So you’ve decided you want more than just the security and comfort of a garden. You want animals. You want to grow everything you need and be self-sufficient enough to handle whatever comes your way. That should lead to self-sufficiency questions to consider before you set up.
This is not going to be a “do this” kind of post. I know that can be frustrating for those who just want to be told what they can do, but there are a lot of factors that change with each homestead and even each year on the homestead. We are dynamic beings that live on a dynamic planet that responds and changes with the seasons. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. That said, there are guidelines you can use to orient yourself.
Self-Sufficiency Questions to Consider
First thing you should do is analyze your skillset (downloadable template) What can you do? How well can you do it? Do you know someone else who can?
Next you should take stock of what you have, like tools. Do you need anything? Can you share it with someone else who has it, or barter their services? What does your community have that you could access?
You also need a solid view of what your idea of self-sufficiency looks like. Do you need to be off-grid, generating your own power? What about providing and purifying your own water? Are you going to be alone or with someone else? In the city or rural?
What about animals? What kind, how many? Do you have experience? How do you plan on getting them, and what’s their purpose?
Have you done a land survey? Where the water runs, how hard the wind blows, and what climate dangers are in your area? Do you know where to place your garden, what to grow, and how to store seeds?
Do you know how to safely forage, hunt, fish, build or make needed items, find water, build fire without matches?
What’s your financial outlook? Do you have a budget? How secure is your income?
How far do you want to go? And do you have a plan?
These are just a few self-sufficiency questions to consider to get you thinking about what direction you want to take your homestead. It takes a lot of thought and some hard work to get there.
If questions and lists aren’t your thing I have a good example of what I mean below.
I recently had a friend ask me what to grow to be self-sufficient on her property. She had only made the decision that she wanted the property to produce all the food its occupants and animals needed in a particular season, not year-round. This was part of my response:
” To plan properly would include a series of land analyses and eating habits along with seasonal weather variances and planning redundancies into it to encourage a truly self sufficient plot. Also consider the food sources need to be sufficient for however many people on the regular and if animals are included in that and their requirements.
Research into forgeable foods and native plants would be first, then specific placements of site-appropriate permaculture guilds of perennials including 9 layers (the 2 additional ones are aquatic and mycelial), then self-seeding annuals. ”