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.
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.
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.