What is True Self Sufficiency?


I’ve been on this “homesteading” journey for a few years now. I’m not nearly where I want to be, at all. You can read what my Ultimate Homestead Dream is in another blog post. Homesteading truly is a journey. You have to start somewhere. Some of us want to dive in head first all at once, but that’s just not possible for everyone, like us. I’d love to have it altogether, but the reality is that I don’t.
So for now, I’ll bloom where I’m planted, and make the best of what I do have to work with.
But the question begs to be asked…
What is True Self Sufficiency?
What does it look like?
What does it feel like?
It’s a question I ask myself, and a truth that I remind myself of often.
We are not completely self-sufficient yet, and we aren’t anywhere close to being completely self-sufficient yet. But it’s one of my goals. No, we aren’t going “off-grid”. No, we aren’t “preppers”, though I’ll touch on the different types of “preppers” there are, and your mind will be blown! And there’s nothing wrong with living off-grid or prepping.
So, what is true self sufficiency?
Feeding yourself completely off of your land and/or sourcing some food from a fellow farmer/homesteader
Believe it or not, even our grandparents didn’t always “grow it all” and “do it all”. Let’s get real for a second. Most of our previous generations depended on the homesteading community to survive. One family excelled in growing wheat while another excelled in vegetables. They traded off goods and services. It was true community. My generation either needs to understand that you’d literally have to work your fingers off in order to “do it all”, or you’ll have to outsource some of your food products. Does this mean from a grocery store? No, that’s not what I mean. True self-sufficiency isn’t relying on the grocery store for what you don’t grow. It’s relying on the community, farmer’s markets, other homesteaders and farmers, for what you can’t or don’t grow or make. Why is that true self sufficiency? Because you aren’t putting your money towards a commercialized business that spreads a thin layer of income over farmers across the world. You are literally pouring money back into your local economy, and essentially, right back into your own wallet.
Breeding your animals for consumption or use, not continuously buying/renting them

For example, if you are breeding rabbits for meat, being truly self-sufficient means you aren’t going out and buying new rabbits for meat consumption. And besides, ew. I want to know where my meat comes from, not just buy it off craigslist.

It means you sit down, have a plan, get your rabbit herd together, and then start breeding your own meat. Sure, breeders die. But that doesn’t mean you have to go get a new one. This means you plan ahead and hold back certain babies from litters so that you can better your lineage and be sustainable. This can easily be done by starting with pedigreed rabbits that come from several different lineages. Knowing the animal and where it came from is half the battle.

The same goes for any animal that you are using for consumption, product, or work. Once you have established your herd or breed, the only time you should be adding new blood into the breeding system is to better your lineage and offspring. This doesn’t necessarily need to be done every single year. Studding out animals is a long time tradition, but it can get expensive. If you have a way to hold back animals, that’s the best self sufficiency option. However, finding another local homesteader who you can trade services with is a great option too.




