Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

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

Post: # 221241Post grahamhobbs »

I got my first allotment over 40 years ago in my early twenties, I've never been into materialism, I grew up poor but saw particularly in my grandparents Victorian lifestyle (no electricity or bathroom, no radio, outside bucket toilet, coal fired cooking range, grow own veg. make do and mend, etc) a peace and tranquility that I've always longed for. So although I've always lived in flats in London, my heart has always been in being self-sufficient, growing and making my own, avoiding the crap 'they' want to sell you. I guess it is a political statement that I am myself and don't want to be part of 'their' system.

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

Post: # 221246Post oldjerry »

Didn't realise I was till I found this site.I just live the way I always have.If someone wants to put a label on it,fine.In the last 20 or 30 years people in general have lost so much control over their lives,and the self respect that goes with that,that (and here I really agree with Graham)it's become on overt political statement.as a result I have tried to become better educated ,by all means avaiable and have become quite radical in my outlook.(though to be honest,I've never been one to toe the line,I was at grunwick)

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

Post: # 221253Post 123sologne »

Very interesting stories. :iconbiggrin:
Now my turn, then:
I grew up in a small farm, in a small village, in the wilderness of central France. We used to have a big garden and I was always told to do some weeding during my summer holidays… I hated it! And I always tried to run away in the fields with a good book… Funny how things change; I don’t mind weeding at all these days; but I still like reading good books… Obviously with a small farm and a big garden at hand I was brought up on home cooked food, except for the odd sausage roll bought at the village bakery. I learned to cook very early on and I learned to make jam and preserves too. I would pick blackberries in summer, chestnuts in autumn…
After I finished fashion school, I came to London and did like many do in London, but I was never very good with ready meals. I did try them, but I didn’t like the taste of most of them, so I kept on cooking. But I kind of forgot everything else…
It is only when I met my future husband that I got into a spot of gardening, 1st in his piddly garden, then in our piddly garden and now in our slightly bigger garden… I only got back into foraging about 3 years ago and I realised then, what I had been missing out! How could I have forgotten so much?! It all started as I work in an office and do not see the sunlight very much, so we decided to go for walks in the Berkshire countryside at the week-ends. Then the foraging came back naturally. After all when I was little I would go mushroom picking with dad, I would pick berries to do jams etc. I had been living in Reading for many years and never did it occur to me that I could do this! Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of it… I really got cross with myself for having missed out on so many yummy mushrooms! I looooove mushrooms! :shock: :mrgreen:
But hey, I am back and enjoying it greatly. Next to that, hubby started brewing for taste and for cost. Anyway as time goes by we want to become more self sufficient as it makes sense financially and it makes sense for the sake of our planet and that is another subject I am fairly passionate about. But the fact that we have suffered from the recession like many others have pushed us still further into recycling and finding alternatives to what you find in the shops to do many things. At the end of the day a lot of it is cheaper as well as safer. Hubby is a great soap maker and I now use his soap for our washing etc.
The dream now, is to go back to France, sort out the second house my dad has on his property (it may need rebuilding entirely, not quite sure yet) and re-start the farm to grow “ancient” vegs, medicinal herbs, pick from the edge rows and do a small business out of all of it to pay the bills/taxes. As the house is such in a sad state, we want to go full hog on being as green as can be, as so far it is just a broken empty shell. Mainly we want to be as free as possible from the system and not have bosses anymore… Sometime I think it will only be a dream as it will need cash as well as hard work and it is the cash bit that will be the problem!
But anyway, here I came to get more ideas and talk to people who think a bit like us instead of people who cannot understand what we are taking about… :scratch: :wink:

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

Post: # 221263Post Jacqui S »

