DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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24 September 2013

How to be partially self-sufficient

My brain wasn't working properly yesterday. Now that I've rested, I remembered that Tim at Slow magazine has given me a copy of the current edition to give away.  Australian readers only please.  Just leave a comment about Slow and I'll pick numbers out of a hat. It will close tomorrow - my Wednesday morning.  Good luck!

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Once upon a time, self-sufficiency was a goal of mine. That was in the days before I'd thought about what it meant. When I did think about it, I knew I couldn't live that way without giving up a lot of things I didn't want to give up. I didn't want to live without tea or coffee, and although I can easily grow both tea and coffee here, I don't want the palaver of processing them to the drinkable stage. Besides, we have excellent Montville organic coffee here, there is good Australian tea, so I prefer to tap into my community to buy those two commodities; I want to be part of my community, not cut off from it. I don't want to give up salt either, or meat. We could probably run a lot more chickens here if we wanted to but I know I couldn't kill a chicken, or a pig. I don't want Hanno to do that either. He has had to kill a chicken or two over the years when they were injured, and it upset him. I can look at photos of animals being killed for food, I watched on as my grandmother killed her own chooks when I was younger, but I don't want to do it myself. We'll be happy to collect eggs from our girls and be content with that.


When I finally came to this way of living I knew would have to learn a lot but if I did I could live in an environmentally-sound manner, stretch my dollars, cut out a lot of the chemicals I once foolishly accepted with no questions asked, grow food in the backyard and home-produce bread, jams, relishes, sauces, soap, laundry liquid and all my cleaners. And while I admire those who can live a self-sufficient lifestyle, we will live as close to it as we can while making certain choices that make it impossible for us. We have chosen partial self-sufficiency.


The common idea most people have of a self-sufficient or partially self-sufficient lifestyle is that it's full of productive work, animals, fences, vegetable gardening, making wine, cheese, soap and bread. And that's a fair summation of what can go into it. One thing there is no doubt about is that you have to learn a lot of new skills. When we decided to live this way we decided there would be take-away, no supermarket bread, no over-priced soft drinks or convenience foods. You do all those things for yourself and if you don't know how, you learn. You learn to cook, garden, preserve, make jams and sauces and a hundred other things. So why would you live like this if there is more work? There are many answers to that but the one that seems to be glaringly obvious is we all need to learn how to look after ourselves. If you're looking for other reasons, there are many out there to choose from. Take your pick: climate change, peak oil, economic uncertainty, job loss, divorce or loss of a partner, retirement, or just plain common sense - it makes sense to do it. Now, and especially in the future, everyone should be skilled and self-reliant.  We should aim at supplying as much as we can for ourselves. I doubt many of us could live a genuine self-sufficient lifestyle but I think partial self-sufficiency is there for most of us. The choices we all make to suit the way we live will be different for all of us, but that's fine. We should be a diverse group with differing skills and goals.


Times are changing, most of us acknowledge that, and although we might disagree on the whys and whens and hows, change is coming. I think it's already started. The many simple living and environmentally focused blogs and books that have been published in the past few years bear testament to a change. I've been told by numerous people that when the global economic crisis ends, things will return to normal, that rampant spending and unlimited economic growth will return and we'll all prosper. I don't believe there is such a thing as unlimited economic growth and even it it was a common belief in the past, those days are over. There is a good and a bad element to this for me and Hanno. We won't be here to see it. We'll be here through the transition, but I doubt we'll still be here when the changes that many people predict will be the current 'normal'.


There are many dire predictions about our post-carbon, global warming, peak oil, economic deflated world. There are also the more personal scenarios to think about. If all that is happening in the outer world, what is happening in your home? No matter what happens, it will help us all to be prepared and more capable than we are now. We've been dumbed down. We have morphed into helpless beings who can't cook, make a fire or recognise the night sky. We need to get back to being more capable and skill ourselves so we can take care of ourselves, regardless of what happens.


So what does that mean for all of us? For me and Hanno it means staying the same while we continue to learn as much as we can. Human society has lived through many changes, we can see this one through too. When you think back on the changes in the last couple of centuries - the industrial revolution, the world wars, the great depression - each of these altered daily life and challenged ideas of what normal was, yet we lived through each of them. People adapt, they change what they think is normal. They learn to get by, they reskill themselves and work towards different goals.  That is my goal now - learning to adapt for the future normal and helping as many others as I can. I hope we can learn this together and pool our resources so that many more of us can lay claim to being capable and prepared for the what the future holds.

What are your thoughts on preparing for the future? What are you planning to do?

