With all the talk of pantry stocking and prepping, I often wonder if many are missing a crucial part of being prepared: working towards self-reliance for the long term. Now, don’t get me wrong, pantry stocking is great. Storing supplies are necessary, but if it all comes crashing down, there needs to be a plan in place for when the food runs out.
In this writers opinion, the best way to achieve as much self-reliance as possible is to have a few of acres and lots of grit and guts! I realize not everyone can rush right out and purchase acreage, but if you are one of the lucky ones that already have a couple of acres, now is the time to begin planning for your future. As I said, pantry stocking is a good thing, but even if you have 6 months to 1 year of food stored and there is an extended time of trouble (job loss, illness or other teotwawki situation) that food will eventually be gone and then you are left figuring out what to do next. If you plan well, your pantry will sustain you while you are setting up your self-reliant homestead.
One of the easiest things to begin with are chickens. Chickens are great foragers and garbage disposals so feeding them is relatively cheap. They reproduce fairly rapidly so you can keep a fairly decent sized flock going. You will need more than just a couple of birds to get started and maintain a good amount for eggs and meat. Here we keep all hens hatched for eggs and butcher all the roosters. Sometimes we use the hens for bartering purposes. We bartered 3 hens for our duroc pig.
Rabbits are also a wonderful asset to the self-reliant homestead. They are great for meat, fertilizer and reproduce very quickly. A few females and a couple of males will allow you to fill a freezer in no time and keep you in meat indefinitely.
Dairy goats are also a great addition for a smallish homestead that does not have room for a dairy cow. Saanen and Nubian dairy goats are great milk producers and can keep your family in milk for around 9 months out of they year. Staggering breeding can keep you in milk year round. Goats milk can be used for such things as cheese making, ice cream, soap making and just everyday drinking. Meat goat breeds can help fill the freezer. Their manure as I mentioned in another article is great fertilizer.
Of course a garden is very important in attaining self reliance. Having a garden gives you the ability to not rely on the grocery stores for many fresh and canned vegetables. Learning to home can is one skill a prepper cannot be without. Same with having a few fruit trees.
It is my opinion that self-reliance is the key to surviving any long term situation. Having replenishable food sources, such as meat, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruits and grains is vital. Skills are also a huge part in becoming self-reliant. Without skills, all else is futile. You must have some basic gardening, building, repair skills and some basic knowledge of first aid for humans and animals alike. There may not always be someone at your disposal to do those things for you. Getting to the point of being fairly self-reliant is hard. It is not for the faint at heart. It takes hard work, determination and a lot of sacrifice. But, by beginning your self-reliant journey today, you could very well save your family tomorrow.