First Steps Toward Self Sustainability

Given the society in which we find ourselves living, there is an increasing number of "every day Joes" like Hubs and me who have decided to get a tad bit more prepared.  Daddy tells me we are going to need it and it's just not smart to sit back and do nothing. He is always right. Thing is, prepared for what? What do we need to do to be prepared for whatever it is we need to be prepare for?  Is there going to be a national or world wide famine? Are the oceans going to consume us before we get the chance to evolve into fishies? Will our continent fall off Earth's universal sphere? Are the dinosaurs going to be resurrected and ravage the land mistaking mankind for chicken legs?  Oh geez... the thought of becoming T'Rex's lunch nugget is not settling well with my soul right now!  I better go to the kitchen for more coffee to calm the jitters! *wink

Ok, now that all that silliness is out of the way, let's talk about the issue of self sufficiency. Meaning, relying on yourself (not the banks, the government, or Uncle Bud) for your basic life sustaining needs.  First of all, I need to clarify the fact by saying I am not, that's right, I am not self sufficient! In more ways than one, I am not prepared for life without help from others. Meaning, I am dependent on the grocery store for milk and many whole foods, the electric department to stay warm, and the bank will own my house for a few more years.  But that doesn't mean I am not trying.  We are making more and more strides toward a self sufficient lifestyle as the years pass. I mention years, not days, because it has actually taken years for the realization and acceptance of how important preparedness for real life is.  Being prepared to sustain our family for an extended period of time with no aid of modern society and technology is a very smart idea.  Not because we are weird, but because we want to be on the ready should anything take out that marvelous modern day grid.  And the best reason to amp up the preparedness? Blessings! It is awesome at just how blessed you feel when you realize all there is readily available to meet your daily needs.  We have noticed, the more we prepare to care for ourselves without the aid of an outside entity other than our Creator, the more blessings come our way.  For this, we are grateful, so let me mention that all things come from His bounty, not our own.  

Now that the initial kickoff toward self sufficiency is in full swing for this organic driven family, I would like to share a couple of my favorite sustainability ideas.  Our goal is to discover, plan and implement toward an easier self reliant security. Well, most days. Now, you know I like to keep it real so I must say, not all of our implementations have been the best so far, but you don't know until you try.  

We began water storage a few years back. Like many others, we put two 55 gallon drums under the downspouts on the house. It was great! Until August rolled around and we realized that 110 gallons of water will supply our garden very meagerly, and during the growing season, using the water for anything other than supplying the garden is out of the question. That plan went back to the drawing board and as soon as we could afford to implement our better water storage idea we did. We doubled the barrels, although now we could use even more since our gardens have grown, and Jay added a pump so my watering chore is easier and faster. 
 You can see how to build our system here

Did you know that if this awesome country we live in happens to suffer a national tragedy or disaster that there are only about 3 days worth of food supply in the grocery stores?  Who is going to come to our rescue? Greece? Israel? Oh wait, what am I thinking? I'm sure China will step up and rescue us from our dreaded democracy, I mean starvation, right? haha Actually, I doubt we will ever suffer anything quite so dramatic, but preparedness is the way of our ancestors, and this good and healthy lifestyle has sadly been on the dying edge.

Remember the food preservation technique we allowed to practically go extinct once Micky D's erected it's millions of arches?  Let's bring that back, Y'all! Let's preserve our garden veggies and fruits by pressure canning them.  Our great-grannies all swore by it.  And let's face it, she fed many little mouths nutritious and balanced foods, grown by her own hands for many years.   Her canned foods kept for an extended period of time in her pantry or cellar, summer through winter, because she was prepared to preserve, and took the steps to do it correctly.  I have to give it to Jay, my dear husband, for caring enough to preserve the foods that I grow.  He is an avid learner and leader in this area of our home.  He did a ton of research before settling on the right canner for us.  Pressure canners can be quite expensive, so it was important to purchase one worth the investment.  If you are interested in purchasing a canner but not sure which is good for you, check out this link to learn why we chose the All American canner. We do have a simple water bath canner too for pickle making, and a simple fan operated dehydrator for curing jerky and making spices. I will also be posting on the processes of canning and dehydrating food soon. But honestly, there are so many Youtubes on these two food preservation process, I would say start there for the basics.

Back to that fact about not enough food in the grocery stores.  Not that there is a ton there worth putting in our bodies anyway, but this is a process, and all about doing the best with what you have to do with.  So,  I continue to frequent those outer aisles of the food markets. Just so you know, the outer aisles is where you are most likely to find real food. Once you are beyond the edges, you are sucked in, and most likely won't get out without at least a few boxes or bags of garbage disguised as healthy and tasty, in which neither or hardly ever true. I do my best to cook as wholesomely as possible. Again, most days.  And that is not to say I don't eat gluten, or the Lay's company is banned from my sandwich tray, and this killer pound cake does not exist, because they all do. Like I said, I am not there yet. I have not learned enough to be knowledgeable and disciplined to just say no to those amazing kettle cooked bbq chips! Yes, I eat those delicious, mouth watering, preservative ridden, sodium infested heart disease loving monsters. But the difference for me has come in the choice to not buy them on a regular basis.  Believe me, there was a day, if I had a dollar, there would be a bag of bbq chips and a diet drink ready for consumption.  I was a tater chip loving gal, and I still am! I do however make my own chips now from time to time.  The homemade version are very good and so much better for you, but oh those Lays. If you don't know how to make your own chips, here's my method. It's easy and fast

Woa, that last paragraph ended up being about potato chips instead of where I was originally headed.  So, anyway... this is what I was really thinking about, whole food storage. Because the stores are only going to get you so far if the entire population is looking for beans and rice at the same time.  Not that beans and rice will be the food of choice for sustainability and nutrition, but yeah, mark it down, people are smart, and know that God gave us beans and rice for good health and life longevity. So we need to store them, and store them well! Around here we store up on beans, rice, grains, & flour. We technically could get by without the long storage on flours, but you know about my baking fetish.  National crisis or not, this gal is gonna flip some flour.  We store dry goods in ball canning jars by sealing the lids down with our food saver lid attachment. If you don't have one I highly recommend that purchase.  But beware, not all models come with the lid sealer hose. This one does. You still need to purchase the actual lid sealer attachment cap. Find it here.  For larger quantities or longer food storage we store in five gallon buckets using gamma lids. 

The lids are sold independently of the buckets. We got ours here, at Amazon. They are an American made product. Yay! I have learned lately that it is important to put moisture wicking packets in dry goods that will be stored for more than a year. I plan to do that soon. When I learn more about exactly how you are to use these I will let you know. I'm sure it's a simple process since you just throw them in, but I'm not sure how many to use yet. 

Now we are in process of determining exactly how much we should store safely and to what measure we should store before we become weirdos. You know how people are. It doesn't take much to raise eyebrows as one bestie texts the other bestie about your strange "five gallon bucket project".  Next thing you know your five gallon buckets are the hottest gossip criteria in your circle's constant group messaging program!  Minus your phone number, of course.  Hey, don't worry about it.  Those people are the very ones crazy enough to not believe in the possibility of  the resurrection of  T'Rex! 
~Flip Dirt Y'all!
Oh, and btw: 
Water retention and pressure canning food are just two ways toward self sustainability we implement. There are more. I look forward to sharing them with you as well. Until then, check out these folks I just recently found who share common goals as us.  I think I am totally going to love Self Reliant School. That is such a clever name!  
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