There is so much to learn in this handmade lifestyle. It seems that these important skills can always be improved. Thankfully, in this modern age we can find resources to improve homesteading skills in a variety of ways. While these classes can be taken any time of year, winter tends to be less busy for many of us. It is lack of the rush of gardening and preservation work that makes for an ideal time to learn.
Cooking & Baking
Winter is a great time to spend some time improving skills in the kitchen. This time in the kitchen can more leisurely and the extra heat from the stove and oven is never a bad thing.
- Pies & Tarts for Every Season – I took this Craftsy course because my pie skills were just not great. I enjoy pie, both sweet & savory, quite a bit so I figured it was time to get educated. There’s so much good information here including downloadable recipes. The instructional videos will help you get the hang of pie in a completely down to earth way. I know I’ll be ready for all the fresh fruits of summer because of this class and the practice I’m doing this winter season.
- Get a Handle on Baking Basics – The folks at King Arthur Flour have put together an amazing collection of videos, guides, recipes, and more (they even have a hotline you can call). Learn everything from the proper way to measure flour to braiding bread, making sourdough and much more in their online library.
- The Homestead Kitchen – Find absolute comfort in the kitchen with this course designed to help you understand tools, meal planning, food preparation, preservation and much more. Take it now and have access to it later when your garden or CSA abundance begins to come in.
Once the actual season gets going it’s often a mad-rush of planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting with constant repetition. It’s often too busy of a time to spend improving skills beyond looking for remedies to particular issues (pest, soil, drought, etc.). Now is a great time to do some reading and learning so that it can all be put into place as soon as seeds are ready to plant.
- Gardening Simplified – Understanding Your Climate – The thing about gardening zones and all those ‘what to plant in July’ articles don’t explain is that there are huge differences in climate that make a huge difference in the ability to grow food. This course explains frost dates, heat dates, rainfall, daylight hours, and more. Those explanations will guide you to better understanding your climate and how to have a more effective garden within those particular conditions.
- Your Local Community – Look to your local area. There may be free seminars at local nurseries, Master Gardeners might be leading classes, etc. This can be such a great way to not only learn but also build a wonderful local community.
For many of us, once the busier seasons of gardening and preservation begin, crafting takes a backseat. Use this time now to learn something new or improve upon existing skills.
- Soapmaking for Absolute Beginners – This free e-course will get you started on the bath to creating your own soaps at home. Soaps for everyday use and gift giving, too. It’s a great and fun skill to have and share.
- Local Supply Stores – I learned to knit at a local yarn shop. The store owned sold ‘beginner kits’ that included a set of needles, some yarn, and a How to Knit book. If you bought the kit, she would teach you how to knit a basic scarf. That very basic introduction taught me the basics. It also provided a very fun way to spend my workday lunch breaks. Many quilting and craft supply stores offer classes. Be sure to look for them and take what interests you.
- The Handmade Gifts Challenge – Join this fun and free challenge and make a gift a month with tutorials and more so that you can be ready come the holiday season.
- Learn Basic Hand Sewing – More than just crafting but a hugely important frugal skill. This course teaches you the basics that you can you for crafting and mending your clothes.
It is sometimes more advantageous to study herbs during the growing season but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done at all during the winter. We can afterall purchase dried herbs if we don’t have them in stock and book learning, video watching can be done and studied now for applying later.
- Become a Family Herbalist – Learn what you need to apply herbal studies to your home, family and everyday life. You’ll learn practical skills that you can apply to a wide array of ailments and help keep your family on healthy path naturally.
- The DIY Herbal Apothecary – Build an herbal medicine chest with practical and doable lessons. Learn herbal first aid, remedies for cold & flu, find relief for digestive ailments and more.
Use the remaining weeks of this winter season to improve your homesteading skills. Take the time now to beef up your knowledge and experience so that you can be more efficient later. Also be sure to have fun, because without that life becomes drudgery quite quickly.