Friday, January 16, 2015

How The Self Sufficiency Train Got Derailed

      There's a lot of talk in the Blogosphere about economic collapse/end times/self sufficiency these days, apparently it's a pretty hot topic. I rode the "Self Sufficiency" train for a while until I realized the futility of it. It can't be done. It's a pipe dream. When I read someone pontificating about installing solar panels to run modern appliances so when TEOTWAWKI happens they can still take hot showers and eat ice cream, I just shake my head. If any of us are to survive a collapse our lives will look so radically different from how we live today; indeed they'll be unrecognizable. We must adjust the very framework that our 21st century lifestyle rests upon and learn, perhaps for the first time in our lives, the difference between a need and a want. For help with this check out Material World , a book well worth the money, it highlights the possessions of representative families around the world. Hungry Planet is another gem, it shows weekly food purchases and really makes one ashamed of how wasteful we are here. We have so much and that is what will change rapidly should our country head down the road that some think it will.

  •      You might want to bathe daily, but you don't need to.
  •      You might like fast food, but you don't need it.
  •      You don't need 2,000 square feet of living space for 4 people.
  •      You don't need high fructose corn syrup. EVER.
  •      You don't need to purchase everything from the grocery store.
  •      You don't need 10 pairs of shoes and probably not even 5.
  •      You don't need an RV/boat/jet ski/vacation house.

     What do you need? The list is refreshingly short: clean water, wholesome food, a few changes of clothes, a shelter of some sort and the ability to keep it warm. But the 2 principles that under gird that list are knowledge and community, and unfortunately most Americans have neither. Knowledge about what? Well, quickly brainstorming a few ideas (or as my friend Amy says 'vomiting on paper') I'd include:

  •      How to grow/harvest/preserve food.
  •      How to save seeds and amend soil.
  •      How to sew/patch/mend clothing.
  •      How to keep your family healthy via diet/exercise/herbs. 
  •      How to purify water.
  •      How to do basic home repairs and as much plumbing as you can manage.
  •      How to realize that birth is a healthy normal process, but the ability also to recognize when            help is needed.
  •      How to fire a gun and hit your target.
  •      How to raise chickens/milk animals/hogs/bees.
  •      How to butcher an animal (and be able to kill it without a firearm should you need to.)
     Very, very few of us have community, the industrial revolution put to rest the notion of a mostly self contained small town. To build community takes work and an ability to practice gelassenheit or putting the needs of the community above the needs of self. This is where most intentional communities run aground; to even want to build an alternate community takes a strong will and determination, but it's those very qualities that shipwreck the experiment. We are an independent minded people and enjoy the notion of self determination, but to build a community we need to need each other more than we value our own opinions and ideas. I think post collapse most people will get their priorities in order quickly in order to survive because, as I stated above, self sufficiency is impossible. Unless you are willing to live a very primitive, and I mean very primitive, lifestyle then you will need  people with other skills than you possess and the optimal time to find them is now. 



  1. Well stated (except for the vomit on paper part).


    1. That does evoke quite an image, doesn't it? :D

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me that, it means a lot to me. :)

  3. Mrs. G. this is exactly what we all need to hear! Living simply requires learning skills to live life, the rest are just wants! So blessed by this :0) mari

  4. Absolutely. Simple living requires a plethora of skills that are largely lost to us today. I'm glad that it spoke to you!

  5. We've been reading Farmer Boy at night, which gives me way too much to think about. I'd never heard of butter boxes before. I froze our butter last summer, but I'd like to take advantage of our root cellar (now that we've cleared the dirt and found out we have one!). Have you ever seen a butter storage box?

  6. No, not a box, but I have seen crocks with wooden lids. You might try going that route! Are you sharing pictures of your root cellar? ;)