Daring To Strive Towards Self Sufficiency

I must say, it is a daring lifetime venture to endeavor towards self sufficiency.
And let me also say this: It sure is fun!

Having aspirations to be self sufficient is becoming more mainstream these days, although still only a tiny percentage of the populace at large.

It is a daring thing to step out and take those first steps. Unfortunately most do not understand the mindset or the motivations that inspire those who begin their lifetime journey towards self sufficiency, but don’t let that stop you.

Stereotypes and even ridicule will be emotional roadblocks set in place by the normalcy bias of others who don’t ‘get it’.

Fear not though, because what you will be doing is going to set you free!

What do I mean by ‘set you free’?

When you take those first steps, and all along the rest of your lifetime journey, you will feel liberated from some of the dependencies we all have on other systems. Your feeling of self-worth will go up. You will feel more independent. You will become more of your own person. You will have broken the shackles that have been holding you down all this time…

With that said, let’s get one thing straight… It is nearly impossible to become 100 percent self sufficient. Additionally, that extent may not be the goal! However ANY degree of self sufficiency will benefit your position and will free you, or lessen your dependency upon one external system or another.

In the title I use the word, daring. A journey towards self sufficiency and the lifestyle change that may occur is a bold and courageous move, especially when first setting out.

While it is very easy to simply stay in one place in life, it requires a bit of fearlessness or overcoming one’s fears to begin a lifestyle change – particularly one which doesn’t follow the ‘mainstream’.

The journey towards self sufficiency can be as fast or slow as you desire. You may stop anywhere along the way and be comfortable where’ you’re at. It is not a contest. It is your life. Your freedom.

Where to start?
Wherever you’d like!

My advice is to start where your interests are. We each have our own expertise and skills. Use them in a way that will help you towards independence and self sufficiency.

With that said, there are several general areas to consider…

Alternative Energy
Gardening and Food Production
Food Preservation Techniques
Long Term Food Storage
Water Sources, Storage, and Filtration
Geographical Location
Change of careers
Food bearing Skill Sets; Hunting, Fishing
Bushcraft Skills
Just ‘get outside’!

This list could go on forever, especially if narrowing broad categories. The point I’m making, especially for newbies or those considering the journey, is that you won’t regret it. Break away from the concrete jungle. Or if you’re locked in for now, just start with the basics. Once you begin and make your first accomplishment, it will be personally rewarding, liberating, and empowering.

Imagine a society in which many of us have become much more independent?
Wait a minute… isn’t that what our nation was founded upon?

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  1. I remember how excited my husband and I were to retire to a place we had selected years before and built a small cabin. Our friends thought we were crazy, no electric, no water, miles from civilization. Electric and water came to our area but we had to put it in and there still aren’t many people here – paradise. You never heard about prepping, not much internet and we started our lives over. We have built and prepped and are now helping others to be self sufficient. If all goes well over the next couple of months we want to take some time off and travel back through the Yukon and Alaska to visit old friends and do some much deserved fishing!

  2. One of the best articles on here yet, and there are lots of good ones, so that is saying a lot. I would love to see a sort of preparedness quiz. Something that would tell one how self-sufficient they would be considered based on what they know and what supplies and resources they have (including like-minded community).

  3. Love that picture,
    Thats my goal for sure, to get out of the way and just live, its been tough the last year or so, switching gears from full time farming, now back pounding nails, and the current job snowballing into a full time monster, its way too easy to get off track.
    This new year will be a process to get re-centered and work towards homesteading more, at least I keep telling myself that. I just need to learn how to get balance, at times that just seems like such a tall order though.
    Good day all, enjoy.

  4. In order to become independent to any degree you really must be driven. One aspect is a desire to free yourself from the mundane world but that isn’t enough, you also need to want to be where you are going. You need to set a long-term goal to be there and you also need to set short term goals to help you along the way.

