Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Self-Sufficiency

My children grew up in the country. We’ve always had chickens, bees, a worm farm, goats, and a big garden. We built our own house and so there was always something to do and something to learn. Our children learned how to work and how to not waste anything.
We worked hard to be self-sufficient and prepared.
Consequently I have a Vegetarian daughter with hippie ideas. But she still can outshoot most guys! She’s really not a hippie but does understand and strive to be self-sufficient and independent.
The following are ideas on how to be self-sufficient.
Growing your own food. Gardening/composting. A base level of knowledge regarding the hows and whys of growing food is needed to really understand how labor intensive small-scale agriculture is. Getting a good book on permaculture is a good head start on the intellectual side of things, but starting with even one indoor tomato plant can get you hooked. Eating game meat you shot with potatoes and a salad you grew is a pretty rewarding meal. Side bonus, you’ll learn how fruits and vegetables are actually supposed to taste. It’s noticeably different from what you buy at the store! This is a very serious area of dependency. Even in an apartment you can have a garden in pots. My daughter uses a small kiddie pool for their garden in a town house.
Preserving food. Canning foods is a great place to start when it comes to preserving the bounty of your harvests. I’ve eaten moose and vegetables 10 years after they were canned and they tasted great. Canning being far from the be-all-end-all though, learning the basics around smoking meats and dehydrating all manner of edibles will keep you and yours fed long down the road. Even an afternoon spent learning some food preservation techniques can give you a huge advantage if you’re ever found needing to stock up for a winter. Bonus points if you can your foods using a hot water bath on your wood stove. Preserve the harvest. Can it. Dehydrate it. Freeze it. Drypac it. Vacuum pack it.
Forage for wild foods. Research local wild plants and find out which ones are edible.
Get off the grid or just use less power. Produce your own electricity. Collect rainwater. Get a composting toilet. In some areas you can collect free firewood. Make your home as energy efficient as possible – insulate properly and seal drafts. If no one is in the room, turn off the light! Air dry clothes. Plug your electronics into a power bar and turn it off when you’re done– all those little ‘On’ lights use power. If you are super-self-sufficient you could even produce your own beeswax and make candles! No electric lights needed. There are many small ways you can be energy independent.
Reuse. A little imagination leads to greater self-sufficiency. A bicycle wheel becomes an overhead pot rack. Stacked magazines and an old belt become a chair. Bent cutlery becomes a key holder. Newspapers become seedling pots. A tennis racket becomes a jewelry hanger. Horseshoes become handles. The old school bus becomes a chicken coop. Wooden pallets become….just about anything. There’s a saying my Mother used to use all the time, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
Fix it or clean it. Learn skills. Sharpen your tools. Replace the screen on the door. Sew the hole in the pants. Apply a fresh coat of paint. Glue the sole back on the shoe. The internet and the library are abundant with DIY instructions for fixing just about everything. Thanks to Youtube I was able to fix anything.
Make your own. It only takes simple ingredients to make cleaning products (baking soda, vinegar) and personal care products (aloe vera gel, shea butter, cornstarch). Although you have to purchase raw ingredients, in the long run, they will be cheaper and last longer. My wife makes our laundry detergent.
Be frugal. Buy second-hand clothes, furniture, kitchen gadgets, hand tools, toys, housewares, and electronics. Borrow books, CDs, and movies from the library. I like to avoid malls, big box stores, chain stores, franchises, and boutiques. That way there is no temptation. I once heard an Amish woman who was taken through a mall for the first time, say, “I was fine before I came in here but seeing all this stuff makes me think I need it.” The internet has great places to get used things at a deal. E-bay, Craig’s List, Let It Go, and others are out there. Facebook has many local places to buy and sell.
Stay healthy. You can’t be self-sufficient if you are sick or injured. Stay safe – use mechanical equipment and tools safely. Eat well – avoid junk food. Stretch everyday – your joints will thank you. Brush. Floss.
Walk, bike, or ride your horse. Isn’t it time for the hitching post to come back into style? There are times that living off-grid means living far from town but if you can, use your legs instead of a car. You won’t need as much money for gas, insurance, or maintenance. When I plan it right and I’ve got the time, I can do my grocery shopping in town, pay bills, and do other errands in the same trip. You have to plan and make lists.
Go paperless. Replace paper towels with rags made from old clothes or towels. Replace toilet paper with cheap homemade toilet paper.
Install a wood stove. Even if you don’t use it as your primary heat source, keeping a functional wood stove in your home means you’ll always have the ability to keep your house warm and cook food. Having a stack of seasoned wood available and the implements to cut and split wood is key. Side bonus, good exercise cutting and stacking firewood.
Learn all you can. Every community has resources to help you to learn self-sufficiency skills. The Fire Department and Hospitals can offer medical training. Red Cross. Boy Scout Troops. Schools. Cultural centers. Garden clubs. Churches. There are endless places to learn new and important skills. Skills trump gear every time.
The theory of a self-reliant life really just asks “What am I totally reliant on other people for that I can’t do without”? It always comes down to the survival pyramid. Ask yourself what aspect of your life you could get closer to the roots in and find a way to incorporate a little of that into your daily life. I think you’ll find it’s enjoyable as well as satisfying.

Semper Paratus
Check 6
Burn

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