What is being self sufficient?

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Elizabeth
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What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145419Post Elizabeth »

I've been wondering what being self sufficient really is.

I've read posts which talk about 'shades of green' and 'being not doing' green.

Is it living off your own land and putting everthing you take from the land back into it? with nothing coming into the holding? i.e. no goods or money from the state.

Is it working and paying your own way - is that more self sufficient than having monies from the benefit system? Can everyone have a green job? Whatever a green job is? Can we all only spend money on ethical goods? Do ethical goods really exist for all our needs?

It's a puzzle to me as in the UK everyone with land/property has to pay council tax? Everyone with a child gets money given to them. Services (police, street lights and cleaning etc...) carry on even if not used. Then there is the medical services - I think I'd always want those in place. If people didn't earn money and pay taxes there would be no medical services et al.

Questions, Questions, Questions - I was like this at school too!!! :oops: :pale: :oops:

Any thoughts anyone? :?
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145421Post becks77 »

OOOH tricky, or maybe not,
I think self sufficient may well be very different from being green.
Self sufficient to me means living off your own back as it were, doing and providing everything for yourself, and that in this day and age is soooo difficult (someone leap in and tell me otherwise) for example providing your own cloth to weave your own fabric and then produce your own clothes all starts with the fleece or the flax, (having tried this recently by golly its tough). So there would appear to be differing levels of self sufficiency , hence " self sufficient-ish"
Now doing things green, to me means doing the right thing by the environment, not necessarily a self sufficient, for example what we don't grow we have to buy (sometimes swap and barter) but those products would probably arrive with an amount of plastic on them somewhere and we would then to the best of our ability recycle that packaging.
So perhaps and this is by no means the definitive....self sufficient is for yourself and being green is for the environment and those within it.

My thoughts only on these matters, what does everyone else think? :flower:
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145429Post Flo »

When I was a youngster I lived on a farm. We grew our own vegetables and fruit in the garden, preserved for the winter, collected blackberries, sloes, crab apples from the farm hedges. We kept hens for both the pot and for eggs. We had one milking cow for the house and made our own butter. We would have one animal butchered and stored for our own use. We also shot pigeon, hare, rabbit (before that disease), pheasant, partridge - whatever came within gun range.

We made a fair number of our own clothes though time meant that we could not do all of them. We certainly mended and made do. We had some cobbling abilities. We collected as much wood as possible for the stove and fires around the house (no central heating). As tenants we were never going to get our own generating facilities installed for electricity. We had no dustbin collection as we lived to far away from anywhere so we had to deal with our own rubbish. Believe me - you have no rubbish in that sort of situation.

Had parents been physically fit I suspect that we would not have had anything as posh as a car.

That's working towards being self sufficient. We were environmentally friendly 50 years before there were subsidies for such things as leaving headlands for wildlife and laying hedges. But hedges were cheaper and more friendly than making fences and they would also provide food. Gates between fields were wood not metal (renewable). Headlands provided wildlife that sometimes ended up in the pot. Our vegetable peelings were compostable as were weeds, grass cuttings and such like in the garden. The livestock that was housed indoors in the winter provided manure for the fields in spring (both self sufficient and green). There was not enough manpower available to be totally organic - again due to health problems in the family.

Does that illustrate the difference between self sufficient and green. Both should work hand in hand if you are going to be self sufficient.

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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145436Post frozenthunderbolt »

IMHO, it is impossible to be truly SELF sufficient and retain an identifiable standard of living; there are just too many areas of specialty in terms of skills, tools and knowledge for one person to have enough time to learn them all.
For a pre-industrial agricultural subsistence you might be able to achieve an extended family self sufficiency as there would be enough people to master the skills that would provide the resources to supply the different skills/trades/crafts that kept the croft/dun/village/holding alive and thriving.
Anything more than this does (I think) require at least a small village setup that allows the existence of specialists in some particular areas.
While as modern people in a modern world we may aim and come close to producing all that we think we need, when what we require exceeds our capacity to produce, we do have to turn to the world at large for an item, idea, material, skill or solution.
It would be fair to say i think that there is an inverse law between the "standard of living" (subjective as to what this is, I know) and the level of self sufficiency of the individual.
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145447Post Wombat »

Jackie French says she came close to self sufficiency on her property in Braidwood NSW (and I believe her) but found it was so much work to keep up, it wan't worth the effort. IIRC John Seymour makes similar comments in one of his books. But, yes, that is where the Ishness of it all cuts in, a philosophy that it is OK to not be totally self sufficient, but some level of self sufficiency for everyone is good! my level may not be yours and vice versa but so long as we find our own level of comfort with it, and go for it, we're OK.

That's my thoughts on the matter any way! :mrgreen:

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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145466Post Annpan »

For me it is about relying less on outside sources, and breaking away from the corporate world. I like to support local business and small scale producers (shopping at farmers markets etc)

Growing as much of my own food as possible, make-do-and-mend and using alternatives to heat my home and cook are probably my 3 biggest priorities. But... I'm not going to break my back getting there and still allow myself trips to IKEA and M+S... though not too often.
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145495Post contadino »

The best explanation I've come across is from HFW, I think. He puts it kind of like this:

Imagine a line, where one end represents a lifestyle where you work to earn the money to buy everything you need to live. At the other end, you have a lifestyle where you produce everything yourself - clothes, food, electricity, heating, transport, entertainment, etc... Then you think about at what point on that line your ideal is.

