Self Sufficient Goals

I’m sitting here this morning thinking about what self sufficiency means to me and realizing it’s probably different than what most folks think of when they hear those words. It’s a conversation I’ve had so many times over the years. 

Going from the conversations I’ve had over the years I’m guessing to most people it means living in a primitive one room cabin in the middle of nowhere, alone, dirty, hungry and living as a hermit. Eating rice, bugs and weeds and drinking out of ditches. Wearing nasty, unwashed clothes and no modern conveniences. Usually when I ask someone “wouldn’t it be great to live totally self sufficient?” Their first response is “I’m not living without all my stuff! I have to have the modern conveniences and I love being comfortable.”

Which has nothing at all to do with what I was thinking. 

The true definition of self sufficiency is to produce every single thing you use. The actual dictionary definition is;

To me self sufficient means to produce, as far as it is feasible, every single thing I use or need to be happy, healthy and comfortable. From my own land, using my own labor and what is available to me there. Since I can’t realistically produce everything I need, self sufficiency also encompasses the ability to produce extra of those things I can produce to sell or barter and offset the expense of the stuff I can’t produce. 

Basically to me it would mean I would need no outside means of support. 

To most people that would be an impossible feat. But not to me. Growing up we were very close to that. Up until a few years ago I was close. We grew all our own fruits and vegetables except for the tiny amount we couldn’t produce in this climate. We provided all of our meat except seafood which we rarely ate. We produced or made our own soap, seeds, eggs, butter, milk, lumber, and animal feed. We produced much of our tools, bedclothes, furniture, heating wood and housing. We recycled, reused, repurposed and made so many things. We sold extras to help pay taxes, utilities and such and to buy what little we had to buy. 

Other things I’ve never been able to do, but could if I had the money and knowledge to set it up. Although I’ve always had a well or cistern for water, electricity is something I’ve never had the means to produce. Solar is getting cheaper by the year though and if I had someone to help me set it up with the proper skills and experience I know I could do it. 

I don’t mean to do without. I only mean to live simple. Big difference. 

I would love to plant a small orchard of fruits, nuts and berries. All organic and work it selectively with the geese and sheep to keep it clean and to keep the grass trimmed naturally. 

Have enough pasture to be able to do intensive rotational grazing for all our hoof stock and be able to follow them with the poultry and Kune Kune pigs. To build the land up naturally instead of drowning it in poisons and chemicals. 

To have a large garden including a greenhouse and possibly a long high hoop house to extend the season. To raise enough vegetables and root crops along with common and specialty greens for my family, neighbors and to be able to sell at the local markets. 

To have a couple of acres I could plant in row crops for things that aren’t feasible in a garden setting. Ideally worked by hand and with a mule or Jenny to be as petroleum free as possible. It’s not an impossible dream, we did it growing up after all. 

It would be nice to have a nice spring, a creek or a couple of ponds. That would make for happy ducks and an occasional fish dinner plus a place to cool off in the hot summer months. 

If I had enough land I would like to leave a percentage in its natural state too. Maybe a few paths, but leave a place for the birds and critters to live and a place to go sit when I just need to feel close to nature. 

It’s not there yet, but we are working on it. Someday we will get there. I have so many other things that I have to do for now to keep my family afloat and pay the bills, but everyone needs a dream. 

And my dream is someday to live a quiet, simple, self sufficient life in harmony with the seasons, the land and my fellow man. 


The Good Life

Here it is the first of September and I can’t figure out where the year has went. I woke up this morning to a wonderful 72 degrees with sunny skies and a light breeze. An absolutely beautiful day! The coolest day we’ve had since early last spring. 

Em has a migraine this morning, so I let her rest and I got the kids dressed and fed, fixed myself a cup of coffee and we headed outside to enjoy the day. 

As I sit here under the old fence row oaks in my “thinking spot” and think back over the past few years, I’m amazed at all the things we have lived through. Sickness, loss of my job and income, the stroke, Em’s hospitalizations and near death, Lily’s surgery, the terrible year we had with our farm, failures and defeat at every turn. And somehow I feel it’s finally going to get better. 

We have the best kids a couple could ever ask for and they are all healthy, happy and growing. We’ve got a home, a roof over our heads, food to eat and most of all a dream of better things to come. I’m recovering well from the stroke and ready to figure out where I can go from here to make a living. I’ve quit smoking, started eating healthier and am working on being a better person. Heck, Em is even trying to get me housebroken (I’m taking my shoes off before I go in the house). It’s been a journey, but life is good. 

Last Saturday a friend from Alabama came over and brought a bunch of folks with him to help us clean up around the farm. I owe him a debt of gratitude and am blessed to know such people. It is so nice to have things caught up enough to where I feel I can take back over running the farm myself. For several years it had been going downhill because I just wasn’t here or able to keep up with it all. A few hours of people pulling together got it well on its way though. 

Which leads me full circle back to thoughts and ideas I’ve had since I was a teen. Community. People helping others and truly living instead of just being alive. Being contented. Being fulfilled. Being happy. Belonging. 

I guess at times it sounds like I want more. But really I want less. I want less stress, less sickness, less bills, less worries, less hurry and bustle. All I have ever wanted is to live simple. It’s time. 

I grew up simple. Our family was poor, but we took care of our own and we raised most everything we needed. And we were happy. We were controlled by the weather and the seasons, but not so much by money, jobs or schedules. As I get older I see that the simple life I tried to get away from was the only life that really mattered. 

I’m not sure what will be next. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know I want to simplify my life, I want to teach or at least share with others the skills I learned as a kid growing up on a small homestead. I want to get away from the negative and surround myself with those who also value honesty, truth and community. I want to walk lightly upon the land and leave it better than I found it. I want my kids to grow up free and aware of what is important. I want to take care of my family and still be able to help others too. 

Life is good. There are always days that make things hard, but I have to remind myself that those things are fleeting and that it’s going to get better. Life always finds a way. 

Enjoy today. 

Spend time with those you love. 

And finally…
Just breathe.