It started with moving to the new house, then I switched my diet to whole foods, and here lately I’ve been glued to homesteading blogs.
Little by little an addiction to self-sufficient living has begun.
And when I say addiction I mean it. Once I get one thing figured out I want to learn how to do another. The awesome thing is that almost all of these things go hand in hand with financial independence.
While a lot of the self-sufficiency items require an upfront investment of either time or money the savings down the road can be quite significant. On top of that there’s just an extreme sense of satisfaction that comes along with being able to do things for yourself.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how this type of lifestyle can aid in financial independence. These are the things I’ve done or have on my to-do list.
Things We Have Already Done
Wood Burning Fireplace Insert – Our house has base board heaters. It also has two fireplaces. To combat a giant electric bill we decided to put a wood burning insert into the living room fireplace. We also had to install a chimney liner.
The insert was just installed and I’m anxious to see how low we can keep our electric bill now.
All of the wood we have so far is completely free too. A lot of it is from tress that have fallen down in our woods, while another portion is from trees that were cut down on Jamie’s family land to clear out a field.
Since we have 13 very heavily wooded acres, getting enough fire wood to keep us warm throughout the winter shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, right now we have several trees that desperately need to come down.
Learning How to Do Things Myself – These are some of the things I’ve learned to do in the past couple of months.
- Operating the tractor
- Running the wood splitter
- Making homemade chapstick, lotion, and cleaners
The Chickens – It’s funny how nervous I was to first get these chickens. I thought they’d be a lot of work and hard to take care of but it’s exactly the opposite. They are super easy and are now my friends. Plus it’s awesome to walk out your front door and go collect at least a half dozen eggs each day.
A Big Garden – I’ve always had a garden but this year my Dad tilled my garden which meant it was big by my standards. (You should see his garden. It could feed a small village.) My one regret is not learning how to preserve the food, which is high on my list next year.
What I’m Working Toward
Paying Off the Mortgage – I can’t wait to be mortgage free. After we sold Jamie’s old house we walked away with a little money since he had the mortgage paid down so far. We put 70% of that money on the new mortgage and saved the other 30% for repairs that possibly need to be done to the house next spring.
Growing 50% of Our Own Food – I would love to eventually be able to grow 90% of my own food. Since I want to be realistic I would like for us to both grow our own food (all vegetables and eggs from us) and buy meat from local farmers. I would like to only have to rely on the grocery store for about 50% of my food supply next year.
Learning How to Preserve Food – It’s kind of ironic that I’ve been around canning and preserving my entire life but up until this point have never had any interest in learning to do it myself. I guess the upside is I have plenty of people who can teach me.
Saving for Animal Fences/Barns – A part of growing our own food would obviously be raising animals since neither of us are vegetarians. I’m going to be honest, I know that butchering animals I’ve raised will be hard for me. Really hard.
It’s kind of crazy how disconnected I am from my food. I eat meat from the grocery store without thinking twice about it where it came from. I know that if I raise my own food that I’ll 1) be more appreciative of where my food came from 2) waste a WHOLE lot less and 3) know that those animals had happy healthy lives. (After watching Food Inc. I have a really hard time eating meat from the grocery store.)
And if I can’t bring myself to butcher an animal I’ve raised then I should become a vegetarian.
Adding Fruit Trees – I’ve got big plans to add a bunch of fruit trees to the bottom of our hill next year. Since it normally takes the tress 2-3 years to start producing after planted this is high up on next year’s to-do list. I wish spring would hurry up and get here already!
All of these things do take initial money and time to get going. However, after up and running I can see this way of life really paying off down the road and creating a more simple but rewarding lifestyle.