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Being more self sufficient

Posted by lavender_lass (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 10, 11 at 13:11

This is something I've been thinking about, for quite a while. When I was 12 years old, I remember watching a special on PBS, where the question was...what would you do if we no longer had the essential technology and infrastucture, that we now take for granted? Whether it was a natural disaster, war, economic collapse, temporary or permanent...what would you do? How would you manage to accomplish every day tasks? Where would you get food, if the supermarkets were empty? How would you clean, cook, heat your home, etc.?

Being 12, I thought this was scary and fascinating at the same time....and I still do. With all the economic uncertainty, I find myself thinking about this, again. I'd like to be more self sufficient, so I've started growing some vegetables, herbs and fruit, along with my roses and other flowers. I'm thinking about learning to can, in case the power goes out and the freezer is not a reliable means of storing food. I'd like to get a wood stove, for heating and for cooking...and I'd love to add a greenhouse.

So, has anyone else thought about the future? I don't mean to sound negative, because I really don't feel that way. It's more about trying to be prepared, so that we can deal better with whatever the future may bring. As my husband always says, plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Our heat bill is due to go up again, this fall...and we've had a few power outages, lately. I think it might be time to start looking at wood stoves :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Being more self sufficient

Well I am an old hippy chick. While others my age were smoking lots of pot and experimenting in free love and communes for fun I really was learning to live off the land.

I had very little money when I left home at 17. I really had to make do and do as much as possible for myself. I learned to garden and can and dry foods make soap and milk the goats and cows. Most times it was for others for a gallon or so of milk. Then learned to make butter and cheese, cottage cheese, I raised chickens.

It seems a way lost to many. There is a permaculture website that is interesting on how to live off your land. Some get WAY WAY to into it for my tastes. But glean what you feel you can use from the site and let the rest go. No point in trying to make your ideas heard if it goes against their grain. I just read there.

I also got into Organic Gardening and Farming for many years And am a big fan of Ruth Stout,Rest her sweet sole. So I can do all the stuff I would need to do. The problem is having the needed things on hand to can, fruits and vegetables. Around here there are places you can pick free wild fruits and berries. I always kind of felt drying foods was the best option for a true self sufficent life style.

Remember in the olden days the people had Ice houses to keep their foods cold. Dugouts deep into hill sides or under ground. Or the coolers where they used running water over pads over boxes. Think a kind of swamp cooler. I think they called them spring houses too with water in them to cool the milk. but you have to have a free flowing spring to make these work.

This is a HUGE area of information to be explored and learned. It is fun. I have lived many times with out electricity. Can not say I really enjoyed it after the novelty wore off. And do consider solar and wind power.

Here is a link that might be useful: permaculture


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RE: Being more self sufficient

I have a big garden, but still I think we'd be in big trouble if we had to live off it. Most of the time our tomatoes are a bust, and in fact this year the only things I am putting up are onions and peppers. Dh & his parents just HAD to have squash & okra, so we planted those and have so many we actually have gone door to door giving them away.

Neither of us like them any way except fresh and then fried, and I try not to eat too much fried food, so IMO, those rows are a complete waste of time and water. In fact, after the last water bill, I realized that it would be cheaper and far easier on me to just buy everything at the farmer's market. But I persist in the garden, thinking some day I might get the hang of it.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

I'm a bit of a closet survivalist. We have a decent store of food, and other 'equipment' for bad times. That's one of the reasons behind our moving out to the boonies of SC; at least I would have a fair chance of taking care of our needs on our own land. Right now, in suburban FL, we are utterly dependent on society for all of our needs. It's a little scary, given some of the world's events.

