Our Sustainable living Lifestyle by Mat Redsell
Self-Sufficiency is Providing for your daily needs with things and food created by your own land and animals. Being debt-free which allows for every bit of your energy and resources to go toward your land and family. Having enough land to support you and your animals' needs.
We have an income from the sale of our oils and flour but in order to better our farm our pensions are used for making better soils health and improving our farm life.
Many people are attracted by the thought of a sustainable lifestyle but the reality is usually over whelming. The hours, tools and life skills need are something that takes years to develop. Maintaining the systems is a full time occupation but the rewards are terrific!
Having everything within your control is awesome since everything we need is here at the farm. This is not to say that everything gets done as there is always more work than the two of us can accomplish.
Having a job limits ones ability to lead a fulfilled life. You do not need a car since you are at home and you do not need to pay HST if you build things yourself. One might even use a bicycle since time is not so critical.
I also consider that one must have an idea of what could happen in the future and plan accordingly such as a recession.. If it does not happen then there is no loss but if you are prepared you are in a very good position. I am very thankful that I have done a lot of planning and got motivated into action 20 years ago which has made our farm self sufficient. While the pandemic and recession may seem like something one cannot prepare for, being self sufficiency has certainly make it much easier for us. There are still many challenges ahead.
I choose my things to work on at the time I feel is appropriate according to the weather. The work load keeps me healthy and I look forward to the very best food from our garden, or preserves that Dorothee makes. We mill our own flours and press our own oils and make the meals variable to suit the day and what we have on hand. There is very little need to visit a store and there is no worry about price of foods. We have a great selection of machinery which I rebuild or re purpose. Purchasing old machinery saves a lot of money but you must have the skills to repair it.
One of the benefits of our lifestyle is that it prepared us well for the pandemic. This may also be very helpful for the coming recession because we have the food, water, wood for heating and a place to live. Our needs are small and even taking a walk through the fields in the late evening is wonderful as we have learned to appreciate the little things in life. We appreciate the birds, rabbits, skunks, foxes and many insects that live here.
On the other side there are some considerations one must consider with this lifestyle.
There is not a lot of money in this lifestyle unless one grows the oil and flour business which at this point looks very promising as we usually have too many orders for our products. But as we age we may not be able to keep up the work schedule.
Just providing heat from fire wood means cutting down trees, cutting it into logs and transporting it to be split then dried for a year. One needs an axe, a chainsaw, a wagon . A horse or tractor and a wood splitter which we have.. My best wood splitter has been my wife who splits all the logs and makes kindling while I play with maintaining the machinery or work with the horses. Recently I did purchase a wood splitter that works on our sunflower oil powered diesel tractor.
There is always many things to do but the exercise gives you a healthy body.
We have lots of water but it takes a lot of maintenance as there is always the possibility of a line freezing, which happens and breaking the pump if the pump house is not well heated. We have filters and a UV system to kill bacteria along with a tank to store the water and another pressure pump at the well with buried lines to prevent freezing. There is always something going wrong with the various sensors and pumps. This is but a very small part of being self sufficient.
One has to provide food all months of the year from the veggies and preserves in the cold cellar. We do have chickens eggs and meat. They need to be fed from our harvest of the last season along with water for them to drink that has not frozen.
Some of our foods are frozen in our freezers for the winter months so a freezer is necessary which needs electricity which can stop the moment there is a windy day and the local power utility goes down. This is one of the reasons we have solar cells and sunflower oil fuelled diesel generators.
We work everyday usually seven days a week and into the evening each day. Having all the machinery to do a lot of the work for you is great but they all need a lot of maintenance. If you are going to maintain anything you need lots of tools which fortunately I have been collecting for the last 60 years.
I dislike the computer even though I developed the software for the mail order business I had many years ago. Having a good understanding of accounting software and being able to use the software for the business is vital.
Horses seem like a good idea since they do not need diesel but they need hay for the wintertime. That means you need a hay field and haying equipment, a sickle mower, a hay wagon, a rake and a baler with a tractor to pull everything. And having horses they need a constant supply of water that is not frozen so again well buried pipes and a water line heater.
Having a partner in all of this is very useful as the work load is tremendous. There will be difficulties and resolving conflicts is not easy. Dorothee and I have worked things out fairly well. She takes care of the chickens and food preparations while I do the mechanics and field work. We try to always help one another and there are days that things do not go well but you learn to cope and get on with it. Dorothee likes a nice looking house which for a number of years had to be put off but finally she is got her ash flooring and some wood panelling in the living room. Now I need to make some moulding for the floor.
And in the end there is the cats, horses and cow to keep you company!
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