“No man is an island, entire of itself.” John Donne
What is Self Sufficiency?
In the purest sense of the term, self sufficiency means the ability to survive on only that which you are able to gather, grow, make, or raise on your own. The thought of self sufficiency conjures images of weather worn pioneers plowing swathes of prairie to plant grain, chopping firewood by axe, and stowing root vegetables in a cellar for the winter. In truth, even the pioneers were not truly self sufficient. They brought tools with them from back home, bartered or bought goods from homesteads nearby, or traveled to the closest general store for supplies. Still, they were much more self sufficient than we are today.
Our society has become so dependent on the grocery store, big box stores, and the world economy, that most of us could not survive for long if our supply network broke down. The number of people who know how to garden, preserve food, raise livestock, and hunt has dwindled over the last 50 to 100 years. We don’t really need to know how to do these things anymore, because we can buy whatever we want, charge it on a credit card and forget the cost to the environment and our sense of self worth.
So what can be done about all this? Most people won’t do anything. They will continue to live a plastic, throw-away existence, never knowing anything different. The important question is, what will you do about it? Are you tired of relying on the store for everything you need? Do you long to return to a more simple lifestyle? If so, keep reading.
The first step is to stop purchasing stuff. Oh, I don’t mean you need to go cold turkey and live in a cave. Just stop buying meaningless junk. Really think about your purchases. Do you need to buy new clothes, a new car, that awesome lap top, or the latest thing-a-ma-bob advertised on those late night infomercials? Can you make do without them? Before you buy, really consider whether you need it or just want it. If you need it, try to find the best quality product…not just some cheap junk that will fall apart in a year. Buy the best quality you can afford so it will last. What I’m getting at is, kick the addiction to a throwaway lifestyle.
The next step is to look at your living situation and ask yourself what you can do for yourself. Is there room for a garden in your yard? Maybe you could plant a few fruits and berries instead of the ornamental shrubs and trees you see in every subdivision yard. Or maybe you can plant a few containers of tomatoes and lettuce on the balcony to your apartment. If there is a community garden nearby, you might be able to rent a space to grow produce and get to know other gardeners.
Can you keep chickens, goats, or other livestock? Even apartment dwellers might have the option of keeping beehives on a rooftop in the city. For those things that you can’t raise yourself, look into local food sources. Is there a local farmers market that offers produce, honey, eggs, fiber, and meat? This is definitely better than buying honey from China and eggs from the industrial laying houses. If you know how, hunting is another option for procuring your own meat from wild sources, and foraging can be a great way to find nutrient dense greens and fruits. Learn to cook more of your meals from whole foods, and ditch the ‘take out’ mentality. Look for other people in your area who are interested in the same lifestyle and get to know them. You might be surprised at what resources they have found and are willing to share. Having a back up community surrounding you is a very comforting and educational experience.
Becoming more self sufficient doesn’t mean that you need to quit your job, move to the mountains, and live in a shack. That might get old real fast and you would find yourself dreaming of burgers and fries pretty quick. It’s important to make small, reasonable changes in your life and keep at it until those changes become second nature to you. If you start buying the raw ingredients to make your own wholesome foods and this takes the place of buying white bread and Twinkies, you have made a step toward self sufficiency.
Some of you may very well want to take additional steps toward self sufficiency. Of course, there are many more skills you can learn and steps you can take toward this goal. My goal in developing this blog is to help others find their way along the path of self sufficiency. I hope that you are encouraged by my experiences and you will follow along on my adventures.
Thank you, Marie! And thanks so much for sharing my post! 🙂
It is nice to see folks doing it the way I grew up. My grandparents had a farm with cows & chickens & also a butcher house that I went to & watched them preparing the meats, walk in cooler & all. My dad also worked in the eve.. times there when it was deer hunting season preparing the meats for the locals. I so respect that there are folks that can do this as I often say I would probably be a vegetarian if I had to do the butchering. God gives us all a place to feel comfortable. For me I live where a manager does not even want a tomato plant growing outside but I am able to bake with our 5 yr. old granddaughter & teach her things many other children will never do. I also started making pickles by the bunches & your mustard recipe is now one of our favorites. Just found you searching out pickle recipes but it is warming to my heart to see you so many here still embracing what my grandparents lived… real life.
I think it’s great that you are making the most of what you have! Baking with your granddaughter is creating memories for her, just like you have of your grandparents…she will treasure these days forever! I’m so glad you found me through the pickle recipe and have continued to read up on my little adventures in life. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and sharing your memories with us too!
Lisa Lynn, this is awesome. Anyone can start wherever they are with your suggestions. We’ll be sharing this post!
