Abi’s Intro to Prepping: Self Sufficiency
Self-Sufficiency is the ultimate goal of any hard core prepper. It's the ability to live completely off your land, with no outside help for food and water. Can you imagine that? I know it seems like a huge undertaking, and that's because it is! My family still has a long way to go before we're there, but there are many small ways to get started on this without a ton of resources or land.
In this post I've broken self sufficiency, or homesteading, down into some basic categories. It's just an overview, but these are areas you may find yourself wanting to work on and learn more about. You can also learn more from me in my course, Homesteading Like a Gangster.
Garden and Greenhouse
Growing your own food is one of the first steps to self sufficiency. It may seem like an impossible task, so I recommend starting small. An herb garden is the perfect place to start if you've never gardened before. You can even grow it in a sunny window if you don't have land. An herb garden is a great way to get familiar with planting seeds, learning about soil and watering, and practicing using what you've grown in your everyday cooking. You can learn about drying them to preserve them, and practice harvesting seeds from them to grow herbs for family and friends. When you feel ready you can tackle larger crops. You''ll need to learn about what plants grow well in your climate and when the best time to plant is. You'll want to look into composting and how to maintain healthy soil. If you're ready to start learning more, I cover all about gardening and composting in my Homesteading Like a Gangster course. Check the bottom of this post for more information and a special offer on that. A greenhouse is a large investment, but can allow you grow your crops year round. It also gives you the ability to grow plants you might not normally be able to grow in your climate, like tropical varieties. Ammon and I purchased a greenhouse from Remington Solar that we'll be setting up soon. I can't wait! I'll share everything I learn as I go with you.
As much work as they are to care for, animals can bring a lot of food to you. A great animal to start with is chickens. They're small, don't require a ton of space and most cities allow them. Eggs are such a versatile super food, it seems like a no brainer to want chickens. Obviously you can also keep them for the meat, if you choose.As with any animal, you'll want to learn how to properly feed and care for them. And if you're looking to become completely self sufficient, you will want to grow the food your animals need to eat, too.
Storing Home Grown Food
Once you've grown all this amazing food to eat you want to make sure you store it properly so that it can feed you throughout the year and not just at harvest time. Canning, freeze drying and proper storage are necessary to make your food last.
Canning is the most cost effective method, so it's perfect for beginners. August thru September is one of my favorite times of year because I'm always canning huge batches of food with the help of my favorite people. It's so much fun and so rewarding. A freeze dryer is a big investment, but totally worth it if you make good use of it. Freeze dried food can be shelf stable for decades, yet tastes so fresh when rehydrated! This is the freeze dryer I have. If you're interested in freeze dried food, but don't want to have to make it yourself, I suggest getting in ready made from Thrive Life. They have SOOOO many foods all freeze dried at the peak of freshness ready for you to order. Learn how to properly store root vegetables, eggs and apples. There are ways to store food for months at a time. It is unbelievable how cool it is.
Have a Reliable Water Source
A Well or Spring access - If you can dig a well or get access to a well or spring, that would be prime. I recognize that it is not available to a lot of people, but if it is accessible to you, I would invest in getting one or finding one. If you don't have access to this, I suggest getting a Berkey Water Filter. You can read more about that here.
If you plan on moving towards a more self sufficient life, which Ammon and I are trying to do, you must learn how to do things you normally wouldn’t. We have started a hefty library of books on how to do any and all of the things - how to make soap, how to dye clothing, how to nurture and care for animals and people, how to store food long term, how to make cheese, etc. We have been learning how to do weird, random things our ancestors did for years. It’s been really fun learning about how to work the land and utilize certain skills in different situations. I suggest getting actual books because if the internet is down, it’s nice to have a book in hand. Here are some we've recently added to our library:
- Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth
- Biodynamic Gardening by Monty Waldin
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier
- Pure Soapmaking by Anne-Marie Faiola
- The Useful Knots Book by Sam Fury
- Dehydrator Cookbook by Louise De Angelo
- The Amish Canning Cookbook by Georgia Varozza
Get the Kids InvolvedIf you have kids, I highly recommend getting them involved in as much of your homesteading as possible. My kids love helping to take care of the chickens and tending to the garden with me. A study from Ohio University found that kids who help grow their own vegetables are five times more likely to eat them! I also love that I'm passing the knowledge I'm gaining about homesteading down to my kids.
Homesteading Like a GangsterAre you interested in learning more about self sufficiency? I created a super helpful BEGINNER guide to homesteading just for you! “Homesteading like a Gangster” covers several areas of homesteading in great detail, but keeps it simple and accessible for beginners. Subjects covered are:
- Starting a garden
- Raising Chickens
- Buying Meat in Bulk
- Brewing Kombucha
- Baking Sourdough Bread
- Canning Basics