- Self-reliant lifestyles are going to have a different definition for different people.
- Self-reliance means you must provide for and take care of each family member’s needs, especially from a medical/caregiver standpoint.
- 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.
- Self-reliance is still going to leave you reliant on someone.
- 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.
These things having been mentioned, we can keep them in mind with this piece. Now comes a time of some important decisions to be made. There are too many resources on this site alone to tell you how to develop the most self-sufficient cabin and storehouse for all of your supplies. Miss Tess Pennington has provided a plethora of resources for you to use in the information you will need to make a plan of action for home canning, gardening, and the like. I have done pieces on survival medicine and for water procurement that you can research on ReadyNutrition’s archives.
Your Homestead/Retreat Should Provide These 9 Essentials
So really, what you need is an outline to go about planning in accordance with your geographical location, family’s special needs, seasons and times of the year, and the developing situation in your immediate location as well as nationally. This last part, the situation, you can use this phrase to guide you:
In order to prepare, you must first be aware.
The economy, and federal, state, and local laws are going to affect a great deal of what you do. In order to camouflage your activities, you must not so much conform, but you must blend in so that your activities are unnoticed. In this manner, your preps are undiscovered by potentially hostile neighbors and you maintain a proper level of OPSEC or Operational Security. We’ll go into this more, as we begin our list.
- What kind of home/retreat do you have or are planning to have? How are you going to provide for heat and fuel to do things such as boil water, cook food and can or preserve your foods? You must take into account how long your growing season lasts, as well as how long the winter is in your locale.
- Each person requires about one acre of land to produce food for one year, times two. The “times two” factor involves rotation because, after one year of growing and harvesting, you must have a year that the land lies fallow and can be conditioned (with composting and other methods of fertilization) to be able to produce again the following year. Micro-gardening and terraced gardening along with greenhouses are your solution to this.
- Protein. Are you going to raise a whole lot of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other livestock? Do you have enough forage and arable grazing land to sustain them? Do you have the capabilities of slaughtering, preserving the meat, and replenishing your stock? What are your family’s food needs in terms of protein?
- Hunting for your protein. Hunting and fishing may play a major part in your family’s sustainment if you are not going to raise livestock, and if you are going to raise it and cannot sustain it with arable land after the SHTF. Are fish and game abundant in your area, and do you know their seasons and migratory patterns? All of these questions are “food for thought” in order to help you plan for your family’s food needs.
- Solar/Geothermal/Wind/Water. What will be your heat and power sources? Have you assessed what is within your budget, and how long you will be able to use your system? Montana is a good example because solar power goes out the window (literally) at times when there is little sun and a ton of snow and ice that need to be cleared from your panels during the winter months. Geographical location and severity of the winter are factors that are crucial to determine your plan of action in this regard.
- Herb Garden. Do you have an herb garden that is not just for a savory meal, but for medicinal herbs? This must be grown especially with the needs of any medically-dependent family members with special needs. Do you have mugwort, Jerusalem artichoke, and juniper that is growing that can be used to make homeopathic solutions for a diabetic in the family? Do you have Echinacea, oregano, lomatium, garlic, and other herbs for viral and bacterial infections growing in a controlled environment?
- Water. This is a biggie because I outlined a rain catchment system for your use in previous articles. This is where you have to know all of your existing laws in your locale. Is it illegal to take the rain? Well, guess what? The way around this is to have the system in place and operational but not operating. When it hits the fan, you probably won’t need to consult with a lawyer, and you can begin to harvest the water. There needs to be a plan for obtaining water during the summer months and during the winter, because the temperature doesn’t change the fact that each person needs 1-2 gallons per day, and don’t forget about any animals that you have, either as pets or as livestock.
- Waste. Human and animal waste (with the exception of the latter being cats, as they carry Toxoplasmosis in their stool) can be composted. Once again, if you live in an area that prohibits such activity, you have to take this into account…and perhaps have a system ready to go at a moment’s notice after the SHTF. The same for garbage. It needs to be either recycled (such as aluminum foil, plastic bags, plastic bottles, steel cans) or used as fuel in a woodstove or if it’s biodegradable then into the compost bin it must go. The legal consideration exists until the SHTF, so know your local laws.
- With whom? Who can you trust? This is part of self-sufficiency because the tenet “No man is an island” holds. You will be self-sufficient to a point: we are a social creature with needs of interaction with others. It would behoove you to develop your network of those who are trustworthy now. I stress one point that may sound mean, but it serves a purpose, that being your survival: Don’t just link up with people because they’re “nice” people: they have to have either some skill or something they produce that can contribute or be exchanged for your skills or products…or else they’re just a liability…or worse.
Regarding this last statement, I highly recommend watching “The Shelter,” an episode of the old “Twilight Zone” series, where a family builds a bomb shelter, and an air-raid comes about. Watch the reaction of the neighbors and how things “morph” into a very bad situation indeed. Having served in some very nasty areas of the world with the military, I have seen firsthand how these situations develop in the blink of an eye, so be forewarned that they can and will occur!
Skills, skills, skills. You need skills…to develop the ones that already exist, and learn new ones that you don’t yet have. Gunsmithing. Can you reload? Can you fix the firearms that are in need of repair? Basic Mechanics. Can you change the brakes on your vehicle? Change your tires? Put in a new battery? Change the fluids? Put in a new alternator or distributor?
Medicine. Do you know how to give an IV? Can you diagnose a life-threatening condition such as ectopic pregnancy? Can you give CPR? Do you know how to treat a patient for shock, as well as the injury he or she has sustained? Herbalism. Do you know how to dry and tincture herbs? Do you know how to find herbs (wild-craft) that are medicinal in nature in your own backyard? Do you know what herbs are nutritious and edible?
I could go on, but the point I’m trying to impress is that in order to live a self-sustained lifestyle, you have to be the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. You must be a jack of all trades and a master of all. You must wear many hats, and assume the role in each hat, and take up another hat when another role comes along that you must fulfill. In order to be self-sufficient, you must prepare. We had a very good saying that a First Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division used to say all the time that holds true, and it can serve you well here:
How you train in peace is how you’ll fight in war.
Very true, and I know I’ve mentioned it before. It is true, and it is important for us as preppers and survivalists. In order to live a self-sustained existence, you must prepare, and practice what it is that needs to be done…so that you can actually do it and not just have it stored away in a book or in your files. Hope this piece helps you to organize, and we welcome any comments or suggestions you may have. Keep up the good work, and have a great day!