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Self-Sufficiency – what IS it and WHY would people want it? In a nutshell, it’s that peaceful feeling of knowing you are responsible for yourself and your family. And you are prepared, as in, you have some food stored and are able to take care of your family in an emergency.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it: Self-sufficiency is the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy.
Reading that sentence shows me that it would be extremely hard to be totally self-sufficient.
Even hundreds of years ago, people relied on interaction from others for survival.
What is Self Sufficiency?
When I read about the many pioneering families who settled in the Cariboo, they relied on others. Families settled sometimes in areas where there were no close neighbours, and were very self reliant.
Still, there was more of a sense of community with other people and a willingness to help others.
Schools that were built in our area were of course built completely by hand, most often using logs. Those schools were built by local people.
It was the fathers of the settled families who came together and realized that their children needed education.
I have read many times that, in efforts to settle new areas in the Cariboo, schools were built in areas where there were only a few families.
Even if those families did not have enough children to warrant a school being built, the building was still put up.
If one area had enough (or too many) children for a school, then the parents of those families would send one of their children to live with new settlers in another area.
Yes, the children were sent to people who needed higher enrollments in their area to justify having a school there!
I am using this as an example. It is my belief that even self-sufficient people rely on outside sources for “things”, whether it be goods or services.
Self Sufficiency is a Process
To me, Self-Sufficiency is not an end state – rather, it is a process.
A process of beginning to realize that there are other ways to do things and other ways to support your families, rather than buying everything at a store and counting on your local, county, provincial, national and federal governments to help YOU.
At the beginning of developing more of a Self-Sufficiency mindset, maybe the first thing people should think about is having some supplies on hand.
There could be a weather or other emergency happen. Maybe one parent gets sick and loses an income. These are valid reasons why you should have some things in storage at your home.
Basic Needs in an Emergency
Keep enough water stored for your family’s drinking needs and for flushing toilets. These types of preps will mean that your family will be less stressed in times of emergency.
Think about heat and how it could be provided if the power is out (wood stove). Think about some food supplies – canned and dehydrated foods. This will mean your family will be able to eat at home if the power is out.
But it’s about more than providing for the very basic necessary needs of you and your family.
Think about the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” commercials that you see and hear. If you practice the 3 R’s, that is being more self-sufficient than others who simply throw the plastics, etc into landfills.
To me, Self-sufficiency means spending less money, providing more for yourself, and being LESS reliant on others.
The other extreme, in my opinion, to Self-Sufficiency and that is hoarding. The show “Doomsday Preppers” has brought the whole prepping topic right into your living room once a week.
I have watched the show a couple of times and I do agree with some of it. However, I think it shows pretty extreme prepping (not that there’s anything wrong with that. You go ahead and fill your bunkers).
For us, there were lots of reasons why we wanted to become more self-sufficient.
Why we try to become Self Sufficient
We were moving out into the country, where the grocery store would be 40 minutes driving time. I don’t know about you, but I am NOT making that trip to town three times a week.
Our income and expenses had changed. We moved to a place where the real estate was a lot less expensive, even when buying lots of land.
Graham stopped working full time and so that freed up time for us to work on the property. Much of that work was put into vegetable gardens.
We like food on the table, and we like good food. Growing what we were going to eat was the best way for us to spend a lot less money. It also ensures that what we are eating is healthy for us, instead of sprayed with chemicals.
We wanted a quieter pace of life. We got that and also developed some wonderful friendships with the folks that live around us.
Neighbours here help each other and encourage each other.
There are times when we rely on the community. According to Wiki’s definition, that wouldn’t be very self-sufficient of us!
Read this article about how we set up our homestead here – it has our
whole first year laid out here.
What we did first, what we added, etc.
Links of interest:
Planning a food garden – how we figure out what to grow, when to grow it and how to grow it!
How we grow a lot of our own animal feed – for pigs, chickens, cattle
How to get the very most out of a small vegetable garden
How we make use of a pressure canner to can our own food
If you’re interested, follow our Self-Sufficiency pinning board on Pinterest.