Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

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Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220924Post chuck_n_grace
Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:46 pm

Hi,
There was an episode in "The Good Life" that I can relate to...when Tom was bored with a regular job and was trying to figure out what "It" was that he wanted. As the show unfolded the "It" became a self-sufficient lifestyle.

In the beginning of 2010, shortly after my dad passed, Grace and I became convicted that we could be much better 'stewards' of all that we have. An assessment of our front and back lawn (1/4 acre lot) showed that we cut the grass only to keep our neighbors happy. I spent most of my free time creating video games for fun. My wife had been very busy raising and homeschooling our 5 children for over 20 years.

We decided to plant a raised bed garden (six boxes). In addition we decided to grow an organic garden...it seemed reasonable to try. We began clearing the backyard in March 2010.

It's only been 10 months but our efforts have really exploded into numerous and varied activities. Working on a shoestring budget we have found innovative and inexpensive ways to make things happen. We frequent the local thrift stores, Ebay, and Craigslist. There have been several benefits to all of this work.

* Our neighbors now know and appreciate us. We've had countless over the fence meetings on a regular basis. We even solicit their input on the 'aesthetics' of what we do.
* Our young grandchildren have been enthusiastic helpers during this process. They've learned the value of hard work and using tools.
* My wife and I have really enjoyed working together...we enjoy sitting on the back patio, enjoying a meal, and looking at the garden. (especially after a long day in the office).

I'm not sure where all this is heading but it sure is a blast!

I'd like to hear about your "It" moment. Have any of you had a "mid-life" turning point like Tom or I?

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220934Post battybird
Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:44 pm

We are only a little self-sufficientish, but had a "life changing" moment after my husband had his first surgery. We looked at our life and decided to "live for today", sold the big house... shame we could not keep it really..had a huge garden but a mortgage. We bought a smaller property and took on an allotment. We also bought a ruin in Portugal which was our "bolthole" and still is. There we can be bill free with our own water, woodburner,compost loo, solar electric and bottled gas. The way of life is so different and relaxed, even though there is loads of work still to do, we get so much pleasure from doing things cheaply and knowing that we are more ecologically responsible than in the UK.
Although we cannot live there fulltime (due to lack of money..I have to work. and due to OH health needs :( ) we also save on using gas, electric etc in UK while we are away in Portugal. I envy those of you who can go the whole hog but know that many people are like us , "chipping away" at the self sufficient lifestyle and getting pleasure from even small progress! :flower:
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220935Post little blue duck
Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:46 pm

hhmmm, not sure it was an "It" moment, or a series of events that fell into "It" or "Ish" ness!!

I have always been keen on gardening, and in more recent years have concentrated on veg & fruit, particularly as our number of livestock has grown

my o/h and I have been together 10 years... within a few I had persuaded him into another cat, then guinea pigs, and rabbits. he fancied keeping chickens, like his (and my) grandparents used to ... I bought him 6 for his birthday & we build their shed in February - it started snowing but we persevered!
As huge fans of the Good life, and avid charity shoppers (my smart edition of John Seymour's SS cost me £1:50 at the Lighthouse!) we talked about keeping a couple of goats for quite a while... partly to fulfill the demands he & his dad made on the dairy industry! and the cost of it!

We cared full time for both his parents throughout this time - he had to give up work to do so, - until their deaths in 2005 & 2010.

our first arrangement to buy goats fell through, and we were left with a shed & pen stood empty & huge disappointment. the farm ads were not looking promising... then I saw a really local one for kune kune weaners! my friend had kept & bred these, so I phoned her & she quickly convinced me that yes, we could do this. So along came Murphy, Maud & Mildred.. who are currently weaning their first offspring.

I then found a goat-keeper a fair way away who was willing to deliver us a milker & kid...
our loaned billy goat last year ended up staying, and our first kid was born here in the summer.

as our first hens got older, we added 12 ex-battery hens - the local "agent" for re-homing has become a good friend & gave us our two kittens to help with the rats.. and is having as many of the piglets as I can persuade her into!

