Being self sufficient

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by GAhen, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. GAhen

    GAhen Songster

    Aug 2, 2007
    Carrollton GA
    I have been reading so many post about being or becoming self-sufficient.
    I was just wondering....
    What does being self sufficient mean to you??
    I bet we have several different ways of looking at it....
    Just curious on what everyones thoughts are???

    Does self sufficient mean to be totally self reliant or just raising your on food??

    We have a village starting in our area....

    They will be living on several acres and farming etc. but some will have jobs away from the village, will they be self sufficient??.....I think yes..
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  2. 1acrefarm

    1acrefarm Songster

    Nov 3, 2007
    You can never get fully self sufficient by my standards. I am going to get as close as I can though. Being self sufficient to me means being off the grid and producing all food clothing supplies and fuel
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  3. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Agree w/ 1acrefarm. It's definitely possible to be fully self-sufficient--we've got oodles of historical re-enactments of Colonial villages around here that were exactly that.

    But it takes a LOT of land and a LOT of time and labor. If you ever want to find out, honest to goodness, how much space one human takes up just for heat and food, trying to be self-sufficient is a good experiment. You can grow a mighty big garden and get particular breeds of animals that tend to eat whatever grows readily on the land you've got. You can set up a freshwater aquaculture system for fish. You can maintain hardwood species in a woodlot for coppice and firewood, and get a really efficient woodstove. You can cook maple syrup, raise bees for honey, and grow sorghum and sugarbeets. In a cold-winter climate, these activities alone will take up at least 60-75% of your waking hours, if you're fairly clever about building things to make chores easier, are lucky with your land siting, and get a family member or two to pitch in. Also, you have to be REALLY not too picky about food, because eating potatoes, pumpkin soup and cooked kale for three months straight in winter is very very tiresome. All of a sudden, things like ice fishing and hunting for hours in the dead of winter don't look so bad, when your other option is reheated canned baked beans for the hundredth time.

    And then you have to figure out what you're going to do for textiles--blankets and sheets tend to last a long time, as do towels if they are good quality. Back in Ye Olden Dayes, one or two sheet sets and towel sets used to do for a whole family for an adult lifetime (admittedly not that long). Felted wool goods are considerably easier to make than spun and woven/knitted thread, but they don't last as long and need special washing. And trust me, wool undies are a bad choice--I don't know about you, but I need more than a couple pairs of undies to get me through a year, much less a lifetime. So you'll need to grow cotton or flax, and process it. Cotton is easier to process and spin than flax, but doesn't last as long.

    Sewing and knitting is an entertaining hobby if you've got the spare time, but if you've just spent 10 hours cooking, cleaning, weeding the garden, minding the animals, pressing your oil crop (olives? sunflower seeds? peanuts? canola? algae? depends on your soil and climate, but you'll need several acres dedicated to it), you've only just gotten a chance to put your feet up and have a cuppa, all of a sudden the prospect of staying awake for another two hours to bloody KNIT because your socks got a hole in the heel is not so entertaining. Traditionally, fiber processing was done by unmarried women in the household, while married women did the cooking/cleaning/gardening side of things. (What men did, or rather failed to do, is a whole other rant, I'm just saying I'm glad I live in modern times and my husband is good about housework.)

    Basically you need a live-in servant or three, otherwise this role was supplied by your extended family living with you. When your extended family lives in one house (same size as modern houses, BTW), you still only need firewood to heat one house, so it frees up fuel-harvesting time. If a few family members work in the Big City, and they can carpool to work, that cuts down on the amount of oil crop you have to grow for diesel. Personally, I am happiest when my mother lives about three states away from me, and I love my granny whenever I can outrun her. So total self-sufficiency would not work for me.

    We do have a woodstove that partially replaces the oil heat in winter, but we still need oil heat for a backup. I have a big garden, DH trades services for local venison and I fish. And of course there's plenty of eggs. But we'd have to both be starving--and have live-in unemployed relatives--to make any more than that realistic.
  4. GAhen

    GAhen Songster

    Aug 2, 2007
    Carrollton GA
    It is funny how self sufficient pioneers worked so hard and were so proud of some of their "store" bought items and now we are so proud when we have grown our own produce and raise our own meat..etc.
    I am happy with a happy medium.
  5. morelcabin

    morelcabin Songster

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    You'd be surprised what you can do with a mere three acres...I have this book called "Country Life" written by Paul Heiney and he is all about small property farming. He has diagrams in there about how to lay out different sized land plots...and you should see what he can do with a 100'x50ft lot! He has bee hives, ducks, major produce gardens and pigs all on a small lot!
    On the 1/2 acre farm he adds greenhouses, a goat, and chickens to the mix along with a mini orchard. This book has been a real inspiration to me. I live on a little less than 3 acres.
    Now as far as firewood and growing your own food for your animals...well then you'd have to have over 10 acres.

