Before I begin, I would like to thank all of you who viewed and commented on part one of this post. I would also like to mention that these levels of self-sufficiency are not intended to be, nor can they be, rigid. The levels mentioned in all parts of this post are intended as a tool to promote awareness of levels beyond where we are, on the path to self-sufficiency. Once on such a path, it is hard (if not impossible) not to prepare and work toward aspects of various levels at once.
LEVEL IV: Level four is where the skills and hard work come into play. Yes, I did say hard work. Lets face it, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Level four basics include shelter and many things associated with that shelter, such as the cleaning and decoration of that shelter and anything else that makes that shelter a home. Actively providing for such basic needs is the essence of this level of self-sufficiency. By "actively", I mean physically doing the work (construction, maintenance, upgrades, etc.) to provide shelter for yourself, your family and your animals.
Obviously, not all of us are physically able to build houses, barns and fences, or dig cellars to shelter and store our produce. Even for those who are able (and for the less physically demanding aspects) it takes some degree of knowledge and skill, an appropriate mind set and a good measure of awareness.
If you don't have the ability and/or skills, what do you do? Have you thought of barter? Barter is, in my opinion, a form of alchemy. WAIT!!! Before you start envisioning Pagan rituals and evil spells for turning other metals to gold for the sake of greed, here is Webster's second definition of alchemy. "A method or power of transmutation: esp., the seemingly miraculous change of a thing into something better." Turning surplus vegetables, jelly, soap or products from the blacksmith shop into materials and/or labor for fixing the hole in the roof (or vise versa) sounds like pretty much the same thing to me. Granted, getting the roof fixed in exchange for things you CAN do, instead of doing it yourself, is not truly self-sufficient, but it does get the job done and provides a higher degree of personal satisfaction than mindlessly paying whatever price is asked, in the form of cash, card or check. As an added bonus, you get interaction with others which, by the way, is one of the basics of psychological health. Not a bad swap, huh?
I hope to see you here for the next post, where things start to get more difficult, and if anything, less self-sufficient. At least temporarily.