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When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life

Oct 02 2017 -
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In the following post I address why living a self sufficient life should be something we are all striving toward as well as when and where to start! If you’re like me you follow DIY bloggers that are true, full on, homesteaders. They’ve “got it all” the farm, the house, the solar panels, the garden, they have come full circle to the point that they can feed their entire family well on what they raise and grow. They are truly what I strive to become someday but, honestly, the whole “homestead” and “self sufficient” movement can be a little intimidating so, where do you start?

When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch

Whether you’re living in an apartment in the city or have 100 acres in Montana there is an easy answer as to WHEN and that is: RIGHT NOW. But, when it comes to where to actually START that answer isn’t always an easy one. Do you start with a garden? Growing herbs in a window? Making your own household products? I had a troll comment on my blog post about building a little console table for behind our sofa and she said, “What a ridiculous thing to build and spend money on when you can just go out and buy a shelf!” I admit my blood boiled a little (ok, my blood boiled a lot) if there was ever a sentence that could sum up so much of what is wrong with humanity and the United States right now then that was it.

When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch

So, where do you start? You start by working out of the mindset that just because it might be easier and more convenient does not mean it will EVER be the better way of doing things. In fact, I have found that to look better after us and the earth it is almost always more work. However, it has not yet cost us more money but has ALWAYS saved us money. If that troll had bothered to read my post then she would have known that I built that console table almost entirely out of what I already had on hand. But, of course, it is far more then just using what we have and saving money, learning to build a console table increased my skill level and that knowledge I will take with me and use for the rest of my life.

When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch



Buying new should be a luxury whether it comes to our clothes, our household fixtures, pretty much ANYTHING. Every day I look at my home, take stock of what needs to be done with the full list of what we have and what I could make use of without ever having to buy anything. If I do end up having to buy something I focus on buying in bulk things I can use over and over again. (Like this organic coconut oil I purchased from Amazon) If I buy an essential oil I can go on to use it in multiple recipes. (This sampler gift set of essential oils was what got me started!) If I buy paint I know I can go on and use it multiple times on multiple projects before I run out.


When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch

The idea of always going and buying it, or calling someone to fix it, means we never learn anything and we are entirely dependent on other people, other builders, other craftsman, for the rest of our lives. And, without any shadow of doubt, that is REALLY gonna cost us! It is utterly ridiculous that when we could use what we already have (or purchase used from a thrift store) that we would ever choose to buy new – adding even more when there is already so much that we could ever possibly need or use. (It is not unlike the choice between adopting a dog or cat who needs a home and supporting a breeder who is utterly ignoring the fact that 4 million unwanted dogs and cats are put to sleep every year…) It is time to stop being so irresponsible and that is exactly where to start when it comes to becoming self sufficient.

Not so long ago when something needed to be fixed the home owner would feel the responsibility to know how to fix it and to do it themselves. (Back then we couldn’t just call someone to come over and do it for us and that really wasn’t that long ago.) People used to be responsible, resilient and tough, they learned things and they applied them to all of their circumstances. Nowadays our society WANTS us to have to buy it and it WANTS us to have to hire everything out to someone else but every single day it seems to me like it gets harder and harder to even afford to live like that. If, for no other reason, then to save money is a darned good reason to become more self sufficient.

When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch

Running all of the water and drain lines for our entire home was scary, frustrating and one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever put myself through. But, now that its done, there is no plumbing situation that could possibly frighten me and that is just awesome. I feel the same when it also comes to electrical, we had a breaker go out on us the other day, I grabbed my tools, turned the main off, popped that breaker out and replaced it in a matter of minutes. I have a bank of experience now from choosing to do things myself that I fall back on over and over and over again. Joe is in the same boat as well and this house taught us a very valuable lesson: If two people put there mind to something there is literally nothing they can’t do. Our washer/dryer combo machine stopped working last year, Joe did some research, pulled up a Youtube video, took it a part and fixed it with absolutely no prior experience working on clothes washers before that.

When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch

We’ve been taught by our society that most situations require us to hire someone else, that the situation SHOULD scare us and we could royally screw it up if we try to do it ourselves. Plumbers, builders and electricians are not super heroes and you likely went to school with several of them and they got average grades just like you. Part of self sufficiency is faking being fearless and going against a whole lot of grains that you were raised to believe. The first lesson I took away from our house renovation doing everything ourselves was this simple truth: EVERYTHING IS FIXABLE. Just because it is not the “standard” way most people do things nowadays does not make it wrong.

Becoming self sufficient is a practice to be done in baby steps. Joe and I used to add dishwasher detergent to our grocery list just like everyone else. When we run out now I just mix up another batch and continue with my day like its the most normal thing in the world. So, start right now, do the research and fix something when you normally would have called someone, start making your household products from scratch, you’re going to save a lot of money but there is absolutely no price that can be put on the lessons you learn along the way.


When, where & why to start living a more self sufficient life, how to begin and why we need to change our mindset and start making things from scratch

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21 Comments

  1. October 3, 2017 at 4:37 am

    You are absolutely right. I think of all of your posts, this is my favourite.

    Cooking at home, repairing instead of replacing, taking ownership,of the impact we have on the planet. It is all so important.