We now have hens, home-incubated pullets, quail & ducks... totalling around 40 birds.

oh yes, and a beehive... saving up for another.

my (now) husband stays home with the animals, while I work full time to feed them!
he is agrophobic... the animals & veggies keep him occupied. (but thats not my story to tell)
for financial reasons as well as a desire to be "left alone" we aim to be as self sufficient as we can be.

I fully appreciate Tom Good's wish for the rest of society to leave him alone, as he left it alone (cant think of the exact phrasing!)
I am always the last to arrive and the first to leave anywhere - I might not have kids but I have commitments to my animals... and enough of my friends & colleagues enjoy the fresh laid eggs to realise this!

:brave:

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220941Post KathyLauren
Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:29 pm

I don't know if there was ever one moment. I can certainly narrow down the approximate time period.

It was in the early 1970s, when I was in high school. Environmentalism was a new concept (the first Earth Day was in 1970). The hippies of the 1960s were moving "back to the land". Then, the Club of Rome published "Limits to Growth" in 1972. While I didn't read the book at the time (I have since), it provoked a lot of discussion, and that had a profound effect on me.

I basically sold out for the next 30 years, but I have come back to those values, which were always simmering. I have even caught up to some of those back-to-the-land hippies from the 1970s, who are now my friends and neighbours.

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220942Post Susie
Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:30 pm

I am not very ish compared to a lot of people on here, however:

My lightbulb moment came when the council changed our bin collection over to fortnightly* (I know this sounds ridiculous, bear with me), and made us have a green recycling bin as well. I got fed up and guilty putting everything in the normal dustbin and it getting full after a week so I thought I should engage with what I could actually put in the green bin. When I saw what I could recycle I was shocked how wasteful we had been previously (although we hadn't been that wasteful, just "normal"!). Then I started looking for ways to reduce the rubbish we still had to throw away. Then I started looking at how things are produced, cue horror & despair + boring family & friends to death re evils of global capitalism. Then I became a wiccan and started thinking I ought to care about the earth on a deeper level than I had done previously.

Then I started thinking whether I could produce anything we used myself, and that was it. Where will it end? :mrgreen: !

I am the only person I know in real life who has any ish tendencies and all my family & friends think I am quite mad. My mother nearly fainted when I started using washable pads. They all love the things I pass on to them, though, so now they just think I am mad at the same time as trotting happily about in their tie-dye garments and using my homemade soap.

* They should actually have me on their website or something, I could be the poster child for Person Who Changed Her Evil Ways Through Council Initiative. I may well be their only success!
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220943Post crowsashes
Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:16 pm

im still not 100% sure what i want but i know i cant get it from how i used to be !

the life changing 'moment' wasn't actually a moment more like a whole bloody year of hell. i lost a baby (miscarriage) got pregnant again quickly, moved house, partner proposed then ran off, emergency c-section followed by a pretty hectic 2 weeks in hospital resulting in me nearly kicking the bucket, post-natal depression, another house move! at the end of it i dont know what it was but something completely changed in me. suddenly ( and this sounds like some religious epiphany :lol: :lol: ) things just seemed easier, simpler some how and finally could get up in the morning with the sun blinding me without the usual rant about being tired ( i was always ranting at myself) and actually appreciating just how ... well cool it was :cooldude: :lol:

my sister tried to put my 'sudden amazement' down to being bipolar/manic depressive ( has a psychology degree never practiced :scratch: ) so it was utter nonsense. i guess its safe to say having a life changing moment really does make you re-evaluate life and its quirks and can put you on a very strange path although if im honest all my ish-ness had already been there, just hidden under years of failed relationships, college and uni drinking and toxic family!

i guess i finally took the red pill ...

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220948Post skiesabove
Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:04 pm

I was writing about el Nino when I was in 5th grade, before all the media hype about global warming... Always been a barefoot kind of girl. Always preferred homegrown or wild food, dreamt of a farm... Wasnt quite able to realize these dreams though, trying to be an adult was just so much work, studying, paying bills, hating living in apartments. Discovering dumpsterdiving (skipdiving?)and soapnuts and mooncups and whatnots made me feel more "right" in myself (and gave me less skinproblems).

