Make Your Life More Sustainable
Self sufficiency means different things to different people. The one thing that all fans of self sufficiency share in common is a desire to reduce reliance on goods and services supplied by others. In reality, we will never be totally independent for one reason: it is in our nature to be social, and we all need to interact with other humans in order to be psychologically fulfilled.
Being self sufficient involves making compromises; and the degree to which you might become self sufficient may be determined by how much you are prepared to compromise your current lifestyle.
Duration: 100 Hours
The content of each of the ten lessons is as outlined below:
- Understanding the possibilities
- Understanding Modern Society and the Scope and Nature of Self Sufficiency
- What is Self Sufficiency
- What is Needed to make a Change
- How to Start
- Getting the Right Attitude
- Being Realistic
- Health, Nutrition and Clothing
- Introduction to a Balanced Lifestyle
- Health and Fitness
- Understanding Anaerobic and Aerobic Exercise
- Mental Health
- Understanding Food and Human Nutritional Needs
- Clothing Needs
- Safety with Fabrics
- Protective Clothing
- General Care and Hygiene for Everyday Clothing
- First Aid
- Horticulture - Fruit and Vegetables
- Scope and Nature of Horticultural Production
- Selecting and Planning for a Vegetable Crop
- No Dig Growing
- Review of Different Vegetables
- Growing Fruit
- Berry Fruit
- What to Do with Excess Produce: Preserves, etc
- Resources for More Reliable Information
- Horticulture - Herbs
- Cultivation of Herbs
- Natural Pest Control and Companion Planting
- Herbs for Different Situations
- Harvesting Herbs
- Handling Fresh Herbs, Drying Herbs
- Cooking with Herbs
- Herb baths
- Propagating Herbs
- Animal Husbandry
- Short Cuts for Animal Rearing
- Chickens : Feeding, Watering, Housing, Health
- Bee Keeping
- Locating a Hive
- Honey Production
- Animal Husbandry
- Overview: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Horses, and Pigs
- Livestock Terminology
- Feeding Animals on Pasture
- Pasture Management
- Housing, Shelter, Fencing
- Animal Health and Disease Management
- Keeping Pigs
- Introduction to Earth Building
- How to Make Mud Bricks
- Building Foundations
- Laying Bricks
- Wall Finishes
- Using Fasteners : Nails, Screws, Bolts
- Building Tools
- Scope and Nature of alternative energy sources
- Comparing Renewable Energy Sources
- Solar Energy
- Wind Power
- Solar House Design
- Energy Conservation
- Growing and Using Wood for Fuel
- Choosing a Wood Burning Appliance
- Environmental Aspects to Burning Wood
- Care and Maintenance of Wood Stoves, Chimneys
- Craft & Country Skills
- Scope and Nature of Crafts
- Marketing Home Crafts
- Protecting Your Work
- Candle Making
- Other Crafts: Pot Pourri, etc
- Rustic Timber Structures
- How to Join Timbers
- Tool Maintenance
- Cleaning and Sharpening Tools
- Making Decisions
- Scope and Nature of Decision Making
- Risk Management -Preparing for Emergencies
- Preparing for Fire
- Making Money - Small Scale Home Based Businesses
- Growing things to Sell on a Small Property
- Discuss the nature and scope of self sufficiency.
- Explain the importance of good nutrition and health.
- Explain the importance of suitable clothing and clothing care.
- Explain the relevance and application of horticulture to self sufficiency.
- Explain the cultivation and use of herbs.
- Explain the main requirements for successfully raising animals.
- Explain the fundamentals of caring for grazing animals.
- Explain the available alternatives to eating meat.
- Discuss various building techniques that can be used to construct buildings.
- Discuss alternatives to conventional energy sources.
- Determine and describe accessible craft and country skills that may contribute to self sufficiency.
- Analyze potential changes in lifestyle to increase a person's level of self-sufficiency.
SOME OF THE THINGS YOU MAY DO IN THIS COURSE
- Identify essential and non-essential services offered by society
- Identify services that one can be self sufficient with
- Identify self skills that can aid in self sufficiency
- Obtain skills that can be developed to assist in self sufficiency
- Identify needs, wants and likes; and the purpose of prioritising needs
- Identify items one can provide for oneself
- Develop cost efficient meals
- Identify purpose of fitness to self sufficiency
- Plan a food garden
- Identify crops plants most suited to a persons locality that assist in self sufficiency
- Explain the use of bees hives, poultry and other animals for self sufficiency
- Estimate carrying capacity of a piece of land for animal stocking
- Describe multipurpose animal stocking and their uses
- Consider energy alternative techniques such as wind, solar, water fire, etc.
- Reduce present energy usage
- Candle making
- Cloth and garment making processes
- Practice food preservation techniques
- Practice handicraft techniques
- Identify criteria when planning to set up a self sufficient lifestyle in a new location
- Identify criteria on how to improve self sufficiency in present location
CASE STUDY -
WHAT IS SELF SUFFICIENT LIVING REALLY LIKE?
Here is how one of the academic staff at ACS changed her families lifestyle to become over 90% self sufficient.