Hmm, interesting topic and very interesting replies.
I was brought up in the usual consumeristic manner in the 70s and 80s, we weren't rich but had little regard for nature or for the planet. (My parents still don't do recycling despite having recycling bins in their gardens. My brother keeps coal in his. :pale: )
Although we did pick blackberries and bilberries, something I am very thankful for as it meant I never had a suspicion of wild food and have gradually learnt more about what edible things I can forage for food or medicine.
As an adult I became interested in growing veg on balconies and in the gardens of rented houses but the real turning point for me was when I became a mum. Having children made me question things a lot more and look more deeply into things that I had never put any thought into before so we went down the cloth nappy, chemical free, cleaning everything with only white vinegar route! This progressed into making our own medicines whenever possible, (mostly!) cooking from scratch, mainly buying second hand clothes and eventually getting an allotment. I guess having children made me want to do my tiny bit to help ensure they still have a beautiful planet to live in when they grow up and have children of their own etc.
We now have a bigger house (it was getting cramped in the old one with the three children, me and hubby!) which has a big enough garden for us to be more ish but more easily as I don't have to make it to the allotment, it's just outside! Which is why we moved here, plus we have space for chickens not to mention dens, a willow grove for making baskets and other things, bees, more hazel and fruit trees, a huge herb garden (culinary and medicinal), and space for the recycling so it doesn't take up my entire kitchen and shed any more! (Most of these are still in the planning stage but we'll get there in the end!)
What has also been interesting is that the more I've gone down the 'ish' route the more I am surrounded by people who are doing similar things, which also motivates me to try other ways of doing things. I suppose it's just that you meet more and more people over the years and gravitate towards the ones who you find interesting. Probably home educating helps too I suppose as it tends to be mostly us weird hippy types who don't send our children to school (or at least not full time) :lol:

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

Post: # 221272Post chuck_n_grace »

Well, mostly you've heard from Chuck...I'm his OH, Grace. Though Chuck described his "it" moment as being fairly recent, I really believe my awareness grew over time. My family was very poor, no gardening heritage, strictly city girl I was. But we got used to having and wearing second hand everything. As an adult, I learned to make bread, learned to sew and do handcrafts. Chuck has always been good at finding things to make small repairs, spend less money. As a child I spent a lot of time outdoors, but not knowing how to garden was a limitation to my enjoyment. I've actually yearned to do this for a long time, it just never seemed like the right time to get started and I lacked knowledge.

Last year several of my girlfriends and I all arrived at the same decision separately (and we span a decade in ages :silent: ), if we wanted to do "more" such as gardening, we would have to get started soon. It was after we started planning our garden last year, however, that I realized how many "more ishy" things we could do. So I've applauded all of Chuck's efforts, and we work side by side most nights and weekends. Some of our friends envy our closeness now as they would like to have more things in common with their OHs.

This winter has been unusually cold for our region, pushed our old HVAC to the brink of inadequacy and is nearly kaput, most mornings I wake up to 50 degree weather indoors. :shaking: After thawing out, the kids get to their schoolwork and I begin researching ways to stay warm and lower our footprint, even researching geo-thermal units, which includes a well to help with our garden.

It is amazing how this little effort on our part is connecting with others, one of our friends, after talking with him yesterday, actually started his garden layout today and wanted to know where to order his seeds!! He also wants to get with Chuck to start ripping some pallets apart to build a shed for his yard. :thumbright:

Meanwhile, I got so tired of looking at dead grass last week and just had to get a tulip box started in the front window. Two new things I've learned to do this month, knit and make mulled cider for the cold nights :cheers:

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

Post: # 221286Post sleepyowl »

I originally read this as how rather than why

I grew up with it really, my dad grows fruit & veg on an allotment & it tasted so much better than when I used to to shop for it when I moved out & had no growing space, so now I have the growing space I grow my own. I have never learnt to drive so have never had a car & I enjoy walkin into work which although is a 9 mile round trip a large proportion of this is along a canal & being a nature geek I love seeing what nature is doing throughout the year, it's an oasis in an urban environment. When it came to making gifts it all boiled down to finances, how could I do presents that people would appreciate on the cheap? by making them, I do enjoy making preserves & baking & had my mum show me how to knit. I made Christmas cards last year as well which saved me a small fortune (I tend to only buy them for my nearest & dearest anyway)
Last edited by sleepyowl on Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 221305Post AngeB »

I'm an ishy beginner but I've enjoyed reading all your stories so thought I'd contribute.