... to be continued

75 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I think interdependence might be a great thing to aim for, for most of us. Instead of having to do everything oneself, we all increase our skill levels and then share. So perhaps I produce honey and fruit, and swap it for ricotta and even fence-fixing skills. I've watched people who were entirely self-sufficient - even growing their own lentils!!- and I realised it was too labour-intensive for me, and wouldn't allow time to pursue other activities I love.
    I think skilling ourselves is empowering, and it certainly makes me feel more secure in a rapidly changing, uncertain world. I feel completely overwhelmed at times by many things - peak oil, clothes being produced in inhumane conditions, climate change etc...I think the most frightening thing for me is the knowledge that many people don't seem to know or care that all of this is happening, and that makes me wonder how on earth we are going to solve it.
    But your words about all the big changes the world has been through were encouraging. I guess when things reach a certain level people will have to take notice and will have to adapt. And then we will be in the very fortunate position of having seen it coming, and having had the time to be prepared. I've just finished re-reading Thriving In Challenging Times, and I think you and Hanno are a wonderful example of 'thriving'. Thankyou for continuing to share and inspire. :)

    Madeleine. X

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  2. Just wanted to say that I LOVED THIS post. I can't wait to read the continuation. Well done Rhonda.

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  3. Good morning Rhonda, I would love a copy of Slow magazine, magazines are not something I spend money on and our local library does not have it xxBrenda (Melbourne)

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  4. We're aiming to be at a similar point to you. We make as much as we can at home, buy local meats and coffee, shop at farmers markets for in season fruit and vegetables and have chickens in the backyard. It's so satisfying, cutting a slice of bread that I made and topping it with homemade peanut butter or marmalade!

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  5. Hi Ronda.....I like the way you think. We are taking the SLOW route. We have had a major 'decluttering'.... we have sold our home, we no longer want to be encumbered with stuff, possessions and things that don't really matter. My motto is "the more stuff you own, the more it owns you'.

    We want to travel this great country of ours in our caravan and meet and experience new things that we can take with us in our minds and work on a voluntary basis where ever we are needed so that we can give something back to the universe that has been so good to us.

    My only regret is not to be able to grow our own food, but we will support the community we are living in/visiting by buying locally. We will still make our own laundry liquid, shampoo and cleaners (not that we will need much of that), bread, biscuits and will learn how to make soap. I will be sewing and knitting too. I will be starting a blog on our travels - taking advise from you posts on setting up a blog.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom, it all makes so much sense Ronda. Our new life is our way of being free to experience life as we have not done before, to change the view out of our window when we want to and to meet people from all walks of life.

    Looking forward to the 'to be continued'..........

    Have a top day. Fishcakesfisher.

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    1. We too are doing what you are about to do, sold our home and now living in our caravan and tripping around locally and further a field. I have to confess we do have some stuff in storage that we couldn't part with you. Yesterday we hand washed then a quick spin (yes we have a washing machine) in the machine but using solar to feed the batteries to provide the power and then hung up on a piece of rope held up by a tent pole and flapping in the breeze. It was wonderful to wash and all the waste water went on the ground and hopefully the grass will grow where it was spread. Simple pleasures are great to watch.
      Thanks Melinda

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  6. Great post Rhonda, I really enjoyed it. I guess I hate to see the loss of skills both personally and in local production.....all the local butter factories lying decayed or revamped are a testament to this. For me, it is important to take some responsibility in feeding myself and my family...I realise that I can't do it all and like you there are some things I don't want to let go of

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  7. Great post as always Rhonda, love your blog!

    Truthfully, my family has always pretty much lived a fairly self-sufficient lifestyle. I'm 54 and I grew up with a full time mother who cooked delicious meals from scratch, sewed, knitted, bottled fruit, made pickles, chutneys etc. My first memories are of being in our large vegetable garden with my father and grandfather. They'd live or grown up during the Depression and Second World War so frugality was just natural to them. Being country folk especially they came from a time when it was the norm to have your own cows, raise your own chickens, have an orchard, grow all your own vegetables, fix everything yourself and so on.

    It's really quite amazing to me how quickly those kinds of skills - cooking from scratch, gardening, animal husbandry, repairing clothing, preserving food and so on - have been lost in recent decades, all the more sad because it seems like we're coming to another era again when people will really need them.

    We live fairly similarly to you - and of course like you, we don't feel deprived or disempowered but enriched and empowered!

    Thank you for all your wise advice, encouragement and the wonderful work you do Rhonda and of course Hanno!

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  8. I forgot to request to be in the 'Slow' magazine draw Rhonda, I would love a copy not having heard of it before, especially as you are in it.

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  9. Hi Rhonda, I think changes are coming. I think the economy is going to get worse before it gets better for a start. I look around and see more shops closed, sale signs everywhere and we all know money is tight.
    Happily though I see other changes, more and more people are making the change to this slower way of life that we here on this forum are leading. Personally, I haven't been into a big supermarket for over 6 months - and I am happy about that! It's almost like a little rebellion, so many people changing their way, and looking to people like you for guidance and encouragement. I'm with you, I couldn't kill a chicken for meat, not that I have any at the moment but I used to. My kids had names for them all lol so it would be like killing a pet and eating it for dinner! Have a great day and glad you are feeling better, Kathryn xx

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  10. I think you've hit on something with partial self sufficiency. We too want to be as self sufficient as possible whilst still enjoying a certain lifestyle. It reminds me of extreme diets where people go the whole hog and then fall off the wagon because it's all too hard. I'd rather purchase the things I can't give up and know that I'm consistant and striving to improve my future and the world around me. When you purchase fewer goods such as meat, tea, and coffee, more thought goes into each of those purchases so I'm content with that decision. For us it evens out.

