Self Reliance : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Well since the name of this forum is Freedom!Self Reliance I would like to know what you all are doing towards self reliance. Kindly leave all the "bitchery and abomination" out of your responses. This is a practical, technical question and I'm curious what actual "self reliance" ideas you all have.

This could include building, food production, energy saving and generating, income producing, or any other means of enhancing self reliance. For example, I have a wood fired water heater that I made out of two discarded water heaters, one electric, one gas. That is admittedly a small step towards self sufficiency, but as my mother used to say,"Every little bit helps."

Obviously we all (I assume) grow food or livestock--how do you make it self sufficient or low input? What storm proofing or fireproofing or insulating have you done on your buildings? Last spring I put a second roof over the highest part of my house and used some salvaged cables and turnbuckles to anchor the roof down; it worked well and I would recommend the technique to anyone considering reroofing.

I found that hogs and chickens both love turnips and can thrive on them. What easy feed crops have you discovered?

Anyway, you get the idea. No idea is too small. All are appreciated. And if you want to carp and snipe at me, well, go over to the "Positive Idea" post to do it. Let's kindly keep this one technical and a matter of fact not opinion. Thank you kindly.

-- Rags in Alabama (, February 12, 2002


My goats love pumpkins and they are so easy to grow. They keep for quite a while in the pump house and then when they go "over" the chickens love them.

We are planning to build an Amish type ice house and make ice all winter for summer use and preservation. We are trying to set ourselves up so that if the grid goes down, we can go about our business.

-- diane (, February 12, 2002.

We were set up pretty well in Texas. The fruit trees we'd put in were beginning to produce, and some of the older trees were still producing, as well. We kept two gardens, and were learning to can. We got hay off our own field once, but didn't have our own equipment, so ended up buying hay the next years, quite cheaply out of the field, just baled. The goats, buck goat and chickens and rabbits all had fine places to live. We had a big tank full of gas, and the generator set up for emergencies. We had grass most of the year. In the fall, we gathered leaves from the many pecan trees to feed the goats. The house was almost paid for. Ah, alas, we are pretty much starting over on everything here. I don't really see much of that ever happening here. I'm biding my time til we go back home.

-- mary (, February 12, 2002.

My chickens turn my compost for me, they get the stalks of the goat's hay for bedding, and I give the chickens and guineas the water from the goats when I change it.

I have a three panel solar system that runs the lights and fans in the barn. I haven't trusted it to the freezer, and it's insufficient for power tools beyond light weight drilling, but it will keep the lights and fans turning. I also have a solar pump for my well, but that has some issues. The pump can still be used for a pond source should that be necessary.

As for crops for my critters, in the summer I barely have to feed the birds, but they wreak havoc on any flowers. The goats love swiss chard and bean stalks...they won't touch any root crops. I save rain water in a trough and use that for tree watering. Grow a good sized garden and I mulch like crazy as it really minimizes time spent pulling weeds. Basically my entir garden is a raised bed with deep mulch and it is worth the time spent mulching. Saves lots of watering as well.

In a nutshell, that's about it.

-- Doreen (, February 12, 2002.

Where to start?? This past ice storm where we had 8 1/2 days with out power, showed how well we have done. Cranked up the generator and never missed a beat. But when the water line gave way all of a sudden, I found where I had not prepared.

I have all kinds of projects planned but my timetable is dependent on the budget. Have the beginings of a greenhouse to start seedlings in, desperately need to re-do the chicken house, and would like to develope a raised bed area for a dwarf fruit tree orchard..... In the house--- we HAVE to get more storage and organized. I have no place for a pantry and it makes figuring out just what I have left canned from the garden for meal planning a night mare. My main goal is to get rid of our debt.... I am bone weary of being a slave.

-- Tana Mc (, February 12, 2002.

I think it is a continuous, neverending journey toward self- sufficiency. We are nowhere near where I'd like to be but so far from where we once were. We do have a large garden, blueberry bushes, grapevine and muscadines, strawberry bed (my only raised bed so far) and numerous fruit trees (apple, peach, pear). We heat with wood and have planted a couple of thousand pine trees in addition to the trees already on our property so that we have our own woodlot to cut from. My husband, though, has found a couple who own a treecutting business who were hauling much of what they cut down to the county landfill and having to pay to dump it there, of course. My husband now gladly hauls it to our home instead. They are cutting it into woodstove size pieces and splitting it for us because it's saving them so much money at the landfill! The drought has really taught us to minimize water usage and to collect rainwater for use on the garden and trees. We use a number of the 5 or 6 gallon buckets that once held food for that. I try to reuse and recycle as much as possible. Even something as simple as hanging our clothes out to dry is a step toward self-sufficiency. My mother-in-law thinks it's just horrible that we actually hang our clothes out! I enjoy it for a number of reasons though. We have been and are learning to do more of the maintenance on our home, land and cars ourselves. Not to mention canning and freezing our own crops. These are just the things that came to mind when I read your question.

