The Complete Guide To Self Sufficient Living
Food, water, energy, finances, liberty, security, and more
This is Your Life… on Self Sufficiency
Close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
You are living on your own land, eating food that came from your garden, producing your own energy, and making your own money. You have no job to march into, you can’t be fired, you’re not affected by a blackout or a disruption in the food transportation system.
You have an endless supply of wood to heat your home, and water wells that provide fresh, clean drinking water for you, as well as irrigation for your plants and animals. You’re not in a rush. There is plenty to do, but your bases are covered. This is the self-sufficient life.
At Homestead Launch, we focus our efforts on helping you to set up a productive homestead, because it is a major tool and an asset to help you be more self-sufficient. But a well-planned homestead isn’t the only component of self sufficient living. Self-sufficient living encompasses a variety of patterns, habits, and attitudes.
In short, it’s about providing for your own necessities, and relying less on other people. This has implications in many areas of life. Modern society is one that is highly specialized. While it’s impossible to ignore that good that comes from this (think about computer programmers and brain surgeons), it has also led us to a point of incredible dependence.
As Robert Heinlein famously said:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
“Prepping” vs. Self Sufficient Living
So how do you live self-sufficiently then?
A small piece of it is emergency survival. There are natural and man made disasters that happen in life. Tornadoes, hurricanes, wild fires, chemical spills, blackouts, riots, and a hundred other disasters can disrupt the fragile systems we live in and leave you in a world of hurt.
In addition to those, there are also “personal disasters.” These are things that seriously affect you, even if your next door neighbor might not ever know about them. Job loss, car accidents, and failing health are a few examples of these.
But self sufficient living is more than just preparing for potential disasters like these. It’s putting yourself in control of as many aspects of your life as possible–whether the bad thing happens or not.
Components of Self Sufficient Living
Keeping that in mind then, here are some of the major areas of our lives to be self-sufficient in:
Food Self Sufficiency
The modern food system is made up of commercial growers, wholesalers, distributors, and finally retail grocery stores. Connecting all these pieces, is an intricate transportation web, reliant on trucks, trains, and sometimes planes and boats. This transportation is all dependent on cheap oil (starting to see a problem yet?).
In order to maximize profits and minimize overhead, retail grocery stores keep very little inventory on hand, relying instead upon constant deliveries. If there is a breakdown in the transportation or a disruption at any other point in the food system, the end result is that the grocery stores don’t have food.
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Another troubling aspect of the current food equation is that most commercial farmers are lured into growing crops and using methods that have terrible effects on our health. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, early harvesting, and drastic soil depletion are just a few.
Increasing your food self sufficiency helps you distance yourself from this fragile and unhealthy system. While you will probably not be able to completely remove yourself from the system, you can certainly decrease your dependence on it.
Long term food storage is the first part of food security. By thoughtfully stocking up on the food that you and your family regularly use, you can mitigate emergencies with the food transportation and delivery system. Food storage can seem a little confusing on the surface, but it doesn’t have to be. Store food. Eat it.
Food production is the next piece of the puzzle, and a major one. While storing food is good, you’re never really self sufficient until you can produce your own food. And producing your own food is where you have the chance to do some real good in the health department as well. This is the aspect of food security that Homestead Launch primarily focuses on.
Producing your own food isn’t just about having a summer garden either. Tree crops, berries, perennial herbs, and livestock all play a big role in it. If you want to be food self sufficient, you need macro-nutrients, not just salad vegetables. This means carbs, fats, and proteins.
The final part of food security is food preservation. Think: canning, dehydrating, freezing, blanching, free-drying, and more. Preserving your food gives you the ability to convert today’s surplus into lifesaving rations for tomorrow.
Water Self Sufficiency
As I often say, water is liquid life.
Like food, the water we use today is the product of an elaborate system of sourcing, purification, and delivery. This system can easily be disrupted, polluted, or otherwise rendered unusable, so having our own water is an imperative for self-sufficiency.
Also like food, the first part of water security is to simply store it. Stored potable water can help you get through many a short term predicament. There are several containers that you can find on the market to store water. Barrels are awesome and usually come with a pump. Smaller containers are useful too, for transporting, and using around the house.
Above and beyond your stored water however, you need to have your own water sources to be truly self sufficient. Your homestead water sources could include 1 or more wells, rainwater harvesting, streams or creeks, a pond, or springs.
Alternative Energy Systems
In the modern world we live in, there is a huge reliance on our electrical grid. We rely on it for heating and cooling our homes, for cooking, for lighting, keeping our food cold, cleaning, entertainment, and a million other things. On a more serious level, many people also rely on electricity to power life-saving medical devices.
To be energy self sufficient, we need to look at reducing the amount of electricity we use in our homes, and we also need to look closely at alternative energy systems.
Reducing the energy component can be a little bit costly, though it is not difficult to understand. Essentially, every light bulb and appliance needs to be switched out from standard wattage to low wattage. The highest drawing electrical applications are thermal ones (in other words, anything that takes electricity and tries to turn it in to heat or cold).
Producing alternative energy can be done with a variety of different systems. Solar power has become very affordable and accessible over the last several years. Wind has some complications to installing and maintaining a positive ROI system, but can be a good option on the right site. And for a few lucky people with running water on their property, micro hydro systems can be a great option as well.
Another lesser explored, but extremely intriguing technology is wood gasification. In this process, wood is super heated to the point where it releases a combustible gas (although the wood isn’t actually burned). Then that gas is used in generators and other applications. From the generator, electricity is made, that can then power your household devices and appliances.
Security and Self Sufficiency
What about the security aspects of self-sufficiency? There are a few different layers of security worth noting, for people that truly do want to be self sufficient.
