Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Micro-steps to self-sufficiency

Complete self-sufficiency looks wonderful on paper but in real life it's unattainable to most of us. Own wind turbines, solar panels, farm animals, large gardens or fields are all rather big and costly projects. Partial self-sufficiency is different. I would absolutely love to get as close to it as possible, but there are certain things I cannot do at the moment, such as keep livestock for example. That doesn't mean I shouldn't try to be self-sufficient in other areas. I follow a few homesteading/self-sufficiency blogs and truly admire those people, some of them have built their own houses, some keep chickens and goats and bees, others have beautiful, lush vegetable gardens, make their own clothes, soap, candles or boast a number of other great skills. All of them are hard workers and passionate about the idea of being able to create what they need just with their own two hands.

I am nowhere near as advanced as most of them, but I am taking baby steps. I think anyone can find at least one area of self-sufficiency they are good at, and build on that. Find online resources, talk to people, read books, take workshops and build the ''portfolio'' of your skills.

Sometimes we already have skills we take for granted and don't even think of them in terms of self-sufficiency. If you cook your own meals from scratch most days, you are already a big step ahead of the person who only shops the ready meals isle. If you have a pot of basil growing on your kitchen window sill, you are more self-sufficient than the person who buys the dried stuff every time they need it. The examples are countless.

I tried to think about my own skills, mostly to feel better about myself but also to motivate myself to learn more. Here's what I came up with:

My micro-steps to self-sufficiency

- I can cook. I know how to cook from scratch using simple ingredients; I don't need to buy ready meals. I can cook using recipes but also improvise a lot.

- I bake my own bread, I have a few types I have pretty much mastered and am still learning new ones. Right now I have my very first sourdough starter bubbling away in the kitchen and will soon try to make my own sourdough bread.

- I know how to bake my own cakes and cookies.

- I know how to make such things as butter or mayonnaise or flavoured oils.

- I know how to recognise a few edible wild plants.

- I know several medicinal herbs and know how to use them.

- I know how to recognise and pick edible mushrooms (this used to be our favourite family pastime back in Poland).

- I can ride a horse. Not that I have one, but you never know what skills might come in handy.

- I can milk a goat (and could probably easily learn to milk a cow as well).

- I can shoot an air riffle.

- I know how to use a hammer, a screwdriver, an electric driller and can put together simple furniture.

- I know how to clean, prep and paint walls.

- I grow my own herbs and vegetables. Previously only grown in containers, next year I will finally start planting things in the ground as I finally have my own garden - I can't wait!

There are many more things I want to learn, such as canning my own produce, fishing and gutting fish, pottery, soap making etc. There is a small room in our new house, currently full of boxes, which will eventually be turned into a craft room. Mostly to accommodate my papercraft hobby (scrapbooking and card making) and my partner's fly-tying, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be used for other crafts. I would love to do more upcycling; the internet is full of wonderful ideas (THIS site is one of my favourites at the moment). There are many ways to learn practical skills and I can't wait to add more to my list!


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