Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Many years ago, years before I moved to the country, I was what would be considered "a prepper." I saw disaster every time I turned on the TV, or read the news on the internet, or visited forums that talked about stockpiling beans and bullets. I panicked, thinking I could never have enough control for the sake of my family, never be "prepped" enough.
So I got out of town, and bought a place in the country.
Now, I call myself a homesteader. I don't have to store a year's worth of beans
in 55 gallon drums. I can just grow beans. I don't have to buy 50 #10 cans of
dehydrated milk, cheese and eggs, because I have dairy animals and chickens.
To me, the doom and gloom attitude of many prepping forums is depressing.
Living in the country and having control over your food, water and power? That is comforting.
On Christmas morning, while opening gifts with our family, the power went out. My sister, who lives in the city, freaked out, "Call the power company!!!"
I didn't, and enjoyed the notion that it didn't matter to me if it came back on in the next hour, the next day or the next week. I have a hand pump on my well, a woodstove in the house, and multiple ways to store food that we have dehydrated or frozen.
I consider this lifestyle to be insurance that my family will be safe, fed and warm, whether it is a storm, a depression, or if we should lose our income, for whatever reason.
If my grandad was alive and I told him that being self-sufficient was now the exception rather than the rule, he would be confused. In his day people did for themselves and their neighbors as a way of life.
Slowly, over the past 100 years or so (especially the last 50), people have forgotten what it was like to be responsible for their own well-being. It would never occur to many Americans to even think about what they would do should there suddenly be no power company, no grocery store, no gas station.
It flat terrifies me how dependent people in this country are on the cogs in the wheels turning without a hitch. ONE thing pops out of place, and there is a panic.
So I moved my family out of the way, and swore that would never again be me.
Honestly, I find it shocking that in the entire history of the world, only NOW is the idea of being prepared one that is a viewpoint of the minority.
Every time I come up with something I think I need, I try to solve that problem with something I can produce here at home; what could I grow that would fill that gap, or replace that thing?
Sugar - stevia or sugar cane, grow it in the greenhouse or inside your own house, or get a bee hive and use honey instead...honey is my #1 "have" at all times because I use it for wound healing, sweetener, antibiotic and food.
Oils - you can press your own (you likely have a tree on your property that would produce something useable in that way, or you can grow sunflowers which is ridiculously easy), or you can have a dairy beast and use butter.
Coffee - I just planted two coffee beans/seeds to see if I can get them to grow. Coffee is a greenhouse plant for most of us in the U.S., but again there are substitutions that anyone can grow/use like dandelion root or chicory.
Tea - anyone anywhere can grow some form of tea, whatever your preference - dehydrate fruit peels for fruity tea, and there are varieties of green and black tea that will grow in the U.S.
Basic hygiene - other than stockpiling toilet paper (not big on using softened leaves if I don't have to, I have three girls, so my wool sheep and cattails are a must have, ifyouknowwhatI'msaying), almost anything you think you need can be duplicated, or done without.
Soap, toothpaste, that kind of thing you can make/grow, and when those things are made at home there are fewer chemicals, so they are better for you.
I am ever so slowly trying to remove myself completely from the grocery store, but it is tough. After a lifetime of conditioning, not caving to the convenience is difficult.
Just so we are clear; growing food, using herbal medicine, being prepared for a storm, learning how to shoot, none of these things have anything to do with politics. But they have everything to do with common sense.
Liberals who don't know me assume that I am a gun-toting bigot, and
conservatives who don't know me assume that I am a tree-hugging hippie.
The reality of it is I'm just a mom, who wants my kids to learn how to care for their own families one day. And there is nothing political about that.
Photo by Tina Elliott