The first is home security. Because your home is your home base, it’s important to make sure it is secure. Good home security involves perimeter security with fences and hedges, secure doors and windows, surveillance cameras and security systems, and potentially even a safe room.
Beyond home security comes the necessity to practice sound personal security. A lot of this is just having common sense, and presence of mind. If you are in a bad area, you need to get out. Don’t do things that would attract undue attention to you, or otherwise make you a target. If you are able to in your jurisdiction, carry a concealed weapon, and know how to use it if necessary.
Finally, cyber security it becoming an increasing problem in the digital age. Almost everything we do these days is touching the internet. Phones, computers, cars, wearable tech, credit card transactions, and a million more things. Practicing loose security measures opens you up to identity theft, fraud, and financial ruin. Using a password manager, securely encrypted transmissions, and in general, minimizing your online data footprint helps to keep you safe.
Financial Self Sufficiency
Your finances are a part of self sufficiency that affects several other areas. Your finances determine if you will be able to dig a well on your property or get solar panels and produce your own alternative energy. Strong finances allow you to be much more self sufficient and to in general have more control over your life.
Financial self sufficiency starts with solid defense. This means a good working budget, and a savings account. Although any systems that help you to budget and save are great, we found a really smart way to set up a digital version of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system that’s worked extremely well.
Another piece of financial defense is having proper insurance. Insurance protects you from personal disasters and the devastating costs that come along with them. Although you can get insurance on almost anything these days, the most critical types are health insurance, life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and car insurance.
With solid defense in place, it’s time to turn your sights to the offense portion of financial self-sufficiency. Figuring out how to generate your own income is the biggest piece of this. There are many things that are possible to do for extra money, or even job-replacing income. If you can reach this level of self-sufficiency, you will have a lot of options at your disposal.
The word “internationalization” is not one that many people are familiar with, but it represents an important set of ideas. In short, internationalization refers to the concept of looking outside of your native country for protections and opportunities related to finances and personal liberty.
Internationalization is deciding that you don’t want to be at the exclusive mercy of one government or financial market. If you have all your financial “eggs in one basket (market)”, what happens when that market collapses? On the other hand, if you have diversified your finances among other bank accounts, other currencies, and other markets, you have a layer of protection against an unfortunate collapse.
Likewise, if you have multiple residencies, citizenships, or live/work agreements in other countries, you have a layer of personal protection from any one single government, should you ever need it. Think about the Jews in Germany in World War II. There have been lots of instances throughout history, when it has been beneficial to be able to leave one country and go live somewhere else (even just for a little while).
Skilling, Re-skilling, and Real Education
One of the most ongoing pieces of self sufficient living is the practice of learning self sufficient skills and seeking out real education. This type of learning is different than what happens in formal schooling. It usually takes the form of mentorship, apprenticeship, and hands-on education. Most of the time, real education involves hard skills, as opposed to abstract concepts. Fixing things, building things, growing things.
As opposed to Calculus and organic chemistry, real education is learning about things that will really help you out in life. For many of this, coming to this realization is something that happens later in life–far after we’ve gotten out of high school, college, or other formal education. Maybe it happens as a result of a career change, or similar life aha.
Getting real education is an important part of self sufficiency however, because it allows us to direct our own progression. Whereas formal education is a good launchpad for working a traditional job in a corporate 9-5 environment, real education is what’s necessary for people that want to break out of that model. Entrepreneurs. People that challenge the status quo. People that “take the path less traveled by.” News flash–if you are on this website reading this page about self-sufficiency, this is you.
The easiest way to start seeking out and getting real education, is by beginning to surround yourself with like-minded people. Like hobbies, church, or anything else in life, you become who you surround yourself with.
If you want to learn how to speak Spanish, spend time around people that speak Spanish. If you want to learn about blacksmithing, hang with the blacksmiths. If you want to learn about real estate, start making friends with people that work in real estate. To truly take steps in real education, there will come a time for you to make an investment–time, money, travel, or otherwise, and when that moment arises, do it. But for now, getting to know people that are doing what you want to learn is a great place to start.
Self Sufficiency and Liberty
Liberty is a core component of self sufficient living. In order for us to be in control of our lives, we have to be free to do so. This is why preppers, off-gridders, and other self-sufficient minded people are obsessed with liberty.
The problem is that there is a lot of money in you NOT having control over you life. And because of that, people at every turn are trying to force you to do the things that they want you to do. The government is the biggest offender of liberty, simply because it has the most force. Government officials have guns, they have the ability to take our money, they can throw us in prison, and 100 other things. So when they encroach on liberty, the implications are far greater. This is why most self-sufficient minded people prefer smaller governments, and more private sector initiative.
On the other hand, liberty rides on the backs of voluntaryism, and free market economics. In plain English, this means that people get together and do things because they want to, not because they are being forced to. The best ideas essentially “win” in the market, because people want them, and the things that people don’t want, quickly fade into oblivion.
America is not the “inventor” of liberty. If you are American, and you somehow thing that we have a corner of liberty, you are an idiot. Freedom has existed in many different flavors, among many different countries, all throughout time. America is an interesting use case however, because it is one of the most recent experiments, starting just 250 years ago.
The Role of Your Homestead in Self-Sufficient Living
Your homestead is your productive epicenter. As mentioned above, it is a major tool in helping you to be a strong, resilient person. Our mission is to help you find, buy, and set up a homestead that can serve as the backbone to an overall self-sufficient life.
Some aspects of self-sufficient living will be directly affected by your homestead, such as growing food or producing alternative energy. Other aspects, such as internationalization or re-skilling yourself won’t be connected to your homestead in a direct, linear fashion, but it’s still your homestead that provides the backdrop, and gives you the presence of mind to be able to understand and take action in these areas.