I think in all modern countries it is now impossible to be completely self-sufficient because of the tax burden - you can't pay your council tax in potatoes, or your DEFRA costs in tomatoes. Also, who in their right mind would want to live without the safety net of state medical treatment?

Regarding the funding of social services, although I pay no tax nowadays, I paid huge taxes when I was saving up for my smallholding. I remember paying £58,000 in just income tax in one year, and had never made use of any social services. Obviously in addition to that there's VAT, NI, duty, etc... Now as I sit here with some broken ribs, I have absolutely no qualms about using state hospital services, as I can't imagine ever using more funds than I've put into 'the pot.'

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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145498Post JulieSherris »

For us in our house, being self-sufficient has a few different explanations...

For hubby it's more about saving money - for me it's about saving money AND being 'more greener'...

Realistically, we're never going to be totally self sufficient - he needs to work for the mortgage & the bills, I need to stay at home for the dogs & the impending livestock & growing foods... but if we can live life as 'Ish' as possible, then I think we would have reached a very happy compromise - and a happier lifestyle too.

Yes, it's very nice getting up in the morning & going thru the morning ritual of switch flicking... the leccy kettle, the heating, the hot water, the toaster, etc etc, but there's also no thought going into that lifestyle either... nowadays my morning ritual involves persuading the Stanley to get hot as quickly as possible to heat the rads, the water, the kettle for the morning brew.... oh, did I make bread yesterday for today's toast? OK, pop the toast under the grill (sadly, stanley hasn't got a grill, so I have to rely on the leccy grill for this) and yes, this lifestyle is more labour intensive, but it's better - for us anyway - and makes you appreciate the little things a whole lot more!!
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145794Post Wombat »

JulieSherris wrote:For us in our house, being self-sufficient has a few different explanations...

For hubby it's more about saving money - for me it's about saving money AND being 'more greener'...
I understand those points of view Julie! :mrgreen:

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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145831Post Elizabeth »

Thanks for all your insights.
Imagine a line, where one end represents a lifestyle where you work to earn the money to buy everything you need to live. At the other end, you have a lifestyle where you produce everything yourself - clothes, food, electricity, heating, transport, entertainment, etc... Then you think about at what point on that line your ideal is.
I like this one from HFW. It is just the tax thing I find hard.
I think in all modern countries it is now impossible to be completely self-sufficient because of the tax burden - you can't pay your council tax in potatoes, or your DEFRA costs in tomatoes. Also, who in their right mind would want to live without the safety net of state medical treatment?
I guess a good way to put into your share of the pot maybe by growing/making more than you and your family needs and selling it (farming?). I also feel for those living in areas that don't have gardens to produce their own food etc... and I'm not sure if there is enough room for everyone to live such a life style. Then there is someone with a well paid ethical job (that's another whole area) who buys and lives ethically.

Oh back to the drawing board on this one!!
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145844Post Odsox »

I agree with most of the views here that it is not possible or even desirable to be totally self sufficient.
Personally we are just about self sufficient in vegetables, the only veg we buy are mushrooms, tins of baked beans and at this time of the year, a bag of potatoes (cos we don't have a cold store and our own just sprout like mad).
Summer fruits we are also self sufficient in but OH loves her fruit and we buy oranges and apples every week.
Everything else .. electricity, bottled gas, petrol, tea, coffee, milk, flour, sugar etc, etc, we have to buy like everybody else, so OH works for a living and I contribute by producing veg, fruit and eggs, doing the cooking, mowing & cleaning. Future plans are to install a wind turbine, rear rabbits for meat and get a hive of bees, so still heading down Contadino's "line".

I suppose we are luckier than most in that there is no property/council tax in Ireland (at present, although that could well change in this financial situation). So it is theoretically possible to be totally self sufficient here, but I think the 'ISH part is the important part of our name and that we just do what we can. I would like to say that I have high ideals and I do this because it's our responsibility to make our footprint here as light as possible, but truthfully I do it because I've always done it, was born into it and has always been the natural thing to do.
Plus, I like to know exactly what I'm eating.
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145845Post MikeM »

for me self sufficiency is more a state of mind than how much of your own food, fuel etc you produce. It's a desire to be as reliant upon your own resources as you possible can.
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145852Post red »

I dont think you have to be 'green' to be self sufficient at all. Just as you dont have to have animal welfare a priority to be self sufficient. Self sufficiency is just about providing as much as you can yourself..

But i dont actually think it is an idealist goal. for me I do want to have animal welfare in my list of priorities. whilst you might be able to raise more pigs in an intensive system, and therefore be more self sufficient.. its not for me.
Also society is not an all bad thing.. if a village butchers a cow and everyone eats it, this is better than each individual raising and killing a cow then having to run a freezer each for a year ...

The green/eco side of things comes in natually with a lot of self sufficiency - eg if you use animal muck to fertilize your land, its greener, and also you dont have to buy fertizers from someone else.

I dont think its possible for someone to be be totally self sufficient.. and if they were they would not be found on any forums! but also I know it is not my ambition. being self sufficient ish works for me
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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145909Post MuddyWitch »

Maybe that's the definition of ISH; do as much or as little as is right FOR YOU

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Re: What is being self sufficient?

Post: # 145926Post frozenthunderbolt »

Odsox wrote: I suppose we are luckier than most in that there is no property/council tax in Ireland (at present, although that could well change in this financial situation).
:king: realy? sounds great i had no ideas - more details . . . where? I would love to find out more . . . :flower:
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