Not to be negative, but I am pessimistic about the US maintaining it's position as leader of the world. With our decline, and the emergence of countries such as China, I feel our 'empire' is on the way out, and we are witnessing it from the inside. The question is, then, will our empire decline quietly, or will we go out with a bang? If the decline is gradual and peaceful, I don't think things will be that bad. But if there's a big fight, life as we know it will change drastically, and many people will suffer. We've nearly lost the ability to fend for ourselves, and it won't be pretty if our entitlement society suddenly has to get off of the couch to survive. Living in a hurricane zone, I'm aware how fast things could turn locally. If our area got hit by a Cat 5, and our house survived, the challenge for us would be the total loss of infrastructure. You must cross a bridge to reach our county, and they could all be wiped out. Almost all of the grocery stores and gas stations would be destroyed by flood water. I imagine water and electricity would be wiped out for a long time. Add to that nearly a million people who probably don't have a week's food on hand, and you can see the problem. We learned a long time ago to store food and other staples, and be prepared to defend ourselves.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

For sure Jay. We lived through the bridges going out.No way to get to town for food other than a 40 mile trip to go two miles if the bridges were not out. The people came together and some one would go and bring supplies and mail for many. Red Cross was a HUGE help once the bridges were back and they could get to us.

We have always kept a full pantry and those special needed items should electricity fail. Why we bought the propane heater last fall. We will have heat for us and to cook food.
WE are on septic but could boil water from the river if we had to for drinking. Not an option I really would want to do but.............. We would have to do so after the beer and wine ran out. LOL


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RE: Being more self sufficient

Honestly, it can happen here. Hurricanes are one form of urban renewal along the Gulf coast. I would not want anyone to know that I had a fully stocked larder in case a disaster of any kind struck. Hungry and thirsty people turn ugly in a hurry. I don't believe in guns, but it could come to that I suppose. However, I am pretty good with a knife. :)

I spent my childhood in the country before TVA ran power to north Alabama, and I made many trips to the spring to get the cooled down milk for my grandma. But that milk came from HER cow, so there was more fresh where that came from. I churned, I picked cotton, I hoed corn, planted cabbage, and learned to garden from this grandma. I helped her make hominy and lye soap from dripping water through wood ashes. And I was there when grandpa killed his hogs and put them in the smokehouse. He also cut firewood which he sold in town to make some cash, and was the first to raise peanuts to feed his hogs to fatten them up....also baled them and stored them in the barn loft where us grandkids ate as many peanuts as we could. He also raised his own tobacco, which I try to recall specifically, because now I'm wondering if it was the "wacky" kind that also grew wild up there! I know my grandpa was a really cool old dude. He hung the whole plant upside down in the barn to let it dry.

I'm not as strong now as I have been, and having a way to get the meds I need to survive is another question. Some of us will be quickly eliminated because of that. It will not be an easy time for anyone, young or old, healthy or not.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

For the sake of argument (and to keep it from getting too depressing) let's assume it's just a matter of being more prepard for emergencies...not having to defend yourself from the, well let's call them the 'grasshoppers'...I guess that makes us the 'ants' (LOL)

Anyway, if it's just a matter of being more self sufficient, what would be five things we could do to make life a little easier? Not so much the stockpiling (although that can sometimes be necessary) but would you concentrate on growing food, canning, raising animals, providing substitute power sources, alternate fuels, or just brush up on your barter skills?

My grandmother lived through the Depression and insisted we all learn to cook, bake, sew, knit, crochet, some needle work, grow food, know a little something about herbs/medicines, etc. We were lucky to have her, but I always enjoyed it...although some were not as enthusiastic. Of course, I always wanted to live on a farm and many of my cousins, did not :)


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RE: Being more self sufficient

LL I think it depends on your climate. for us in colder country we are more concerned about heat in winter. I do believe the propane tank with heater for the house and fuel for the porch stove and BBQ is the most important addition we made here. We can even add a propane light for the house if needed. I am not thrilled on that idea much. So heat and a way to cook food. We also have a small trash burner in the shop soon to be hooked up. Burns papers and small bits of wood.

I believe knowing how to make soap and can foods and dry foods are important but if the stuff is not available knowing how to do it does you no good. Still I am glad I learned how. Like ML I can butcher along with the best of them. I have cut up many deer and elk all by myself. Takes me longer than sin but I can do it and have the tools.

So I would stock up on some soap and I honestly LOVE this soap Flowerlady told me about called ZOTE. It is so cheep 99 cents for a large bar that I cut yo 6 smaller bars to use and it is soft on my skin. I buy it in the Mexican isle of our grocery store. Soap lasts for a very long time.

I think water is especially important. Access to natural running water like stream or river would be ideal.