    I read a disturbing article yesterday stating Gen Y (on which I am on the cusp) will need more than $1.1million in Super to survive once they retire and that will not be including any luxuries such as travel and eating out. I'm certainly not on target to reach that so hubby and I will be sitting down this week to look at our retirement strategy a bit more closely.

    When it comes to Slow magazine- yes I need that as a mantra! It's very easy to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life so reading Slow would be a lovely antidote.

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    1. Whilst I'd never claim to be an expert on retirement, don't forget that those of us growing much of our own food and practising a low-waste lifestyle will probably need a lot less money for retirement. My plan includes solar panels and water tanks to reduce costs, and living close enough to the town centre to walk or bike.
      Another possibility is that some of may never fully retire, and if we enjoy our work that may not be a bad thing. I think you may enjoy the book I mentioned in my comment 'Thriving During Challenging Times' (by Cam Mather). It certainly provides food for thought and a positive,pro-active spin on the future.

      Madeleine

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  11. I think an important part of any form of self-sufficiency is finding the enjoyment in the tasks. I find learning new skills rewarding and fun, so I want to do the "work". I am currently learning about the plants I can forage for in my region. It is a whole new world of knowledge and an exciting new avenue for me. All the skills you talk about help me to feel less at the mercy of events beyond my control. Thanks for the post!

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  12. Wonderful post today Rhonda thanks :)

    Our family, myself, hubby and 6yr old, have begun to 'slow' down mostly due to an illness I have that stops me from working. Although, hubby is an avid vegie gardener so that part was a sinch. I'm only 40yrs old so this left me very confused, angry and feeling worthless as I'd always been defined by a job title. Fast forward 9 months, and the road has been rocky with many highs and lows but during the lows I read blogs like yours and felt I could do some of these little changes, give me something to feel connected to and in control of. To keep my interest with something I started a food blog which I have loved doing, I never knew I'd enjoy writing. I started around the kitchen with your no knead bread, it is now a lovely ritual I do every other morning and I still am in awe when it comes out of the oven. I've changed my cleaners to bicarb and vinegar and elbow grease, I make 99% of our meals from scratch, bake goodies for packed lunches. I've taught myself to bake cakes that I use to shy away from, rummaging through my grannies old recipes and cooking them. I'm teaching myself to knit at the moment, only blankets for my daughters dollies so no-one can be offended, and I'm loving it. I've also decided to start a family cookbook, containing my great, great grandmothers poems, and family recipes which is going to be a wonderful project.

    I know longer wake up with feelings of dread about how I will fill my day, I now wake up and am excited about all that I'm learning and the possibilities ahead. I remember reading that you had said that one thing will lead into another as you start your slow life, and those words couldn't be truer, that is exactly what happens when you let it.

    Warmest of regards, and thank you for opening my eyes to a new beginning.

    Jan xx

    agluttonouswife.blogspot.com

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  13. I would like to be in the draw for Slow please! I read some of their blog & enjoyed it :)

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  14. Would love the chance to read the slow magazine :)

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  15. Hi Rhonda,
    I totally agree with bring partially self sufficient. I used to want to be fully self sufficient, but it is such an immense thing, that I now aim towards it. As a maths person, I see it a bit like one of those graphs that moved towards zero, but never really gets there - we'll keep moving towards self sufficiency, but never expect to make it. In the meantime, I'm living learning each new skill as it comes along - improving my chemical free garden, growing eggs and chicken for us, cooking everything from scratch, more seeing and crafting skills and now, our latest adventure, waiting for our new goat to kid so I can learn to milk her! So exciting!
    And I would love to go into the draw to win a copy of Slow magazine! :) I love to browse magazines about this life - they teach and inspire me even more.
    Tracey

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  16. Hi Rhonda, a very timely post and so well written. Thank you. I am currently pondering reducing my work hours to take some breathing space. More amd more now I find myself saying that I just want to stop the world and get off for a while. I am aiming to grow more veg and herbs, continue to make detergents etc but also to take time to connect with those around me in a more meaningful way, which means taking more time to genuinly listen and support. I have seen references to SLOW in a number of different forums amd my interest is definitely piqued! Thanks for everything and all the best.

