Some Basics on Living a Self-Reliant Lifestyle, Part 1

self reliance
ReadyNutrition Readers, you’ve been prepping for a long time, and you diligently follow the exchange of information on this and other websites.  You have been laying in stores and provisions, equipment, seeds, books, medical supplies, tools, and specialty gear.  You have been planning, training, and preparing for that eventual day that everything as we know it comes to a halt.  We know that preparations are never complete, but you’re 99.9% there.  Now what?

It’s sort of akin to coming off of an adrenaline rush.  OK, you’re about as ready as you can be.  Now, the disaster/SHTF hasn’t happened yet.  So what do we do?  Here’s an answer to that question that you can blend into what you have already accomplished.  None of your efforts are being repudiated; you can attempt to continue your preparations by living as much of a self-reliant lifestyle as possible.

Thoreau and Emerson aside, there are ways of being self-reliant without just simply living in a cave in the woods (although caves can be an excellent residence or shelter).  Here is the first point to a self-reliant lifestyle, and it is one of the most important ones:

 Self-reliant lifestyles are going to have a different definition for different people

This statement is because the needs of one family are not the same as the needs of another.  The Jones and Smith families want to live lives as self-reliant as possible.  The Jones family has two twin boys who are 13, and an 8-year-old girl who is a diabetic.  The grandfather, Mr. Jones Senior needs the use of a wheelchair.  The Smith family has an 18-year-old daughter who is a very good athlete, and a 14-year-old boy who is blind.

The two families have different situations, and therefore in order to be self-reliant, there are medical conditions and physical limitations that must be taken into account.  The Jones girl needs a steady supply of insulin, a drug that requires refrigeration, and her grandfather needs the wheelchair to move about.  The Smiths have a boy who cannot see, and precautions must be taken to keep him safe and healthy.

4 Self-Reliant Concepts to Consider

1. Self-reliance means you must provide for and take care of each family member’s needs, especially from a medical/caregiver standpoint.

This seems as if it’s just common sense, but it is not.  I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of people who move to Montana because they want to live in the remote wilds, but are unprepared to support their family’s needs because they have either assessed those needs incorrectly or discounted them in the pursuit of their goals.

In order to be self-sustaining, you have to provide for yourself (prep) for when it hits the fan, but you also have to live in the “now” until the SHTF.

2. You must correctly assess what your needs are and realistically pursue a course of action to fulfill those needs in order to be self-reliant.

Where do you live?  Do you live in a state that has no property taxes?  What is your employment potential?  Do you have a means of making a living that you are not required to punch a clock and report to a cubicle?  Can you work in your home?

What kind of home will you choose for yourself and your family?  What kind of transportation will you need, and what kind of daily commute for yourself and/or members of your family?  Are you all in agreement as to the type of lifestyle you will live in?  Do you have a home-based business that all members of your family can (and want to) participate in?

3. Self-reliance is still going to leave you reliant on someone

Unless you’re going to the Thoreau/Emerson model, which still cannot be classified as self-reliance as these guys returned to human society after their self-imposed hermitages/exiles, your life of self-reliance is going to leave you reliant on someone.  Humans are social in nature.  You’re going to require something from someone eventually, either in the neighborhood of supplies, medical attention, or just someone to socialize with.  Unless you are either a gargoyle or some kind of a nut, you will, at the bare minimum, need some kind of human companionship.  So what can we do?

4. We can return to the basics of living, and do it in a manner that does not inflict severe pain upon ourselves or our family members in the process of doing it

We can cut wood for our woodstoves and heat our homes with them or the fireplace.  When the chainsaws run out of juice after the SHTF, we will need to use axes, bowsaws, mauls, and wedges.  We can learn to make our own canned goods by home canning, and grow our own food.  We can either raise livestock and/or hunt for our own food.  We can brain-tan hides and make our own furniture.  All of these things are crucial survival skills that we can also blend into our day-to-day existences.

And in the meantime, we need to keep up with maintenance on our property, taking care of repairs, taxes, mortgage payments, and the like.  The next installment of this series will suggest some home-based businesses that can be used to produce viable income and also generate supplies that can be used for barter.  We’ll examine the self-sustaining household, or “spread” in terms of its component parts, and try to further define what it means for each family to be self-sustaining in a world that is rapidly turning toward the “Soylent Green” model.  Until then, keep your powder dry and remember we’d love to hear your thoughts on these matters.



Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published July 4th, 2016
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  • Patrick Flynn

    Thoughtful article JJ and spot on so many accounts.

    Just quick note on my preps. The 4th of July was a lot of fun for a whole bunch of reasons.