    When we moved out to the island we bought the property and worked weekends to build our homestead. If we just looked at the long-term goal of living here we would have lost our way. It was too far into the future. It took nine years to arrange our lives to make the move. We had to get out of debt, figure out how to make a living in the bush, build our infrastructure. So we kept our day jobs and set weekend and seasonal goals that were more immediately attainable. That allowed us to see progress along the way.

    In winter when we could not work on our property we studied alternative energy, building techniques, took the master gardener classes and planned next season’s work. Our desire to become independent became the main motivating force in our lives. Looking back over 30 years it seems like a giant leap but all the way along it was one day at a time.

    And yes it is a bit daring. I was scared a lot of times. But if you only act inside your comfort zone there is no growth. What have you got to lose?

    Happy trails

    1. We have been moving towards homesteading and self sufficiency for almost 15 years now, but it seems to move slowly. DH and I still have to work full time, so we are also “weekend warriors”. It’s hard to get back in the rat race come Monday morning. We are both in our early 40’s so I have to remind myself that we are getting to our goal and where we are right now is only temporary. I wish we had more friends that shared our lifestyle. DH has more like-minded friends, but for me most of the ladies that share similar goals are stay at home mom’s (which I used to be) and it is much different now that I have to constantly manage my time.

  5. Most of my relatives were farmers growing up. We worked on the farms but it was made clear that we had to leave because the farm will only provide for so many people. That was the incentive for many of us to go to college to get educated. I would place more importance on young people finding out what they are good at when they leave home. I found my niche in emergency medicine.

    I now live in a small town where most everybody has a small “Victory Garden” or they raise chickens for meat or eggs. It is a fun journey to learn skills for independent living though I still see myself as a member within a small community.

    In the past couple years, I have read where Kulafarmer became Nailbanger. I can relate Brother. Most of us have made changes because we have to rather than want to. As we pack our lunch and drive into work each day, keep the faith and don’t lose sight of that dream.

    Nice picture. The green tractor looks like an old McCormick Farm-all tractor with exception of the green color.

    1. @CaliRefugee, I think the tractor may be a John Deere, because as an old fart (like NRP) I drove one when young in corn fields, the front tires spaced just enough to clear the small corn plants. (Also the barn has a Deere sign?).

      Hand spun the side mounted flywheel to start the thing, shut the gas line off and let it run dry to shut it off, no key. Always stalled and would not start if it rained, sun came out, dried it and started, chugged along.

        1. Went to Ken’s picture link, zoomed in, 720 is on the side of the tractor nose, no idea what it means. Also lot of detail in the truck bed, Canadian Honkers, steaming Thermos, couple of shots inside, amazing detail, teleport me there please.

      1. Grey
        Mecum has old cars on the auction block, sometimes you can pick them up with little repairs. Request the catalog from Mecum to see what is available, I have seen 1960’s to 1980’s trucks selling for a decent price. Of course have seen some that I said “WHAT did it sell for, ouch!”

        1. Antique Collector, thanks for the Mechum tip, never heard of them and will check it out. Have used Hemmings Motor News, if I recall correctly out of Vermont. To stay sorta/kinda/maybe on topic it is great people share the stories, tips and experiences no matter big or small.

  6. We’ve been here on the homestead for 13+ years now….
    and I’ve learned a richness of life that I never knew before…
    I learn new skills each year, bringing with it new joys…

    I grew up in the dense suburbs, very difficult upbringing and young adulthood…lots there folks, and more rock bottoms that I can count…
    I know a lot of you can relate…
    still being mended from the inside out…
    so thankful for this path I am now on and for steps in healing and recovery…

    And a large part of that healing has come from raising and being with the sheep and all the animals and enjoying the seasonal beauty that surrounds us…We enjoy the rhythm of each day even while tending to the chickens, sheep, and now rabbits, Herbie and Parsley…

    This week while pruning blueberry bushes and the large tangled overgrown grapevine, I listen and pray…
    being mindful of things that need pruned in my own life, and making cleared spaces for new growth…

    What I find in the journey towards self-sufficiency, besides the hard work, which is mostly pleasure honestly, is love, gratitude, and joy….

