5 Things I Did This Year to Be More Self-Sufficient

As the year winds down, it's time to take a look at our homesteading goals and see how well we did. Some of my goals are to fix a building or a fence, to declutter our home, to get organized. I also have a list of things I want to do, acquire, or learn - things that will help us become more self-sufficient.

To me, self-sufficiency means being able to produce as much of our needs as possible. I prefer to grow our fruit and vegetables, to provide our own milk, eggs and meat, to learn as much as I can about herbal medicine, and so on. For instance, I want to grow the spinach I add to my green smoothie each morning, not buy it at the grocery store.

Here are the five things I've crossed off my list this year.

1. Restocked our chicken coop - We bought 15 chicks to replenish our empty chicken coop. 

We were down to just one pair of chickens that free-range in the barnyard. It was hard to find our only hen's eggs, plus free-range chickens may or may not have a long life span here on Oak Hill. It was time to get serious and start over.

We now have four black sex-links, two speckled Sussex, two Dominique, five buff Orpingtons and two buff brahmas. 

The speckled Sussex came from a bin of straight-run, or unsexed, chicks. Hubby was hoping we'd have a rooster, but both of them ended up being pullet (female) chicks. 

We're on the lookout for a rooster for our new flock. Our free-range roo is a docile, gorgeous boy, but I want more than one rooster.

We also rebuilt the chicken run.

2. Raised pigs for the freezer - Our two Hampshire-cross gilts are now in the freezer. This was our third time raising pigs.

I'll be canning some of that pork very soon. I'm also researching how to cure hams and bacon; we have plenty to practice with.


3. Doubled the size of the garden - Well, I'm fencing and preparing it right now, but it won't be planted until spring so I'm not sure if I can say I actually "did this" in 2015. Then again, the hard work is in the preparing of a garden, and it's the project I'm working on right now, so yes, I did it this year.

4. Continued acquiring the seeds and plants I want for our "victory garden" - comfrey and other medicinal herbs, walking onions, a new variety of garlic, elderberry seeds, and so on.

Trying out an elderberry gummies recipe was on my mind for a while.  

5. Education - One of our local colleges offered an educational seminar for small agricultural producers. Even though I'm not producing products for sale or planning an agri-tourism business venture, I am a "small producer." 

I enjoyed the day, learned a lot, and met some like-minded people. Making contacts is always a good thing. I plan to attend the second annual seminar next year.

Education is one of our best tools. Our projects and experiments begin with an idea, but along the way we learn a great deal, either by reading, learning from others, or by experience. Knowledge can never be taken from us.

What do you plan to do next year to become more self-sufficient? What do you hope to learn? 

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