That’s right! We have chosen our future path. We are now on an important and well-needed self-sufficiency journey at 15 Acre Homestead. And this journey may be a little different than what you may be expecting!
Before I get into the details, let me tell you this ahead of time. I was never a “prepper” before. I always saved money and had a pretty good amount of food set aside. I have always grown a vegetable and herb garden no matter where I lived. I cooked from scratch many meals when my children lived at home. But I was not a prepper!
I tell you this so you can see that this is a really BIG lifestyle change for me. Why? Because now I am a prepper! Now I am not a doomsday prepper, I am too positive for that stuff. I like happy thoughts too much! However, after living with tornadoes and hurricanes in Florida, and Covid-19, I have decided that being prepared is important, no matter what happens, major or minor.
After some soul searching and sleepless nights, I remembered the talks I used to have with my dad about his life growing up and how his parents lived. Yep, good old Grandma and Pap!
They did not rely on electricity, running water from the city, and eggs from the local grocery store, instead they found ways to provide those things themselves. Because of that lifestyle and those stories my Dad told, my dream and future of a self-sufficiency journey were born long before I realized it myself.
Where My Self-Sufficiency Journey Idea Started
My grandparents lived in a small town in Abingdon, Virginia in an old wooden farmhouse that they actually moved from North Carolina. Yes, you read that right, they moved their house via logs underneath from North Carolina to Virginia. In their new home they raised 10 children together.
They grew their own vegetables and herbs. They pumped water from a hand well my grandfather dug himself. They raised animals for meat, cooked on a wood stove, and used lanterns when it was dark. To make an income they sold tobacco which they grew on their acreage.
I only got to spend a few adult years with them as I was born late in the life of my parents (they were 40 when I was born). But those few years were enough to instill this desire to farm, to raise my own animals, and to grow my own food. It also instilled a dislike for city life, crowded streets and bills!
The Self-Sufficiency Journey Began Unknowingly
I never really dove into the self-sufficiency journey until recently. I gardened on the 15-acre parcel I live on, I dehydrated a few fruits, and I learned a few self-sufficiency skills, but not much.
When I started 15 Acre Homestead as a single woman in 2015, it was just something to do to take up some time while caring for my father who had a host of medical problems that caused me to live on the same property as my parents.
My plan was to grow some of our vegetables and berries, raise some chickens, and use a clothesline. Little did I know my life would change over the next 5 years! And little did I know I would become not just a homesteader but a work from home self-sufficiency blogger too!
Reality Hit, and Hard!
Between the hurricanes that we have survived in recent years, the passing of my father, my daughters surgery, and a long and unplanned trip to Pittsburgh early this year where we were confronted with the Covid-19 epidemic, my eyes were really opened at how important a self-sufficiency journey is!
Something clicked inside. This fear announced itself, and with that fear came the reality that we need to be better prepared, more thankful for what we currently have, and learn how to settle for even less.
The idea of a food shortage scared the crap out of me. Then I started thinking about the grid, running water, and the list went on and on. That was it. The light bulb went off. I had my aha moment. Something had to change for me, for us.
So I sat down, made a huge list of what a self-sufficiency journey meant for me, then I started making plans to begin that very journey. I filled up that list quickly. As a matter of fact I probably add to my list weekly if not daily.
The Written List
I needed to write down everything I wanted to accomplish in order for this homestead to be as self-sufficient as possible. I knew I could not do them all immediately. I knew it would be a process, sometimes a slow one. I was okay with that. What mattered was that I was beginning my self-sufficiency journey.
Here is what I came up with:
- To save enough to install solar power to accommodate our well, a refrigerator, and a freezer.
- To grow enough food to allow us to preserve the harvest to carry us for one to two years with canned food.
- To remove the electric stove and only use the gas stove while building our primitive outdoor kitchen with no electricity.
- To buy and install a wood stove to provide heat through the winter.
- To start cooking more with our cast iron pots and pans over an open fire outside.
- To grow all of the herbs and preserve them by old fashioned ways.
- To install rain barrels and filters to provide our own drinking water.
- To set up a solar greenhouse for year-round opportunities of growing food.
- To start doing laundry by hand and making use of the clothesline regularly.
- To start using oil lighting and eliminate slowly our electric lights.
- To eliminate plastic and paper from the kitchen and elsewhere.
- To reduce, reuse and recycle everything we can on our homestead.
- To make all meals from scratch.
- To bring back any old-time skills that we can.
- To prepare our pantry with food and water for one year or more.
