Saturday, 4 June 2016

Limits of self-sufficiency

Our veg garden: we eat what's there
Why ‘reasonably’ good life? Because, in the modern world, there are obvious limits to self-sufficiency. In fact, we’d argue that true self-sufficiency is not possible these days unless you chose to live a hard subsistence lifestyle.
You simply cannot do it all unless you’re some kind of superman or want to be permanently exhausted – hence a reasonable approach is needed, focusing on the things that are important to you.

Making crips from home-grown potatoes
Some things just take an inordinate amount of time and effort to produce: sugar, salt and growing grains for flour on a small scale, for example. These basics are best bought.

Then there are things that you cannot produce in your area. You could do without, of course, but we like our arabica coffee beans and red wine. But some things we do without: tropical fruit, soy products and vegetables that we have difficulty growing here, such as aubergines and sweet potatoes (and the jury is still out on sweetcorn).

Bartering is a good option for items that you cannot produce or have no time to make yourself. We’ve bartered veg for Portuguese custard tarts, plants and venison. And often people will give you stuff for free. We like to do that ourselves if we have any spare seedlings or veg.

So leading a reasonably good life is about self reliance rather than true self-sufficiency. We’ve focused on:
  • Self-sufficiency in vegetables, eggs, fruit and herbs
  • Baking all our own sourdough bread from home-milled flour and baking cakes
  • Making all our own snacks, jams, jellies, chutneys and hedgerow wines
  • Growing and drying our own herbal teas
  • Hunting for game and angling for fish
  • Organic gardening
  • Processing wood from logs for our solid-fuel heating
  • Doing as much as possible ourselves when it comes to renovating and maintaining the house and grounds.

1 comment:

  1. Ha- made us laugh reading the custard tart reference! We are definitely self sufficient in custard tarts, cakes and bread , but not much else yet!


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