It isn’t always about going it alone! Being self-sufficient is often misconstrued as doing everything yourself. Life isn’t like that. A better example of what being self sufficient means exists and is much more realistic for most of us. This is another in the continued transition of articles from Yahoo.
For many in life, especially those who wish to homestead, self sufficiency is generally viewed as cutting yourself off from the rest of the world. To be self sufficient, I think, does not imply that you must do every single task yourself in a void or vacuum where you have absolutely nothing to do with anyone else around you. Instead it means having the ability to act independent of the actions of others if and when you choose or if and when you must. Sure, you might buy your ice cream rather than making it most of the time, you might rely on the electrical grid for your light because you don’t like the smell of oil. This doesn’t mean you aren’t self sufficient, just that you aren’t choosing to do it yourself in these cases. Whatever your reasons, be it that you wish to homestead or simply for your own benefit, you can easily choose to do or not do whatever you wish to do or not do when you are self sufficient.
A more viable way of practicing self sufficiency is that you take the time to understand the basic principles of how to do the things you require, if for one reason or another you are not relying on anyone but yourself. An independent person will perhaps even keeping the supplies on hand to handle such things when that time comes, rather than to try actually doing everything themselves. You might readily make your own butter, but if you are just one or two people living alone, why? Unless it is something you enjoy, just make sure you know how and then buy your butter instead. Some would argue that by relying on others, you are not being entirely self sufficient. I would argue that by that same logic you should never buy anything made from metal but instead forge everything yourself… no buying cast iron. Instead, cast it yourself so that you can be practicing self sufficiency and be truly independent. It’s a ridiculous thought isn’t it? Sure, understand how to do things like this so that if some sort of insane situation required it, you could maybe manage with the right materials around… but don’t worry about it otherwise and just buy what you need. There is no shame in it and you can still be self sufficient
So what then is self sufficient? Here are just five examples of true self sufficiency.
* Buy locally, since local items are generally independent of distant shipping. They will be easier for you to get to and offer more possibilities for trade.
* Barter when you can, since it means you don’t have to rely on bits of paper and metal. You can instead focus yourself on real value. This is especially useful for someone living on a homestead because they can trade produce and other products directly with neighbors for things they themselves do not produce.
* Knowledge is power, since the more you know how to do/identify/understand, the more freedom you have to do what you wish. If you know how something is done, you can do it in a pinch. The rest of the time, you have independence having to do that task yourself. This is where real self sufficiency is.
* Unburden yourself from debts. If you own your own things (especially property) without anyone else holding a sword of Damocles over your head (government taxation notwithstanding), then you won’t have a care in the world outside of providing food for yourself and a small bit of income to cover those things you choose to buy. For those who are going to homestead, owning rather than owing can make a huge difference in peace of mind and comfort.
* Try to avoid meaningless things. We so often clutter our lives with items that hold no real value to us. It’s funny that the less you have, the more happy you can end up being with the things you do have. I have been on both sides of the scale and can speak from experience. When I have been burdened with too many things, I worried constantly about what would become of them or how to keep them. When I was without anything but what I could carry with me, it was a liberating experience. I like to think that I am in a constant search for the perfect balance there, which is in itself another form of independence.
There is doubtlessly more to it, or less depending on your own definition. Regardless, I hope that for those still trying to find their way in the maze of ideas and words out there that this is something that proves useful and insightful to you in your quest for self sufficiency. I think why so many people try and fail to find themselves happy in homesteading is because they try to jump strait into things and try to do it all themselves. Especially while you are new and still learning, you simply can’t do it all yourself. Even if you can, you probably can’t do it in a way that is enjoyable. Learn as you go and add new areas to your self sufficiency as you go along. Survival first of course so if worse goes to worst you’re covered, but after that, whatever works best for you. For someone trying to live life on a homestead (or indeed anyone for that matter) self sufficiency and independence do not mean you have to cut yourself off from the rest of the world!