    Peace all~

    My heart is truly grateful :)

  7. Ken wrote, “The journey towards self sufficiency can be as fast or slow as you desire. You may stop anywhere along the way and be comfortable where you’re at. It is not a contest. It is your life. Your freedom.”

    “Happiness is found along the way, not at the end of the road.” Robert R. Updegraff

    We took on a path of self-reliance and homesteading almost 30 years ago. We have never, ever regretted our choice! When looking back, it is obvious to see that our lifestyles of today were brought about by our families and how they lived. They were all frugal and understood the value of money earned. They were all hard-workers and dedicated to family and God-given values.

    I’d like to share a piece that I wrote about a year after Obama was elected. It didn’t take long to realize that we were facing a hard journey forward. So these were my words from December 2009:

    “A Little Land, A Lot of Living”

    One of the dreams held by many people in America includes owning a home with a small parcel of land. That dream began with our Nation’s first settlers.

    The same dream holds on for today’s Americans, centuries later. Some of us who are living that dream have done so because of our independent spirits. Many of us also want to live close to the land — we don’t jump onto society’s fad-wagons, nor do we live our lives based on some theory. We have integrated our lifestyle around the land and its offerings. We depend upon the land, deeply respect it, and develop an uncanny relationship with it. We know the rhythm, we follow the signs — when you live closely with a little land, you learn from it.

    Having a little land is a dream that a number of folks have aspired to. Owning a little land has been a goal that generations have successfully worked towards. When comparing our own contemporary ideals and principles to those who came before us, even to those who lived just a generation ago or to those who were the first settlers in America, we discover that this dream of owning a little land is a common desire.

    I suppose, in reality, there are a number of people who have a desire to work for themselves and sustain themselves and their families. We are really not very different than those who came before us. While most of us don’t actually have to live off of the land, many of us choose to do so. Our choices align with who we are and what we value.

    And with hard work, some good fortune, and the grace of God, we hire ourselves on with a little land. With some effort using the land we have, we can get a lot of living out of the land.


    America’s economy has been especially brutal for the past couple of years. Some of us have been asking more of our land, or more of ourselves, mostly because we are smart enough to realize that our Nation’s prosperity is changing. And for the majority of Americans, these changes are not for the better. The overall national prosperity has lessened and many Americans are becoming more cautious, more frugal. As the economic downturn of this deep Recession affects our personal outlook and our personal prosperity, we are buying less and paying down our personal debts more than before.

    America has been struggling with numerous issues and the deep Recession has forced all of us to examine our lifestyles more closely. Doing so has helped some of us tighten our belts in one way or another. Some people realize that the dependency upon an outside job is fraught with a great deal of uncertainty. Unemployment is at 10% and jobs are scarce now.

    I found the Gene Logsdon article, “No One With Land Should Be Without A Job” an excellent response to the dilemma that so many Americans are facing now. Logsdon has the right ideas on the benefits of small scale farming and homesteading. His article’s title, taken from another person’s article in Farming Magazine (Fall 2009), cites the financial benefits, job potential, and security from small scale farming.

    Small scale farming and homesteading can be profitable ventures and given our current economic climate, land-jobs and self-employment look more and more feasible. Those who sell or make home-based products on a small-scale farming or homesteading enterprise understand how a little land can provide for someone who works it. As long as the Federal government does not further regulate home-based products off the farm, a little land can provide a job and a means to live with, and off, the land.

    Many who have a little land grow some vegetables. Some grow large gardens with ample harvest to preserve foods for the winter months. Those who have a little land were probably influenced by the current Recession and made a few decisions based on personal needs, too. Perhaps those decisions were to be more frugal, become more self-sufficient, or more inventive in regards to lifestyle and homesteading ways. Maybe a few more loads of laundry were hung on the clothesline. Maybe more meals were cooked at home. Maybe a few more bills were paid-off to get out of debt.