And in a few weeks I will be living in a house, with the view you can see on my avatar <3.

FINALLY I can grow my own veggies without finding cigarettebuts among them...
/Lina

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220960Post Jessiebean
Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:53 pm

I just wrote a marvellous poetic tome but then realised that it was rather self indulgent and didn't address the topic really! I have been lucky enough to encounter Ishy qualities in my upbringing and throughout my life so when we moved to Tasmania with our two little boys and soil that you could actually grow things in it has just evolved- in Qld we were always finding retasures dumped by wasteful people such as a Blanco stainless steel cooktop, oven and range hood set on the side of the road (it was dirty so naturally they thought they would just replace it rather than clean it!) and this wastefulness has made us more aware of our own life style. Now we are in Tasmania it is so beautiful it is hard not to become a raging ecowarrior and the vegies, herbs fruit, nut trees and chickens are firmly entrenched- I gave a dozen eggs to our neighbour yesterday and she says she will send her kitchen scraps our way which pleases me no end. We prefer second hand goods and I love freecycle. I suppose the latest incarnation of Ishy-ness is simply because we want our boys brought up "right" with good values and we want to protect the Beauty of the place we live....and it is fun and keeps us away from hard drugs ( the kids are 2 and 4.. sometimes drugs seems like a great idea to us! :lol: ) Once you start making your own food, growing your own food you find a connection to earth and community just appears for some reason...
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220965Post Berti
Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:32 am

If I wore a hat, would take it off to quite a few of the above but ESPECIALLY crowshash....totally agree there.
So YES my own story is kinda like that, family problems ended in divorce and moving and little money.
Always have seen in my youth (44 now) people grow stuff and especially fond memories of my grandpa's vegetable and fruit garden....and my uncles farm.
My parents have made wine for a while, and grew some things, had chickens for a while and a love for nature.
I took over some of those things and they have been stewing inside me, grew into herbalism for a bit, and when I moved and was a bit back on my legs, got an allotment.
It didn't work out though, but meanwhile, I kept making things: spin yarn, quilting, general awareness about trying to take care of things, not produce waste, reuse, bake sourdough bread and other stuff.......then stumbled into Ish.
It was an eyeopener and suddenly I was HOME, it was clear that this was my "thing", so now I am aiming to make it happen.
My carbon footprint is already very low but let's see how much lower we can go...
I do have no garden but a 40m2 terrace (includes room for the shed so not a lot of room left) with very little sunshine (think a bit of 2,5 by 2,5 metres gets the most, and partial in the rest).
There is fencing (panels) and a gate of same, in the planning and then I will lay out a mini veggie patch, and have some fruits growing against the fencing I hope.
At least I am going to try, and just that, feels SO GOOD, you know....doing something useful.
Oh and yeah I am a firm believer in organic and preferably local (though I do buy oranges and bananas...).
I want to move again, and dream of a big garden with more possibilities, but we live in the NOW, and not the tomorrow :) , its good to have something to dream about though!

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220989Post Milims
Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:50 am

I guess it was kind of always there - my parents grew many of their own veg and I pretty much cooked from scratch, but it took meeting my OH and him becoming ill for it to really crystaise. He'd previously had an allotment and was encouraging me to go that way. I wanted to but just never had the push. So we began working on it together, making plans that were beginning to take shape. Then all of a sudden he became ill, was unable to work, our finances were less than half (I was a student at the time and only working part time) and yet rather than being thrown into a full on "how will we survive??" panic, things all began to fall into place. We also started looking carefully at what we were using foodwise, personal carewise and cleaningwise because my OH was already being poisoned by his medications (liver damage on 2 occasions)and we decided that we'd rather not fill ourselves up with poisonous chemicals. It really gave us the opportnity to stop and take stock.
Now we have our own hens, we are working on a garden (not brilliant yet :( ), cook from scratch, use the minimum of chemical nasties, buy only what we need (well most of the time :oops: ), are more ethically and environmentally aware and generally appreciate the simple but good things in life and still only wok part time! I must say that I've never been happier or more solvent! :mrgreen: We're most definately not "There" yet, there is still much we want to do but the journey is so pleasureable, and we meet such nice people along the way :wink: that even if it takes lifetime we'll have had the time of our lives! :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:
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It won't make us famous
It won't make us rich
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 220997Post bonniethomas06
Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:31 am

I don't think I had a lightbulb moment as such. I am ashamed to say I could be much more ishy, and the things I do to reduce my footprint are probably motivated by a desire to do them anyway. I am not good at making myself do things I don't want to do - although I do make myself recycle absolutely everything that we possibly can).

