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 I 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.

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

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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… Read more »
Ray Green
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… Read more »
Pillow Treasure

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.

Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au

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.

susan maclean
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… Read more »
ann daley

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.


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!!

Jann Olson

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


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!

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… Read more »
Iris Nacole
Making a shoe rack and closet storage out an old ladder


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