Great post we live in a materialistic world, but my family has chosen years ago not to participate. I don’t need a house full of stuff to prove my self worth, and really who wants to clean all that stuff? Not me.
Currently we are building a green house, and have been talking about getting chickens forever. Great post more people need to read this, pinning to my off the grid board, and would love for you to share this on Tuesdays With a Twist.
Thanks so much Joyce! I always find it encouraging to read comments from like minded folks! And I have been enjoying your posts about your green home! Thanks for inviting me to your blog hop…I’ll try to get there next week!
lisa, I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your post so much and look forward to reading them everyday.
Thanks so much for reading, Margie! I’m very glad to have you here!
Well put! Approaching self-sufficiency (or self-reliance as I prefer) can be so intimidating. The goal should never really be to achieve these things, but to move in that direction. Making small changes can be really simple and may even precipitate into some amazing life changes. The important thing is to do what you feel is right and opt-out of what you do not believe in, even if it is the norm. We approach these same topics on our blog http://www.wildbluebus.com come on over! Keep up the great work Lisa. I found this post on the Home Acre Hop! 😉
Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂 For those of you who haven’t found Colin and Heidi’s blog, you’ve got to stop by and check it out. Love what they are doing!
Sounds like a great retirement plan, Annie! Thanks for your comments! I always enjoy hearing from you 🙂
What a great post! Over the years we have been slowly adding in more things we do to help us be more self-sufficient. We would actually love to move to the mountains and live in a shack but unfortunately here in Montana that would mean not being able to leave our property except by riding a snowmobile a few miles at least 6 months out of the year and that’s just not possible with a baby right now 🙂
Thanks so much for checking out the new blog hop Kristi! I think we all have things we could do better…but many people don’t even see the need or realize there is a problem! So you are way ahead of the game 🙂 Keep on working at it and you’ll be so far ahead you won’t even be able to see where you came from!
Great post, Lisa Lynn–you and I have much in common! Over the past few years, I have had this drive to learn how to do things for myself and quit relying on stores so much, and it is so freeing to be able to rely more on ourselves rather than big business for things. The reliance doesn’t completely go away, but my policy is to collect ingredients that MANY things can be made from, which cuts back on the reliance. I agree with cutting back on the throwaway lifestyle we’ve learned to live! I’m so with you on that, yet still so far from it. Reading posts like this is of great encouragement to me!
BTW, I found this post through your new blog hop. 🙂
Kristi @Let This Mind Be in You
I like your philosophy of ‘small, reasonable changes’ to help folks become more self sufficient. There is some excellent advice in this post for those who are seeking to do that. Thank you for sharing it with The Gallery of Favorites.
Thank you April!
I saw your gorgeous photo just now on my Blog Fest and had to click through to read your post. Great article and coincidentally I just this morning started reading Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which even by page 5 has totally hooked me! Great things to think about both in your post and the book. Thanks for linking up! Lisa http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com
Thanks Lisa! I haven’t heard of that book until now…sounds like a great read 🙂 I’ll have to look for it…thanks for sharing!
Great post! My family is working towards similar goals and have found that taking small steps and working through things one at a time really helps.
See what we’re up to at: http://www.kshippee.blogspot.com
Thanks Kailyn! I agree totally that one step at a time is far more doable than jumping in head first! Thanks for stopping by!
I saw this on the Homestead Barn Hop. I am so glad to see others doing this! I have 8 acres in IN. My husband and I butchered 2 batches of 27 meat chickens and I have 30 laying hens and of course, a garden. I love learning about homesteading and challenging myself to be more self-sufficient! Good luck on your journey!
Thanks for visiting Heather! That’s great that you have butchered your own chickens! It’s not always easy, but it is rewarding 🙂 Good luck with your quest for self sufficiency!
Stopped by from the Chicken Chick blog hop and thought this was a very interesting thought provoking post. I will be thinking over your post all evening, trying to determine how I want to approach self sufficiency.
I’m glad to hear that. It is something I have mulled over for many years, and still am learning and growing. It should be a lifelong pursuit!
Excellent post! I like how you suggest each family making reasonable changes as they can. We live on one acre in the midwest as well! (Arkansas) We hope to become a little more self sufficient each year. -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
That’s great Marci! We have a lot in common 🙂 I can’t bring myself to suggest that everyone drop the grocery store cold turkey…I would be a hypocrite if I did! Best wishes with your quest for self sufficiency!
Marci, I am just starting on the road to self-suficiency. I currently live in a subdivision in Rogers, AR. But My wife (Julie) and I are buying a 31 acre farm in Gravette, AR. It is good to know that someone else in Arkansas is also trying for self suffiency.
That’s awesome Dwight! Best wishes!