Self-sufficiency is a wonderful thing. In fact, if this ecological crisis is ever to end, it’s important for more and more people to turn to it, at least to the extent that they can. Tending your own crops, keeping your own animals, or even turning your operation to a sustainable farm presence can be important for not only people wanting to live a more authentic life, but also for the future of agriculture itself. Those sound like dramatic terms to frame this in, but that doesn’t limit their truth.
However, self-sufficiency isn’t exactly some fairytale dreamland you can jump into without error or a failing of judgement. Of course, you don’t expect that anyway, so there’s no need to patronize you to that end. But what we can do is better help inform you of the costs of self-sufficiency, so that if you do plan to make the most of it, you have stronger footing to start.
It’s a noble pursuit, really, and so keeping yourself informed, able and excited can help your passion project spring to life. Consider our advice:
We often think of self-sufficiency as something that has the convenience of simply heading to the supermarket and enjoying a comforting shop. But that’s not the case. You have to plant your vegetables, you have to give them a solid timeline of arrival, and sometimes, they won’t grow how you expect. You have to toll the soil. You have to raise farm animals, book them to a slaughterhouse, and freeze the meat. Thankfully, if you have space, it’s possible to freeze much of your self-sufficient offspring, and simply one pig can give you more meat than you know what to do with, enough to sustain a family for months. But still, it’s an exchange of time. That is the first investment. And even then, you may only rely on partial self-sufficiency. You still have to buy toothpaste. So in the end, managing time and your expectations will be the first cost.
It’s essential to insure yourself against any difficulty. Sometimes this means gaining the right medical licenses for your animals and investing in vaccines, other times it means getting the right tractor insurance to help you work your land more appropriately, and allow one machine to last you for years and years. Protecting your investment is another extremely worthwhile investment, worth its weight in gold.
Losses will occur when on a smallholding. Sometimes animals will die despite being looked after well, and some will stay alive far longer than you had expected them to. Sometimes an illness might cause you to have to humanely have the animals rested, or perhaps a large fallen tree in the road has caused your fence to break and thus have let out all of your sheep. Preparing for these losses can help you ensure that the small difficulties do not tank you.
With these tips in mind, you will have taken care of the difficulties of self-sufficiency. From there you can engage more with its wonder.