Self-reliance is the ability to provide for you and yours without needing help from outside sources. While true self-reliance is hard to come by in the purist sense, there are little ways to work toward becoming more independent in your daily life. You don’t have to live out on a huge parcel of property and be a hardcore homesteader to pull this off. It starts with little things that can be easily accomplished with the right amount of self-discipline and grit.
1. Raise Chickens
Chickens are the easiest animal to maintain. If you are the handyman type, building your own chicken coop is as simple as a trip to the hardware store and an afternoon of work. But even if you aren’t the building type, premade chicken coops are easily available at feed stores, or online.
Depending on what size of yard you have, you can host quite a few birds without much trouble at all. Some of these coops even come with wheels so your coop can be rolled over to portions of your yard that need insect removal. Chickens are great natural pest control and composters. They also provide eggs and meat. While some folks enjoy the process of raising chicks, that does require an incubation set-up and a bit of indoor space, safe from overzealous household pets. Many a backyard farmer has found success cruising craigslist or asking around the local farm store for juvenile or unwanted hens. Either way, you’re looking at an increase in your self-reliance and a food supply.
2. Can Your Own Food
Canning isn’t just a cool hobby your crazy old aunt got into when she was running out of ideas for Xmas gifts. It is a legitimate survival skill, and a stalwart of the self-reliant lifestyle. Getting a solid pressure canner that will allow you to can both meat as well as fruits and veggies will only set you back about $90. Most hunters who live in areas where power outage is frequent choose to can their meat as opposed to freezing it. Canned food has a shelf life of up to 4 years and you never have to worry about freezer burn. It is easy to can fish, stews, soups, meat, jellies and jams. Having a fully stocked pantry of food that will last a while is key when it comes to living a more independent type of life.
3. Grow Your Own Garden
This one is simple. Although many folks think that it takes a large plot of land or a degree in botany, it really takes very little to get a small garden going. When it comes to finding space or materials for gardening, anything goes. Though not very low-profile, and somewhat two-liter soda bottles and some PVC piping can be used to set up a vertical window garden.
If you have limited backyard space, try using straw bales to set up your garden. Not sure how to? Check out our DIY Straw-Bale Garden article here. Or go the old-fashioned route, and build some garden boxes. Any way you cut it, a small garden is a great way for you to supplement your family’s food supply and make you that much less dependent on the grocery store and imported produce.
4. Load Your Own Ammo
When it comes to those of us who believe in a self-reliant lifestyle, everyone feels safer at home when there is a firearm or two present. But without ammo, firearms aren’t much use. Being able to make your own ammunition is essential to remaining self-sustainable after something like an economic collapse or WWOROL occurs.
Sure, for a first-timer, making your own ammo can be a bit intimidating. But there are plenty of handloaders out there now, it’s not just an old-timey thing that Grandpa used to do in the garage. Advancements in loading presses make loading your own ammo easier than it has ever been. For more info on affordable and easy to use handloading set-ups, go to leeprecision.com
5. Hunt and Fish
This is a no-brainer and if you’re looking to become more self-reliant it is likely that you’ve already looked into hunting and fishing in your area. Learning to hunt and fish the game that is in your environment is absolutely a must for the self-sufficient individual. For an even more sustainable approach, try looking into how you can hunt and fish year-round. Most fish and game orgranizations are more than willing to help you identify the particular hunting and fishing regulations that would permit you to be harvesting animals year round when they are “in season.” Combining this with the above practice of canning and gardening can put you several steps closer to providing for you and yours on your own.