A Look Back at 2018, Our Self-Reliant Goals for 2019, and a Self-Reliant Challenge for January!
I never once asked the question, “How self-reliant am I?” years ago. I was busy raising my kids you see. And working full time. And making soaps to sell. And it was so easy to just go to the store. But I have come to realize that over the decades, I have accumulated quite a few self-reliant skills without even being quite aware of it.
The year before last, I wrote an article: 18 Necessities I Never Buy from the Store Anymore and What I Do Instead. And then last year, I wrote an updated article, and the new number was 50+ Things I Never Buy from the Store.
Self-reliance is a growth project. And often, the things you learn and know how to do just happen as need or accidents happen.
The question I like to ask is: Could you survive without going to the store?
Here’s how Mr. V. and I did this past year with our self-reliant growth as well as our goals for our new homestead this upcoming 2019!
How We Became More Self-Reliant in 2018:
So this past year was a year of some really BIG changes for us. Scary changes, as a matter of fact.
You see. We both retired toward the end of 2017 (five years early for me—and maybe I’ll talk about why someday). And we decided that it was time to make the leap. To go for our dream of having a homestead with more land so we could create an even more self-reliant life style than we already had in our off-grid home in Cold Creek, Nevada.
Yep. We up and moved to the panhandle of Northern Idaho last April, after selling our beloved tiny homestead in Nevada. You can find out more about our reasons for leaving our lifetime home in this article: Finding a Forever Homestead and Why We are Leaving Las Vegas. (If you are into prepping and survivalism, you’ll probably really enjoy it.)
In Nevada, we were on 2/3 of an acre, living off-grid, where we learned to grow a wonderful garden; raise chickens, turkeys, and ducks; raise goats; and enjoy our horses. We learned how to grow herbs for medicine and forage in the Mojave Desert for wild plants. We learned that it is, indeed, very possible to homestead on a smaller piece of property with purposeful planning and upkeep.
Heck. It’s even possible to homestead in an urban environment. If you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you know that I am all about mindset. Homesteading and self-reliance is simply all about your head space, right?
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Here are some of the ways we’ve increased our level of self-reliance this past year in 2018:
I’ve learned how to make soap with just about any oil. Heh-heh—-I learned this after I accidentally rendered elk tallow while making bone broth! It’s all about the fatty acids and the saponification values, you see. You can even make hot process soap using all kinds of milks!
We learned that clay soil is NOT like the hard, rocky, sandy soil of S. NV. This was actual a BIG FAIL as far as our gardening went this year, sad to say. But I take every loss as a win because we learned some valuable lessons.
We have become exceptionally self-sufficient with our meat. Mr. V. and I do not eat meat from the grocery stores. Ever. You can find out why in this link. In fact, we feel extremely strongly about being COMPLETELY self-reliant from the factory meat industry. BUT we are not vegetarians, either. Luckily, with the easier hunting laws in Idaho, we have been able to fill our freezers full of meat that will get us through many months.
We have learned more about raising Boer goats for meat and for sale. This is a process, but we now have three pregnant does who are expecting quite soon. We also have a large, stinky, hairy buck with an incredible personality. You can find out some things you need to know about getting goats here.
I have continued to increase my knowledge of herbal medicine by continuing course work through the Herbal Academy of New England.
I enrolled in a permaculture course so we can turn this homestead into a (hopefully) very functional herb farm.
And I’m taking courses through an excellent aromatherapy school which will certify me as a level 1 Clinical Aromatherapist. You can see the education is a BIG deal in my life. Education helps you be self-reliant in SO many ways.
I’ve learned to juice fruits and vegetables, which was a necessity due to the orchard on the property. We have LOTS of fruit!
Mr. V. and I have learned a bit about pond management. We have a VERY small pond on the property.
We learned how to build a fabulous chicken coop and a pole barn for our animals.
We learned about wasps this year too. OMGosh! The wasps were BAD this past summer. Did you know lemongrass, citronella, and peppermint essential oils will make an excellent wasp repellant? Yep! And here is a recipe for my bug repellant balm.
We got our new home set up with propane tanks and a new wood stove. This way, if the electricity goes down (which it did once—-it was a wake up call since we are on an electric well pump), we can convert to propane for the short term. The wood stove provides plenty of heat and a cooking surface if needed.
Fencing. We have started fencing and cross-fencing the property, and we learned about high tensile wire, which has become our favorite method of outside perimeter fencing. It can be (and is) hot (electrified) to keep predators out.
Sewing. This is kind of silly, but I learned how to get my sewing machine set up and going. And I made one very simple project.
FORAGING! Oh. My. Goodness. The foraging here in Idaho is CRAZY good. I’ve learned about several plants here with medicinal purposes that I can now recognize and use.
