Learn how to be more self-sufficient to provide a better life for you and your family. This step-by-step guide will help you get started.
The ideal of being “self-sufficient” or “off-grid” is one that many beginning homesteaders idolize. If you are on a journey towards opting out of some of the dependency based societal systems, then you are in the right place! Understanding that true self-sufficiency is sort of a myth.
There are very few homesteaders that are self-sufficient. A goal that experienced homesteaders aim towards is a community sufficient plan. Imagine you just bought a bunch of animals to raise your own meat and milk…great! Now you need to feed, water, and buy medicine for those animals. Are you planning on growing and producing their food and medicine? Probably not. How about tools and hoses for your garden? Do you have a way of self-sufficiently producing those?
Here in lies the conundrum that homesteaders face. Finding sustainable and local sources that they can rely on to keep their own self-sufficient plans going, when the main steam sources are no longer available.
Source local to be more self-sufficient
Admitting that you cannot do it all is a first step to a more independent model. That starts the process of identifying where you will need to purchase from sustainable local sources. Some ideas of where to get local goods and services are:
- Farmer’s Markets
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s)
- Local (Small) Grocery Stores
- Local Business (including cottage businesses)
It takes time to know exactly what you are unable to produce yourself. If you are just getting started homesteading, it is likely to be more than if you are a seasoned homesteader. Knowing what needs to be sourced outside of the homestead starts with some planning and will change over time.
If you are trying to increase your self-sufficiency, then planning is the first step. You can develop a homesteader mindset well before you grow your first carrot. If you are actively learning about ways to become more independent and productive, then in my book, you are already homesteading!
Planning is one of the most fun aspects of curating a homestead. We start our year with a big planning session that projects our homestead goals for the upcoming year. Consider what you are already producing and go from there. We like to focus on four main areas of production here on our homestead:
- Annual Gardening
- Perennials and fruit trees
Then after you know what you are already producing, or plan on producing, you can focus on what to source locally. Having connections can be considered is as valuable as any homesteading skill.
“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”-Abraham Lincoln
Learn new skills to be more self-sufficient
Learning new skills is the essence of the homesteading lifestyle! There is endless opportunity to fine tune new skills. Taking it step by step is important here. Don’t get overwhelmed by looking too far in the future.
Developing homesteading skills is a journey. It is okay to have a big picture but then focus in on what specific skill you are working on right now. What skills you hope to learn is highly personal. Not all homesteaders need to learn the same skills. Some basic ideas to get you started are:
- Canning homegrown produce
- Baking your own bread
- Making butter
- Cooking from scratch
- Making homemade soap
- Cooking with a cast iron skillet
- Make homemade cleaning products
- Line-Drying laundry
- Grow your own food
- Determining hardiness zones
- Propagating plant cuttings
- Saving seeds
- Raising chickens
- Livestock birth
- Hunting game
- Pantry management
This list is not at all intensive and is meant to jump start some ideas if you are new. Begin with just one skill and perfect it to the best of your ability and move on.
Perfect your craft
Learning how to do something well will make you more productive and valuable to other homesteaders who are looking to outsource to you. Homesteading isn’t about doing everything. It is about developing more independence from modern day systems and leaning into community for the rest.
You should consider what you do well enough that someone could lean into you for. Getting good at whatever skill will become your craft is highly valuable.
Production over consumption
Homesteading is about decreasing your consumption and increasing your production. Mistaking busyness for production is a common mistake that many households make. As you move closer to being more productive you will naturally become more self-sufficient. Some ideas of moving to production over consumption are:
- Baking bread instead of buying it
- Making your own compost instead of getting from the nursery
- Propagating plants (making more of them!) from what you already have instead of getting new
Any time you create something with your hands out of raw materials you are inching towards independence!
Enjoy a more self-sufficient lifestyle
Taking pleasure in learning new skills and living a more self-sufficient lifestyle is absolutely crucial. If you fail to enjoy the process of becoming more productive, you have a long road ahead of you. Moving towards self-sufficiency is a lifelong journey so enjoying it is essential. Sprinkling enjoyable skills in with ones that are less interesting is worthwhile.
You might only find the need to participate in skill building that you find enjoyable and that is great! More often than not though, if we cannot find a reliable local source to fill in the gaps of need on our homestead, then we are left learning how, ourselves. Try to stay motivated by why you are making an effort to become more self-sufficient.
Staying motivated on the homestead is similar than it seems. It is all about mindset. It is easy for me to do any task now and enjoy it. I like to keep a gratitude journal as part of my morning routine, which helps me stay motivated no matter what the task.
Reading books and talking to other homesteaders is another way to boost excitement in the hard work of a self-sufficient lifestyle. If you are interested in more tips on how I stay motivated on the homestead check out this post.
Start Freeze Drying Homegrown and Store-bought Food
Preserving food with our freeze dryer is one of the main ways that we boost preparedness. Freeze-dried food retains almost all of fresh food’s nutritional value. We have a system now that is always putting up homegrown or store-bought goods. This ensures that we have plenty of food on the shelves, if disaster were to strike and we couldn’t get to the store. Some of our favorite things to freeze dry are:
- Fresh or Frozen Vegetables
- Ingredients for soup kits
- Milk & Yogurt
By constantly making our own freeze-dried food we are implementing a system that will keep nutrient dense food on our shelves. If you are interested in reading our extremely honest review about the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer click here.
How to Be More Self-Sufficient
- Don’t buy the self-sufficiency myth, focus on community sufficiency.
- Source local for food and household goods.
- Make a plan to increase your own personal dependency on various systems.
- Learn skills that move you towards independence and usefulness to other people in your community.
- Perfect what skill you are best at.
- Focus on production over consumption.
- Enjoy the self-sufficient lifestyle.
- Stay motivated while homesteading.
- Start Freeze-drying your own food.
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:
PIN IT FOR LATER!