- To raise animals for meat, milk and eggs.
- To build and use a smoker to preserve meat
- To use manure and a large compost bin for amending the soil in the gardens.
- To set up to teach others how to successfully live a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
Some Parts of Our Self-Sufficiency Journey are Already in Place
Some of the things I have on the plan for my self-sufficiency journey are already somewhat in place. The rain barrels for instance are attached to the house. Four of them to be exact. Now we need to figure out the filters so the water is actually drinkable for us.
We are in search of a good cook stove that will be used for heat and cooking as well as solar panels for our house. These cost a bit so we are saving for them as we speak. In the meantime we have researched what we needed, the best sources to get these items and we know roughly the cost.
The vegetable gardens are in place as are the herb gardens and we already have some berry bushes and fruit trees. The greenhouse is in the works too. I do have a potting porch, but it is by no means a greenhouse. A hoop house is in the near future though as it is a cost effective answer until the big greenhouse gets built.
What’s Next? Hard Work!
So the goals were set and on paper. We had a plan! Some areas are already in place. Now what? Well, now the hard part, the labor itself for my self-sufficiency journey to be a success. Sometimes I cringe just thinking about all the things that actually need done.
We have trees to cut in order to make fence posts and firewood out of, which means some sort of a woodshed will also need to be built. We have more rain barrels to install and filters to install on those barrels as well. We have more gardens to grow and fruit trees to plant. Of course we always have gardens coming in and going out.
The clothesline needs to be put up, pens need to be built for our future animals like our goats and sheep we want to purchase in the very near future. We will be using the pallets we salvaged to build the pens for them. Which also means fencing will have to go up to confine the animals to a certain area.
We need to get all of the oil lamps prepared and we will need to stock up on oil for those. We need to build hurricane shutters that resemble the ones you see in the old pictures too. There is plenty to do. It is all part of my self-sufficiency journey and every bit we accomplish will be worth the effort in the long run.
Changes for the Home
Just as we need to make changes to the exterior of the property, there need to be changes made to the interior as well for my self-sufficiency journey to be successful. We have windows that need to be replaced and a kitchen needing finished. It is being refurbished to resemble the old-time primitive kitchens of yesterday complete with hand appliances instead of electric ones.
We are slowly replacing our plastic and paper with other alternatives. Things like paper towels being replaced with unpaper towels, using stoneware and Corningware to cook and eat from, and seasoning and using more cast iron pots to cook with. This also means less waste too.
We are making our own spice blends from the herbs we preserved earlier this year like Basil. We have also dehydrated strawberries to eat as snacks, and tomatoes which we have allowed us to completely replace canned tomatoes. These things save us money and help the budget a lot.
We also started making our own natural cleaners and learn to use more Borax and Vinegar around the home. We even make our own produce wash and laundry soap. This is not only another step towards a successful self-sufficiency journey, but it makes for a cleaner and healthier home too.
Heading Into the Future
As we head into 2021 and further, my self-sufficiency journey will lead us to a homestead that can endure food shortages, droughts, inclement weather, epidemics and more. It will provide a healthy lifestyle without modern-day conveniences.
Along the way, we will teach others what we have learned through our posts, our YouTube Channel, and through both on-site and off-site classes. I even have a Facebook group called Yesterday’s Skills for Today’s Self-Reliance where we talk about the lost skills of yesterday and share new ways of learning such skills. We will share our journey with youas we make progress so you can learn to..
As a result of my self-sufficiency journey, I hope to make 15 Acre Homestead a place where you can physically come and stay and learn how you too can become much more self-sufficient by learning new skills from us here at our homestead. An Airbnb is even on the list with our tiny house in the next year or so!
Their will be animals for children to come and feed and interact with. There will be gardens to share and teach from. There will be classes, products and events that will be held too. Of course they are a bit further down the road.
Final Thoughts on My Self-Sufficiency Journey…
Before my dad passed a few years ago I made a promise to him. I said I would make this homestead and property that he worked so many years so hard for into a thriving dream of mine. This self-sufficiency journey is my way of fulfilling the promise that I made to my best friend, my hero, and my father.
This self-sufficiency journey means a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears in our future, but I believe in ourselves and our ability. I believe that one day when I am no longer here on Earth, people will come here knowing it all started with a dream of a city-raised girl to take a well-needed self-sufficiency journey.
Are you on a self-sufficiency journey? Tell me what skills you wish to learn. Blacksmith, candle making, gardening, preserving? What skills have you already learned? I would love to hear where you are and where you intend ongoing!