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  17. Hi Rhonda would love to be in the draw for SLOW magazine, I have never seen it. Love this post , Im slowly working my way into being more self sufficient little steps at a time xx

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  18. If you think back to the very early days,self sufficient wasn't really just one person but a whole village,the butcher,the baker,the candlestick maker,and of course a market day when you could sell your excess fruit,pickles,veg or even fish.If you grew grain you took it to the mill kept your years supply and sold the rest..
    Unfortunately now the village is world wide and I think we need to be self sufficient within a region or district or even just the country,and in a way it is slowly happening with our local make or bake type markets.
    My husband was born on a dairy/beef farm and never wanted to go back to an acreage even tho I tried and tried and 40 years later I am just keeping up with my front and back gardens under fruit and vegetables,the excess I preserve,and usually give it to the family. So in one way now I am happy to have a smaller area as age catches up.

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  19. Great post as usual, Rhonda. Very inspiring. I am off to visit my granddaughters in the NW of the state today so will be greeted with 39 degree heat when I step off the plane. LOL! I meant to check out that 'Slow' magazine at the newsagents the other day. I had never heard of it before. It sounds interesting. Have a great week.

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    1. I hope you have a lovely visit, Chel. I know you've been looking forward to it.

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    2. I feel as if I live a split life; during the day I work at a fast paced job and I recently completed my masters in public policy and international affairs (at age 50). I am starting to experiment with tweeting and blogging; I pretty much live a modern life. But at home, I can all of my own jams and hopefully this year will start canning tomatoes as well. I do all of my own cooking and baking: pies, cakes, cookies, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, etc. I don't currently have a garden as I rent, but I buy as many of my fruits and veg and honey as I can locally. I sew, quilt, knit a little - that is a new skill for me - and am a very skilled herbablist (I finished a 3 year community apprenticeship the same time as I completed my masters). I also make my own music with a fiddle and dulcimer (american folk instrument). Eventually I will learn to call dances (contras and squares). I buy virtually all of our household needs used as well and remake things when needed. It all makes me happy and knowing what I know about public policy challenges convinces me more than ever to take care of these aspects of my home.

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    3. Sara, I think I'll have to fly you to Australia and install you in our home to play music all day. I LOVE the dulcimer and fiddle, and the music that comes from them. I love Appalacian music and flat footing that I think was derived from the Irish. We need many more of you. Congratulations on your Masters.

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  20. Hello Rhonda, I had never heard of Slow Magazine before. Reading a magazine is a great way to slow down.......I think it's great Rhonda, that on Monday's post, you made the decision to slow down and 'take a day off'. It's so important to listen to our bodies! Once in a blue moon I have a 'mental health day', when your working in a demanding field, like welfare, it is important to look after yourself.

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  21. I'm pretty happy with my partially self sufficient lifestyle. I live in an area where farmer's markets and roadside farm stalls abound, so I don't need to grow everything. I don't eat meat so don't need to think about raising and killing my livestock. I have re-learned or taught myself new skills.......in the 70s as a new wife and mum, I made my own bread, butter, jams etc, ...and now I make soap, cleaners etc. I share these things with young people in my neighbourhood, often in exchange for lawn mowing or help with heavy lifting or digging. Some of them are now asking to be shown how to do these things, to me, this is my preparation for the future... by example and without "preaching", helping young people to see they can live differently, and then, if they're interested, help them learn and develop skills that will support whatever the future brings.

    And I'd love a copy of Slow magazine, I was interested when I read about it in your post yesterday, and checked the newsagent, who didn't have it, but will look into it.

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  22. PS I would love to be in the draw for Slow

    Madeleine.X

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  23. This post reminds me of a funny: When 1st daughter was away at college, a group of students got together for a big BBQ. She arrived at the party to find everyone upset - because the person who went to buy the chicken had bought whole chickens instead of cut up and No One there knew how to do whole chicken on the grill!
    Daughter asked for a knife and cut up the chickens, to the amazement of her friends - they didn't know you could do that! Talk about scary!
    She called to tell me "all that butchering she'd helped with at home had finally paid off" - she saved the day. And we see more of this each day, people don't even know where food comes from anymore - they just buy it at the super store!

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  24. I Recently heard of the slow magazine and thought it looked great. I think regardless of the GFC people are more conscious about living a better quality of life and over the years food is so manufactured with chemicals and additives that people are not happy with how things have progressed. Getting back to basics with whole foods or foods that have not had human intervention is more tasty and way better for you. I do my best however I still buy these products when I am short on time and I don't like doing it but sometimes it's necessary. I think the difference is now that a few years ago I would buy them and not think anything of it however now if I do buy them I cringe because I know I could do better and cheaper at home but may have not been prepared enough to make the time. I also think the difference in a few years ago was you lived in the city or you dreamed of moving to the county to have the good life but everyone loving in the surburbs or city are now wanting to create a better life no matter where they live. We don't all have to move to acreage to grow veggies or have a couple of chickens as you can do that in your suburban backyard. That means simple living can be achieved by anyone anywhere which is why more people are realising that you can start now and take on one thing at a time, making green cleaners, baking bread and growing veggies. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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    1. Well said Kathy - you have voiced my own thoughts on this post to a T!

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  25. Slow is the new way of living for a new future...look where 'fast' has gotten us - nowhere, or worse, the brink of destruction. Slow is the way!