The family of four used to live in the same sort of lifestyle that most of us do; depending upon shops, the power grid and all the services of modern society to survive. That has all changed though. They might still drive cars and work jobs (including part time at our ACS office); but they could now live relatively wellif they never visited a shop, or left their property.
The first thing they did was build their home. They knew their house had to be energy efficient so they designed it to suit this purpose. It is well insulated: cool in summer and warm in winter.
They say “The house faces the best possible aspect for energy efficiency and maximum light. It has cross ventilation, so it catches every breeze, as well as maximum sun in winter and minimal sun in summer. All the necessary ‘systems’ run themselves, yet it is comfortable, practical and aesthetically pleasing, and affords us a modern life style in a sustainable manner. Just because you live in the bush, does not mean you need to live rough”.
“Another huge factor for us is that we are out of debt. Everything we have, we own. We do not have a mortgage or any loans, so we save for what we need and chip away at things as we can afford it”.
They grow fruit and vegetables, keep poultry and other animals; and are mostly able to be supply all of their own food needs.
They do have a phone which was the only means of gaining an internet connection but are now self-reliant for their utilities:
- Water is collected off the roof into 95K litre storage capacity tanks, gravity fed to the house requiring no pump to turn the tap on.
- Electricity: full solar system with generator back up (only used occasionally during extended periods of cloud or rain).
- Fireplace and wood stove with a wet back (for hot water): supplies all cooking, oven and baking needs. The stove and fireplace supplies water, heating, food dehydration and dries washing during rain.
- Water-less composting toilet: “This is an excellent model” says Melissa “No stink and works really well. It’s awesome!” It’s only emptied twice a year. The content, by then, is dried and tumbled certified compost.
- They use hand tools plus battery operated rechargeable power tools (e.g. the vacuum cleaner).
- All lights are LED; power efficient fridge and freezer.
- They don’t supply their own wood off their own property but collect wood.
- They use animals to mow the grass.
Wish List of Things to Still Achieve
“We are working on supplying all our own food. We are almost, but are not quite there yet. We do barter food, supplies and eggs with locals and also skills with neighbours for example: we utilise the expertise of a builder and landscape designer/gardener in exchange for food, eggs and cooking classes”.
“We also barter male animals. Sounds weird, but we advertise locally and do ‘male swaps’ (rooster and other animals) to keep the gene pool strong and avoid inter-breeding. It works really well”.
“Our current project is a nursery/covered greenhouse/shade-house 25x40m for an under-cover orchids and garden”.
Challenges for the Future
Work: The father is a specialist in finance, financial, corporate and business modelling. There are no employment prospects for him in the country (that will pay him what he is worth). Travel to work (he has to travel over an hour) and the high cost of fuel, tyres, car servicing and maintenance. They have both have had to reinvent themselves and be creative for income.
Money: “When we moved, we thought that being self-sufficient, our bills would disappear, but this is not true. They have just changed. Now instead of paying an electricity bill every quarter, we have fuel bills and more for car services and tyres, machinery maintenance, fencing, animal feed, purchasing machinery (e.g. chain saws, gardening tools such as augers, slashers, tractors). There are still school fees to pay, car insurance and registration, rates to pay. You can never be truly self-sufficient”.
Setting up has been a journey, not a destination. “Each upgrade we add assists us in one way or another, however we have to wait and be patient to achieve what we need. We have to save for every step forward, for example: we have waited to purchase a generator that has an inverter to charge the batteries as backup. This was a real life-changer for us when there are weeks of cloud and rain. We are also waiting to add evacuated solar tubes to our hot water so we don’t need to run the wood stove in summer for the hot water. Bit by bit we chip away at making things easier, choosing things that will work on their own and decrease the labour intensiveness”.
Changing routines: You need to be organised as things do take longer: you have to light fires and wait for things to heat up; clothes are dried through radiant heat from the fires. They cook toast and boil the kettle on the stove’s flat plate and heat up food in the oven (no microwave).
Shift of mentality: You can’t do whatever you want when you want. You need to be aware of power storage, battery charge and sun strength. So they use their ‘big’ vacuum and main washing and ironing on sunny days and in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. It means you need to have work flexibility as it doesn’t suit people if they work during the day.
Lots of work: Chopping wood, manual labour, utilising the natural elements such as wind, sun and going with the rain. “It’s a case of ‘making hay whilst the sun shines’. Stock piling when days are good and conditions favourable. We have over 2 years supply of wood chopped, split and drying out. We work like crazy when we can and rest up when it’s too hot or too cold”.
Don't You Still Need Money?
Some people aim for 100% self sufficiency; others something less, while they still hold down a regular job.
No matter what you do to become self sufficient, you will undoubtedly always still come across occasions where you need money to buy things.
For the “perfect” exponent of self sufficiency, the way around this is usually to find either a product or a service which can be produced and supplied from home: in essence, to develop a low key, home based business.
The first and most obvious option is to grow and sell some type of produce; or value-add by producing some art or craft item; perhaps selling on commission through a local retailer, or at a market. There are other options as well though.
THIS COURSE WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU APPROACH LIFE
- You will see possibilities you may have overlooked before
- You will be more aware, and confident to improve your level of self sufficiency
- You will able to make better choices about what to do, and what to not do
- You should be able to live healthier, using fewer resources, having less impact on your environment, and needing less money.