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If we look back, people have been fairly self sufficient until recently. Perhaps the last 50-75 years. There weren’t grocery stores like we know today, there weren’t restaurants, cities weren’t nearly as populated and people worked as a community to provide the needs of everyone.
The entire landscape changed when grocery stores and cities became prevalent and predominant. And that wasn’t until the 1940s and 50s.
I wish we all still lived that way. None of this industrialized farming. More is not better. While I love the convenience of being able to drive to the grocery store to get food for the table. I much prefer growing our own and sourcing the rest locally. The way we used to do things. None of this shipping over seas business….
If you’re looking for a lifestyle of self sufficient living, it’s attainable. There are a lot of things you can do, no matter where you live, to become more and more self sufficient. But, there are a handful of skills needed to really live self sufficiently.
10 Essential Skills for Self Sufficient Living
If you don’t know how to grow your own food, you’re not going to survive very long. If you’re not being dependent upon a grocery store to provide you with your food needs (which isn’t very self sufficient) you’re going to need a plan to provide your own.
Gardening is the first step anyone should take to self sufficient living. Learning to grow your own food is not only essential, it’s fun and rewarding. So, find some dirt, some seeds, and some water and get to work.
Cooking and Preserving
You grew some great food, now it’s time to prepare it to eat and put some of it away for the long, cold winter months.
Cooking from scratch is an art and skill that so many people don’t have today. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and providing food for my family and my pantry. If you don’t know how, the best place to start is right there in your own kitchen. You’ll get the hang of it, I promise.
As for preserving, learning about safe canning practices is essential. A ball book can be an invaluable resource to providing your family with safe preserved foods. Learning how to dry cure, smoke, and other means of preserving meat without refrigeration can also be an integral part of a self sufficient lifestyle. All skills that are mostly lost and forgotten, sadly. But, they’re on the rise again.
I love our animals. Learning to raise and take care of them is essential not only to our own survival, but theirs as well. Animal husbandry is another long lost art. Many people feel that they can just go to the store and buy what they want without a second thought. But, that’s not very self sufficient, either.
While animal husbandry is nothing to take lightly, it’s something you need to learn. Glean what information you can off of locals who have been there. Grab a few good books and read up on how to properly care for your animals. It’s not the best practice to try trial and error. Not only do your animals potentially suffer, it can be costly. But, once you gain some basic knowledge you’ll be well on your way to caring for a variety of animals in a humane and sustainable way.
Dispatching and Butchering
Life on a homestead is hard. No one likes to think about the necessary evils of dispatching and butchering the animals you raise for meat. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is necessary.
Learning to humanely dispatch and animal and butcher it so as to not waste any of the precious food that the animal has provided you with is essential. It’s essential to your survival and it’s respectful of the animal to not let any of it go to waste.
Our ancestors used to use every part of an animal in some way shape or form. Learning how to not only butcher and utilize the meat and make broth from the bones but also learning how to tan hides to make warm, sustainable clothing and other items from that hide is a great skill to have.
How to Source and Make Water Safe for Drinking
Water, we simply cannot live without it. It is the most basic of elements, but the most often polluted. Learning not only how to source it, but how to clean it so you can ingest it without getting severely ill, or worse, keeling over is incredibly important.
There are things available like life straws that can help in a pinch. But it’s best to learn how to do it on your own….
First Aid and Basic Dental Care
What would you do if there weren’t any doctors or dentists to care for a wound or broken tooth? Learning at least the basics of first aid and dental care can mean the difference between life and death pain and comfort.
We’re not just talking CPR here, either. While learning how to perform CPR in an emergent situation as well as the Heimlich maneuver can definitely provide the difference between life and death. Things like basic wound care, splinting, infection control methods, stitching, and effectively using each and every tool contained in your first aid kit are all incredibly important.
This book and this book are great to helping you provide these things at a basic level to your loved ones. Because lets face it, there may not always be a specialist to provide this care for us and our families.
Sew, Knit, or Crochet
It’s amazing how most women used to have sewing skills and then it just… fell away. Not many people have even a basic knowledge of how to mend a rip in a pair of pants, let alone take some fabric and turn it into a shirt, blanket, or dress.
Sewing, knitting, and crocheting used to be passed down from generation to generation and everyone had a least a basic understanding of how to repair ripped articles of clothing. It’s time to return to that. There are so many tutorials available on youtube and other places on the internet that show you, step by step, how to do basic sewing, knitting, and crocheting and even much more complex things like quilting.
I taught myself to crochet and have a basic knowledge of how to sew (I can mend and I know how to use a machine) I have a goal to learn how to knit by the end of this year as well as expand my knowledge of sewing. I would love to learn how to make almost all of our own clothing and blankets within the next 5 years.
Hunting and Fishing
If you’re in a more urban setting or live in an area where no matter how many animal husbandry skills you acquire, they can’t help you raise meat, hunting and fishing will be the only ways to provide yourself with meat.
Learning to hunt and fish is essential to any self sufficient lifestyle, really. They’re skills that are often overlooked, but important no less. We live in an area where opportunities for hunting and fishing are abundant and I’m extremely grateful. But even in areas that they aren’t, opportunities can be found.
Take a class, find a hunter or fisherman and befriend them. Go out and try your hand at these skills themselves. They can be the difference between eating and not eating one day.
I’m just getting in to foraging. We have acres upon acres of wild edibles available for the taking around here, but I’ll be the first to admit I wouldn’t have the slightest clue if it would kill me or cure me.
A field guide based on your area full of wild edibles, where they can be found, and their uses is essential to gaining this skill. Locals can be an invaluable resource as well, but a field guide is worth its weight in gold.
This can help you not only find food, but natural remedies for ailments! Both essentials in a self sufficient lifestyle.
To go with the above mentioned foraging skills as well as basic first aid…. God provided us with all we would ever need to cure what ails us. Natural remedies are all around us, have been used for thousands of years, and aren’t full of manmade fillers created in a factory.
While natural remedies aren’t regulated by the FDA and aren’t for the novice, they are essential to self sufficient living. I’m all for modern medicine when it’s absolutely necessary, but those things may not always be there and they’re certainly far from self sufficient. As we strive to be more and more self sufficient natural remedies, specifically herbalism, are at the top of my to learn as much as possible about list. They should be a high priority for you as well.
Now, you’ve provided food, clothing, healthcare, and preservation for you and your family. How’s that for self sufficient living? It’s all about your basic needs. That, my friends, is all you really need. Not iPads and designer jeans. But the basic, bare necessities. Learning things like basic carpentry can also be incredibly important, but let’s just assume you have a roof over your head 😉.
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What skills do you find essential to a self sufficient lifestyle?