***LOL! You know what is so funny? I started this list thinking, “Now what on earth will I write about 2018? It seems nothing much happened.” Don’t you love reflecting back? There’s probably even more I’m not thinking about.
Our Self-Reliance, Preparedness & Survival Goals for 2019
We have done so much in just the seven months we’ve been here in Idaho. Mr. V. and I have really put our hearts, blood, sweat, and tears into this property and our ability to be more self-reliance. Much of what we did this past year in 2018 was born out of need.
This year, it’s time to be very intentional about the things we do to increase our level of self-reliance.
Here are some of the ways we’re planning on being more self-sufficient in 2019:
We are going to start a small medicinal herb farm. I read the books, The Market Gardener as well as The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer and I just got so excited! We were planning to sell veggies at the farmer’s markets around here this upcoming year, but now, we are going to sell medicinal herbs instead. I feel there is more of a market and it’s WAY less saturated. Not only will we be able to grow our own medicinals for ourselves, but we can sell them to create more of an income too.
Continue to learn more about raising goats and the market for selling them. As of right now, we know pretty much next to nothing about the marketing.
Add pigs to the homestead. I’m so excited about this! We have the perfect area for some pigs, and we are going to start with two this Spring.
Add ducks and turkeys to the poultry bunch. We kept ducks and turkeys in Cold Creek, and we really missed them this year. In our view, the more diversity you have with your meat the better.
I am (hoping) to try milking one of the does for milk this year. I have never done this before, and I’d love to freeze pints of goat milk for use in soap, feed, and for cheese making.
More foraging! When Spring comes, we will have been on the property for one year. I am SO looking forward to adding more knowledge and experience to my foraging repertoire, both for edibles and medicinals.
Build a bigger pond. If I can get far enough along in the permaculture course I’m taking, I’m hoping Mr. V. and I can get a nice sized pond built. It would be good to stock it with some useful fish instead of koi like we have in the little pond.
Learn to use the hoop house the right way. And build raised beds in it. I have never gardened in a hoop house, and I only have the barest concept of how to do this.
Increase the orchard with more fruit trees.
Plant medicinal trees around the perimeter fencing. (Hawthorn, Elder (Nigra species, as we have plenty of the Cerulea growing wild here), Cottonwood, and Willow (Salix alba) to name a few.
Feed the deer and elk so that they are used to being on parts of the property for next year’s hunting season.
Harvest some of the pheasant and quail living on the property. We need to figure out how to do this without driving them away.
Continue fencing pasture areas for the goats and our horse. We can add more animals with larger pasture areas.
Harvest wood from our own trees to restock the wood-pile.
Harvest wood for our own trees for building.
Learn to grow edible mushrooms in the forest area of the property.
Start seeds and actually plant them without letting them get root-bound and die on me. (I’m terrible about this. I’ll get them going, but then I get to busy to actually put them in the ground. I know. I’m bad.)
Get better at my bread baking. I’d like to master sour dough.
Ferment foods and drinks more than I did last year.
Set up a shop to sell dried herbs online.
Increase my knowledge of herbal first aid. I have some basic knowledge now that I have learned out of necessity, like how to make natural Quikclot if you don’t have any on hand. But I want to learn even more.
I would like to learn to use the tractor. Right now, Mr. V. does all that. If something happens to him, I need to know how to plow the roads, dig post holes, etc.
Increase my knowledge and ability to sew things—like curtains, pillow covers, and even clothing if I can get to this. I’d love to make a quilt some day, but I doubt it will be this next year.
Preserving food. I tend to dehydrate LOTS of foods. I’d like to branch out into canning more this year, including meat.
Whew! Now, I am feeling a little exhausted. This is where some strategic planning comes in! Mr. V and I really need to sit down and figure out exactly how we will approach the timing of all this, in this upcoming year. That’s a goal in and of itself! :-)
Final Thoughts on Becoming More Self-Sufficient in 2019
I hope you’ll continue to follow us on this journey to greater self-reliance! And I really hope and pray that you will take your own steps toward more self-reliance in your own life, no matter where you live, no matter where you are.
Generally, it just takes a bit of knowledge, which you can find online, in good books, and by taking courses—-then just practicing! Get passionate about something and go for it!
Which reminds me: I have this great friend whose husband has learned old-fashioned black-smithing skills. Just amazing. Maybe someday, Mr. V. and I can get that far!
Oh! And spinning! I’d love to learn more about fiber arts!
What do you do now to be more self-reliant? To be less dependent on the commercial world we live in? Could you survive if you couldn’t get to the store? Go ahead and share! Leave comments in the comments section!
Would you like to follow along with some other self-reliant bloggers? There’s a bunch of us involved in this Self-Reliant Challenge for this first month of 2019. You can check them all out right here. They have some great things to share!
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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