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  26. Hi Rhonda,
    This post gives me the freedom to d the best I can,even if that is just growing beans and making my own laundry liquid.thanks for the reinspiration.

    I too would love to be in the running for Slow magazine. In fact, I was wondering whether we could make it a travelling copy? Ie people can put their names on a list and once they've read it they can post to the next person on the list? Seems like many don't have the money for luxuries like magazines, but postage costs could be less?

    Cheers, Vanessa (Sydney)

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  27. Hi Rhonda, I love reading your blog - discovered it about a year ago now. Your gardening and cooking/preserving entries are my favourite. Thank you for inspiring us all. I would be very interested in receiving a copy of the "Slow" magazine. Thanks, Jenny

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  28. We are often asked by people who visit the farm how self sufficient we are and my answer echos what you have written today. We do as much as we can and want and then source local and/or ethical. The work is sometimes hard but always worthwhile and rewarding. My life is enriched by the new skills I have learnt and I am the happiest I've ever been with the knowledge that I am more responsible for my own well being.

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  29. Hi Rhonda
    I would love to be in the draw for "SLOW" magazine. I am always looking for ways to slow my life and be more self sufficient. A think a cuppa, a seat in the garden and a "SLOW" magazine would be a great recipe to achieve this :)

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  30. I would like to slow down and savour life. I miss those days when you can have a real conversation and connect with someone's mind without them constantly checking their mobile phones or laptops. Now, I often have to talk to someone over the screen of their mobile devices.

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  31. I did not start out to be on the slow living ethos. I started out trying to have a child, when infertility became a major issue we looked at our diet. The the next step was how cold we stop eating so many processed foods with additives. So I started a garden and began to bake and make whole foods. Then when I was successful in having a child, I looked at how could we afford for me to be a stay at home Mum. So the next step was the de-cluttering and the paring down of wants.
    So for me, for us, it is little baby steps, one step at a time leading us to a happier and healthier life.

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  32. Oh Rhonda count me in on the draw for the Slow magaine please! Three bloggers that I avidly follow featured in one magazine. I totally agree with your sentiment - we do not need to be self-sufficient at the exclusion of being part of the wider community.

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  33. This post is exactly what I needed today. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the thought that I could be doing better and doing more for ourselves but you reminded me that what I am doing is just fine. We still have a ways to go but we have made big steps in the past few years and now have a garden, laying hens and meat birds in the summer. We buy our beef locally and try and buy from the Farmer's Market when we can. I have just recently started getting into making my own cleaning products too and I'm excited to try more. Our goal is to be partially self sufficient. I know that we never could be 100% and that is okay.

    Wonderfully written post and I can't wait to read part 2.

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  34. Hi Rhonda, a lovely post as usual. We've just moved to a biggish property in the Blue Mountains and now have the room to grow lots of veg. So that's our starting point. Actually developing a budget is our starting point, and I know you've written about this before. I'm working on that tonight. Your posts are very inspirational, and although you write about some things that I'm not quite ready for, I can see a time when simple living will be our way.

    I would enjoy reading a copy of Slow magazine, you wrote such lovely things about it so I'd love to take a look.

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

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  35. We absolutely aspire to be as self sufficient as we can - which in reality will only be partially self sufficient, as you say, but we'd like to be in a position to rely on local producers for the things we can't provide for ourselves. It's quite a road to get to that point but each new skill learned is just that - a new skill learned and another step on the path. I want to teach my son to live this way too, so that for him, it will be normal.
    I've never actually read 'Slow' but I've seen it around and I'm sure it has lots of useful information in it. I might have a look to see if our library buys copies.
    Jacqui

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  36. Dear Rhonda, THANK YOU!!!! For being instrumental in changing my lifestyle for the better. I attended your workshop at the Reality Bites Literary Festival with a view to learning about blogging and I came away with your book, your inspirational spoken words and an enthusiasm for my flood prone farm that I have not had in years. I have made bread, laundry liquid, planted vegies and re-organised my life, all whilst working full time in a legal firm. This is the beginning of my journey and your words and thoughts are with me in my head with every venture I tackle. This is my blog http://floodproofmum.blogspot.com/ which you have inspired. Warm regards.

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  37. Slow magazine sounds awesome! And to hear Edwina from the old post office is in it too is terribly exciting! I agree with you Rhonda that sometimes magazines are filled to the brim with advertising of products I don't want or need! Seems to me that each time a read a magazine, I walk away wanting to buy things I hadn't thought I wanted before. Slow sounds like it is on the same page and myself and my husband, who are trying to live a slower, authentic and sustainable life.