    I read so many blogs, and many are are beautiful homes filled with furniture I cannot possibly afford..often of dubious quality. All of it really- the house, the furniture, the renovation. Many of my things are older…and my sofa is ready to be recovered, not replaced. The bookcase downstairs should likely be refishished, as it is about a hundred years old and elm, not pressboard.

    • October 3, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you so much Shawn for coming by, reading and commenting! I think it is definitely time for us to start going back to taking responsibility for, not just what we have, but for the earth as well!

    • Ray Green
      October 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Tarah. Just ran across your website/blog and was blown away with your self sufficient article. I’m a former Teacher/Coach/Marine and fell in love with your ideas. My girlfriend and I have talked about doing similar things, but not sure how that will pan out. We’re both in our seventies, but unlike so many others that are fearful of the “comfort” they currently have. I haven’t stopped and smelled as many roses as I should have, but believe it’s time. This article may send us looking for those roses, Keep up the good life. You’re an inspiration to more people than you realize. Looking forward to your future blogs.

      • October 18, 2017 at 9:00 pm

        Ray, it is absolutely wonderful to hear from you! Like I said in the article this has really been in baby steps for us, I look back now and can’t believe how far we’ve come with making our own cleaners etc. But, really, it wasn’t an over night change and I always used up something before replacing it with homemade lol I’m too frugal to do otherwise. Thanks again for coming by and good luck on your journey!

  2. October 3, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Tarah, I feel better so much after reading your post. You inspire me that I should live a self sufficient life, which is ignored before. Thank you so much for writing and inspiring me! Please keep writing and sharing! I hope to follow and can receive more posts from you.

  3. October 6, 2017 at 2:19 am

    You always amaze me with all the work you’ve done and what you’ve achieved in your home (and your other little house). I follow along and am always super impressed. We live in the Southwest of Western Australia and our climate etc is so different to yours, but we still are great believers in fixing what’s broken, only buying what we REALLY need and keeping things minimal. Living frugally has set us up to be debt free and really content.

    • October 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Leanne, you mentioned debt free and that absolutely makes my heart flutter, it is our goal someday and living like this has already saved us so much and put us on the right track! Thank you for coming by, reading and commenting, have a great weekend!

  4. October 8, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Nice post! Some things we can do, some we can’t but we can balance out nicely if we all try. And what about recycling? We live in a country town with street lights (too many and on too long!) garbage collection, free bins to divide up the rubbish, the recycling, the glass…. and people still don’t bother. My hubs did the same thing as Joe last year with both the cooker and the fridge/freezer (youtube videos). Hey presto! no new machines needed.

    We are just having a new kitchen fitted. We got new tiles but didn’t pay the earth for something fashionable only today; we are keeping the fridge/freezer and the washing machine and the toaster and the microwave and various other things. This kitchen will last us for life (we are both 70) and whilst removing old cupboards etc we found loads of good stuff that went to the local charity shop (goodwill over there?), or to the recycling depot. That was a good lesson for us because it also taught us that everyone has far too much stuff!! We have saved the old work tops and everyone will get a nice new fat chopping board this Christmas (I mean, why would you throw them out??). The new light fitting was half price in a sale – the old one is going to the charity shop after I clean it up. Nearly everything that leaves this house is recycled in some way – and everyone could do that if they tryed.

    I enjoy your blog from over here in the UK. Thank you.

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Oh its so good to hear from you Susan! Its awesome to get to correspond with like minded people, I’ve been told I’m kinda crazy on more then one occasion lol You’re just SO right, there is SO much stuff already!!

  5. ann daley
    October 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Oh I so agree with you. My husband died three years ago and since his death I have enormously expanded my self-sufficiency skills. I am quite proud of myself but have to admit before any ‘scary’ job I do a quick decade of my rosary prior to starting. I reckon it gives me extra help. So while many 0f my contemporaries are into old age I am taking delight in my next project.

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Ann I’m so sorry you lost your husband! Good luck with any new projects you plan on tackling!

  6. Betty
    October 8, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    This is a fabulous post! I’m far older than you, and you are lucky to have learned those valuable lessons far earlier than I did. Our home is totally recycled, including the building and metal roof. Our Trex deck was free on Craigslist; most of our furniture is used and reused or antiques. Thanks so much for saying this. As for that troll? pffffbt!!

    • October 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Betty, thanks so much for coming by, reading and commenting! It is always so wonderful to hear from other folks who think like we do!

  7. Jann Olson
    October 10, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Being self sufficient certainly is very important. I haven’t mastered it totally, but do try to. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    • October 10, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks for coming by Jann!

  8. October 11, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Great post Tarahlynn! I have been loving all the tips and tricks you have been sharing at the Home Sweet Home party! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

    • October 11, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Sherry!

  9. October 11, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Tarah I can’t believe someone actually had the nerve to complain about your table. I think this person is so brainwashed they are just throwing money out the door. That or they are super rich! You know I’m 100% behind you on this. I would never overlook anything in the house and the last thing I’d do is call a professional. In fact I think blogging is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have learned so much from reading all of these DIY blogs and we even put in our own kitchen last month. That’s something I would have been afraid to do before.

    • October 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Hey Mary, yeah the trolls online do amaze me from time to time lol I’m sure you’ve run into several on your blog too. But its ladies like you and the countless other online that I’ve learned so much from and you guys give me so much hope and inspiration for all of us! Thanks, as always, for coming by 🙂

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Making a shoe rack and closet storage out an old ladder

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