Why Be Self Sufficient? It’s A Lot of Work!

Why Be Self Sufficient? It’s A Lot of Work!

Why be Self Sufficient?

“Why do you spend all that time being self-sufficient? That’s what grocery stores are for.” She was sincere. She really didn’t understand. I have a standard answer based on our reality. We had to figure out whether we could live on one good salary for a while, possibly for life, if we moved to the poorest county in all of the New England states combined. I made good money and had excellent benefits in county government, and we knew I wouldn’t find that here. Why be self sufficient? In the early years of homesteading we had to be self sufficient because we couldn’t afford not to.

The expenses of working were high. We paid for daycare (biggest expense), work clothes (second wardrobe never worn outside of work), gas, lunches out, and packaged food (it was expensive even back then) for breakfast and supper added up fast. I was working for a take home of $50 a week after all expenses were paid.

Great Food

Why take care of as many of our needs as possible? I trust myself to provide excellent quality, healthy food. I don’t trust the common food supply found in grocery stores to be fresh, as full as nutrition, or as ethically grown as what I provide for myself. I know where, how and when my food was grown. We can’t and don’t want to do everything but we do a lot for ourselves. why

Heating the House

I’m not dependent upon an oil company to keep me and my home warm. We heat with locally sourced firewood. Some of it comes from our land but we don’t have the time or equipment to cut seven cords of hardwood from our woodlot. Last year’s firewood was maple, beach, birch and ash cut to clear out a maple sugar bush. It was delivered in logs. Steve cut the logs into stove length pieces. I split and stacked the firewood. I could get a job to earn the money to buy gas to get to work, heating oil to keep the house warm and pay the expenses of having a job, or I can save money by doing a lot of the work myself. I need less money when I do it myself.

Firewood, self sufficient
When I split and stack the wood I’m getting exercise. I’m saving money by not paying a gym membership and gas to get there. I’m doing something useful. I hate running no where on a dreadmill. I do it when it’s not safe to be on the snowy, slippery road we live on, but I don’t like it. It’s less expensive to buy our firewood in tree length logs than cut and split. We cut some of our firewood on our land but lack the equipment we’d need to haul it out of the rough, wet land. Living in a watershed has disadvantages.

We talked about missing working with people (once in a while but not normally, I’m an introvert), socializing and other things she felt I must be missing out on. Being self sufficient doesn’t mean I’m missing out on anything. That’s a crazy notion. If I want seafood I have seafood. This is Maine. It’s easy to get fresh seafood at reasonable prices. I didn’t raise beef so we’re bartering it. If I want to socialize I go out with friends. I volunteer enough to fill my desire to work with people.

How about electricity? Why are we still on the grid? ehhh…we could use solar or wind power. We might some day but if we do we’ll still rely on someone else for equipment. It’s alright to pick and choose who and what you rely on. What works for me might not do anything at all to help you be self-sufficient. Everyone’s situation is at least a little bit different in some way.


 Chanterelle mushrooms are a luxury for some. At $26 a pound, we wouldn’t be buying them. For $5 worth of gas we pick at least ten pounds a year, and we pick other mushrooms while we’re out. I climb banks, walk through the woods to get to them, bend and stretch, and get some exercise.

Fishing for Food

We fish for fun and for food. We have to follow state laws that determine how many fish we can keep in a day as well as how many we can have in our possession. That limits some of the species we like but others have such high possession limits that we can have all we’ll eat. We eat brook trout, small mouth and largemouth bass, white and yellow perch, and occasionally cusk if we manage to catch them while ice fishing.

smallmouth bass, smallie, bass fishing, self sufficient We do as much as we can to be self sufficient while Steve works a full time job. We buy our health insurance through his employer. His salary pays the bills (including my sometimes expensive medical bills that aren’t covered, insurance doesn’t pay for everything) and keeps a roof over our heads. We’ll be paying someone else to make some upgrades and repairs to the house because we don’t have the skills needed. There aren’t enough hours in a day to learn and do all we need and want. why be self-sufficient

“I can go to work to earn the money to pay someone to do things for me, or I can do it myself.” ~Me. I can grow and raise our food or pay someone else to do it and depend on grocery stores. ehhh…not so comfy with that idea, especially these days.

What do you do towards self sufficiency and why?

4 thoughts on “Why Be Self Sufficient? It’s A Lot of Work!

  1. This is a great post, Robin! I’m trying to be more self sufficient because I believe my kids are better off with chores and routine, and because I believe the ability to grow their own food will become not a hobby but a lifesaving skill in their lifetime. I might not be here to help them when the time comes but I can help them now. I hope they keep this land no matter where they end up and teach these skills to their own kids if they have them. I don’t want them sitting in front of a screen, I want them taking part in life.

    1. That’s exactly how I feel, Jill. I know my now-grown daughters aren’t going to want this land when we’re gone so I plant and plan with the thought that someone who does want to be here will benefit and appreciate it. In the meantime, I can grow and raise food and help fill their freezers. It’s not a hobby by any means. As you said, it could be lifesaving. This world is a little less stable every day.

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