I spent a large majority of my life on awful food - chicken nuggets and cheap ready meals from iceland. When I first left school I learnt catering at college and worked alot of hours at a hotel, so I managed to keep my figure slim because I was on my feet all the time. When I left that line of work to study Psychology the weight just piled on and made me quite miserable. On my 24th birthday my mum bought me Gillian McKeith's book 'You Are What You Eat'. I know she's not a popular woman but her attitude to food and simple descriptions of nutrition were quite refreshing to what I'd read before so I immediately started a diet of mostly grains, vegetables and homemade juices - it tasted like I was eating nothing for a week :lol: however it did get a bit expensive so I would make use of my parents apple tree and pick blackberries, which prompted me to find out what else I could get for free, like wild garlic from down the road. In my search I came across this site, and a nice recipe for nettle beer, which came out really nice, though I made the mistake of giving it to nervous peole who kept it at the back of the cupboard. I also tried making lilac wine but lef it too long in the demijohn and it turned to vinegar :pukeright:

I went to stay in Cardiff for a year and had only a small amount to live on so I bought all my clothes from charity shops - I would never try a clothes shop without doing a tour of the charity shops first. The first time after that year I went to buy some work clothes and almost had a heart attack when I saw the prices! I also had a lot of practice in perfecting lentil curry (adapted from Rose Elliot's 'The Bean Book').

Fast forward a few years to last year and I had a few months off work due to a deep depression. None of my usual hobbies - singing, guitar playing, family history research were enough for me to get off my backside so I ventured into the garden (my landlords dumping site) and started clearing it, then I started planting veg in pots and started reading alot about what I was supposed to do with it. It wasn't that successful because this was May/June and I planted some of the wrong things etc etc, but it completely lifted my depression and I was so sad to return to my office job. All winter I've been looking forward to getting planting again, browsing seed catologues and planning in my head. I've also gotten more responsible and started recycling more than just the usual cardboard and bottles/cans. I've got a sewing machine too and am making a patchwork quilt out of my old jeans - no idea how it will work out as I have no idea how to sew :? The farmer across the road let me have as many apples as I wanted and am hoping he'll do the same this year. I did try to get him to rent me a small patch of land but he couldn't as he rents it himself :(

I don't know whether it's about getting closer to nature, or the feeling of efficacy you get, but it feels right and I'm so happy to be on the path I'm on, even though it'sthe begining. I just think you lot are amazing with all the things you can do

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

Post: # 221320Post Keaniebean »

Some fantastic stories, here so I'll add mine too :iconbiggrin:
I did have a 'lightbulb' moment as far as being ishy was concerned. I was pregnant with my third child at the time when I found out he would have health 'issues'. My mum used to look after my two eldest so I could work full time, but she had told me that three of them would just be too much for her. I looked into childcare, but soon realised it was going to set me back about £1500 a month, which was all my wages and then some :shock:

I realised the only option was to work part time, so I found myself my current job which is just 1 evening and 1 night shift a week, leaving me free to sort out kids, hospital appointments and the other things that come with running a young family. I also realised we would be short of a very large chunk of money each month, so I started planning.

My first stop was the computer and the internet. I think I googled fugal although I can't remember now and soon landed on this site. I was transfixed and spent HOURS into the middle of the night reading post after post after post. I think I managed to read almost everything ever written that night and left feeling exhausted but confident that we could be greener, live much more frugally than we ever could have imagined.

Over the space of the next 18 months, I transformed the very small front garden we have into a mass of vegetable beds, dwarf fruit trees, hanging baskets, compost heaps and had chickens 'installed' into my 12 foot square back garden.

We now recycle everything, I make clothes,brew the odd demijohn of something, I do 85% of my shopping in charity shops and we get organic veg boxes delivered because it is cheaper than going into a supermarket where we always ended up impulse buying.

I love my life now and wouldn't change it for the world, my one wish would be to have a much bigger garden, but I'll just keep my fingers crossed on that one for now. :iconbiggrin: :iconbiggrin:

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

Post: # 221362Post JulieSherris »

Yep, much like MMM, the need to 'grow' has always been there - whether it's been pretty things or food!

Born & raised in the Elephant & Castle & then Brixton, I was whisked away to Dartford at the tender age of 9 into a house that had this magical door in the kitchen.... it opened out onto some soft green stuff (grass!) that was home to hundreds of grasshoppers! My first taste of nature at it's best!! :mrgreen: I also was introduced to this little old lady as my 'new Nan' and her magic door opened onto a 200 foot garden all sectioned off into little plots & patches - oh my word! I was quickly given a little space of my own and over the next few years, she patiently taught me the names and habits of all sorts of flowers, fruits, vegetables - what a lovely old lady she was - just the BEST Nan a girl could have.

