Here’s a great post from Granny Miller. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing (but you really should), don’t miss the section at the end titled “A few sugggestions for what you’ll need for a life beyond the digital.”
Moving Towards A More Self-Reliant Life
Many people who visit this site are seeking a life of greater self-reliance. They understand that their households may not be sustainable and have set for themselves the goal of greater self-sufficiency.
Self-reliance and self-sufficiency are not the same things.
The word ‘self-reliance” is a noun. A noun is the part of speech that is used to name a person, place or thing. It is a quality or an action.
Self-reliance can be defined as the reliance upon one’s own capabilities, judgment, or resources. The late John Seymour preferred the term “self-supporter”. I have to admit that I prefer his term too.
The words “self-sufficient” and “self-sustaining” are adjectives. An adjective is a word that is used with a noun to express something about the quality of the thing named. An adjective is an accessory to the noun word.
Self-sustaining is the ability to sustain oneself independently.
Self-sufficient is the ability to provide for oneself without the help of others. The two words mean almost the same thing.
Self-sustaining and self-sufficient are accessories to self-reliance.
Living a completely self-sustaining or self-sufficient life is not possible. No household can manufacture all of its needs. A household may provide for many needs but cannot be 100% self-sufficient. That’s one of the reasons for trade and commerce.
No living creature, system or organization is completely self-reliant or self-supporting. All things depend upon another Source for sustenance and a continued existence.
A household that is built upon self-reliance is a household that is inherently secure. It can function with or without help no matter what is happening outside of the household.
Because a self-reliant household is not completely dependent upon outside systems it can function during any type of crisis. A loss of systems is not critical. There are lots of different types of household crises and household crises can be long term or short term.
A well-known example of a modern day household crisis is an electrical power failure.
Now depending upon the individual household circumstance a power failurelet’s say 25 days –can be either a complete and life-threatening household disaster, or it can be an annoying inconvenience.
A self-reliant household may use electricity everyday for refrigeration, hot water, heating, lighting and entertainment, but is prepared to meet those household needs without electricity.
A self-sufficient household generates it’s own electricity and is therefore completely immune to electrical power failures. The self-sufficient generation of electrical power is the accessory to the self-reliance of the household.
Living a self-sustaining life that is based upon self-reliance demands faith, courage, fortitude and a rigorous self-honesty.
Only by understanding whom we are as people, taking inventory of our particular geographical environment, and by a good and sensible stewardship of our individual circumstances can we prepare our households to be more self-reliant.
The best way I think to determine the self-reliance of yourself and your particular household circumstance is by informed personal experience. That experience can easily be had by doing what I call a “living household inventory”.
When it comes to individuals and their households one size doesn’t fit all. I can’t give you an exact list of what you need to do to become more self-reliant.
You have to make that list for yourself.
But what I can do is offer some suggestions that helped me when I decided years ago to make my own household more self-reliant, and offer you a challenge for a living self-reliance inventory.
If you are serious about self-reliance you will find this challenge and the suggestions that follow life changing.
What you will discover about yourself, your family, and what you actually need verses what you want will lay the foundation work for a life of relative independence.
Get Set – Get Ready – Go!
Pick a weekend – but not the next two weekends if you’re smart (because that’s Christmas & New Year’s Day).
Next gather a notebook and a pencil and keep them some place where you can write notes during the weekend.
Pick six pages and write on the on top:
Page one – FOOD/WATER
Page two – SHELTER
Page three – CLOTHING/LINENS
Page four- HYGIENE/TOILET
Page five- RECREATION/COMMUNICATION
Page six- MISCELLANEOUS
You will be keeping notes about your thoughts on those needs as the weekend progresses. And unless you have lots of young children and a baby in diapers, you won’t need page three if you are caught up on your laundry. Pages 1,2,4 & 5 in your notebook will probably be the big ones over the weekend.
You are going to be spending the next 2 ½ days living in a world not cushioned by modern technology and thoughtlessness. You are going to rely on yourself.
It’s going to be a weekend of self-reliance.
On Friday while it is still light, go to your home’s power utility box(es) – electric, gas or whatever – and shut it (them) off at the main.
Turn off your cell phone and land line if you have one.
You are now going to live an entire weekend without any type of digital or grid technology. You will turn the power back on late Sunday night or early Monday morning. That’s so you and the kids can go to school and work without too much commotion on a Monday morning.
Over the weekend you must provide for all of your needs; and if you can manage it – your wants.
Depending upon your individual circumstances you will need water, food, toilet and personal hygiene, heating, cooling, lighting, recreation and communication.
How easy or how difficult it is for you to obtain those things will give you a good idea of how self-reliant your household is. Take notes on what works and what doesn’t. Your notes will become a master plan for your household.
I’ll wager that most people living in northern climates will not be able to complete the challenge this time of the year due to the extreme cold. You folks might be able to modify the challenge and turn down the heat to 33- 34º so the pipes don’t freeze.
When I went through my living inventory many years ago I found it almost impossible to function.