    And maybe, just maybe, this whole Recession has gotten more people to think hard about thrift and self-reliance. People are witnessing the dangers of living on credit, the rat race, and living beyond one’s personal means. More and more people are scaling back, simplifying their lifestyles, examining their principles and what they truly value. Many realize that there’s a lot of living when you have a little land.

    Living off the land and homesteading is not just a way of life, but a set of principles to live by. The homesteading lifestyle is one that aligns core beliefs based on self-reliance and independence. Those of us who strive to live off the land realize that the efforts in homesteading yield excellent quality in food production. And oftentimes, homesteaders also realize financial savings as well. Homesteaders know from practical experience that self-sufficiency provides personal satisfaction, peace of mind, and stability for the self-reliant efforts.

    Whether the effort is small-scale or farm-size, living off the land is not a new endeavor at all. In fact, many aspects of small-scale farming and foraging are in vogue now.

    Living more responsibly can bring about a lifestyle with a common sense approach and voluntary simplicity. Good old-fashioned know-how and human ingenuity will provide many struggling people with the means to live well and within their means.

    More and more people are scaling back and there are quite a few folks who are opting-out, going back-to-the-land. There is a definite homesteading movement in America. The renewed interest in vegetable gardening has more of us growing our own foods as well as preserving our own foods.

    Yes, a little land can certainly provide a lot of living.

    1. Excellent response but let’s take it one step further. Hatred moved me to the country and my four acres. Hatred of city taxes, crime, drugs cramped living quarters. Hatred of everything around me put me out here. I’m safer out here. I grow my own food I live completely without electricity except for a small solar panel and Battery.

      Independence is life. Dependence is death. Slow agonizing death. God bless thanks.

  8. Self Sufficiency is a journey, not a destination. We will continue to work towards self sufficiency until the day we die.

    We were lucky that we had our SHTF events early in our life. It helped us in our journey, we learned early on that life never goes as planned. There were bumps in the road, potholes and even a couple of washed out bridges in our journey. Each hazard taught us something new. We learned how to be frugal, how to do without, and alternative solutions to problems when money wasn’t available. One of the most important lessons we learned is that money really isn’t all that important. Yes I know, we need to pay our house taxes in fiat money because the government wont take chicken eggs, firewood, or vegetables produced in your garden.

    As time goes on, we go the store less and less. I should say the grocery store, mainly for milk as there are no dairy farms near us.

  9. Great article on a central topic.
    Independence and self sufficiency are the positive heart of the prepping movement.
    Freedom, health, beauty, restfulness, and productivity on your own land with your own resources and resourcefulness.
    Sure, its a ton of work, but the payoff is worth it, both for ourselves and for our children and maybe their children.
    It is hard to convey to those that have never experienced it, the feelings of;
    ** a full woodshed with winter on its way
    ** wood heat from firewood you cut yourself
    ** a meal composed entirely of foods you grew or harvested yourself
    ** fresh whole milk
    ** watching your herd or flock at calving/kidding/lambing season
    ** killing that dirty rotten chicken killing whatever
    ** firing up the Beast (tractor) to pull the neighbor out of the ditch
    ** smelling that fresh mown hay
    ** ‘Miller Time’ when the hay is in
    ** getting your first pickup truck
    ** learning to stick weld

    ‘Prepping’ is so much more than beans and bullets, important as they are.
    This topic is inspirational to me and I hope to hear more on it.

    1. @ChuckW; when the nose gets full of the smell of freshly mowed hay the mind just goes into neutral, to savor the smells of the country! Memories, soon to be current memories! LOL Loclyokel

  10. This is a topic about which multiple volumes of large books can be written just to cover the basics. I think there are different categories of self sufficiency that each of us excel at to one degree or another but as I look back and ponder my journey (I’m 69 and yes it was and still is a daring and sometimes scary journey), I realize that it is impossible for anyone to become totally self-sufficient in all areas. But, you are right, it does give one an empowering feeling of accomplishment to master one or more skills that enable you to live outside the clutches of the system.

