self-sustainability for everyone: revamp

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A while back I did a series on self-sustainability for the every-day-joe. It was a great idea, but it was kind of lame, and maybe a little too scattered. I would love a do-over, and since this is my blog…I can do that! Ha!

I believe the first step on that path to self-suffinciency is to figure out your reason you are doing it. Here you are in good company. About 10 years ago I met my husband, and he and I started talking about doing just this. It started off as an idealistic dream, but now that we are into six years of  marriage, we are fleshing out that reality more and more. It is looking more and more like a reality, and less and less like the fantasy it appeared to be way back when.

If you are interested in this way of life, and are yourself planning to take on the “self-sufficient life,” you may be looking into seeing what is involved, what it will cost you, and if it’s really a worthwhile endeavor. I’m here to tell you there is a lot to the process, it will require a huge sacrifice of yourself (one that I’m still having a hard time with if I’m being honest), but if you truly want this for your life and you can make the sacrifice, it will be worthwhile.

I am far from having arrived at “self-sufficiency,” and everyone who has is doing it a bit differently. I can merely offer you my thoughts. These thoughts are for folks who want to live a simpler life where they are…right…now.

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Where to Start: Find Your Reason

The first step on the road to self-sufficiency is to find your reason. I find our list of reasons for becoming self-sufficient are piling up. I don’t know if I have even had the chance to write them out before this. This is a short list of what matters to my family.

  • To not be dependent on modern luxuries / /  The words “self-sufficient” indicate independence. We would not need to be dependent on government hand-outs, grocery stores, fossil fuels, electricity, sewage, import/export of commodities, modern technology, public or private education, etc. I’m not saying that we would never take advantage of any of these things, but they are luxuries and not necessities.
  • Spiritual/Environmental / /  For me, being a Christian makes the environment a spiritual issue. If you read the first version of this series, you know that I used text from the Bible to show why I believe this. God charged humankind in the beginning of the world to take dominion over the earth (air, land, water, plants, animals). As a Christian, I take that to mean that we should practice responsible stewardship and use only what we need. The things we don’t use should be tended to, and cared for. We should treat animals humanely, not pillage the earth by over-farming with monoculture (the same thing in the same soil year after year strips the soil of its nutrients) and drilling for oil, keep our waters clean for the life that lives inside of it, and also as drinking sources, etc. It would seem that a lot of Christians have not been taking this charge with much seriousness, but it was the very first job ever tasked to people, and deserves our much needed attention. I believe that it is possible to renew the earth and with enough generations of responsible living, the earth could potentially be brought back to its original Edenic state. “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
    • As a Christian, I believe in a world created by God and not by happenstance. Its cool if you don’t. You don’t have to see the world the way I do. But it certainly affects the way I treat environmental issues.
    • This can very easily bunny trail into Christianity’s perspectives on the apocalypse, but for the most part I reject the eschatological doctrines that teach that there will yet be an AntiChrist/False Prophet, that the world will go to hell in a hand basket, and that the Christ swoops in at the last minute to Rapture His people from tribulation. For those who care, I take the postmillennial mindset.
  • Finances / /  Startup for most things takes a substantial monetary investment. However, the tools you need to sustain your investment can last indefinitely. In this throwaway world, its hard to transition into a mindset of having something forever. You might even think to yourself, “I’ll try this self-sustenance thing, but if it doesn’t work out, no big deal.” However, if you can invest in quality tools, and learn the necessary skills, there are very few things that you will need to continue to purchase. Being content to do without may be a huge sacrifice in the short term, but end up padding your wallet in the long run. For example I plan to have my cast iron skillets forever. Hand tools will require the upkeep of staying clean, and some of them sharp, so learning the skills to use and maintain your possessions will help you become more and more financially secure. Also, get yourself out of debt as soon as possible. Owing money to a lender is not self-sustaining.
  • Health / /  By growing, raising, and hunting and/or trapping your own food, you will find your diet improve greatly. As an added benefit, the hard work your body will be putting in will be a great work-out, and all the planning required from year to year will strengthen your mind. Win, win, win!
  • Education / /  This is two-fold.
    • By getting away from a lot of the conveniences this world has to offer, we will need to/get to relearn and teach ourselves and our children old-world skills. A lot of these skills were lost when people started relying on machines, modern technology, indoor plumbing, etc.
      • For example: crop rotations, threshing and grinding grain, soap making, hand-milking, hand-shearing, spinning, basic carpentry, seed saving, and a multitude of other things.
    • Good parents do the best they can for their children. Part of being a good parent is to make sure your child has an education that will help them succeed at life. For us, that education is homeschooling, and homeschooling is also a self-sufficient task.
  • Legacy / /  A self-sustained life isn’t something we are doing exclusively for ourselves as a hobby, a whim, or a romantic dream. We are doing these things in the hopes that the skills we learn, and the benefits we obtain might be passed down to our children, grandchildren, and many generations to come. We want them to know the task of setting the world right lies in their hands, and that it is a big responsibility. We want them to be equipped to take on that responsibility with the necessary knowledge, skills, and values. We also want them to be equipped with these abilities as a safeguard for the future. With the corrupt governments of the world (our own included), and not knowing if hard times are theirs to face, they will be far more capable to get by in the event of a economic collapse.
  • Community / / When you endeavor to do a thing, find the community of people who are doing that thing too. If you are learning to knit, find other knitters to talk to. If you are learning to hunt or trap, find other hunters and trappers. If you are trying to figure out how to indoor garden because you rent an apartment, find other people who are doing the same. Someone is going to be there to offer a tip or help you out along the way, and when your practice becomes “perfect,” you will be there to help a person out who needs advice. Community is one of the best things about trying out a new thing. Community is one of the things we were made for, and without community there is something missing our lives. So whatever route you take on the path to self-sufficiency, find your community.
  • Your Reason Here / /  Your reasons and my reasons for going down this path don’t have to be the same as those I’ve listed. You may not even have the same vision of what self-sufficiency is to you. Whatever your reasons, figure out what they are, because that is what will motivate you. If you don’t have a good enough reason to go for it, then you will end up giving up.

Over the next while, I’ll try and come up with some easy tips to motivate and inspire you do this self sustained life right where you are before you have it all together!


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