How To Become Just A Little Bit More Self-Reliant / Self-Sufficient

Most all of us are very dependent upon other systems (infrastructure) to literally keep us alive. Naturally, this is a result of many technological and societal advances that have enabled a more convenient way of life. A ‘modern’ lifestyle.

It’s a good thing in the sense of progress. However, the more dependent we become on other systems, the more we rely on them for our survival. There is a certain amount of risk that goes along with it, as we put our complete trust in those systems.

For most people, this dependence and associated risk is not a thought that enters the mind. But for a few of us, we recognize that risks exist. And to an extent, we try to offset some of those risks with some preparedness.

There are a lot of things that people can do to become just a little bit more self-reliant / self-sufficient. To become just a little bit less dependent upon modern critical infrastructure systems.

Lets simply have a look at a few areas of interest. Food, Water, Electricity. There are more, however these seem pretty important.

What we can do to offset reliance, even just a little bit, in order to become a bit more self sufficient.

For starters, we don’t need to go ‘overboard’ to completely sever our reliance on these things /systems. Although becoming 100% self-sufficient may be an admirable goal for some, it is very, very difficult (and rare) to fully accomplish in reality. So to begin with, lets take small steps. Do what you can to soften your existing reliance on external systems.

Food and Garden

 
FOOD self-sufficiency is very difficult. Why? Because our bodies need at least ~2,000 calories of food per day – along with a good nutritional balance. That’s 730,000 calories of food (minimum!) just for one year…

Your typical backyard summer garden will not even come close to providing a tiny fraction of those calories for an extended period of time. HOWEVER, your typical backyard garden WILL set you in the right direction to be just a bit more self-sufficient. You can take it as far as you want to. It can become significant.

I don’t care how small your starter garden is. You need to start somewhere. Next year, maybe you MAKE IT BIGGER. Learn from your mistakes this year. What worked and what didn’t work. Do more of what did work…

The next food step for being more self-sufficient is preserving some of what you grew in that garden. Seriously, this is important. Canning some of your harvest is not as difficult as you might think. It does take some time, but it is a ‘must’ for self-reliance in this regard. Learn how to preserve some of your harvest for off-season consumption.

You could also utilize home canning by purchasing certain foods from the grocery store that are on sale. For example, once in a while when chicken (or beef roast) is on a deep discount sale, we purchase a quantity and ‘can’ it. We not only save money on the chicken (or beef) itself, we also save dollars by not having to keep it all in the freezer (which we also do – vacuum sealed).

[ Read: My Pressure Canned Chicken ]

Water

 
WATER is a critical resource. You might say that it’s more important than food itself. While it would take a major disaster to interrupt our municipal water supplies, we should not ignore the importance of clean drinking water.

A critical step towards being more self-reliant in the water department is to acquire a good drinking water filter, such as any of the Berkey countertop filters.

[ Read: Authorized USA Berkey Dealer ]

Unless you live in a dry desert region, many have some sort of water source fairly close to where we live. Perhaps a stream, river, pond, or lake. A means of gathering that water and filtering it for safe drinking is a tremendous step towards risk deterrence.

Additionally, store a quantity of water in your home for just-in-case. Maybe it’s simply a stack of several cases of bottled water. Or you might fill a water barrel for emergency. These simple steps will alleviate (for a time) your reliance on a municipal water source.

[ Read: 55 Gallon Water Storage Barrel | How-to Clean & Store For Emergency ]

I have a well (actually a ‘dug well’ at a natural spring out back), and I still keep water barrels filled for ‘just in case’ my water pump fails (to offset the time to get it fixed). It’s never a bad idea to store water!

Electricity

 
ELECTRICTY is the life blood of nearly all things ‘modern’, including our systems of infrastructure. Although the prospect of a long-term power grid failure is beyond the scope of this article, the more likely short-term outages can be fairly easily offset with an ordinary generator.

A generator for home emergency usage does not have to be huge. I know of many folks who have 6,000 watt or 8,000 watt generators (or higher rating). However you typically don’t need nearly that much power to operate critical appliances within your home. For example, I am able to easily run my critical systems with a 3500 watt generator while only consuming a fraction of that power to operate the fridge, freezer, furnace, and some lights. While a whole-house monster generator is great, you can get by with less – just saying.

Solar power has become very popular. However most of these home systems today are ‘grid-tie’ which feedback solar energy into the grid – which you are credited for on your monthly bill. The problem though is that most of these grid-tied systems will not produce electricity for the home if the grid itself goes down (some will), and ALL of them will NOT provide any power for the home at night.

This is why I have built my own ‘off grid’ solar power system (with a battery bank) which provides entirely separate and independent power – not related or connected with the grid. My home is connected with the grid; however, I also have the capability of an entirely separate power source (kind of like having a separate generator). You can really go ‘over the top’ with these systems, but the good thing is that you can start small…

[ Read: Solar Generator versus Gas Generator ]

Regarding becoming further self-sufficient against your electrical utility company, just think of all the things in your home that ‘require’ electricity, and then find alternatives for them. For example, a solar oven is very effective for cooking (it’s similar to cooking with a crock-pot), so long as the sun is shining and it’s not freezing cold outside. Or a small single burner butane stove for cooking.

