Our Expertise Unlocks The World

Self-Sufficient Living In Belize’s Cayo District

Five Reasons To Become More Self-Sufficient

Neither Doomsday Prepper nor Wilderness Mountain Man you need to be… but, with the right systems in place, living can be free.

The new reality TV vision of self-sufficiency is hairy rawhide-clad mountain men and women jumping into frigid rivers in the wilderness to wrestle salmon from giant grizzly bears. It’s as comically ridiculous an image as it is unnecessary.

Self-sufficiency needn’t be nearly so dramatic or exotic. It can be achieved from the comfort and convenience of your own home and garden, meaning you can reap all the benefits of a self-sufficient lifestyle while also continuing to enjoy all the comforts of our modern age.

Strictly speaking, self-sufficiency means being in the position of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction from anyone else. In reality, though, we humans need interaction and the opportunity to trade for that which we don’t or can’t produce ourselves. Even the wild mountain man got his axe from someone.

My grandmother was a small, timid country girl in 1920s Ireland, a time in that country when often all you had was your self-reliance, without which you were left with only your faith and pride to eat. By the time she was 10 years old, her mother having passed away and her father working all hours at the local creamery, my grandmother found herself the head of a household of six people. She gardened, raised chickens, geese, and ducks for sale, cooked, cleaned (with homemade cleaning materials), knitted and sewed, gathered wood, made soap and candles, dressed game, made bread, butter, cheese, and yogurt, helped her uncle with the poitín stil (Irish moonshine), played with her friends, and went to school.

When I asked her how she managed all that, she answered, “I was lucky; my father worked Saturdays to pay for my school uniform and copy books.”

When I replied, “No, I don’t mean how did you manage school… I mean how did you manage everything else,” she gave me a puzzled look, and said, “I don’t understand. I just did what everybody did. It was normal life.”

And it was.

When I started a family, and the reality of living in the modern world began to sink in, I got a little nervous about being able to take care of my family in uncertain times. I realized with a little embarrassment that what I wanted was to be as robust and self-reliant as my granny when she was a 10-year-old girl.

It sounds like a joke, but I’m serious. If my grandmother could do all this by age 10, there is no reason why I, a grown man, can’t follow her example.

In fact, I have it far easier than my grandmother did living a self-sufficient life. I don’t need to learn all the skills she mastered (though it could be fun to try). These days, thanks to new equipment, technology, and ideas, nearly all of the drudgery my grandmother went through (though she didn’t see it as such) needn’t be part of a modern self-sufficient lifestyle.

Many of us classify ourselves by our profession, meaning we can defeat ourselves before we get started by thinking, “I’m an accountant/housewife/professional race car driver… What do I know about gardening, securing my own renewable energy source, or creating an independent source of income?”

I’ll let you in on an amazing secret:

If a child can do it, you can do it, too.

And in the process you might unlock skills or passions that you once had as a younger person but put aside or were told you shouldn’t waste time with. “Why should a modern woman like you learn those skills?”… or “What man who wears a suit needs to know that?”…

Appropriate knowledge and planning is real security… from future upheaval, in the face of turbulent times, and for real self-assurance.

Growing your own food is only the start. Once you are growing your own food, why not grow your building materials, energy sources, medical supplies, and clothing materials, as well?

Even if you don’t need these materials for these purposes for years… or ever… knowing you have an acre or two of hardwood lumber (which could also be dual-purpose, delicious fruit or nut-bearing trees) growing behind your pasture fence goes a long way to providing peace of mind. If the price of hardwoods continues to climb, it could be a lucrative investment for you and your children, as well. If there is a major shift in the economy, you have a source for helping to feed your family, for repairing your home when the trees’ productive fruit life is over, and/or to build homes for your children, growing right behind the cow pasture, forever.

This isn’t about stockpiling canned goods. A goal of self-sufficiency does not need to be viewed as Doomsday prepping or survivalist training. In fact, many of the usual “prepper” habits are the antithesis of self-sufficiency. Stockpiles of canned food and dried goods are not renewable, especially not when you are living in a bunker. And having stacks of cement bags for future building projects can be great, too, but once you use them, they don’t grow back.

The only truly sustainable way to feed yourself and your family in the long run is to do what man has done for millennia: Grow and store your own food in a sustainable manner, either you yourself or as part of a community effort. An amazing amount of food can be grown on rooftops and balconies of City Folks apartment buildings, too. If you have a lawn, you can farm. If you have a balcony or flat roof, you can grow fruit and vegetables year-round. A little self-sufficiency is better than none.

Here are the five big benefits of becoming more self-sufficient:

#1: A self-sufficient person is not dependent on availability, capacity, or price fluctuations of central resource distribution systems (governments, banks, or the economy)…

#2: A self-sufficient person minimizes resource loss due to transportation, considering the small physical scale and compact nature of the self-sufficient system. Keep it local!…

#3: Self-sufficiency assumes the use of local renewable resources, which itself has numerous advantages over using fossil fuels (think global warming and pollution)…

#4: A self-sufficient system supports the ideas of resilient communities, transition movement, localization, and permaculture…

#5: Self-sufficiency can help you to achieve economic independence, to save money, and even to make money…

 

Con Murphy

For In Focus: Belize

Comments