Buying the perfect homesteading property, planting rows and rows or crops, and purchasing long term storage food as a part of a backup plan is a good start to becoming more self-reliant, but those preps alone will not ensure success or long-term survival.
Living off the grid or making the decision to live more self-reliant existence in a rural area takes planning, lots and lots of planning. As with all things worth doing, embarking on a self-reliant lifestyle should start with a solid foundation, and some homework. The best self-reliance tips involve both research and education. Developing a plan that suits your family’s needs is crucial to both successful implementation and survival.
Know how to use and fix what you buy. Spending a lot of money on necessary survival items will not provide the expected benefits if the family does not learn how to use them, continually practicing with them, and keeping them in perfect working order. When the lights go out is not the time to open a box and begin reading the directions by candlelight.
Developing a more self- reliant existence will most likely improve your overall physical and mental health. Teaching children how to prep offers a multitude of fun family excursions and quality time outdoors. Do not approach the creation of a self-reliance lifestyle on a rigid time frame, but as a long-term goal with many adaptations required along the way. Develop realistic goals and celebrate those successes as a family.
It is unwise to focus too narrowly on a particular disaster scenario, the basics of preparedness are the same regardless of the type of emergency envisioned. Learn how to master the skills needed to survive the basics on your own and then expand upon your stores, skills, and knowledge in a reasonable manner.
The first step in this process is discovering how much food the members of your family will need to survive. Although you may not be able to purchase of grow enough food to feed everyone for an entire year all at once, do not get discouraged. Adding a little extra food to your shopping cart each week, growing (canning and dehydrating too) another row of crops, and purchasing a #10 of long-term storage food every payday will get you started on the road to self-sufficiency. Purchase, raise, or grow food items from that pyramid chart we all colored during elementary school many years ago. A balanced diet will become even more important during a survival situation.
Getting emergency care in rural areas is not typically a speedy process. If the power grid goes down or some other type of man-made or natural disaster occurs, you will not be able to call a doctor. Medical preps and dental preps are perhaps the most difficult aspect of a self-reliance plan. Stocking up on commercial medications is just one route to consider before packing your bags and moving off the grid. Natural remedies and homemade cough syrups and prescription medication alternatives should also be incorporated into the budget.
Once again, research and education is key during this process. Learning about herbal remedies and essential oil uses is a great place to begin. Many recipes and instructional videos on traditional medicine alternatives can be found online. Taking a basic first aid course followed by additional survival emergency medicine courses either online or at a workshop is also encouraged. Even a mundane illness or injury can quickly become life-threatening when living in the middle of nowhere or during a disaster. Compile a medical file complete with photo for every member of the family, make a copy of the file, and store both in fire-proof boxes for quick reference and portability.
Exercise leads to healthy bodies. Physical fitness should be among the top priorities for folks to consider when planning to live a more self-reliant lifestyle. Sitting behind a desk all day requires few muscles, but farming, gardening, hunting, chopping wood, and a multitude of other routine off grid tasks demand strength and stamina. During either an ordinary or a TEOTWAWKI scenario, everyone member of the family, despite age, will be required to chip in with manual labor. Homesteading families do not need a bunch of expensive gym equipment to get fit.
Chores both indoors and out will provide ample opportunity to increase muscle tone. When creating a physical fitness training program for the family, think first of crossover activities and craft a chart, set up a scoring system based upon both chore activity, preparedness training, and outright exercise sessions. Going on a hike in the woods as a family offers parents the chance to teach orienteering and tracking to children, enjoy some quality time, and get some exercise at the same time. Prepping can be fun and not the least bit scary to youngsters when approached in the right manner.
Self-reliance lifestyle plans are not complete until the importance of physical fitness is addressed. During either an emergency scenario of nearly any duration, a strong back is just as integral to survival as a strong mind shelves filled with food, equipment, ammunition and weapons.
Working out in order to survive the demands of a disaster scenario does not have to involve an expensive gym membership or endless hours spent on a home treadmill. Toning the body can easily be accomplished by dual purpose outdoor activities. The ability to travel even moderate distances loaded down with a bugout bag will require endurance. A solid pair of hiking boots or comfortable athletic shoes will only take you as far as your leg muscles will allow.
Living off the grid can be an extremely enriching and rewarding experience. Each day there are physically demanding yet fulfilling tasks to complete. Mucking horse stalls and heading to the barn before sunrise to milk the cow are not glamorous chores, but such mundane and messy duties are part of providing healthy food for the family while being a good steward of the environment.
But the picturesque scene of life on a rural homestead will not be quite so lovely unless setting up a proper sanitation system is tackled correctly and maintained steadily.
When planning the move to an off-the-grid locale or searching for the perfect retreat, factor in the feasibility of establishing a fully-functional sanitation system at the property building site long before daydreaming about how tasty organic crops will be come fall. Planning an off-the-grid sanitation system would definitely fall under the heading of “boring grown-up stuff.” That is the phrase I often use when my husband asks if I have tackled some tedious paperwork or have updated my mileage on the tax template he made for me.
The boring grown-up stuff, though, is unfortunately an integral aspect to establishing a successful homestead. The land might boast enriched soil, look like a backdrop for a Norman Rockwell painting, and have the cutest ducks floating on the pond, but all those attributes will soon fall to ruin if a sanitation system fails. Water contamination can ruin the family’s drinking water, creeks and streams used for livestock watering, and destroy all the organic seeds growing in the field.
One of the best ways involves installing a septic system. Today, creating such a system in some towns, even many rural ones, is illegal. Before purchasing a septic tank from a supplier, make sure that installing one will not result in hefty fines and even possible criminal charges in some regions.
A septic system is basically a massive metal tank that allows for the collection and release of wastewater. Bacteria inside the septic tank breaks down the waste and causes it to naturally separate into a big layer of scum on the top of the waste. Beneath the layer of scum is a liquid layer and a bottom layer of sludge. As wastewater flows into the septic tanks, liquid inside flows out in sections of pipe buried underground that ultimately drains into a field. The soil then acts as a type of biological filter. Septic tanks must be serviced and emptied by professional sanitation workers once per year.
Camping or composting commodes are legal and not any less attractive than a standard commode. Unlike septic tank systems, they function without the need for any type of professional cleaning or collection. The drawback: You or one of your off-the-grid family members will be tasked with the cleaning chore. All camping or compositing commodes are not created equal, so go the extra few bucks and purchase one with a separate compartment for the waste that flushed like a regular commode. Some composting toilets also feature a urine diverting system.
A composting toilet typically uses an aerobic processing system that treats the waste. Composting commodes can be either dry or low water toilets. A growing number of folks are using this type of commode to garner “humanure.” The composting toilets reportedly capture the nutrients in human excrement so the waste can be used a crop or flower bed fertilizer.