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This year has led more and more people to start thinking about becoming more self sufficient. With the lockdowns affecting the average household’s income, self sufficiency is looking better and better to most families. Then, if you add in the food supply issues we have had, it seems like a no-brainer.
But what is self sufficiency? And how does one attain it?
What is self sufficiency?
Self sufficiency, according to Google’s dictionary, is “needing no outside help in satisfying one’s basic needs, especially with regard to the production of food”. And Merriam-Webster defines self sufficiency as “able to maintain oneself or itself without outside aid : capable of providing for one’s own needs”.
Self sufficiency has several different synonyms, including self reliance, independence, self-dependence, self-subsisting, self-supporting, and self-sustaining.
True self sufficiency would involve not having to get anything from the store. No clothes, no shoes, no coffee (I don’t know if I could handle not having coffee!). Could you imagine never having to buy anything? It would save you some serious money, but the workload would be enormous!
How can I become more self sufficient?
While true self sufficiency is extremely difficult to achieve in today’s modern world, we can all take steps to become more self sufficient. Here is my list of things that you can do to achieve greater self sufficiency.
Grow a garden
One of the easiest ways to move toward self sufficiency is to grow a garden. It doesn’t have to be huge, but try to grow at least a few things that your family eats. Learn how to amend your soil, and use vertical space to get better yields out of your garden space. Trellises are great to help maximize your garden space.
Learn how to preserve food
If you’re growing a garden and it’s producing more than you can eat before it goes bad, you really need to learn to preserve that food! Learn how to can, dehydrate, or freeze your harvests. Build a root cellar for longer-term storage of vegetables.
Save seeds from your garden for next year
Knowing how to save seeds from your garden will help free you from purchasing seeds again next year. Buying seeds is one of the more expensive parts of gardening. So if you take just a little time to save the good seeds from this year, you’re reducing the price of growing your own food next year.
Make your own compost
Another big expense in gardening is amending your soil. If you learn how to make your own compost from vegetable scraps, yard waste, and manure from your farm animals, this will help keep your gardening costs down to a minimum.
Grow herbs for spices and medicine
You can even grow an herb garden, to make your own spices and medicine. There are a lot of herbs that are easy to grow and have multiple uses. Imagine learning enough about herbalism to get off of that expensive medication you’ve been taking!
Learn to hunt and fish
Hunting and fishing is a great tool to have if you’re trying to become more self sufficient. Without any land of your own, and very little money expended, you can provide lots of meat for your family through hunting and fishing. What better way to get clean, healthy meat?
Learn to forage for food
Foraging is a wonderful way to gather free food for your family. Imagine walking into a field and coming out with a salad for dinner. Knowing how to properly identify and use weeds as free food is a valuable tool.
Learn to forage for medicine
Wildcrafting is creating medicine out of wild herbs that you forage. There are many wild herbs that can help heal the body and reduce your dependence on “Big Pharma”. Learn as much as you can about the wild plants around you, so you can make your own medicine.
Cook and bake from scratch
If you know how to cook from scratch, you won’t have to buy those expensive packaged meals from the store. You can take the food that you’ve grown, hunted, or fished, and turn it into a filling, healthy meal. Learn to use all those fresh veggies!
Get a wood stove and cut your own firewood
Saving on the power bill benefits more than just your pocketbook. Having a wood stove in your home can also be better for the environment. And producing your own heat, no matter what’s going on in the world, is priceless.
If you enjoy your wood heat, consider taking it up another notch and installing solar panels to power the rest of your home. Sure, it’s quite an investment, but it will pay off in the long run toward self sufficiency.
Reduce your expenses
Self sufficiency doesn’t work very well if you have your money going all over the place. Look into ways of cutting your budget and reducing your expenses. You can then put money toward making purchases (like solar) that will help you be self sufficient in the future.
Make your own income
If you have land, there’s a good chance you can make money from it. Or, look for a side hustle that you can do. If you’ve been reducing your expenses, you might be able to leave that job and make your own income.
Raise your own meat
If you have a little bit of land, and not bombarded with restrictions on it, you can raise your own meat. Some meat sources can be grown in as little as a quarter acre! By making wise choices on your meat animals, even on a small lot, you might be able to raise a year’s supply of meat.
If you are allowed to have them, I strongly suggest you get chickens. I believe that chickens are the easiest and first farm animal that anyone should raise. If you get dual purpose birds, you can raise both eggs and meat in your flock. What a wonderful feeling to go out to the coop to gather the eggs for your breakfast!
Get a dairy animal
Getting a dairy animal for your family is a great step toward self sufficiency, if you have the time to milk twice a day. If you have the right animal, you can provide for all of your family’s dairy needs. Imagine having all the milk your family can drink, as well as homemade butter, yogurt, sour cream, and cheese!
Learn to sew and mend
If you know how to sew and mend, you can spend less money on clothes. And no, I’m not talking about sewing all of your own clothes! But you can stretch the life of the clothes that you have already bought, by mending seams and patching holes. Stop spending unnecessary money on clothes!
Learn to knit or crochet
Learning to knit or crochet is an old-time skill that most people no longer do. But it can help if you’re trying to become more self sufficient. Make your own scarves, gloves, hats, or even household items. You can even make homemade gifts for your loved ones by knitting or crocheting!
Make or invest in reusable commodities
If you have babies in diapers, consider going to cloth! Or, if you use paper towels, make your own “unpaper” towels. Consider investing in reusable cotton pads “mama cloth”, or menstrual cup. Any of these reusable commodities will help reduce your dependence on the store, and increase your self sufficiency.
Learn to cut your family’s hair
Take a little time, watch a YouTube video, and learn how to cut your family’s hair. This will save you lots of money in haircuts. I’ve been doing this for years – The Hubs has never paid for a haircut! My father-in-law taught me, way before YouTube was available. I’ve always been a little reluctant to cut my daughter’s hair, but now that she’s grown, she sometimes asks me to do it. And she cuts her family’s hair now, too!
Self sufficiency is a journey – take it one step at a time
Keep in mind that self sufficiency isn’t something that you can achieve quickly. It takes time to develop skills, money to invest in the supplies you need, and experience to put it into practice. Self sufficiency is a journey, that you need to take one step at a time.
The biggest roadblock to most new homesteaders is overwhelm. They try to do things too quickly, and get burned out. Then they give up before they realize the benefits of their progress. Don’t let that happen to you – take your time, be patient, and just do one thing at a time.
This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop, Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.