Self sufficiency is more a philosophy than a laid down way of life. Many people think of it as being self-sufficient in food, growing their own food on a smallholding with a few acres of land. Perhaps with some chickens scratching in the yard, pigs in the sty and maybe a goat or house cow to milk. ‘The Good Life’
The fact is that, with land prices as they are in the UK, this is a dream many of us can never have realise here. A smallholding of 5 good acres can set you back half a million pounds or more.
The Good Life isn’t the Cheap Life
Even if you have enough to buy a place outright, the first thing to understand is that ‘The Good Life’ can be expensive. In the city you have everything within a small area, you can walk it, cycle or hop on a bus and be there in minutes. Out in the country things are spread out and the next bus, if there is a bus, is probably tomorrow! It’s almost impossible to get by without a car, which is expensive.
That wood burning stove which set you back £1,000 isn’t free to run. Even if you have a wood, it takes time and a lot of sweat to turn a tree into seasoned timber. A good chainsaw and the gear will grab another £400 or £500 and you still need petrol for it.
The list goes on and on but the point is, even growing your own you still need an income unless you have won the lottery and have enough in the bank to last you your days. That’s why smallholders are so frugal, they have to make every penny count and can’t afford waste.
You can be self sufficient wherever you are.
But that doesn’t stop us taking some steps down the road towards the good life and embracing the philosophy wherever we happen to live. City, town, suburb or country.
Self sufficiency can be defined as doing something for yourself or making something for yourself rather than buying it in. You might not have the room to grow your own wheat to make flour to make bread, but you do have the ability to buy flour and bake your own bread. And for less cost than most supermarkets charge for decent bread.
With just a large garden or an allotment, you can easily grow enough fruit and vegetables for the average family to be self-sufficient. Add in some chickens and you can quickly start being self-sufficient in eggs and partly self sufficient in meat.
You may not have room for a house cow or goat, but you can take advantage of bargain reduced offers in the supermarket to produce your own butter or ice cream for less than buying the finished product. Home made ice-creams and yoghurt are so much better than bought.
Even with global warming, vineyards aren’t too common in Britain but so what? A day’s foraging can result in enough blackberries for a few pies, a dozen pots of jam and a couple of gallons of delicious wine.
The more you actually do for yourself, the more satisfying life becomes. Eating a meal where you have grown or raised everything washed down with a pint of home brewed ale beats any Michelin starred restaurant in my book.
It really isn’t all or nothing, do what you can with what you have and live a lot better for less.
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