Maybe just the knowledge to be self sufficient. Since I always wanted to live off the land when I was young it was so fun for me to learn how. Now I truly enjoy the ease of living in the modern world. As a kid I had planned to go live in the mountains away from every one I really wanted to be left alone. It never really happened. Well maybe kind of when we moved to Idaho at the first house. It was pretty much away from every one. Town population 39. LOL

As you know where you and I live to get a good garden is pure luck. Even with the best of care our weather can turn on us. I am about to pick zucchini. Woo Hoo. On the other hand Marti's gardens are burning up. So gardens can not be depended on. I always put up at least two years worth of canned goods to be sure to get me by the one year the tomatoes did not do well and prayed they did well the next year. And if two years in a row I did get a good crop I STILL did up two years worth. I used to can about 200 quarts of food a year and then fill the freezer.

Watching the sales on foods can some times cost you less then putting up your own foods. We bought huge jars of pickles for 2.50 each and the cucumbers to fill them would have cost way more than that. Not to mention the electricity to do the processing. And time. Some times time needs to be considered.

Fortunately we are not on any medications. I really do not have the answers to this question. Thought provoking for sure.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

Honestly, it can happen here. Hurricanes are one form of urban renewal along the Gulf coast. I would not want anyone to know that I had a fully stocked larder in case a disaster of any kind struck. Hungry and thirsty people turn ugly in a hurry. I don't believe in guns, but it could come to that I suppose. However, I am pretty good with a knife. :)

I spent my childhood in the country before TVA ran power to north Alabama, and I made many trips to the spring to get the cooled down milk for my grandma. But that milk came from HER cow, so there was more fresh where that came from. I churned, I picked cotton, I hoed corn, planted cabbage, and learned to garden from this grandma. I helped her make hominy and lye soap from dripping water through wood ashes. And I was there when grandpa killed his hogs and put them in the smokehouse. He also cut firewood which he sold in town to make some cash, and was the first to raise peanuts to feed his hogs to fatten them up....also baled them and stored them in the barn loft where us grandkids ate as many peanuts as we could. He also raised his own tobacco, which I try to recall specifically, because now I'm wondering if it was the "wacky" kind that also grew wild up there! I know my grandpa was a really cool old dude. He hung the whole plant upside down in the barn to let it dry.

I'm not as strong now as I have been, and having a way to get the meds I need to survive is another question. Some of us will be quickly eliminated because of that. It will not be an easy time for anyone, young or old, healthy or not.


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Now how did THAT happen

Oops, so sorry. I don't know how that happened, because I could not repeat type a post exactly the same if I tried.

I'm going shopping tomorrow morning and put some things aside. It is a more critical MANMADE disaster which could unfold if the Congress fails to pass the budget, and the US govt goes into default. Talk about a world wide disaster, and all for nothing. It is the first domino falling over.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

it's been coming for some time now. I heard a 'grasshopper' say on a show (a former 'grasshopper') that if the food goes the real 'grasshoppers' will come out of their 'acreage' to some in a more prime area. They know they don't have anything - nor do their neighbors. Sadly, he said they wouldn't stop at just making 'grasshopper' noises...

I get my meds for a 3 month span. That will go quickly tho if that time comes - and will I have the funds to buy it even?

I do hope (down the road - maybe not to far) to check out a solar panel. If electricity goes - I'm a goner! lol! my pump runs on electricity so the panel would need to operate that.

I'm planning to get a small water purifier they say takes out 99.9999% of anything in it. I'd like that now - who knows what's in this water! ick. The guy who designed it / makes it made one that Coke sells (or did sell - a well known name I can't think of). He sold out to them and since his time of 'lock out' on it ran out, he's made an even better one. Sells to military around the world (so they say).

And I want to start getting some dried meal packets. about 5 meals to a packet (depends on how much you eat). I thought I'd get a box of the different 'meals' and try them in advance to see if they taste like cardboard. Tho, might come to where cardboard would taste good.

I do plan to stock up on canned goods. I don't normally use a lot of them - but will stock up on enough for maybe 1.5 yrs and rotate. maybe some extra since I won't be able (most likely) to go to the local diner for a meal, or the pizza place!

I also hoping to get a food dehydrator maybe next yr. Not sure if that'll be in time tho.

we have a store here (best prices next to W or costco) that gives 10% off to seniors the 1st Wed of the month. They also have a lot of 'buy 10 for 10.00' sales on canned goods. That's when I'll stock up.

