Friday, September 30, 2011

The Self Sufficient Life, A Dream?

With all the news about the economy and wild weather events even the non crazy people are talking about self sufficiency. The last few years more people are talking about it and doing something about it, even on a small level.

Our new batch of chicks

There are news articles about how people are starting backyard gardens with a few chickens, and community gardens are starting to pop up around the place especially in big cities.

We have always wanted to be self sufficient, since we were first married. With the idea of building a mud brick cottage, a large (and of course very efficient and prolific) garden and the healthiest and juiciest fruit trees. We have always had a garden of some sort even just a few herbs and tomatoes and in a few places only a fruit tree or two as we moved around with the military, and our first home that we bought only had a very large mango tree and not really any room for more. The property we dream of has to be large, like a thousand acres, in the middle of nowhere, with permanent water supply, no neighbours, and good soil (not much really).

Welding up some new bench frames

However, we have always done a lot of reading, we have books that we bought twenty years ago that we still use and of course now we have the internet for information and forums to link up with other like minded people even if we can’t find them in real life. I have also done various crafts and a few courses and my partner in crime and life is also very handy and has done various things too. We are also trying to teach our number one and only son, got to practice for the life.

Our books shelves have lots of books on gardening, herbal remedies, self sufficiency, cooking out of the garden, survival in hard times, building stuff, medical and of course craft so I can make our own clothes (cough cough, in my dreams).

A smoky sunset

So finally after all this time of making plans we are on five acres with clay soil, not really that far from town, a seasonal creek, still on the grid and we can see the neighbours. We still dream about that other place though, of course I am older and a little tired, it would have to be a bit established and I still want my laptop with an internet connection. Don’t need a phone or TV, I can live without those but I love the internet and watching movies. I want it all, the simple life combined with modern technology and all the creature comforts of course, don’t we all want that?

The reality of self sufficiency is it is harder than you want to think, and not relying on anyone else is a dream. There is no way I can make my own clothes, especially without an electric sewing machine and not even really then. We need fuel and power to run the water pump for the rain water tanks and the bore pump, I sure there is another way but I am still looking into it.

A lovely paw paw from the garden, great for breakfast :)

My garden isn’t as large as I would like and I have to buy my soil to make raised beds due to the clay. We eat out of it but it is really only supplementing what we buy. The fruit trees are young and while they may get a few fruit, are a few years off full on production and they are in clay soil so we are always mulching and feeding them.

Pete and the hens free ranging as nature intended

The chickens are actually what I imagined. As they are free ranging, they are not eating as much store bought grain and we have now more than doubled our flock size with all the chicks. Another six to twelve months and we will be getting eggs out of them, of course they are all hens and no roosters that we have to get rid of, also another dream. They are also good entertainment value, though going bush with my cup of tea to find them isn’t something I want to do very often.

We are still working towards that dream, there will need to be some sacrifices as the dream doesn’t actually exist, but it doesn’t mean we will give it up, nor does it mean we won’t be happy with what we have. However, we will always be striving to improve where we are, as we do love it here, but we can also have goals and dreams (like I can dream of travelling the world) and we should have them, and still love our life as it is.


  1. I love that you have dreams and goals and are working towards them one step at a time!

    I believe that for the most part, the majority of truly worthwhile things in life comes as a result of sacrifice, struggle, determination and plain hard work.

    I giggled at your "roosters" comment. My SIL has one and it scares the jimminy-crickets out of me! :-)

  2. You are right Kate,one step at a time and hard work will get us there eventually. If things come too easy we just don't appreciate them in the same way, or at all.

    RE the rooster, we had a scary rooster growing up but Pete is very sweet and he really looks after his girls :)