Being self reliant had always been an important skill. It started with the first European arrivals to this country, right down to our grand parents and parents that grew up during the depression and WWII. Being self reliant meant the difference between life and death. My folks were very good at being frugal. I learnt that at an early age, and I passed that on to my kids. Although their mates think differently. I have always questioned my purchases. You know 'do I need that or do I just want it?'
I believe that it is important as individuals to learn skills, and to become less dependent on the power companies, and grocery stores. Most people want to become self reliant while others are forced into it. I rather be self reliant because I want to. History has taught us that nothing in life is guaranteed. Look at what happen in the fall 2008 with the stock markets. Sure here in Canada we weren't really affected to the extent of the US. But it still could happen here. Employed today, unemployed tomorrow. How would you cope?
Last summer, we seen Russia halt their exports of wheat because of the drought that they had in that country. Now with the flooding in Australia, has seen the wheat prices go up. What does that mean for the average consumer? Your bread will go up in price. I believe this is just the beginning. With the weather being totally wacky, what else will happen to the world food supply?
Becoming self reliant does not happen overnight. Although I wished it did. It takes time and money to get there. But one can become self reliant with planning. With a little planning, and the steps that you start today, will lead you down the road to independence. Here are a few suggestions that I have.
1) REDUCE YOUR DEBT: Make a plan to start reducing your debt load. Try paying a few extra dollars every month on to your credit card. Get rid of your credit cards, and start using cash for purchases. Don't use one card to pay off another. Keep in mind debt costs you money! Check out your finance charges on your credit cards. It may surprise you at how much you are paying in a month. What are you paying? $50, $100 What could you do with that extra money? Reduce your mortgage. Can you pay extra every month without being penalized? Where can you cut costs in your life, to save money?
2)LEARN ONE HOMEMAKING SKILL A MONTH: Sewing, crocheting, knitting and soap making are all good skills to learn. This way you can provide clothing for your family. Possibly to make a little bit of money on the side.
3)MAKE SIMPLICITY A HABIT: One doesn't need to keep up with the Joneses. Try playing board games or cards for a family fun night. Don't always purchase/rent the latest DVD or video game. Wait until they come on tv. Visit neighbours or family.
4)INVEST IN BOOKS: I know I am going to get a lot of flak for this one. I know some people believe that you should borrow books from the library. But I am of the belief if you own the books, you have instant reference and entertainment at your fingertips. I have a set of encyclopedias that we have used a lot over the past 20 years for reference on history.
5)LEARN COOKING SKILLS: It surprises me how many people don't know how to cook. I have always stated if you can read, you can cook. Learn how to bake bread, canning, even wine making.
6)INVEST IN RE-USABLE ITEMS: Like cloth diapers, and yeah I would even go as far as saying feminine hygiene products. Don't waste your money purchasing things like the Swifter wet jet. You can't refill those bottles, and tossing the pads into the garbage after every use, is like tossing your money into the garbage.
7)GROW A GARDEN: Depending where you live, you may not have access to a plot of land, but you can grow veggies in containers on your back stoop or balcony.
8)GROW SOME HERBS:Again these can be grown in containers. They are easy to dry and store.
9)PLANT FRUIT TREES OR CANES:If you live in the city try to incorporate the trees into your landscaping. There are new varieties of miniature and dwarf trees that stay five feet tall or less and yet produce fruit. Keep in mind that you need two different varieties of each tree for proper pollination. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes are also good choices to grow in your backyard. By having fruit trees in your landscaping will help guarantee a food supply. My dad's parents back in the mid-seventies, had strawberries, and raspberry canes along one side of their house. Their backyard was the garden. And through out their yard they had apple trees. They lived in Wadena, Saskatchewan. So it can be done.
10) CONSIDER BEE KEEPING:This is something I want to try. I figure one or two hives would be enough to supply a family with honey for a year if not more. And it would be a beneficial hobby. I seen on the news, that there is a company in Calgary that is supplying people with backyard bee hives.
11)GET A DAIRY GOAT:If you have the space, and depending where you live, having a couple of does on hand would cost you less in the long run for milk. And if you learn on how to make cheese or yogurt your food bill would be further reduced. I am fortunate enough to be on a farm, and I have a few Jerseys that supply us with all of our dairy products.
12)CHICKENS: They are so cheap to keep. Their housing doesn't have to be fancy, but enough of one to keep them out of the elements. They can eat most household scraps that would be destine for the garbage. If you are fortunate enough that the hens can be free range, they wouldn't need as much feed. If you have a rooster, and allow the hens to hatch out the eggs,or hatch them out yourself. you can butcher the roosters for meat and add the pullets to your hen house. Some cities and towns across Canada, allow up to 3 hens in your backyard. But no rooster-apparently they crow to much for some folks. Check with your town office on what their bylaw is.
13) PICK UP HAND TOOLS:Having power tools on hand is great, but if there is no power they are not much of use. Try to keep on hand tools that use good ole fashioned elbow grease. Check out garage sales or farm auctions and stock up on saws, drills, wood planes etc.
14)MAKE A PLAN:So many people don't have a plan for 'what if' happens. The 'what if' could be a natural disaster, financial, or a national emergency. Spend a few minutes and think about your life in case of one of these things happened. What would you do? Make a list of things that you would need and keep in mind of the special needs of the elderly, babies, and small children. I know it has been suggested that you would need enough food and water in your home for 72 hours. But I think that is not enough. Look at what is currently happening in Australia, and what has happened in Atlantic Canada. I think 72 hours supply is not enough. I think a family should have minimum of 2 weeks supply in their house. I would even suggest a minimum of six months of goods stocked up. Me personally, am striving for a year of stockpiled food. I guess one could even keep some of those army rations on hand.
15)LEARN FIRST AID: I would suggest that every family member learn first aid. No, I don't know first aid, but I have the basic first aid that I learnt almost 25 years ago.Keep a well stocked first aid kit in the home, vehicle, barn and the shop. I want to learn more about using herbs, and homeopathic for healing.
16)LEARN TO HUNT:Learning how to hunt is and always will be a good skill to know. Take a hunter training course.
17)LEARN HOW TO WILDCRAFT: Learn to forage for wild foods. Learning to live more off the land is another good skill.
18)CHANGE YOUR MENTALITY ABOUT MONEY: Working a daily job is only one way of making money. What skills do you have that you can make some money from? Can you tutor? Farm gate sales? Blogging?
19)START A REFERENCE LIBRARY: Again, I will get flak over this suggestion. Books that have instruction in important survival skills, are good investment.Also books on how to butcher, can, gardening, building, etc are all good books to have on hand.
20)INSTALL A WOOD STOVE:It can be either a wood/cook stove, or just a wood stove. Either way, you can have heat and still cook.
21)KEEP CASH ON HAND: Keeping a secret stash of cash in the house-mine is in a mason jar, hidden of course, is always a good plan. Start with $500. You can always use it in case of an emergency. If you use it, replenish it.
22)EXERCISE:Keeping yourself in good physical condition is a good idea. Not only for your health, but for the 'just-in-case' scenario.
23)LEARN ABOUT ALTERNATIVE POWER SOURCES: Do some research, and start incorporating them into your life.
24)WATER:Have a clean water source that you can access with a hand pump.
25)CLEANING PRODUCTS: Learn to make your own cleaning products. Not only for the house cleaning, but for personal usage too. Not only does it help to reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also put money back in to your own pocket.
26)BE FRUGAL: Go to garage sales, and thrift stores.
By doing these things, you can feel confident in your ability, to be able to look after your family's needs, when the 'just-in-case' happens.
ok it was 26....what ideas do you have for becoming more self-reliant?