    We are working towards self sufficiency a little at at time. Right now we could live without hydro easily enough, but would still rely on propane for cooking, but if it came down to it we have learned over the years how to cook up some fabulous meals on an open fire in the backyard...mmmm that is tasty! We live on a very clear very clean lake so water will never be an issue, even if we have to haul it up in buckets;>) My pantries are full, we have a place under the house to keep potato crops and other root vegies...

    The thing I am most worried about is seed supplies becoming non existant. I have been looking for heritage seed instead of regular garden variety that you buy in stores now...because then we can keep our own seed from one year to the next and never have to worry.

    There's alot to look into to be self sufficient and getting there can be expensive...but plug away at it ia little at a time and eventually you will be confidant that you can survive most anything.
  6. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    The Amish are what I would consider self-sufficient. Many Depression-era farm families were also self-sufficient, but not as much as the Amish.

    The Amish can pretty much meet all of their needs without the help of big business and big box stores. They build their own homes and farm buildings, raise livestock to use for food and transportation, sew their own clothing, garden and farm, can and otherwise store food for the winter, and take care of their community needs like education and (smaller) legal problems within their own society and community. If the world were to suffer some great disaster tomorrow, most of us would probably suffer because we wouldn't know how to survive (we could learn, but we wouldn't already be prepared). However, I doubt the Amish would notice much.

    Many people do idealize the Amish, and think that with greater self-sufficiency there are higher moral benefits. I would say that, to an extent, this is true, but there is also a lot of corruption and abuse within some Amish communities, so I can't say that their self-sufficiency has solved all their problems or made their lives more harmonious than other people's.
  7. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Songster

    Mar 8, 2008

    For us, we're just trying to do what we can to get away from depending on others for everything we consume. Fuels, foods, clothing, etc. Total self-sufficiency isn't in our game plan but if we can get one step closer to it each month we're happy.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    When I was growing up, my folks moved us to a 110 acre "farm" to homestead....they were really into Mother Earth News back then! [​IMG] I was only 10 years old. We had no electricity or running water, so everything was pretty much done by hand, food was stored in the hand-dug cellar or the spring, as was the milk from the cow. We were pretty much prepared to live off the grid, grow our own food, wash our laundry(on a wash board and using crank-style wringer washer), etc. We weren't totally self-sufficient, as we didn't manufacture our own clothing or shoes....although dad did make some dandy sandals out of tires once! The main thing was that we were prepared to live off the land for some time and could have done so for a long time without buying things from a store. We didn't move away from that lifestyle until I was 22 years old.

    I guess I think being self-sufficient is being as independent of the need for store bought items or goods as one can be. I'm not now living that way, but I know that I could do so at the drop of a hat if the situation demanded it. As it is, I try to decrease my need for worldly goods as much as possible (no cell, no cable, no new car, second hand items and clothing, heat with wood, etc.), try to raise the better balance of our food, teach the kids the old ways of doing things and plan....always plan, for going deeper into the lifestyle. Join forums like this, garner all the info one can about homemade solutions to modern problems, go back to a simpler life with simpler needs.
  9. me&thegals

    me&thegals Songster

    Apr 30, 2008
    Quote:At the risk of sounding argumentative, I will just note that I run into Amish families in our local big-box stores fairly often [​IMG] Often it is great quantities of sugar they are buying, probably for their baking businesses. So, I'm sure they're quite a bit further on the self-sufficiency continuum than most of us, but those who live around here definitely still rely on stores for some of their things.

    I think what some of the recent threads have been getting at is becoming MORE self sufficient. Great points made above--most of us are quite far from it. On the other hand, most Americans are so completely dependent on commercial outlets that we with our chickens, dairy, gardens and homemade soap feel pretty darn proud of ourselves! [​IMG]
  10. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    I guess I think being self-sufficient is being as independent of the need for store bought items or goods as one can be.

    This is a nice definition in so many ways, as no one is perfect or absolute, but they try what they can, and do their best.

    I kind of think of self-sufficiency like Christianity: As Christians try to be more like Christ, they can also accept they are sinners. Those following a self-sufficiency lifestyle know that they try to get there, but they aren't going to do it absolutely.

    We do as much as we can within reason. I love this life and wouldn't trade it for anything!

    Btw, this has inspired me to post about this on my blog later tonight. Y'all can come visit my blog and discuss it there, too. Everyone is welcome there. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008

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