye—although neither end up in the finished product. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to make a simple homestead soap with lard, lye, and water, and also a softer soap that lathers well and smells good by experimenting with the addition of eggs yolks, olive oil, dried herbs, and more.
19: How to Make Homemade Candles
Master how to make candles by processing wax collected from bayberry plants and bees on the homestead. Learn how to make rush candles—the simplest type of candle—as well as using molds for tea lights, votives, tapers, and larger designer candles using specialty molds and additives.
20: Processing and Butchering Animals for Food
If you want to raise all your food on the homestead, and if you’re not a vegetarian, that means not only learning how to safely nourish, shelter, and breed your animals, but also how to kill and butcher them. With step-by-step instructions and in-the-field video, this lesson will teach you how to process small and large game mammals, birds, and fish.
21: Laborsaving Power Tools on the Homestead
To manage a modern homestead, you’ll need a few basic power tools. Discover the benefits of rototillers, chainsaws, walk-behind brush mowers, motorized pruning saws, and stump grinders. Although these implements are more expensive than hand tools, they will save an enormous amount of time—and your own health, too.
22: Some Favorite Hand Tools on the Homestead
While you will need a few power tools to run the homestead, you’ll need some high-quality hand tools. Explore the various types of tools that run only on elbow grease and learn how to purchase and care for them. From the mortar hoe to the axe, mattock, and auger-type post hole digger, you’ll learn the pros and cons of many options you hadn’t known existed.
23: Basics of Homestead Construction
You don’t have to build your own home from the ground up, but you will need basic construction knowledge to manage your modern homestead. Learn the construction techniques and tools—from your basic hammer to a cordless drill to the many options for saws—you’ll need to build your garden shed, chicken coop, and many other small projects.
24: Homestead Cooking from Everyday to Gourmet
Once you have your bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs, you’ll want to cook delicious and nutritious meals. Discover how to cook some homestead entrees from scratch—pasta and tomato sauce, baked panko-encrusted squash, chicken and dumplings, goat curry, and even wild pig puerco pibil.