Self Sufficient Living
During a disaster, you may only have yourself to rely on and if you have not gained self-sufficient living skills before disaster strikes, you may not be able to take care of yourself in the days after. The government, to include local, state and federal will be in disarray for the first few days and even longer in some cases. It can be weeks before disaster relief agencies reach your area.
You pay for utilities so you are not necessarily considered reliant on someone else because you do work and pay for your water, electrical, trash pickup and gas services. In modern society, services are offered to municipalities as a whole and it is up to you whether you want to participate by purchasing those services. The downfall, of course, is once the services are no longer available you are left without. You are powerless, you cannot generate electricity or force water from the faucets when a natural or manmade disaster destroys or damages the local infrastructure. At this point despite your ability to pay, services are not available.
Food is always a priority regardless of the situation. Without a reliable and sustainable food source, survival is not possible. Therefore, you must begin developing your own source that you control. Your first step is to gather heirloom seeds. Heirloom plants produce seeds that will reproduce an identical plant, and if harvested properly the seeds can be stored indefinitely. Hybrid or genetically modified seeds will produce a plant but the seeds from a hybrid plant are typically sterile.
Hybrid seeds came about because of the great dust bowl in the Midwestern United States in the 1930′s. Crops failed because of droughts and the loss of rich topsoil from the winds. No crops meant a lack of seeds for the next planting. At the time, the only seeds available were the ones harvested from plants. The government put scientist to work and they managed to produce seeds in a laboratory thus, the need for plants to produce seeds was eliminated. However, during a crisis, you may not have access to retail outlets, or they may be destroyed. You will need plants that can produce their own seeds.
Once you have heirloom (non gmo seeds) plants and seed packets you control your food source. It may take several seasons to begin producing enough food for preserving. As a plant matures, you will harvest the seeds and plant more of the same. Have a large enough variety of heirloom seeds to meet all of your dietary needs. You can begin cultivating wild berries such as blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and hawthorn. Anyone of these can be started from a cutting and you can include many fruit trees such as apple, peach, plum and pears. These plants can be grown virtually anywhere.
Raising livestock is always an option as a fresh meat source as well as hunting and fishing. However, you will need the tools and knowledge to preserve meats and fish without refrigeration. You can smoke and dry meats with relatively little in the way of equipment. Salt curing is another option along with picking and canning. Raising livestock will mean you must also have a food source for your animals, and have the skills and knowledge to attend to their medical needs as they arise.
Without water, you cannot survive. You will need a water source that is protected from contaminates. During a crisis, reservoirs and other municipal water sources may become contaminated by either the disaster or sabotage. You must have a source that you know is free of contaminates. Traditional purification and filtering methods will not remove poisons and certain chemical toxins. Having your own well on your property is an option; it may be your only option in some cases. Water filtered through at least 10 feet of uncontaminated soil is considered safe to drink. This means you must dig or drill your well so it taps into the water table, underground springs or aquifers. The well must fill from the bottom. You cannot allow a well to be filled with ground runoff from the top. The well must be protected by capping or a suitable well house.
In years past people built “spring houses” over natural springs. The springhouse also provided refrigeration for milk, eggs and produce. A cistern was constructed out of rocks and mortar that allowed the spring water to collect. Once enclosed the structure was cooled substantially by the evaporation of the water. You have several options when it comes to a water source, but your priority is having control over the source.
Your well must be protected from ground flooding by proper capping. Natural springs are many times elevated on the sides of hills or in rock crevices that are above normal flood stage. Carefully choose your location for digging a well and look for elevated natural springs that you can enclose.
You will not have access to natural or bottled propane gas, and of course, there will not be any electricity for heating or cooling. Coal and wood along with wood/vegetation pellets can be used. Wood pellets are produced from sawdust and wood scrap. The wood is compressed into solid pellets using a machine designed for that purpose. Pellets are efficient and you can store large amounts practically anywhere. Wood is considered a renewable energy source but of course once depleted a stand of trees can take generations develop again. Coal is not considered renewable energy but for the time being there appears to be enough supply that it can be used as an energy source if you have the means to store and/or mine it for personal use.
Small solar panels are a good idea, anything larger must be installed using modern technology. Windmills and wind turbines can be another option for pumping water, operating machinery and generating electricity. However, generating your own electricity means you must have a way to store or bleed off the excess amounts. A collapse of the manufacturing sectors may mean that most electrical appliances would stop being manufactured so the need for electricity would diminish. You may be able to produce electricity but then what can it be used for if the country and world is truly collapsing.
During the days of rebuilding after a calamity, self-reliance may even be more difficult. You and everyone else will have to rely on each other. Some of you will have skills and knowledge that others will seek out and you will have to find those with the skills and information you may need. The cycle will once again start. You will once again begin building your life and becoming less dependent as you gain the skills needed. Being self-sufficient is all about having the skills, training and knowledge that others have. Once you have the training, and information you will need less and less from others.