    I’ve been working on this self sufficiency thing for a very long time but am still very deficient in most self sufficiency skills that were common, out of necessity, in societies of old. Even back then, many skills were scattered throughout society since no one did it all. I even went so far as to build a forge, but never made anything from it; and almost bought a spinning wheel but never did; and started building a still but never finished it although I did make several batches of high alcohol wine and still have all the equipment (for emergencies). Over time, I found it simpler to buy my tools, clothes and booze. Even so, if the grid goes down and there is no food in the grocery stores, I can live quite comfortably for a very long time but I still have to rely on other people for many things. In that regard my self sufficiency is constrained by the amount of “stuff” I stock up on in hopes that it will last me for most or all of the rest of my life (tools, clothes, weapons etc..).

    I have thought about and dabbled with doing a lot of things but quickly discovered that to be totally self sufficient you will have to make your own clothes from the skins of whatever animal you kill (tried that a couple times but became disillusioned quickly), or the wool from your own sheep or from your own homegrown whatever (cotton, hemp, flax), or forge your own tools and weapons from the ore you dig up from the ground, or build your own house from the lumber you cut from the trees you cut down, or make your own glass jars from sand you dug from the stream, or grind your own grain from the grains you grow (I tried that several times but wound up simply buying 5,000 pounds of grain in sealed buckets instead, but, we still grind all of our own grain and make all of our own breads, crackers and pasta. I discovered that growing and harvesting my own grain goes way beyond my hard work threshold as do many other self sufficiency skills, and on and on… you get the drift. Currently, growing and preserving all my other food stuffs is hard work and time consuming enough.

    Today, I’m happy just to stay out of debt, grow and preserve my own food and experiment or dabble on a very small scale in other self sufficiency things that may or may not be useful if the bottom drops out. It really is a great feeling to sit down to a large multi-course meal where most, if not all of the “fixings” were home grown and home made from scratch. It really is a great feeling to grocery shop from my own larder and garden instead of having to rely on Winn Dixie or Wal-Mart. That truly gives you a feeling of empowerment.

      1. Flour, water, salt, yeast in various percentages. I use 3 c flour, 1 1/2 c water, a pinch of yeast and 1/2 t of salt. Mix it all up, you may need slightly more water. Let it sit at least 18 hours until bubbles appear on the surface. Flour your hands and make the dough into a ball, plop it in a greased bowl and let it rise again. I actually put it in the pans at this stage. When it’s doubled in bulk (about two hours) cook it at 450 for 30 minutes.

        You will be tempted to cut it while it’s still hot, and that’s fabulous if you intend to eat it all immediately (which will likely happen). But if you want the loaf to last and develop its true texture, wait until it’s cool.

        1. @ Sandismom; Lauren.

          Thanks… Our recipes are fairly similar although wife changes it up depending on what type bread she’s baking or grains she’s using. We use mostly wheat but with other combinations like cracked or rolled oats, barley flakes or rye. For newbies, start with a basic bread recipe from any cookbook or the internet, then experiment until you have what you like. We started out years ago doing it all by hand but wound up taking the easy route and picked up a bread machine to do all the kneading through the first rise. Second rise is in the pans, then we bake it in the oven. For fine grind flour we use a Wonder-mill. (Don’t grind corn in the Wonder-mill, it’s too oily). For cracked cereal, corn meal and other course grinds we use an old Champion juicer with a grain attachment and occasionally crack it using the Country Living hand grinder but that is a lot of work. I suppose any old grain grinder will work so use whatever you have.