Preserving your harvest
I like to call this the original “prepping”. It’s not what today’s modern society calls “prepping”. It truly is just preserving your harvest from that year. If that defines you as a “prepper”, then society is wrong. I’d like to be referred to as just a smart homesteader trying to live like the older generations.
One of your greatest steps into true self-sufficiency goes hand in hand with gardening or sourcing food from a fellow farmer. You’re going to need to preserve this food, because whether you like it or not, if you don’t have a working green house, you’re not going to be able to grow your food all year long.
This means you learn how to can vegetables, fruit, and meat. It means you learn how to cure meat and other goodies. You create a space for keeping your preserved items, and you utilize them all year long.
Herbal remedies and natural living
If you’re going to be self-sufficient, then you’re going to need to learn how to take care of yourself. They were healthier because they ate real food. Our ancestors were healthier than we are now, because they did live off of their land and treat themselves. They didn’t run off to find a doctor when they had a common cold. Now, granted, there were certainly deaths from illnesses, but most of them were from impoverished villages or from people already dealing with other ailments. Or simply because they didn’t take care of themselves to begin with.
This is one of the biggest journey’s that I am currently on. One of my main goals this year is to be so self-sufficient in herbal remedies and natural living, that I will, ideally, never have to take my family to the doctor. The reality is that when you live a healthy lifestyle to begin with, you should rarely get sick or have a serious ailment. However, this goes far beyond that. What if my child falls and needs stitches? Clearly, I’m going to rush him to the ER if it’s something serious. But if it’s a cut on his knee that just needs stitching…I can do that at home.
Learning herbal remedies is a necessity in true self-sufficiency. I might ruffle feathers here, but this means you cannot completely rely on essential oils. Sorry, you just can’t. While EOs are ancient remedies, have you learned how to make them yourself yet? Do you personally know anyone making them? I don’t, and I doubt most others do either. It is easier, and healthier for you, in true self-sufficiency to rely heavily on herbal remedies rather than EOs. It is easier to grow herbs and make tinctures than it is to rely on EOs. With that said, a healthy relationship through self-sufficiency with EOs would look something like this—a fellow homesteader makes homemade EOs, and you trade them in dried herbs or pay for their goods.

We have become much too reliant on EOs, and throw our money at large companies praising them for the “best EOs in the entire world”. But if you don’t know what else is out there, how can you make that assumption? If you, yourself, don’t even know how an EO is made, you cannot falsely claim these statements.

Working and living without debt

This is a big one for a lot of people. Becoming self-sufficient should mean you don’t have to rely on bank loans and debt to live your life. Therefore, you work towards paying off all debt. Being truly self-sufficient means you have zero debt, or at least in a perfect world. However, most of us have mortgages to pay. With that said, people are doing it. People are building their own homes over a year or two time period, just so they don’t have a “mortgage” to pay every month. I don’t think we will ever be there. Our goal is to purchase a larger piece of land, and my husband will build our home, but I think we will always have that mortgage debt for at least a few years.

The other side of this is learning how to work. There are a lot of people who will still continue the daily grind of an office job, etc. Yes, that’s an honest living. But will you have time for that once you are truly self-sufficient?  This is where your working skills comes into play. Having a skill that you can offer to others is essential. Can you build things? Can you help others in some way? Or maybe you’ve become so self sufficient that you can buy, sell, and trade straight from your homestead?

Either way, work and living without debt is a major part of being truly self-sufficient.

Off-Grid vs. Modern Homesteading

Do you have to live off-grid to be completely self sufficient? That’s a good question. And honestly, out of this entire blog, I’m not quite sure how to answer that. I would like to think that you can have a modern homestead and still be completely self-sufficient, but that’s just not true. Again, completely self-sufficient is the key word here.

You are still dependent upon an electric company to give you electricity. You are still paying that bill every month. Original “off-griders” don’t have cell phones, don’t have electric, they don’t depend on anyone other than themselves for those things. But we don’t live in the renaissance here, people. We live in a modernized society, where sometimes, it’s better to have a cell phone than not.

So, do you have to live off grid to be completely self-sufficient? I’d say yes.

Do you have to live off grid to be completely self-sufficient in today’s modernized society? Absolutely not.

Going off-grid is a great option, but I don’t foresee it as an option for us. Unfortunately, we are just too modernized. I do have a job that requires me to have wi-fi, for the moment. We do have lives that require us to have cell phones. And honestly, we enjoy our electricity. And I don’t foresee us having the money to pay for solar panels anytime soon.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t foresee us ever being completely self-sufficient, but I see us getting almost there, or in today’s modernized definition of it, in the near future (once we have more space).

This is something I think about often, and something I’m asked often. And I hope that it helps someone out there, somehow!

We have to remember that, while we’re trying to get back to our roots, our roots have grown a lot in the past century. We are not the same world we were then, and therefore, homesteading and true self-sufficiency can look a lot different now than it did back then.

Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for your own life and family. And true self-sufficiency might look a lot different to you than to others. But, by definition standards, this is what it would mean.


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