    Stacey

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  38. Hi Rhonda

    I would live a chance to win a copy - the mag sounds like a fantastic read.xx

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  39. Two thoughts about what self-suffiency might mean:
    - total self-sufficiency might be impossible or nowhere near practical, but having a go at the range of tasks needed to live our lives certainly gives you an appreciation for the work and a grounding from which to appreciate and evaluate the work of others. So we have and can make cheese, but it isn't so practical for us in the current phase of our lives, and we buy cheese at our local farmers market with an extra level of thankfulness.
    -self-sufficiency within the household in terms of keeping up with everyday tasks - through the force of routine and preferences we have ended up defaulting to certain things being certain people's 'jobs' - even to the slightly ridiculous extent of me specialising in fluffy pancakes and my partner specialising in lat ones. But I think it is important that, if needed, either of us could take up the other's 'jobs' even if we did them in a different way or less efficiently. One advantage to living on your own before living together!

    I'd also like to go in the draw for the SLOW magazine - it sounds interesting.

    Karen

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  40. Thankyou Rhonda for just being you. Your posts are always thought provoking. yesterday i made lime and lemonade lemon cordial (our fruit), picked asparagus and lettuce for dinner, collected the eggs , including the ducks' daily egg (she is the local duck that has made her home here for some reason, well free chook food is always on tap and 3 acres of weeds and her own dam might have kept her here?), gave a handful of fragrant snowpeas to a friend, and planned the summer veg patch. Happiness is gardening for me! Slow mag would be nice!

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  41. Hi Rhonda. Not eligible for your draw...I'm in Canada. I just wanted to say I really loved today's post. Thank you.

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  42. Within 24 hours of reading your review of SLOW, I had my own copy. Our newsagent had half a dozen copies in stock, although it took me a while to find it. I had no idea there were so many magazines on alternative/simple living lifestyles! I usually head straight for the needlecraft shelves :-) What a great magazine - this will sit on our coffee table to be browsed through over the next few months until the next issue comes out! So much interesting reading and lovely photos.
    Ditto to all the above comments on your post today Rhonda - it is indeed inspirational. As a child in the 50's living in the suburbs, we had a large backyard and my parents had about six fruit trees, a large vegetable patch and a chook shed. Dad only killed a chook for Easter and for Christmas. My older brothers used to think it was great fun, but Mum and I stayed inside with hands over our ears and our eyes shut tight! Mum cooked everything from scratch, and taught me to darn the men's socks (I still do my husband's socks when I can find darning wool - not easy to find these days), as well as other necessary mending such as turning collars and cuffs on shirts, turning sheets when they got thin in the middle. I haven't had to do that; sheets these days don't seem to wear out the same. Some of mine have lasted more than twenty years, and I refuse to throw anything out until it is past mending altogether.

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  43. Slow is something I really struggle with to be honest. I especially want to slow down and just really BE and connect with my daughter who is 4, it seems like you blink and they are another year older! Reminders to slow down in life to bring back the focus on what is truly important is what I love about your blog and I have discovered so many other Mum bloggers who are inspirational to read.

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  44. Hi Rhonda, I also used to foolishly accept chemicals in my everyday life, because they were in everything. And that is the main reason I started to learn to make things myself: food, cleaning products and toiletries. Now I just prefer homemade things because they taste and work better. I still have a lot to learn but every step is improving my life :)

    PS. I would love to win a copy of SLOW. It sounded really interesting and not like the other magazines that are just full of ads and gossip!

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  45. Hi Rhonda, I have been reading your blog since past few months but haven't commented anytime. This post resonated so much with me on so many levels! Thank you for all that you do. I also recently borrowed your book from library and it was a good read. The problems you highlight in this post are so real - oil, economy and many more. Simple and sensible living is the only way forward I feel. I and hubby are young couple born in India and now migrated to Australia. Although not new to simple living, consumer lifestyle definitely had lured me for few years. Happy to say that now am back on track! We are saving money yo buy our first house, buy as much as possible from local farmers, cook mainly at home, are vegetarian mostly and live more simple life now. Sorry for long comment but just wanted to let you know that what you write has inspired me and am sure, many others. Thank you. :) Swaps

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  46. One thing that stands out for me in this post is the sense that balance in all things is the key to a good life. Being self reliant in those things you can do, supporting local business where you can and just doing what you can preserve the earth. I heard of Slow magazine through The Old Post Office blog (discovered here on Down to Earth) there is an article about the renovation project which I would love to read.

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  47. Thanks for another great article. I'm a big fan of interdependence.

    Preparing for the future has been something really on my mind a lot lately. I've been reading a lot about water scarcity, food security, population growth and 'Peak Everything' - I've been aware of this stuff for a long time but for the first time it's really, really sunk in.

    For me, I'm trying to use less resources while learning as many skills as possible - and passing them onto my kids. I can see a huge difference between the way I grew up and the way my kids are growing up...I wonder what the world will be like when they are my age.

    Can I ask, what drink are you making in the picture? Looks like there's some passionfruit in it maybe?? I've just started making my own ginger beer and I have a lot of passionfruit - I'm thinking of wild fermented fizzy passionfruit drink...

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  48. This is what I have felt for so long. Those who lived through the depression learned a new normal, where things weren't wasted. It stayed with most for a very long time, if not their entire lives.

    I think it will change more people for a long time.

