by any other name

I have decided that self sufficiency is the wrong term entirely.

I have watched as family and friends rally around us to make so many things possible and it has left me humbled and grateful.  To be honest, I have always struggled with the term; I find it sounds arrogant, lonely and not at all what we’re trying to do.  I am not saying everyone who uses that term is arrogant and lonely, but it isn’t for us and to imply we are doing this alone or that we want to do this alone is inaccurate.

We are about community and connection; gratitude and pared down beauty.  We are not lone soldiers.

I don’t know that we will ever be self sufficient and I don’t know that I want to be.  I also don’t know that full self sufficiency is even possible for most people.  What is more important to me is making wise consumer decisions.  I want to support local organic farmers and producers and grow and produce what we can from our own land and hands.  I think it important to create a good strong web of people based on different strengths and talents.  We are social creatures and to live as one nuclear family living and working alone feels unnatural and unnecessary to me.

Even those who appear to be doing it alone are backed by someone whether it is from ancient knowledge and tools passed down from generation to generation or from endless research, reading and stories.  We learn best from shared knowledge and heavy work is made lighter with many hands.  It isn’t just shared work, but shared joy as well.

We recently were looking at the map of the Croatian town my great grandparents lived in.  Everyone had their own few livestock and each morning or season, men would walk down the road and gather everyone’s individual animals and herd them out to a communal pasture.  Work was shared, there were building bees and support for the families facing hardships.  It was a community in the truest sense and definition of the word.

Do we want to reduce our need for grocery shopping?  Yes.
Do we want to learn lost arts and skills?  Yes.
Do we want our children to understand where their food comes from?  Yes.
Do we want them to learn at their own pace and be inspired by what intrigues them?  Yes.
Do we want to feel a deeper connection with the earth and all of it’s creatures?  Yes.
Do we want to make, can, grow and produce as much as we are able to ourselves?  Yes.
Do we want to or are we capable of doing it alone? Absolutely not.

Ultimately, we want to live according to what makes us feel good and right.  We protect what we love.

Will we ever grow our own wheat and grind it into flour?  I don’t know, I’d like to try grinding it ourselves, but I prefer the idea of building a relationship with a farmer already doing just that, learn from them and support them.  Do I really want to raise our own meat?  To be honest, not really (though Mike has a different answer to that question).

I appreciate our web of support and hope it continues to grow and flourish as we continue walking with and learning from those who are a part of it.

They say it takes a village to raise a child; but what does it take to raise ourselves?


go gently + be wonderful



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  1. Posted March 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm by Chandelle | Permalink

    Oh, I so agree. I correlate the whole “self-sufficiency” movement with the old-fashioned “rugged individualist,” which is not something I aspire to be. For me it’s all about interdependence, mutual support… community, above all. Nobody can do it alone… and nobody should have to. Awesome post!

  2. Posted March 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm by Candace Flynn | Permalink

    Wonderfully put! New spin on self-sustainability!! Love it

  3. Posted March 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm by Kim | Permalink

    Love this post, thanks for sharing. I totally agree, we need community, we need to learn from others and support each other on our journeys.

    I also find I need the connection of community, of people on the same path as we are, it helps keep me and my family focused on what we want and avoid the pull of what society thinks we need.

    Community for us has come from both online connections and from in person relationships in communities we have found.

  4. Posted March 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm by Kate | Permalink

    I have often felt similarly. That we use the wrong words to describe our goals. I also don’t want to do it all alone. Frankly, it sounds like way too much work for anyone to do by themselves. I always have loved hearing about when my grandparents grew up. It was before fridges. You couldn’t butcher a cow and freeze it for the year. When they butchered, they would take cuts to their neighbors and the neighbors gladly reciprocated when they butchered. Glad, not only to have meat from a friend, but to have friends who could use meat that they would not be able to before it was bad.

    I have to add though, that I do grind my own flour and fresh ground flour is worth the work. Good whole wheat flour won’t keep for long (the oils go rancid). When we lived in wheat country we did buy our wheat berries from the farm up the road and we ground it ourselves. It’s not hard, just loud (electric mill). But the bread it makes is sooooooooooo much better than bread with store bought wheat flour. At least that’s been my experience.

    Great post! I love knowing there are people out there with the same goals I have. I sometimes feel a little like the odd duck until I check on the ole blogs and find that I may not have a lot of near neighbors that share my excitement for these things, but there are plenty of people out there like me!

  5. Posted March 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm by Heather | Permalink

    I think that community is very important, and if you have all of that support around you why wouldn’t you get as much help as you can!? I think that my generation is a lot different than my mom’s. Everyone around me that is my age (30…almost 31 eek!) is so involved with their own lives. I would count myself in that group. But my mom and her group friends, they are constantly around helping each other. I want to be like that, but then I get frustrated when I don’t get any down time with my family. I guess it is a balancing act, this act of community :-)

  6. Posted March 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm by Meryl | Permalink

    A very good point. No one is really self-sufficient…not all the way, and those connections you make with others are so worthwhile also.

  7. Posted March 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm by Stephinie | Permalink

    I *love* this. Love it. Everything it.

  8. Posted March 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm by Danielle Grabiel | Permalink

    Too true. I tend to view self-sufficiency, homesteading, whatever you want to call it, as a journey with no destination. It’s all about the ride. That means choosing with roads to follow and which ones not to (no twice a day cow milking for me, thank you!)

    A new friend just recommended Joel Salatin’s “Family Friendly Farming”. I’m sure you, like me, have heard a lot of Salatin. Anyhow, I guess the whole idea behind the book is multigenerational farm living….the grandparents watch the babies to the young adults can do the physical labor, etc. I’m going to try and find it at the library, I guess it’s a light and entertaining read.

  9. Posted March 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm by rebecca | Permalink

    what a great post; full of truth about our interdependency as humans! Grateful to have read this. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Posted March 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm by Lynnette | Permalink

    what a profound post. thank you.

  11. Posted March 21, 2012 at 5:37 am by teresa c | Permalink

    Finding a community is one of my most cherished goals. Living in a city, self sufficiency in terms of food and energy isn’t doable, but we can build a community everywhere -though I’ve been founding, ever since I became a mother, that it isn’t as easy as one might think. Connecting with like minded on-line is part of the solution, of course, but I want to root my family deeper. Still trying to find the path, I guess… Thank you for your words, beautiful and meaningful!

  12. Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm by rebecca | Permalink

    thank you for making public my thoughts. i have been trying to talk about this for some time with others. it is not about about focusing independence and self sufficiency – it is about INTER- dependence and community … we need one another in so many ways.

  13. Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm by Willow | Permalink

    self-reliance. the empowerment that comes from knowing that you are capable of meeting your basic needs. but meeting your most basic needs isn’t really thriving, life can be so much more beautiful than that. community, the give and take of our relationship to the people and the land, that’s where all sorts of magic happens.

  14. Posted March 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm by Ana | Permalink

    You bring up a very important, core point here, I think – people often think that to live sustainably and/or self-suficiently, we need to do everything ourselves, almost to the point of making those of us feeling guilty who aren’t growing our vegetables/grinding our own wheat/etc. But society was never like that naturally, as you point out! Everyone grew their own things, specialized in their own products (wheat, meat, clothes-making, etc) and then we bartered/shared/traded/gave away. Nobody can do everything, and we don’t have to. We’re meant to share and rely on each other, just because its impossible otherwise. I think we forget that.

  15. Posted April 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm by Stephanie | Permalink

    This was a very refreshing read. Thank you.

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