Friday, Part I
Like me, some of you have always dreamed of living a simpler life filled with independece and self sufficiency. For others it is a small seed of thought, a curiosity if you will, that seems to be blooming in the back of their mind. Some of you want to run to the hills and forget all the trappings of the world. Others just want a small taste. I am here to tell you that you can achieve your dream, but it will involve sacrafice, planning and compromise. I’m not an expert but maybe you can take some of what I have to say and apply it to your situation. These are lessons that we have learned from experience and from others. That is not to say that we don’t have a lot more lessons to learn on this journey to self reliance and we will share them with you on this daily blog as we learn them.
First of all you have to look at the size and scope of your dream. Pick it apart and figure out what you want as compared to what you really need or can afford. You may be thinking too big.
Land: You don’t have to own half a state to be self suffient and have a garden and a few chickens. If you already have an acre or two you can grow a garden and quite possibly have a couple of hens to supply you with eggs. Of course you have to be careful of zoning when it comes to animals and if you live in a housing development I think the chickens are out along with the goats and sheep. But my point is, if a couple of acres in the country is all your pocketbook can buy then you may want to plan around that. If your house doesn’t take up all your property you would be surprized at what you can do with the land you have.
If your not planning on selling eggs two or three hens will supply your egg needs. A chicken lays an egg a day. A small garden can produce a large amout of produce that can be canned or frozen. Rabbits take up very little space if you are into raising meat rabbits or even a few meat chickens. I know that is not for everyone but for those of you who would like to raise some of your own meat it is an option. If you like to hunt, like Sonny does, then you may want more property. That is why we wanted more acerage that was wooded mountainside.
You need to think about how much work you want to do. Keep this in mind when shopping for land. Make sure your land is accessable unless you don’t mind building a road to it. Some mountain land is sold cheap but you have to figure out how your going to get to it. It may not be a problem if your family members are mountain goats. Keep an open mind on where you would like to live and do a lot of research on the area. Not only check realators but local newspapers with ads for land. Check for land that is up for sale by county because of back taxes.
Money: One of the ideas behind being self sufficient is being debt free. Truth be told we are not debt free yet. We still owe on the land, but all the buildings are paid for. House, implement shed, chicken coop and wood shed. We plan to have the land paid for in the next two or three years. This is where a lot of sacrifice and compromise come in. For years we were drowning in the river of “got to have”. Finally we woke up and realized how much money we wasted on simple junk we thought we couldn’t live without. You have to look at things from a different perspective. We tightened our belt and saved for each building project. It became our main focus and in the end it has benifited us. It was worth the sacrifice.
When you go to the store you need to think before you buy. Do I really need a new pair of shoes? I already have fifteen pair in the closet. Instead of buying a new dress for the office Christmas party maybe I can wear last years. Eat at home more and actually ask youself if every person in the house really needs their own TV and computer. When we moved out here we gave load after load of useless items such as knick knacks, clothes and shoes we never wore, and a plethera of other goods to the Good Will. Not one item has been missed. I only kept the things that were most special and of most use. I will admit that we still have more electronic gear than we probably need but Sonny is an electronic junkie and is having a problem with rehab.
Don’t be pulled into the ads for miracle creams and cosmetics, the diamond jewelry that will fix a marriage or home shows that suck you into believing that you must have a yard that looks like a Greek garden. All those things won’t feed you or get you closer to your dream. We have probably saved thousands of dollars just staying out of Walmart. It’s all common sense. Be more frugal and don’t put yourself in more debt. It’s the same old tune but it still rings true.
If you truly want to be self sufficient you need to look for items that will be of use. If you are going to live totally off grid you might want to look for things that do not use power. A stove top coffee percolator, a hand mixer (not electric) you know the old fashioned ones with the wheel crank on the side, battery or wind up clocks. I have a high efficiency washing machine but no dryer. Dryers suck up a lot of juice. For days that you must dry clothes inside you can use a wooden drying rack. I believe not using a dryer saves wear and tear on your clothes….unless you actually like the curled up elastic on your underwear.
Since moving out here I am more at ease. Most of the things I worried about were trivial and having less debt will make you sleep better at night. A home with less clutter to deal with also declutters your mind.
Tomorrow I will talk about picking the right type of house and planning for your solar power.