BTW, I'm really interested in your second roof comment. Do you mean you put another roof over your existing one? I would like more details if possible. Thanks!

-- Deena in GA (, February 13, 2002.

I have always kept a lot of bulk supplies and the last year they have come in handy. I have lost at least 60% of my mobility although the steroids and painkillers do allow me to walk with less difficulty. I had to switch from brawn to brains since the accident. So I quess my self reliance is that I think I might get enough energy to till the garden this year. My friends have been great but I hate and won't ask for any help. I'm just lucky to have had enough brains left to fall back on. Call that "self reliance"

-- Joel Rosen (, February 13, 2002.

Things seem so scattered since we moved. We're rebuilding an old farm house and finishing an addition. Hopefully things will come together soon. Since we moved in and Gary started working more at work and money ran out, things are very slow. But there's plenty to do when there's time. I have to wait for weather that we can have the windows opened in, cause the smell of paint will make me sick. Sounds like we have lots of excuses, doesn't it. We keep keeping on, though

We'll be starting the garden in March I ope, this one isn't on a slope like the last one. We have chickens that should started laying around april. We butchered the meat birds right after Christmas.

We have two barns that need to be painted and the doors put back on and a couple other repairs. We're going to have a barn re-raising this summer.

Then hopefully we'll be getting a milk cown goats, a horse or two, other poultry. Well, you know.

-- Cindy (SE. IN) (, February 13, 2002.

Good question. We moved here about 3 1/2 yrs ago. We didn't have soil, we had sand mixed with old nuts, bolts, washers, screws and some glass "pebbles", all left over from when this place was a junkyard and small rotten granite quary. The first thing we did was make soil---alot of it. Each year the city, about 3 miles away, hauls in several truck loads of leaves and I compost them, adding blood meal, bone meal, and lime. They're usually done enuf by the end of the winter to spread and plant in the following spring. At this point we have 8 deep beds of pure compost that are very productive. Four more beds to go this summer and the entire 1/2 acre garden area will be covered with at least 6" of compost.

I built an 11' x 50' greenhouse on the south side of the pole bldg a coupla years ago tho its not yet planted with anything. This year I hope to get some compost in there too so I have something to plant in.

I've got the makings for a fairly large hot water solar system, about 30 3' x 6' panels, that will be incorporated into the out door boiler heating system this year.

A buddy and I are getting pretty serious about doing the biodiesel thing. I've got a coupla VW diesels around here and I'm thinking about co-generation with bio-diesel. Hooked up to a 20 kw gen-set I'd be able to generate a little over $900 worth of electricity in a month and create about 49 million btus of waste heat for use in either heating the house or the greenhouse.

-- john (, February 13, 2002.

Illness has really put a severe crunch on a great deal of our plans for self-reliance,but slowly, slowly it will come together. When we moved here two years ago this June, the soil was terrible for growing any veggies..all either rock-hard clay or nearly pure sand. We had the inground pool taken out, much to the horror of our neighbors, and had the huge hole filled in with was supposed to be topsoil...right...perhaps it used to be topsoil once upon a time, but we have found baby bottles, old smushed hoses, several horseshoes and electrical wires in it..when it got tamped down, it turned to clay so hard an axe head broke when we tried to work the dirt. On the advice of many folks, we have spent the last year piling that area with straw from the chicken coop, sawdust from the workshop, plant cuttings, wood ashes, etc...I dug around in there a few weeks back on a "I can walk day", and found many HUGE earthworms doing their collective cool is that? Anyway, we will till it soon and plant a big garden this year. we had also put a new tin roof on last year and are planning a rain water collection system using a stock tank on pallets..although the rains here in AL are monsoonish, we want to have extra water in the event of drought for the garden and the chickens. We also opened a small "country store" on the property..DH built it out of old barnboards and it is really NICE..we are selling Shaker furniture that he makes as well as a bunch of antiques left over from our store in PA..we hope to make enough $$$$ just to purchase materials to build a goat barn and buy some good goats (sorry Rags,LOL)....since we are blessed with no debts at all, and my disability just got approved, we will be in a good position to complete some of our major projects, like a storm shelter, and geting our kitchen woodstove finally hooked up.I'm learning weaving and soap making, and we are thinking about bees as well for next much to do, so little time.......oh yeah, am also staring a herb garden with plants from my wonderful, almost a neighbor, Rags.

-- lesley (, February 13, 2002.

Lesley, when we lived in Texas, a storm shelter was always in the back of our minds, especially after that F5 went through Jarrell a few years ago(not far south of us, in fact the same system passed right by us before building up steam down the road.) An underground shelter would have been nice for also storing root crops, but then we had the rock and clay, as well as a high water table. Have you looked into the safe rooms? Seemed to me a viable alternative.

