So what do we mean when we use the term self sufficiency?
Well it means a whole paradigm which is divorced from the modern lifestyle of the material, information driven, unnatural world we otherwise lived in. It means having, and believing that we have, the resources to live a full and enriched life without resorting to new stuff. It means self reliance in matters of positive health and education. It means being creative with the world around us, tapping into nature’s bounty. It means exploring new skills and techniques that unlock a treasure trove of good experience that provides for our needs. It means looking at our needs, and seeing our “wants” as just that, a desire for something driven by a feeling of lack. It means a feeling of abundance with what we have already or can create, adding to our skills at the same time.
We grow our own vegetables and fruits and almost never buy these produce from shops, but we do buy food stuffs and other goods which we cannot, or do not yet, make for ourselves. However we sell our surplus produce and this money provides enough to buy the other things we need to buy. We make almost all our processed foods ourselves and it is a great lesson of life to learn to bake bread of all kinds, make jam with less and less sugar (and no preservatives), pickles and fermented food, cheese from kefir, wines, beers, cocktails etc. and health drinks like kombucha. We forage for foods and materials in our local area. In Spring there are wild garlic leaves and nettles. In Summer there are cherries and wild strawberries. In Autumn there are blackberries, apples and plums. There is an abundance of fire wood and building materials to be found.
Our home is carbon neutral.
We make our own electricity which is well in excess of our consumption and this surplus is also sold for money which can be used for the household account. We do not buy any fuels except for a 47 kg bottle of gas every 18 months for cooking. We forage and barter for all our wood fuel for our log burning boiler stove and in 4 years here we have yet to buy any wood for our stove.
We do run a car. We travel maybe 3,000 miles per year which is much lower than average but now seems to us a very great distance! We use it to tow our trailer to fetch horse manure for hot beds, logs for the fire and wood chips for mushroom growing as well as to deliver and collect from our favourite shops (nature and the Dean Forest Food Hub). We see the car as our one weakness and are thinking about how to eliminate it from the equation and yet still maintain our lifestyle.
We do buy some of these but we ask ourselves first why we cannot make it ourselves and this has resulted in our making our own household cleaning products, shampoo and conditioner, soap, toothpaste, sun block as well as our own furniture, tools, processed foods etc. We recycle a lot of what others throw out and have a very nice lytch gate entrance to our field, a solar dehydrator, wooden deck chairs made from old easy chairs, garden furniture, cold frames made from old secondary glazing panels etc.
We rely on ourselves to provide our own services like cleaning, hedge laying, haymaking, compost making for spring sowing and potting, water supply from rainwater harvesting. We learn skills which have become both useful and rewarding. We like to learn new skills from YouTube, books about subjects like biodynamics, self sufficiency, living without money, as well as attending the odd course like mushroom growing with Mycogeneration in the Brecon Beacons. We do the less exciting stuff like decorating, building, plumbing as well.
We do use money. £5,600 last year for us both. We achieve this budget level through all the things we do for ourselves and also by bartering with friends, neighbours and local residents for the goods and services we need. We use the philosophy that the less we spend the greater the experience, which means when we set out to spend nothing we get deep into the river of real life experiences which reward on a deeper level than is possible though spending money. We rub shoulders with people we would not know existed if we always relied on money to provide for ourselves. We try things that we would otherwise not try if using money. We use our brains and our ears far more than is necessary when demanding of others by offering money.
In fact, although it becomes almost an obsession to not spend money, we do it because of the rewards that come to us.
We are knowledgeable about alternative health approaches and can point you in the direction of how to re-direct your approach to positive health practice. We practice meditation, yoga and many self help therapies such as EFT, EMDR, Reiki, Quantum Entrainment and many more. Our library is full of many books that might possibly change your life.
We avoid waste with an obsession. We see “waste” as potential useful materials awaiting a new purpose. Our household waste bin is almost empty when it is collected every fortnight as is our recycle bin. We don’t buy vegetables so we have no packaging waste from there and we make almost all of our processed foods ourselves. We compost plant based materials which brings those materials back into the useful realm as soil enricher. We pick only the vegetables that we need and allow the rest to grow a little more. Our surpluses go to friends and neighbours as well as for sale on the Dean Forest Food Hub. Even other peoples’ waste can be our opportunity. We often take a look through interesting looking skips and our friends often offer us stuff which they no longer want.
In conclusion, for us it is about balance and wealth. A balance of income and expenditure but also holding a balance with nature, not taking more than we need and also giving some back too (a respect for the great provider). The word wealth came originally from well, not from possession of money, so all that we do should leave us feeling well, so that we can measure our wealth in our hearts instead of our bank balance.