Some distant cousin of hers lived on the Isle of Wight & had a smallholding, where we spent a few years camping or caravanning for our yearly holiday.
Mr Cooper - wow, I loved him sooooo much! Never knew his first name & never wanted to, but I asked to spend the whole of the summer hols with him & Mrs Cooper from the age of 13, & was allowed to do so for the next 3 years. Where I helped with 5am mushroom hunts, pig scratching, geese chasing, tomato picking, and all general chores around the place - I LOVED it.

So, then real life kicked in, & we fast forward to the age of 46, sick and tired of town living, dealing with chavs, drunks, keeping up with the Jones'es etc etc... and a huge move to Ireland. The rest of the story is well documented by now, & I bought the Ish bible, was completely indulged by the hubby, who allowed himself to be talked into taking a mortgage that was too high on a property that needs a lot of work really, but the garden & the 2 bog plots are wonderful!
OK, they could be tidier (!) but now we have chickens, ducks, turkeys, a decent veg garden, (but still no pigs, grrrr) and life isn't easy at times financially, but we're happy with our lot most of the time.

The best thing about living here? Finally being able to let go of all the thoughts of what others may think - nowadays, I just don't care!! :iconbiggrin:
(Although I'm suspecting that might be an age thing!!)
The more people I meet, the more I like my garden :wink:

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

Post: # 221372Post Harasimow »

I got an allotment in October 2009, and one of my friends jokingly said to me "thats glorious, growing your own food, your self sufficent! That got me looking into exactly what self sufficency really was. I read John seymores book on self sufficency, watched the entire good life, joined this forum, and have nearly watched all the series of river cottage. Really self sufficency is just a name to put to some of my hobbies cooking, growing veg, farming, conservation, foraging. But it gives me somthing to aim towards and lots of new ideas of things I could do the top ones being preserving, fishing and hunting/trapping.

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

Post: # 221378Post citizentwiglet »

There are some truly inspirational stories here, aren't there? I'm so chuffed to be part of this place.
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Re: Why are 'you' self-sufficient-ish?

Post: # 221402Post Islaskye »

I think my IT moment was moving to a village where my gardening imagination could go wild without little *bar-stewards* vandalising it for fun.
the veg growing came after rescuing some ex batts and thought " this farming lark is fun - on a small scale"
the rest of the ish-ness has come with the economic situation and lack of work after redundancy.
Its helped keep me busy/keep my home/keep me sane!!!!

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

Post: # 221412Post Susie »

Isn't it interesting how many people remember being (proto!)ish in their childhood and have memories of gardening etc. My family were always rubbish at gardening (which is probably why I am, too, although I'm trying to learn) but I was brought up with absolutely no money and my mum made everything - food, clothes, toys, presents, woollies - from scratch. She stopped when we got to the late eighties/ early nineties when she had less time, more money, and it wasn't the done thing any more, but it's actually been quite easy for me to pick up those half-remembered skills again.

All the ishy parents on here are giving their kids a real gift.
that's it ;-)

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

Post: # 221593Post Millymollymandy »

Interesting, I have no background of parents or grandparents growing veggies other than my mum's half hearted attempts at a few toms in grow bags but I really remember my grandma's roses so every time I smell a beautiful rose I think of her!

What my mum did pass on to me was how to knit and how to cook basics.

Grandma could (and did) darn but I never bothered to learn that! I learned to sew at school but don't like sewing.

All my gardening is self taught though I started with a passion for house plants so maybe mum taught me to feed and water them lol. :iconbiggrin:

But the best thing I was taught was to save money for a rainy day, save up for what you want, never buy on credit or if you do, pay your card off every month and that has stuck with me all my life and has come in handy often! :thumbright: :thumbright: :thumbright:
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)

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

Post: # 221614Post crowsashes »

i didnt have any green fingered family either - after 4 years of trying it was my 6 weeks of careful training that got my grandparents clematis to flower and i mean really go into full bloom - they thought you planted next to something to climb up and it did all the work :roll:

my siblings have actively chosen to live in flats without a garden because they hate it so much!

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