    I also think harder times are coming.

    I know it has been amazing to see how much people are learning to do more things for themselves--things that used to be done by a normal homemaker. I know I still do not know the skills of my ancestors--for example, I cannot knit a pair of socks, but I also live in a hot climate that means sandals and no socks most of the year.

    I am thrilled when my readers tell me they are learning to cook, or bake bread, or can for the first time.

    I would love to have chickens as well, but I know I have to change our local laws in order to do that. The law allows 2 rabbits per home and babies for only 2 weeks after that, but we would rather have eggs. I still hold out hope :) I think the need is there for more chickens in homes and I hope to see the law change in this regard where I live.

    I know if our situation improves I would like to be able to spend more money buying more dairy and more food in general. I am growing as much as I can but there is so much that I do not have to room to grow that I would love to buy more often, and with a growing family, I need to buy more.

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    1. It's fun to see my very favorite blogger commenting on a post by my other very favorite blogger!

      -Kate in NY

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  49. I'd love to be in the draw for the Slow magazine.
    You have influenced my life in many ways this past two years I have been reading your blog. I borrowed your book from the library too. Thanks Rhonda
    Jenni

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  50. Hi Rhonda,

    Ever since I was given your book as a housewarming gift it has solidifed my desire to live a simpler life. Even before touching base with your book and blog, for over 18 months now the idea that has not left my head is that the key to a more sustainable life is to upskill oneself in as many practicable skills as possible to create a resillient home and community. It struck me when I read in an article all that timne ago that over the years it has been desirable to be specialised in one skill or a suscinct set of skills for your lifetime for ones career. And while I have benefitted from this it hasn't left me time to pursue other home skills, ones I didnt make the time or recongise the value in making the time to do so. I think it's almost incredulous that at 27 years I've never even attempted to make a loaf of bread! I doubt my mother has either, yet it is something that I use several times a day (and aquire 3 plastic bags a week, even though we shun plastic bags at the store). Now, since we've gotten our own home there is a sense of freedom to have long term goals about what we use and our behaviours. We are doing a massive garden reno for chooks and a vege patch (something I've always dreamed of over the years of renting) and I have made a stockpile for the first time and gearing up to learn to sew. Youtube is an unbelievably vaulabe resource to self-teach quickly and I know many of my friend use it for this reason too. I'm looking forward to continuing this journey =)

    Liz P from Perth

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  51. A new post from you and a cup of morning coffee is the very perfect start to the day. As l wrote in an earlier comment, the economic crisis never really hit Norway this time, yet that is. I think it is very important to see life in a global perspective. Like you l have certain things l don't want to give up. Coffee, recycled toilet papers etc. are things l want. We are trying to becme more self sufficient one step at a time. There are some big obsticles to overcome, but a few year into the future our dream is to have more chickens, some sheep for wool and meat and build a large greenhouse (for which we are collecting old windows). The vegetable garden is getting better year by year but we have a lot to learn. Steady and slow does it. A warm-compost system is one of the first goals this next year. Wish you both a good week and look forward to next post. Pam

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  52. Hi it is Melinda and would like to be entered for the draw for the Slow Magazine as it sounds like I would enjoy it. I have heard the Perch Family Jug Band play several times both with nearly all members of the family including Dad and more recently late 2012 play in Brisbane with only four members.
    Thanks
    Melinda

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  53. I've always thought that what I want to be is not self-sufficient but 'community-sufficient', which means belonging to a smallish and localised community which can produce pretty much everything itself, but which allows individuals to specialise and play to their strengths. No (wo)man is an island, and I think depending on and helping out each other is a more worthwhile goal than simply working for ourselves and our own small families.

    I'd love to be considered for your giveaway.

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    1. Hi Sarah. I like your term community-efficient. It reminded me of an episode in River Cottage Australia where the community gathered with their various wares - home grown produce, cooked jams and jellies, meats etc and had a swap meet. Everything was put on one table and you helped yourself with a basket. No money changed hands. I would love to see something like that happen in my community :)
      Cheers
      Tanya
      floodproofmum.blogspot.com

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  54. I have been eyeing off Slow Magazine, but it is not stocked in my local library. I would love to enter the draw please. School holidays are being enjoyed here by slowing down, and enjoying lazy sunny days. Tomorrow will be baking day for myself and the kids, with some staples like butter, bread and muesli, and some baked treats to see us through the week.

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  55. I followed your link to Slow magazine - it looks fabulous ! I don't buy magazines or newspapers (occasionally peppermint) just uni texts !!! So a chance to sit with a tea and admire would be wonderful! Thank you :) Lauren

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  56. Thank you Rhonda for another lovely post. My sentiments echo your writing. I often joke about running away to a cave far far away, however I do love to be a part of a community too. Living in a small town now, I appreciate the slower life which I have come to love. I love quite a few things about modern life - blogging, good movies, art, music, and as I see myself as a perpetual student, having time to read and study means I do not intend to plant potatoes and garden from dusk till dawn. But I do plan to have a reasonable garden patch, enough to supply 70 or 80% of our veggies and fruits. If I make it to that level, I'll be very happy :) In addition, I am learning about herbs for medicinal purposes, about making soaps, and would love to get more into biodynamics. Thank you again for your inspiring post.