I don't have a freezer other than the top of the fridge so can't freeze a lot. if electricity goes that'd go anyway.

I put out a tomato plant but someone killed it. I bought another one and it died immediately. no green thumb I guess.

I hope those packets taste good - sounds like what I'll need to live on. If I have water.

boy, didn't know I was posting on here with such 'land livers'! i feel under talented since I can kill a tomato plant in 2 or 3 days easy. i guess I'd need to work quicker on a deer or elk.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

About 6 months ago, my husband and I started planning for very bad times for real.

We have blizzards that can take out electricity for days/weeks. Tornados take out full towns. We just had three years of the worst floods recorded in our valley. At one point, we had city wide shutdown for 5 days so we could raise the dikes. No one was able to leave home unless they performed vital services. At one point, there was only 1 road out of town. All the evacuation plans were laid out and we were all waiting for the dikes to burst. Store shelves were stripped in one day. Took a week to get them restocked. People were getting ugly.

Last year Husband got fired and we survived without unemployment for 10 weeks. (never got it) He was the major breadwinner. Got denied for medical care during that time cause we weren't covered by insurance. (Couldn't get $35.00 of essential life saving meds refilled until we ponied up 150.00 for an office visit!) Now we pay 5000.00 more per year for health insurance.

We are now:

Gardening and canning, freezing, drying, and root cellaring the produce. I am learning to cook everything from scratch (even grinding wheat).

Got a generator and extra gas storage containers.

Got propane stove and extra cylinders. Making candles and stocking up on flashlights and batteries. Ever try to cook over candles?

We are also storing about a year supply of food. Beans, rice, wheat, dry milk, sugar, and canned goods. Why? Well, when all heck happens, you will be able to eat.

We hope to pay off the house shortly so that we can weather any storm, be it politics or nature. Currently our state in in shutdown.

Remember, if the power grid goes out, no electricity to run ATMS, gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores. You should read blogs about survivors of Joplin, or Japan.

What's the downside of these preps? None, really. Well, we are always going to use them. We have gotten very creative in storing stuff. Our families don't even know we've "gone off the deep end."

My mom always canned 600 quarts of stuff to get thru the winter, and we hope to be self sufficient too. Small homes can store lots!


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RE: Being more self sufficient

Interesting topic. I have nothing to add being a city dweller. I did learn some survival techniques when I lived with my ex husband. That doesn't sound good, but I mean he was one that was very resourceful. My Mom was a kid in the depression and lived on a farm and she said they ate good because of the farm even though they didn't have much money.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

beemer, it can happen so easily before you know it. And well it might be a man-made disaster happening soon, if the US government defaults on its loans. I suppose the government buildings, etc, could belong to the countries who own the government paper, just like a mortgage company foreclosing. It might pay to have a little cash money on hand, in case the banks shut down. And who will deliver the mail, or how will grocery stores get their stock if no credit available? Scary thought, but we could be heading for a remake of the Great Depression.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

When governments fail, fiat money usually becomes relatively worthless. If you think it's a possibility, it's better to have something of tangible value set aside, ranging from gold to food. Depending upon how things go, food, water, and (God forbid) ammunition may be the most valuable commodities.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

I think more and more people are becoming conscience of the fact that there could be trouble down the road. That could be at the national level with government/economic problems, natural disaster (We live in tornado country), or just major power disruptions. They say that most people are only 9 meals away from trouble. My husband and I have started being even more careful with our money and trying to set ourselves up to get by if things get rough. We have a pantry with enough food for at least 6 months, maybe more, perhaps a year. We grow a lot of our own food on our small suburban lot. We freeze, can and dry a lot of things. We have had so many power outages over the years we have a generator and gas to go in it. We also have propane portable heaters, a portable camping cook stove in case the gas lines go, kerosene lamps, battery operated lights, tons of candles, emergency clothing, water, first aid kits, emergency radios, guns, ammunition and that kind of stuff. The one thing we haven't gotten yet is a water treatment system like a Berkley, but before long we will. If we never see major troubles that could be down the road, then we will consider ourselves blessed.