[ Read: Best Butane Stove For Indoor Use – Single Gas Burner ]

[ Read: Cooking Without Electricity ]

The point is that you can start small. And I can almost guarantee you that once you start, you’ll be ‘hooked’… :=)

14 Comments

  1. Good stuff.
    I’m sure we’ll all learn to get by with less; power, water, etc. I’m as guilty as anyone about flipping on the light switch. It’s ingrained in us. The power is just right there at the switch. We all know that’s not true, but still……

    It’ll be a difficult transition to deal with less. When you are the one generating the power; solar, wind, generator, whatever, it’s natural to think about it more. I agree with start small and expand from there. Maybe not the most cost effective way, but it’s at least a start.

    1. Pmedic
      We will all learn how to get by with less, we can do it, its not a new thing and folks all over the world get by with less as a way of life.
      For some it will be easy, for others its going to be a steep hill.
      Those living rural, fairly simple lifestyles to begin with will be good, city dwellers it will be tough, none of us will have it easy.
      One thing for sure, we will learn

  2. We will never be as self-sufficient as the Afghan goat herder, but even he has to conform to the organization of the “village”

    We conform as a trade-off to have a longer life, health care, energy, mobility, entertainment, …. so the insulation against societal pressures has to be balanced. Each of us determines our own level of independence.

  3. I don’t believe that there is much time left to prep. I’m not certain what will happen first, what with the economy on a downward trend, a pending hot Civil War, and the mess happening in the Ukraine.

    If the election goes the “red way/GOP”, I would not be surprised that the riots that follow will make the summer of 2020 look like a church meeting.

    We all here have been prepping for a long time, but Ken is right, it is aways better to improve on what y’all got.

  4. Agree, 100%, Ken. I would add, start where you can (if you’re just starting, best move as if your hair’s on fire!), but ramp it up as much and quickly as you can. What will happen, when, is hard to know. Most likely, it will be multiple crises at the same time, and several are already in play. There’s no rule that says they can only bombard us with one thing at a time. Self-sufficiency to the extent possible, and mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded others are key in having a chance of making it through to the other side, which is probably years from now.

    I keep hearing “come out from among her, my people”. Even if you’re not biblically minded, it’s a sound principle. My goal is to do as much as we can to provide for our needs on our own, or trading with close neighbors. When I have to go to the store for something, I think about how I might address the need another way. It’s helped me look at things differently, and make do more with what we already have. It seems impossible, but every day we’re working on it. If we make it to elections this November, I expect all hell to break loose however it turns out.

    1. Farmgirl, What you said! What to prep for? All of the above!

      Kind of old but “If you prep for the zombie apocalypse you have it all covered.”

  5. Little things at first. One degree higher or lower on the thermostat. Maybe dump your wash water outside on the garden, or create a little water garden to use it. Bury your food waste rather than putting it in the trash. Not using lights after dark. Cutting up old clothes for rags rather than throwing them away. Make each new thing a habit. Soon your garbage will dwindle, your garden will be happier, and your bills will be reduced as well.

  6. The good news is that people who are reading your information are already feeling that tug….that need…that something must be done so they are a bit more self sufficient. The bad news is that it does take an effort to start on this path. You have to change the way you think w out your daily needs. Many are used to status quote and won’t want to be bothered. Those that fall into this trap will be the ones who will feel the most anguish when things go bad. They could have and should have made a change to provide something extra for themselves and their family….but they didn’t want to make the effort.

    Start today by learning how to provide yourself and your family with a small amount of security. Yes, there is a learning curve but there is plenty of help and guidance on how to accomplish these steps. Resolve now to do one thing each day to get closer to being self sufficient. You will feel better knowing you are doing all you can to provide for those in your household.

    1. P.S. as I was reading this blog, my spouse was reviewing a mailing insert advising us of a sale at a local market. Fresh chicken in 40 lb boxes. Boneless breast for $79, thighs for $48, and leg quarters at $31. Also, Sugardale bacon 24 lbs box at $100. These are reasonable prices which would allow a person to put a bit of extra in their freezer by repackaging into sizes for their own family. Our decision was to think about what I already had canned and in the freezer, along with thinking about what is being harvested soon on the farm. While we generally eat our own grown meat, we also supplement with store bought food.

  7. That’s like the old Zaycon meats I think it was. You would order and then when they showed up a line of cars would be there and they would just load the bulk meats into your car. The Bacon was outstanding…. Sadly they went the way of the Dodo….

  8. Fall is the time of year when I do more things indoors in general. Summer was too hot to make and enjoy a pot of beans or stew. Now is the season to make all of the beans and short ribs I have been purchasing and storing. This past year, I know of several people that have started their own: “side gig” type of business coming out of the pandemic. One of these jobs is auto detailing. I’ve been keeping quiet because I remember that these types of businesses tend to not-do-well in times of recession. (in times of recession, people will wash+wax their own cars and save the money).
    My own side gig has become a bit bigger this past year without my really trying. (reloading ammo for hunters). This past month, I reloaded 30-30 brass for 4 hunters and 270 for another hunter. One of the 30-30 shooters demonstrated some foresight and purchased my 30-30 dies and shell holder from me. I was able to order another set of 30-30 dies and shell holder from Midway/USA. In the coming weeks, I will be reloading shotshell using some french-made 209 primers to see how they work in both 12 and 20 gauge.

  9. My restock on chicken is buying 10 whole roasted Costco chickens for 50 bucks, I love the taste and that’s the cheapest cooked chicken anywhere. I love to debone and pack in zip locks and of course freeze.

    1. Yep, we have done that before with local cooked birds. After deboning, we put all the bones in a pot with water, garlic, onion and celery and make some good bone broth.

      1. When we make bone broth, I make sure to grab the bigger bones with pliers and snap them (being careful to do it outside to avoid any bone shards in the pot ) so the cooking process has full access to the bone marrow.

        <bb

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