          You are right about the eating part but… there’s nothing like hot bread and butter!!! If you want to eat it hot and not worry about cutting a hot loaf, simply divide the dough up into 12 equal parts for the second rise and make rolls instead of a loaf of bread. Also, you need to cover the loaf with a cloth until it’s completely cool before putting the loaf in a bread bag otherwise condensation will ruin the bread and shorten the shelf life considerably. Shelf life is normally about three days without refrigeration, after that it goes in the refrigerator but generally a loaf of bread doesn’t last more than a couple days around our house.

  11. @Ken; you wrote:
    “While it is very easy to simply stay in one place in life, it requires a bit of fearlessness or overcoming one’s fears to begin a lifestyle change – particularly one which doesn’t follow the ‘mainstream’.”

    Wow, is all I can say to this particular thought. We have recently purchased and are in the process of slowly relocating to an acreage in the great white north-From hot and sunny (80+ today) Florida. All we hear from others is “are you crazy?” “most people go the other way, downsize and move south,” and for the wife getting the new grocery card and them requiring ID; “You’re moving HERE? Why?!”

    We have thought about their outlook on what we are doing and just laugh to ourselves. We spent 6 YEARS covering 5 states finding the right place for “US” and they have no clue other than they show up to work to get a check. Don’t get me wrong, we have been there too. But we also learned that it wasn’t what we wanted. Something like what we have pursued and secured will probably never enter their minds.

    We are not in their position and have spent literally years saving and gathering, preparing, learning, & experimenting for this lifestyle change. Fears definitely come into the picture, and are overcome one way or another. You just have to stay focused on the end goal and work it a little bit at a time. It is what we both want out of what remains of our lives and it also puts us back closer to some family on both sides that we can depend on.

    We already met one of our neighboring families and are well pleased so far. I believe Life is a never-ending learning process and we as humans were never meant to be tied as a slave to one “job” that consumes your whole life. We are doing what we can to avoid that one job that eats every day of your life.

    Thank you Ken for this site and especially for today’s entry. It really hit home for us. Loclyokel

  12. Private property and independence, sounds like the original American dream to me. Yes happiness is in the journey to the destination. Happiness is in the pursuit. It’s akin to success in that it is found in the setting and achieving of successive goals. Happiness is found in meaning, or purpose. The source of which is striving for or pursuing a noble cause. For many, freedom, liberty, and independence have been that noble cause. Cities, towns, and villages have always been a part of civilization. Private property allows us the freedom to choose to be independent of the systems which are inherent to city dwelling. Freedom is being allowed, among other things, to choose to be independent of those systems to the degree, or extent of our choice. Independence and freedom, a very noble cause indeed. May it ever be so from sea to shining sea. May God bless America. And His blessing and hand be on President Donald J. Trump.

  13. This is a passion of mine. To show our kids that money and things don’t mean everything. Our family first started out on 3 acres and a home when we got that paid off in less then 10 years, we moved to 30 acres and a home, now less than half we owe, 5 years later.

    HOW, you ask?

    Hard work and know how. We decided years ago that to save money I would stay home with the kids. I stayed home but I worked, made a garden, canned, raised chickens, lambs. I was always busy, teaching the kids. We have not had cable TV in years. Even now that the kids are older, and we have a bigger farm, I still don’t work off the farm. But we raise meat goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs. Our dependence on the grocery store is for flour, and milk. Why do I tell you all of this?

    Please know when you start a journey like this, please know it does not come over night. Do not be discouraged if you are going to the store more then you think you should be. Just stay with it, we have been striving for self sufficiency for 18 years. Still working on it!! Its a daily process. Just stay with it.

  14. Good article Ken

    I’v been doing the “lifestyle” for a few days now, and all I can add is it’s worth every heartbeat not being tied to the emotional condemnations of being under “the man”. Sure I still have to pay taxes and that stuff, but I beleive you will never know freedom again untill you break away from being under the thumb of others.

    The Lifestyle is not only aphysical place and stuff but mental freedom as well.


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