How do you get started with a self-sufficient life?
Do you sell all your earthly goods and walk off into the Alaskan wilderness with a spade and a packet of seeds?
You can start small, with baby steps.
Traditionally, pioneers belonged to families, and families belonged to communities. The father of each family had certain responsibilities, the mother others, and children still more (many more than any children have today, and they learned responsibility and industriousness as a result).
Communities co-existed in the same way, out of necessity. Neighbors came together to assist each other and were rewarded with assistance in return when they needed it.
Most in the community were farmers, but some were carpenters, smiths, tailors, and more. All part of a close community where everyone looked after each other.
Thomas Jefferson, for example, envisioned a society driven by small, self-reliant businesses. He called them “yeoman farmers.”
Today we call them entrepreneurs, and the prosperity they bring to a community makes it strong.
But, again, you don’t have to think that broadly or ambitiously… certainly not at first and maybe not ever.
You could plant herbs in a pot by your kitchen sink, meaning you no longer have to rely on dried herbs from who knows where covered in who knows what chemicals.
You could plant a small vegetable garden growing carrots, onions, and celery for your soup pot.
If you have a little more room, you could plant fruit trees and maybe other vegetables, especially perennial vegetables, which can yield for years with only one planting.
You could put up the bounty of your efforts by canning and preserving for times when certain produce is out of season… or, thinking longer term, should real crisis strike.
Taking even these small steps, you’ll begin to appreciate the natural seasons and the calm that can come from these simple, nurturing tasks.
Becoming self-sufficient is a personal step that allows you to take control of your life and your family’s future. It means security and a lot of self-satisfaction.
Self-sufficiency can also mean a lower cost of living… it definitely will make your life richer and fuller…
And it can also create an income.
Lucrative, commercial, money-making opportunities exist in your own backyard, and sacrificing as little as an hour of unproductive time a day could lead to real financial independence.
Chickens and other poultry—turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese—will keep your backyard homestead pest-free while providing loads of healthy eggs and tasty meat… all easily sold.
If you’re feeling adventurous, get a pig and fatten him on your garden’s waste.
Learn to can and put up all your extra produce. Make your berries into jam… a product that, like eggs, will always find ready buyers.
Consider a bee hive. Your own honey beats white sugar every time, and raw honey has been known for millennia to have powerful health and antibacterial properties… and it’s another product that is easily harvested, packaged, and sold in small quantities… meaning easy cash flow for the self-sufficient entrepreneur.
Plus, honey is the only foodstuff that doesn’t expire; honey stored in sealed pots in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs was found to be edible thousands of years later.
This is only scratching the surface of the possibilities. There are all sorts of home-grown food products you could produce that could earn you a small but steady income on the side.
If you’re up for thinking bigger, incorporating aquaponics into your self-sufficient strategy can mean amazingly efficient production. You can grow fruit and vegetables in volumes that can lead to bigger revenues. Many types of produce—from lettuce, herbs, chards, and greens to tomatoes and peppers—can be grown better using aquaponics than dirt, with a small fraction of the effort, space, or water required.
Here’s what else isn’t required: Weeding or tilling!
Adequate shelter is one of the most important aspects of living self-sufficiently. The good news is that today it’s easier than ever to find builders and contractors who are qualified and have long experience building self-sufficient homes.
Modern off-grid living can run the gamut from subsistence-level to bona-fide luxury. Houses can now be equipped with impressive solar systems capable of running most any appliances or creature comforts you might want… from a side-by-side refrigerator and a dishwasher to air-conditioning and surround sound.
Today, self-sufficiency and comfortable (or even luxury) living are not mutually exclusive agendas. A fully self-sufficient lifestyle today can include a big house with a gourmet kitchen and as many bathrooms as you’d like. You can have a pool… air-conditioning… and all the conveniences and amenities of our age, from freezers and barbecues to hot tubs and high-speed Internet.
Becoming more self-sufficient connects you to the world around you and gives it new value and richness. Every season of the year is important and holds a special magic.
As a new father, I feel an urgency to learn the wisdom of the ages from my parents and grandparents, so I can pass this knowledge onto my children.
Much has been lost living the way we live today. Not only skills, but so much else that came along with honest work, too… things like community, self-satisfaction, quality food, physical and mental health, and long-term security.
If you, like me, want to rediscover these things… these things that make life richer, fuller, and more fulfilling… not to mention healthier and more secure… then a more self-sufficient life is the answer.
No commutes to work and no boss but Mother Nature…
Remember, you can start small and then develop your self-sufficiency plan over time. What’s stopping you from growing a pot of herbs on your window sill? You don’t need to learn how to skin a deer and make moccasins!