The Myth of Self Sufficiency & How To Set Realistic Goals In Town & Country

`A question I have been asked a lot over the years is “are you self sufficient?

The answer is no and furthermore; we will never be. I have grown to realize that the idea of self-sufficiency drives a lot of people, but the important thing to realize is that while you can try to be as self-sufficient as possible, it is almost impossible to be entirely self-sufficient.

Fact: The amount of land most have access to is not enough to produce everything they need. Even with 11 acres, it would be very difficult to produce everything Matt, and I would need for the year.

Even in the old days, most people had inputs that they needed to keep their farms going. For example, keeping a few pigs would require corn if you could not free range. Coffee, sugar, tea, salt, etc were always store bought.

The goal should be to produce an excess of a limited number of items so that you can sell them to get cash to buy things you cannot produce. In a barter economy, the goal would be to produce useful trade items and necessities that could be traded with others for what else was needed. Many years ago people would use small livestock and more to pay bills such as the doctor or to trade at a general store or trading post.

The Prepperu2019s Blue... Tess Pennington Best Price: $22.26 Buy New $25.55 (as of 06:55 EDT - Details) The Drovers Road system here in western North Carolina had stock stands and trading posts every 10 miles or so because that was as far as hog would walk in a day. You really cannot move a hog if they are very much done for the day and they don’t move fast for extended periods of time. People would either operate on credit and pay their bills after they got paid for their pigs or they would trade a pig to the merchant for what was needed. The stock stands were hotels and boarding houses so they had a need for fresh meat to feed those passing by. Since the drovers needed corn to feed their flock, they may trade for feed they needed, their lodging, and the meals and drinks they and their hired hands, the drivers, needed on the long walk to Augusta or the middle parts of North Carolina and the many plantations that desired pork, turkeys, geese, and cattle.

The myth of self-sufficiency leads to people being very disappointed when they don’t reach the level they are striving for.

Homesteaders and preppers can achieve a lot and still suffer from depression and disappointment at an extreme level when after years of work, they are not anywhere near self-sufficient.  Remember that when you set unachievable goals or too high standards than it is easy to get in the mode of always feeling like you are not doing enough or that nothing ever works out.

Set reasonable goals and the if you surpass them than that is great and you can feel awesome about it. Feeling like you are at least meeting expectations is far better than always feeling like a failure

Do not listen to the haters.

There are all types out there. While the prepper and homesteading communities have a lot of good people within them and are generally quite welcoming, there are some out there that try to make people feel like they are not hardcore enough or they are not “all in”. Well the heck with them. I think that someone that takes just a few small steps towards being self-sufficient is doing a great thing. Everyone has to start somewhere and doing something is far better than nothing at all.

A lot of the arrogant and nasty types out there may not fare so well in a real emergency where self-sufficiency can make the difference. All gear and little or no skills or common sense is not a winning combination.

What can you do?

Skills can turn into a lucrative business or at least a supplemental income.

There is nothing wrong with having a lot of small products or side businesses that add up to a living but be careful about stretching yourself too thin. It is best to concentrate on what is most rewarding and better for long term income, food, shelter, etc. If you feel too stretched to the point where you cannot do anything well, that can be very self-defeating.

It can take a while to figure out what is the best things to focus on

Matt and I started out up here on the mountain 11 years ago.  All we had was an old Honda Civic and later on a $300 camper.

We raised Dexter cattle, dairy steers, chickens, ducks, geese, pastured pigs, meat chickens, gardens, etc. We realized that trying to raise too many things took up too much of our lives and it was going to be impossible to make a living on 11 acres just raising a few animals. The volume required to have a grass-fed meat business and the added costs for butchering and inspection made it even less of a realistic option. Instead, we have settled for raising some meat for the table ourselves and growing grapes. The value-added product, wine, is enough that we may be able to have at least a decent business one day. The Pantry Primer: A P... Daisy Luther Best Price: $17.03 (as of 07:50 EDT - Details)

Neither of us really care about getting super rich. Being comfortable is one thing but I know that setting a goal of being super wealthy is not realistic and it very well may not add to our overall happiness as much as one might think. I will be happy if we one day can get these grapes producing a lot and have a little winery building that produces 10K-20K bottles of wine tops! It will take us quite a few years of hard work but I believe with hard work and a little luck we can get there. A lot of luck you make yourself.

Take a look at your home, property, yard, etc

What you can do to produce useful things to be more self-sufficient depends on so many factors. You should consider the following.

  • Space
  • Topography
  • Climate
  • Amount of time you have
  • How much help do you have?
  • What is the startup costs?

Is this something you can do long term or do you plan to make it grow enough to hire someone?

All too many people seem to think the first thing they need to do when they start a business is to hire one or more employees. This is a terrible mistake in many cases. Unless you have a lot of money to throw around, it is best to get a venture up and running a bit and not rush into the complications and expense that hiring someone involves. It can take some time to show any profit at all and it will take a lot longer if you are paying someone else.

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