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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.