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Our Must-Have Homestead Essentials

The homesteading lifestyle requires us to be flexible and pivot when things go wrong. Preparation is the key to keeping things running smoothly, and it can feel pretty overwhelming if you don’t know what to prepare for.

Picture of a homestead with welcome signs in the driveway.

Do your homestead essentials consist of a tool collection you keep in a box in your garage? Read on to learn what we consistently use and where we keep these tools and resources strategically placed for optimal efficiencies.

Preparing Your Homestead for Success

We are constantly thinking of ways to be more resilient on the homestead and overcome hardships. We like to adhere to certain basic country principles that allow margin in our efforts when preparing our homestead for success.

We’ve discussed building up a well-stocked pantry for long-term food storage and my household management series, which covers some preparedness methods within the home. 

However, we also use certain outside guidelines for emergency preparedness, preparing for power outages and other practices and tips we consider homestead essentials.

We’re not talking about buying food in bulk and using barrels for storage; this is about being resilient during tough times and having certain items on hand when unexpected circumstances happen on the homestead, like not letting the water trough get too low or fixing a broken fence post.

We must stay proactive and realize that “Murphy’s law” is a reality. The snowball effect happens quickly when you don’t act right away.

The idea is to be as prepared and organized as possible so when those things come up, we are as ready as possible. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today; otherwise, it just doesn’t get done. 

Homesteading essentials help things run more efficiently, and who doesn’t want that on a cold winter day?

Our Homestead Essentials

We have fine-tuned the areas that are homestead essentials for us. It’s not an exhaustive list, yet we think these are definitely necessary. 

Homesteading Hack: Read through to the end, where we added our top three items that we can’t live without!

A drawer of hand tools for the garden.

Emergency Repair Supplies

There are basic emergency supplies that we consider essential on the homestead. Having a couple of extra hammers or shovels in various places and a couple of 5-gallon buckets readily available to gather tools or haul water is time-efficient when a repair is needed. 

That old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” makes the homestead run smoother. 

We keep essential tools for plumbing, electrical and construction-type repairs, like wire for fencing and hoses for watering, gathered together and strategically placed where we use them around the homestead.  

Wood cook stove fire burning.


Fuels come in many forms on the homestead. Firewood to keep the house and water warm is one. Being prepared with a full woodshed long before it’s needed is essential. We start gathering logs, chopping and stacking them into the woodshed as soon as possible. 

Fuel to keep the tractor and farm equipment running, generators, and small tools like weed trimmers and lawnmowers should always be on hand. 

If you have propane, keep extra tanks filled and ready for use and stay on a consistent schedule with your local propane provider. Some businesses offer a mid-summer special, making it economical to fill up for the fall and winter. 

Life gets busy, and before you know it, an emergency comes up, and you can’t get to where you need to go because the fuel tank is empty. Stressful situations are exaggerated with poor planning; staying ahead is key! 

We try to live by the half-full principle and strive to keep all gas tanks in our cars, farm equipment, generators and other gas-operated items half-full at all times.

Our homestead is 30 minutes from town; running back and forth filling 5-gallon containers isn’t practical. We have a 100-gallon fuel tank filled by our local co-op regularly. 

It’s more convenient and efficient to fill gallon containers from the big tank and place them strategically where needed. It’s good to know we have fuel readily available with the generators when power outages occur.

Jars of dried herbs on a counter.

First Aid Supplies

First aid supplies for our household and our farm animals are essential. Being prepared to give first aid and knowing what to do in an emergency until help arrives is important!

We keep first aid supplies in the house, barn and outbuildings so we can access them quickly and efficiently. Another wise saying is, “The prepared are usually spared.” We know there are no guarantees, but practicing before emergencies is a good principle.

We grow medicinal herbs and know how to use herbal medicine safely at home. Throughout the year, we prepare herbal tinctures, salves and teas, ready to use when needed. Keeping herbal medicines prepared and the cabinet fully stocked is essential on our homestead.  

A man holding a handful of finished compost.

Garden Emergencies

Living in North Idaho increases the potential for an unexpected frost. Protecting your garden from frost is essential; therefore, keeping landscape cloth for frost protection is necessary.

Some parts of the country can have excessive heat; good garden watering strategies and shade covers can protect your crops from sun and heat damage. 

We keep a mulch pile and make compost at home so it’s readily available to add to the garden and fruit trees. Running to the store and purchasing expensive bags is not practical for our lifestyle or budget. 

Irrigation parts for the gardens and fruit trees should be accessible, too. Water is essential for plant life; knowing you have extra repair parts when something fails during the heat of summer brings peace of mind. 

Homesteading Hack: Don’t leave your hoses where you drive; it breaks them down quicker, especially when they are full of water.

Seed saving and choosing the best vegetable seeds to have on hand is essential. We’ve experienced times when there are seed storages and seed companies could not keep up with the demand. Keeping our seeds ensures we have plenty to replant if germination fails.

main in a barn moving hay with a pitchfork.


Raising a year’s worth of meat is essential for our large family to eat healthy and stay within a budget. In order to take good care of our livestock, we use medicinal herbs on the farm animals and good veterinary practices. 

We keep extra vet supplies on hand if an animal is sick or injured. It’s also a good idea to keep an isolation pen to separate a sick or injured animal from the other animals until they are healed and healthy.

We stock our barn for winter to feed our animals just like we stock our pantry and root cellar to feed our family. We purchase hay and grain well ahead of time, storing six months of food so we have plenty for winter and spring.

We organize the tools and necessary items in the barn and chicken coop for quick and easy access. Before winter arrives, we ensure the water tanks and heaters are clean and ready for use. Our animals rely on us to care for them, and we make their care a priority.

Rainwater collection buckets.


A backup water supply is important for the animals and our home. A frozen pipe or power outage has a domino effect. Keeping a water collection system and water stored in a basement or an area protected from frigid cold for emergency use is essential.

A man starting a gas powered generator.

Generators/Backup Lighting

Power outages happen during the harsh winters in North Idaho. For this reason we always have generators to keep our must-have essentials running. This means generators for our freezers, water pump, main house, barn, etc.

If you don’t have a generator to keep the lights on, keep a supply of flashlights and headlamps. We also recommend keeping batteries for headlamps and flashlights where they can be quickly accessed when needed. Rechargeable batteries and flashlights stay plugged in, charged and ready to go, quickly bringing light into the darkness in an emergency. 

Oil lamps are another option, but they don’t illuminate the room as well as LED lighting that can run off a generator or LED bulbs in your flashlights. 

Remember to keep lighting options out in the barn and outbuildings, too. You still have the responsibility of animals to care for or tools to access. 

Jars of dried herbs, or mortar and pestle and a notebook sitting on a kitchen counter.

Our Top 3 Must-Have Homestead Essentials

We gave some thought to the question about three random items we found helpful on the homestead. It’s kind of funny, but it does ease various situations we encounter living on our homestead.

  • Sharpies – We keep a Sharpie in our pockets most of the time. It’s such a handy tool to mark items, keep everything labeled and note where tools get placed. Definitely one of those go-tos for us.
  • 5-Gallon Buckets – We find great value in having 5-gallon buckets accessible on the homestead. Hauling water, gathering food from the garden, transporting food from the garden, and tools from place to place are just a few of the ways we use this essential item.
  • Duct Tape – Need we say more? This is an amazing tool for all kinds of repairs on the homestead. We use it to temporarily repair a fuel line on the tractor as well as extend the life of our Muck boots.
A large garden under snow with trees and mountains in the background.
A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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