-- mary (, February 13, 2002.

I have been starting both flowers and vegetables in the greenhouse. Outside I already have turnips, mustard, radishes, collards, english peas and potatoes in the ground. I also have brocoli and cauliflower transplants ready to be set out in addition to some purchased sweet onion plants. This year I am planning on adding a large flower garden for cutting to sell. I am also getting geared up for canning season. Right now i am in the middle of goat baby week. Spent 4 hours the other night saving a momma whose baby was determined to com out the wrong way. I finally gave up at 4am but God didn't. She finally delivered it in the most horrible twisted presentation I have ever seen. Baby died. Momma is recovering nicely with a few injections of penicillin. Right now I have six baby goats running around the place. Also am raising some baby chicks as well as adults in the henhouse. Hope to butcher a few soon.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, February 13, 2002.

yes Mary, we have looked into "safe rooms" above ground because there is no way I could manage stairs by myself, and even if DH were home when the "big one" came through, we would have to find several strong men afterwards to lift me out! LOL..FEMA has a reimbursement program in AL for folks who build shelters which meet the gov. standards..up to $3500 or 75% of the cost up to $3500...the cost of the cheapest safe room is around $6000..yeehaw! They do have these "pod" things for around under $3000, but you have to be able to crawl on your belly like a reptile to access it.We have designed one which will function as a shelter and a cool room to store canned items and boxed waiting for the $$$$$ to start the digging!

-- lesley (, February 13, 2002.

Lesley, I don't know if this is a dumb idea or not but what if you poured a few concrete anchors three or four feet deep, then placed one of those shipping containers and anchored it down. Those things are STRONG, all metal, and not too expensive. I think you can get a 20' one for less than $1500. You'd have to make provisions for ventilation and maybe some natural lighting and what ever else you'd need but I think you'd sure be safe.

-- john (, February 13, 2002.

All of these answers are good information to know, but I would also add that INFORMATION is probably as important as some extra supplies when things get a little rough.

By that, I mean having training (or at least books on the subject) of how to make do if you have to imporvise. Making an expedient water filter (without healthy water, all preparation is for naught), how to store foods requiring refrigeration without electricity, that type of thing. Supplies help a lot, but without the background knowledge, you will have some quick cramming sessions to work out, at a time when time may be of the essence.

-- j.r. guerra in s. tx. (, February 14, 2002.

Good point, J.R. What people are telling here is in one way better than some types of book knowledge because they have actually done it themselves. Some of the best ideas come from people who have solved problems with limited means and resources.

-- Rags (, February 14, 2002.

Hello Rags,

One of my "projects" this spring is to catagorize the wild herbs and edible plants in my valley by location. This will allow me to harvest them at the proper times.

The first step is to collect samples for identification purposes and pressing them together in a notebook. After identifying them and their uses, I will just have to go to their said locations and pick them as needed.

We have many many edibles here but, when I discover them in my many trips into the woods, I am overwhelmed, and usually forget where they are. If I put this all down on paper, I believe I can benefit from them as supplements to our food sources beyond our normal gardening and poultry raising.



-- (, February 15, 2002.

Ernest, what a cool idea! Our land has tons of things growing everywhere and I haven't a clue what they are except for the poison mushrooms which make nice "fairy rings" after a hard rain. I have a small tree which all the neighbors have proclaimed to be a peach tree...if it is, the tree has an identity crisis...never blossoms, never grows anything at all except leaves that attract Japanese beetles....same thing with two trees identified as apples..right. It isn't the lack of bees...we have more than our share. Now that you have piqued my interest, I think I'll include a book on plants in my trip to the library tomorrow! Thanks!

-- lesley (, February 15, 2002.

Ernest, are always so full of wisdom!!! Why didn't I ever think of that. Where's my notebooks, get my press out, this is wonderful.........can't wait until spring!!! I know of literally 100's of medicinal and edibles on our 40 acres, but often wonder if my back was against the wall if I would remember them and know where they are.

-- diane (, February 16, 2002.

Got the greenhouse up - finally - and even though I only have 1 table built, I have lettuce, cauliflower, and onions started with more planned for this week. Finally got the goats housed and fenced in properly, and learning to milk and make cheese is a very good possibility in the next year. Woodstove is in and working, and keeps 2/3rds of the house warm. Too bad the 1/3 it doesn't heat are bedrooms... Rain water collection system is planned for this year, and I've been looking at solar electric / solar hot water to at least reduce my dependency on the grid. All the single pane windows in the house have been replaced with the exception of 1, and it's life expectancy is short. Resided the house last year and went from a combo of aluminum and vinyl siding to a cement stucco - that stopped a lot of the drafts! Root cellar / shelter is in the planning stages as well, and the site's already been picked out.

-- Eric in TN (, February 16, 2002.

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