    Things have been financially tough around the Plisken household of late ( I have landed a very good Construction Manager job ) and wanted to have a good Independence Day celebration despite my economic woes.

    So my neighbors and good friend came over and we harvested peppers, onions, swiss chard and kohlrabi from my gardens. They brought fresh goat cheese and craft beer. we all worked together to prepare the meal and the most amusing thing was that I had no charcoal. I took a bundle of cured applewood from my preps ( for the rocket stove ) and built a cheery hardwood fire in the BBQ until it cooked down and could place the hot dogs and iron skillets on the grill to roast the veggies.

    My neighbors were amazed that someone could cook over hardwood coals. It was a great meal with lots of good food and laughs. Finished off the meal with fresh strawberries, blackberries and mulberries.

    Now, my good friend is buying into self suffiency and is now growing and caring for veggies in one of my unfinished raised beds. He is a valuable convert to healthy home raised foods and wants to start canning up our produce for just in case, mostly for his elderly Grandad. It made me feel glad when my friend left that afternoon and said ” you know, 80% of the food we ate today came out of your garden.”

    As for taxes, they’re pretty reasonable here in NW Ohio. I live in a county just south of Toledo Ohio and we have a good mix of commercial and light industrial manufacturing but finding work can be tough especially if you’re pushing the early 50’s. Employers want a Bachelor degreed eager beaver who will work for next to nothing with no real world experience. I find that I have had to ‘ dumb down ‘ my resume and ” dumb down ” my experience in sales/marketing/construction to secure a job. I suspect that I’m a threat to many Managers because I’ve been around a long time.

    So I take carpentry, masonry and consulting jobs around the region.

    Transportation is very important to consider as you mentioned. I have a mountain bike, a 1994 Ford F150 pu and a 1995 tahoe all of which I can work on myself. I sold the BMW because it was just too hard to overcome the German over redundant engineering.

    As for relationships, I trust my neighbor. We both have keys to each other’s homes, grow fruit and veggies together, raise free range chickens and brew craft beers together.

    It is crucial to a prepper to have that backstop when it hits the fan. Especially when it comes to beer!

    Is life perfect in the Snake Plisken household? Far from it JJ, but, articles like yours are always informative.

    Be blessed,


  • Patrick Flynn

    Thank you for your kind words JJ. I enjoy reading your posts very much.

    I like reading posts from a former military person because there is a different perspective to be considered and contains great value.

    Could you write an article in the future about reusing stuff like screws, washers, hand tools, 5 gallon buckets or anything else that a handy type person would utilize in SHTF scenario?

    Of course duct tape is a must! 😉

    As for myself, I have been on a quest at garage/estate sales for old fashioned hand tools like drills, planes and chisels for a SHTF problem. And you never know what you may turn up at a sale ( perhaps the Holy Grail?)

    Be blessed!


    • Kula Farmer

      Thats an area i am sorely lacking in, Hand tools, im a nailbanger by trade, and a cabinetmaker, but so far havent been able to get it together to buy a compliment of hand tools beyond the basics, just have a hard time buying sub par hardware, so spend time drooling over the Lee Valley and Traditional Woodworker catalogs,
      One of these days, not sure why i havent taken care of this, especially since its my primary trade, procrastination I guess,
      Thanks for the post SP

      • Patrick Flynn

        I’m a bit of hand tool nut myself KF. Nothing better than having the right tool for the right application.

        I don’t do much in the way of creative wood working ( other than crown molding, wainscotting and floor molding ) because my real tool focus is twofold. I love to collect old hand tools and use/display them around the home. They are a real conversation starter. Also, old hand tools are exceptionally useful should the grid go down and you get a great workout using them.

        Most of these oldies but goodies can hand dressed and used forever if we care for them.

        I’m guessing you probably live in the tropics, correct? That may explain why you have a tough time finding high quality old stuff our grandfathers used to build houses and barns. Just guessing.

        Where I’ve had one stop shopping success is, believe it or not, a couple of pawn shops located here in NW Ohio. One shop in particular is located in Swanton Ohio out in the sticks and they have everything that I could need from handsaws to anything I might need or want.

        There is something special about holding an old fashioned tool that may have been in a person’s family for all their life and used to make a living.

        Be blessed Kula Farmer!

        Snake Plisken

  • Doodlebug

    I have a dilemma, while we are well along in our plans for self sufficiency, we have a son in law on property that wants the rewards of such life without contributing in anyway…..I fear he will be a huge liability when TSHTF… much so that I have no doubt he will harm me to feed himself. I am armed and trained but… husband works out of town and I am here alone most of the time. Any suggestions?

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