On the more cheerful side, it has been kind of fun to figure out what we need to be prepared, researching how people used to do things and seeing how much of our own food we can grow and put up. It's been an adventure that has been both fun and has given us some piece of mind.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

Jay- Good point...if someone has taken the time to be prepared, they may find it difficult to protect themselves from those who have not.

You can hide your 'stash, defend it, or both...but you will need a way to keep the 'grasshoppers' from making off with it. There are a lot more people, who feel entitled to take 'their share' of your stuff, than there were during the Depression.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

Lavender Lass, my husband has been worried about the future of our country and lifestyle for several years now. Along with his other plans, he has been preparing for food shortages. We are collecting many of the things Beemer and her husband are. We now grow a large garden and have started canning, freezing and dehydrating food. He is working on some solar panels and a couple of other projects.

I read him a couple of excerpts from this thread and told him that if "normal" people are talking about prepping on a home decorating forum we may be headed for much more serious trouble than I wanted to think of.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

The good news is that if 'normal' people are prepping, maybe it won't be as bad if things go south. At least a decent number of people may be prepared instead of a tiny fraction.


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RE: Being more self sufficient

Melanie- I live near a small town, in eastern Washington. Up here, people tend to be pretty independent, which means they don't mind some help, in bad times, but they don't expect it. We're used to being a little more remote, dealing with power outages and being snowed in.

In other parts of the country, people have been dealing with hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters...and I think we're starting to realize that government agencies aren't able to do as much, as we may have expected, in the past.

As a nation, we've become so dependent on others, that unless we're old enough to remember (or lucky enough to have friends/family who do) what it was like BEFORE all of our needs were provided for, it's going to be hard to take care of ourselves.

Food and gas are trucked into local stores, our water, heat, electricity, internet and phone are all brought to our door, the government sends many people money each month, to buy these products and most of the rest of us, depend on other people to pay us money to buy these products. How many of us know how to do it on our own? Even if we stockpile, can we switch over to being more self sufficient, once those reserves are gone?

The neat thing about the show I mentioned, in the OP, is that they didn't specify exactly what might happen, just if something did...how would we cope? Where would we get our food? What would we do without TV? Would we have batteries for radios and flashlights? What would happen, when they were used? How much do we take for granted...and how many of our needs are provided for...and would we even realize it, until they were gone?

Anyway, I don't mean this to be some 'scary nightmare' but more of a wake up call. I think it's pretty obvious that we can't count on others to always take care of us...we need to know how to take care of ourselves. If you don't already know, learn how to bake, cook, knit, sew, milk a cow, raise chickens, build/repair a fence, basic repairs to a vehicle...and especially...learn to barter! Have/make friends, who know how to do things. Ask them to teach you...or take a class. Learn. Stockpiling is fine, but once it's gone (used or taken) if you don't learn how to provide for yourself, it will be difficult.

Also, once you learn, teach others and make sure they know how to take care of themselves, too. If you can't do everything, make sure you know people who will trade with you. As for medicine, that's something I would check into keeping more on hand. When possible (and I know this won't work for everyone) find out if there is an herbal or other remedy that might help, if you can't get medicine. Make sure your tentanus shot has been updated. Like they say in the boy scouts...be prepared.


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Update

This may seem like a strange thread to bring back on New Year's Day, but I've been thinking about this a lot, lately.

Being prepared also means not being alone. I guess that's why castles and forts were always popular, when times were tough. It's difficult for one person to be skilled at everything, so it seems natural that barter and trade would occur. Also, people don't want family scattered, if times are tough. As long as you can get along with each other, why not be closer together? Easier to feed, defend, etc.

So, my 'little cottage' has slowly turned into a 'larger cottage' with more bedroom potential (even if it's unfinished right now) and more living space. Not so much that we wouldn't use it ourselves, but flexible enough to be comfortable with more people. I hope I'm wrong, and we never have to worry about it...but I can't shake this feeling that we need to be prepared.

For now, as I'm saving for the remodel (or wait to win the lottery LOL) I'm going to keep adding more garden spaces and start thinking about raising chickens. I'm so glad my grandmother (Depression era) insisted that we learn to do so many things for ourselves. I think learning these skills will be much more in demand, over the next few years. Knowing how to do things for yourself is a very powerful thing. There's nothing wrong with being less dependent :)


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