But growing food has always been in me. When my friends were playing with Barbie houses, I was down the bottom of our garden, which had a huge veggie patch and greenhouse left from the previous owners (but had fallen into dereliction by my non-green fingered parents). My favorite game was to pretend that I was living in the wilderness and had to fend for myself, growing veg and gathering water from a well (muddy ditch).

And now growing veg is just something I have to do ... sad though it is I get such a kick from sowing and raising plants, I can't not do it - and the times I have found myself without a garden have been the most miserable in my life!

As for cooking from scratch, that is more to do with concern for health and a snobbish phobia about readymeals and stuff. Oh, and thanks to Hugh FW too :iconbiggrin:
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 221001Post contadina
Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:45 am

Ours was pretty much like Tom Good's revelation - i.e., we started with a list of things we didn't like rather than a list of what we did. At the time we both had to regularly fly to far-flung locations for work and partied quite hard as a result. Also, we'd both lived in London for many years and were finding it more difficult to return after weekends away in the country.

If I had to pinpoint a moment in time however, I guess I'd have to say when I first read THE GREAT FOOD GAMBLE - By John Humphrys, which pretty much confirmed my suspicions about modern farming techniques. For us the choice was continue working in jobs we hated in order to fund a more organic lifestyle with regular weekend's away or sell up and get the hell out of dodge, which is what we did.

I'd thoroughly recommend the book http://www.healthleadsuk.com/articles/g ... phrys.html

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 221006Post citizentwiglet
Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:13 am

It started, for us, as financial necessity more than anything else. When I had my children, I decided I didn't want to go back to work and have someone else bring them up, I wanted to be there for them 100% for at least the first few years of their lives. We've never been terribly materialistic, and I've always been quite frugal so there was no real 'lightbulb' moment for me; it was more of a case of seeing where else we could change our lifestyles to save money - the ethical side of things was, in all honesty, an added bonus; but we've always been quite environmentally aware.

Perhaps it's because I grew up very close to my grandparents who had all been through the war and were keen gardeners and knew how to 'make do and mend' that there was no 'eureka' moment for me; it was something that I'd been brought up with - make do with what you have, mend it if you can, grow it if you can, waste as little as possible. I think it's one of the most valuable lessons I've ever been taught, and I'll always be incredibly grateful to my grandparents for showing me that a happy, fulfilling life isn't all about spend, spend, spend.
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 221007Post littleblackfox
Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:27 am

My lightbulb moment happened about 15 years ago when I went to visit a friend in London. We were walking down the street and passed a stall selling fruit & vegetables, and in amongst the usual suspects was a pile of yellow courgettes. Green courgettes were rare enough where I was living at the time (Warwickshire), so I went home with a rucksack full of them!
The next year I grew my own yellow courgettes. The year after I grew courgettes, tomatoes & salad leaves. Then rainbow carrots, kohl rabi & beans too. It all kind of built up from there. Now I live in North Lincolnshire with a few little fruit trees & a garden crammed full of veg!

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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 221034Post Millymollymandy
Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:22 pm

It's something that has just sort of happened slowly over the years, having always loved gardening, mostly of the non edible kind - but that was very much due to the constraints of living in rented houses with tiny London gardens. When we moved to the Netherlands and later, France we had more space to play around with growing veggies too and being out of a city I got more into wildlife and bird watching. The frugal side came when my husband lost his job and we had to cut back hard. I've always cooked proper meals (apart from the odd takeaway :iconbiggrin: ) so that wasn't anything that ever changed. Other things have just fallen into place over the years and this site has opened my eyes to things I hadn't even ever thought about before. :flower:
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