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Self reliance is a true passion of mine. While I am not striving to be truly self sufficient (making my own clothes and everything, basically never shopping at the store), I do try to be as self reliant as I possibly can. Moving to a farm was a huge part of my plan. Right now, we are renting, but hope to soon buy a fairly large piece of property so that we can do even more.
Before we dive in, I thought I’d share what it means to be self reliant. According to Merriam-Webster, self reliance is reliance on one’s own efforts and abilities. It is also referred as independence, self-sufficiency, self-sustenance, and autonomy. Let’s look at that a little closer. Independence is such a confidence booster. Imagine being independent from others, not needing anyone else to live your life! That’s what we should all strive for!
Several of my friends have asked how to become more self reliant. So here is a list that I thought I’d share with you all. I hope this list inspires you to be more self reliant.
Start a garden. Gardening is a huge part of self reliance. The freedom and gratification gained from growing your own food is immeasurable. If you have the space, do a vegetable garden, or maybe an herb garden. If you don’t have space, you can also grow veggies or herbs in containers. And if you are severely limited on space, you could even consider growing sprouts or microgreens.
Preserve what you grow. There are many different ways of preserving what you grow. You can learn to freeze produce (trust me, it’s not as easy as just putting it in a bag and freezing it!), dehydrate, can, ferment, or even salt. This should give you a good starting point to preserving your own food.
Raise animals. I know, I know. Space can be a huge limiting factor here, but hear me out. Try to think of animals that you can raise in the space that you have.
If you have a few acres, cattle might be a good choice. You can raise them for meat, for milk, or to breed to sell.
If you have a smaller space, you may be able to get away with a goat or two. Goats can provide meat, milk (and tons of other awesome goat milk by-products), and babies to sell. Chickens require much less space and give both eggs and meat.
If you don’t have space enough for chickens, or they are not allowed in your current living situation, you can even look into raising things like rabbits or quail. Rabbits are pretty low maintenance, and can be kept in cages to limit the use of land. Quail take very little space and can even be raised in cages in a garage.
Get creative, and keep in mind what your family consumes a lot of, when deciding what animals you can raise.
Learn to hunt and fish. Hunting and fishing can be an excellent way to take care of some of your food needs. Learning to do both can drastically increase your chances of survival in a desperate situation. A bull elk can net you nearly 300 pounds of meat for the freezer! And learning to butcher and preserve all that meat is a valuable lesson in itself.
Make your own cleaners. Making your own cleaners is a great way to eliminate some items that you have to buy at the store, and is also much healthier. Most store-bought cleaners are full of harsh chemicals. So not good for our bodies, and not good for the environment. There are many great cleaners that can be made with simple ingredients, such as vinegar or baking soda, things that most people always have on hand.
Learn home remedies. I believe another important aspect of self reliance is the ability to make your own medicine to keep or make yourself, and your family, healthy. In a SHTF situation, I hope to be the “shaman” if you will, or medicine woman. As such, I have taken a few steps to familiarize myself with herbs and tried-and-true home remedies. I have learned to forage for many medicinal herbs, as well as discovered ways to use them.
You don’t have to know it all. Just learn a little at a time, maybe even creating your own materia medica along the way. Make sure you print out your materia medica so you will have easy access to it, and invest in a good herbal medicine book. I actually received two copies of a particular medicinal herb book, and kept both. I keep one in the house and one in our camper.
Learn to sew. Sewing is a valuable skill. My mom was a seamstress, and I really wish she would have taught me more. I have some very basic skills now, but plan on honing them in the future (when I have time!). Sewing (or at least mending) is one of the best ways to save money on clothing and, in turn, lessen your reliance on stores. During the Great Depression it was common for people to darn socks.
A frequent saying was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or go without”. This is the perfect mindset for anyone wanting to be self reliant.
Make or invest in reusable commodities. Disposable things like diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, or even maxi pads just keep us tied to that store. Stop feeding the greedy pigs! If you have very basic sewing skills, you can make your own. If you don’t, you can buy them. Think of the disposables as throwing away your hard-earned money, and taking away your self reliance.
Unpaper towels are a great first step. I completely understand that some people would get creeped out about reusable “toilet paper”, but you can consider it for just “number one”, or just for one member of the family. Read up on it a bit, and see if it would be an option for you. While I haven’t tried them yet, I have heard great things about reusable cloth maxi pads. I will be making some for my bug out bag. Reducing waste is a valuable, eco-friendly way toward self reliance.
Keep these things in mind when making plans toward self reliance, and be open to new ideas. Self reliance is not really the norm in this modern world, but it is so important. Hopefully you will never be in a place where you absolutely have to be, but if you take steps now to prepare for the unplanned, it could literally be a life saver.
What other steps can you take toward self reliance? Do you have a favorite? Please share in the comments!