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  57. I would like to be included I. The slow giveaway. I have similar views... I like to grow organic fruits and vegetables, raise chickens for eggs and make my own soaps, bread, cleaning products etc. but I don't want to raise my own meat, or have a really large property which would be too stressful for me to maintain. I do what I can to be frugal

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  58. This is exactly how I think too. We grow some food, mostly berries and fruit and some potatoes, but that can be increased. We cook from scratch, bake everything we need, have a warm compost for the waste, and we try to repair what we have instead of buying new things. Living in Norway - I feel that it is a long way to go if we should just have local goods (we cannot grow coffee or tea...) - and I also miss having a local community of others who think the same. I have written about it before - the understanding of self-sufficiency and frugality is not widespread here. Too much oil and money. Sorry to say. But it might come...
    Best wishes.

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  59. Slow magazine sounds like just my sort of thing. I'd love to have a read of one, to see if it could go onto my Wish List for a Christmas present.

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  60. I am not eligible to win SLOW either as I live in the States, but I have to say this post was spot on in so many ways.
    We are partially self sufficient. I don't believe I could go full on homesteader, but I sure respect those that can. Making my own dough, I used the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day master recipe, the last few years has been the best thing because from the same batch I cam make homemade pizza or bread or pecan rolls and there is nothing better! I am a big knitter though I have not taken on a sweater yet simply because the really good yarn needed makes the sweaters prohibitively pricey. One day though, I will do it.
    The world is in a tight spot and while not everyone cares about the raping of natural resources, it is good to know that some people out there want to leave there mark in a much different way.

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  61. Hi Rhonda. I would absolutely love to win the copy of Slow magazine.. I had never heard of it, but it has really captured my imagination! Susan from Perth :)

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  62. The articles in Slow Magazine sound interesting & worth a read :)

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  63. "Learning to adapt for the future normal and helping as many others as I can."

    That is exactly where I'm at, and what I'm after. And the more the merrier !

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  64. Love your thoughts today Rhonda, as always. I also love the idea of a magazine called "Slow" have checked my local newsagent and it is not available there. Will keep trying to track down a copy.

    Helen

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  65. I'm all for being a traveling tinker, a skill-laden nomad. It's skills not land that makes a person self-sufficient. It's hard for me to settle down on one piece of land. But that's what hubby wants, so eventually. But even a nomad has to learn to bake bread and grow greens in pots!

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  66. I agree with many of the comments already made about growing, making, baking and cooking your own. Our chickens produce free-range eggs in the truest sense of the word. They're out from sun up to sun down and their yolks are 'orange'. It's a beautiful thing. We've cows, heaps of land and we never take for granted our most important resource - water! This season we can kiss our dry land winter barley crop good bye. Heartbreaking to see the moisture stress throughout - Hubby and son worked round the clock 24/7 planting for two whole weeks. Water is everything. Never mind. To use that famous farming saying; "next year will be better".

    I believe we can make a huge difference to global warming if we curb our energy use. I look at some people around me and they don't live on the same planet that I do. Their planet allows them to mindlessly use energy day and night with a sense of entitlement. So when their electricity bill arrives and they have to pay one thousand or more dollars for a quarter - why do they complain?? "It's unfair" I hear them say.

    I want to say to them - 'stop running the air con day and night in every room of the house, turn off the lights when they're not needed, chuck out the clothes dryer (we live in the sunshine state for heaven's sake), if no one uses the pool any longer, turn it into a fish pond (we have), don't tell me you're out of touch with your kids after all you allowed them to have a computer, a television and a sound system in each of their rooms! We brought up our three kids with one TV in the house, one computer with three of them in high school which was indeed challenging. But - it taught them to compromise and to negotiate times with each other. Father used to yell at the girls if the shower went on for more than a couple of minutes. They learned to wet their hair, turn off the water while they shampooed, rinse quickly, condition, rinse again and out. None of this running HOT water showers for half an hour like some of their friends.

    Gosh I probably sound bitter and twisted, but the way some people use or misuse energy really bothers me. And don't get me started on the cars that some drive! At the end of the day all we can do is our bit I guess. And every bit counts. Mariana.

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  67. We planned on being much more self sufficient but as we have gotten older (only mid 50s), our plans have had to be adjusted. Hub has become disabled with fibromyalgia, necessitating that I work full time+. He is still able to work in the produce garden and with the hens. He has even learned canning! But there is no time for me to bake bread, make yogurt or develop my sourdough recipes and do so much cooking from scratch. We will continue to adjust and Hub is willing to learn and do as much as his condition allows. We will never be free-standing-self-sufficient but we WILL be able to be less and less dependent as time goes on.

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