I completely lost my sense of humor because I was so ill prepared. I nearly had a breakdown.
- I was cold – My oil furnace ran on electric and I didn’t have enough blankets.
- I had no water. I couldn’t drink, cook, take a bath, wash dishes, do laundry, flush the toilet or water my livestock. My well pump is electric.
- It got dark at night. Really dark. Candles and single wick oil lamps don’t provide enough light to read or work by.
- I couldn’t cook. My stove was electric.
- I had plenty of canned food because I’ve always kept a stocked pantry, but I was worried about losing food in the refrigerator and freezer. If the food in the freezer had started to thaw I wouldn’t have had the means or enough canning lids and rings to quickly can it. The food would have been a complete loss.
- It was really quiet in the house. Which was nice but kind of creepy. No phone ringing. Back then I still had a TV and I had a hard time passing the evenings without it. The fact that I couldn’t read (crummy oil lamps) made it worse.
What I learned about my particular household during that time and about myself literally changed my life.
My suggestion to you is to modify the weekend self-reliance living inventory challenge in anyway to suit yourself and your situation.
You can make it longer or shorter or keep the heat on, but kill the lights, the water and TV. The important thing is to realistically test yourself and your family for a power failure.
Be prepared for rebellion – especially from children (and some husbands). Lots of kids aren’t going to want to spend a weekend in a cold, dark house playing board games with mom and dad.
Going off grid by choice for a “living household inventory” is the fastest way to find out what you and your family need and want. Theory is fine. But authentic life experience is the best teacher for self-reliance.
A Few Suggestions For What You’ll Need For A Life Beyond The Digital
To change the direction of your life you must fundamentally change your worldview. And that takes courage, faith, fortitude and commitment.
- You must first and foremost – put your TV set in the garbage or give it away to charity.You and your family can no longer afford the time or luxury of consumer and state sponsored propaganda. It is imperative that you learn to think for yourself and stop wasting time. And do not substitute being online or on the phone for the TV. This will probably be the hardest thing you will have to do. How successful you will be in your journey for a more self-reliant and self-sustaining life depends upon this one single thing. The no TV is absolutely non- negotiable.
- You must begin at once to learn some type of self-sustaining skill. And that can be anything useful or practical. Plumbing, sewing, carpentry, cooking, baking, weaving, knitting, animal husbandry, vegetable gardening, soap making , bee keeping – whatever – just pick something that you are interested in and jump in with both feet. You’ll have plenty of time and maybe extra money to spend on learning that skill because you don’t have a TV. No matter where you live or what your circumstances you can start first thing tomorrow. If you want to learn to how to garden – do it. Never mind that it’s December. Go buy an aloe plant or herbs for a sunny window sill. Want to learn how to knit? Get some yarn and get started. If animal husbandry interests you – get a pet rabbit or bird. The skills required to care for a pet bird or rabbit are the same ones you’ll need for chickens or for meat rabbits. You don’t have a TV remember. You got to do something with all that extra time.
- Debt is slavery. When you are in debt you do not own your own future. If you have any debt– get rid of it. Plenty of information is available about how to do that. And don’t try and justify your credit cards. Get a debit card if you need to rent a car or order online. Credit cards keep you chained to consumerism. Consumerism is fueled by popular culture and TV . Whatever they are advertising on TV – you don’t need it – and without a TV you won’t really know or care about it. You must live within your means no matter how modest.
- Stop eating processed food, fast food and drinking soda pop. Junk food is expensive and just about everybody knows it is not good for your health. You cannot grow potato chips, Twinkies, ready to eat boxed cereal, Pepsi, Coke or Mountain Dew in the garden. Those foods are addictive and unsustainable. Fast food is also a big waste of money and will keep you tied into a consumer economy. Not to mention that they are cruelty based foods. Without the exploitation of people and animals, Burger King, McDonald’s,Sisco and the rest of them would go out of business. Plan ahead and bring a bagged meal. That’s what dinner leftovers are for. Don’t pay for something that you can do for yourself. And no matter what your age or health – get moving outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine is good for you and is what you need. Two or three hours a day outdoors everyday is the goal to work for – summer or winter. A life of deliberate self-reliance is an extremely physical life. You must preserve your good health. It will be easier now that you don’t watch TV and eat junk food.
- Develop some type of personal philosophy or faith if you don’t already have one. Particular cosmology doesn’t matter. It is vital to hold a belief in some type of universal order, plan or reason. Without this you will not be able to sustain the heartaches, questioning, losses and disappointments that living a more self-sustainable life will often bring. Believe me when I tell you this: when you are in a race against time to save an animal that is struggling for its life; or a newborn calf is born dead; or an entire crop is destroyed by a sudden July tempest – there are no atheists.
A more self-sustaining life is possible for everyone but it doesn’t happen overnight. If you try and take on too much too fast you are setting yourself up for failure and discouragement.
A successful transition to a more self-reliant life is an evolution in life and not a revolution.
Now go find and switch off the main power.