Saturday, December 10, 2011

(DF) MANY LEVELS OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY------ part 4

If you found part three a little discouraging, take heart. There is still hope for a greater level of self-sufficiency, though it will require leaving some of the trappings of modern life behind. Simply put, modern life, as we know it, runs on electricity and petroleum to a great extent and if we can't produce it in a self-sustaining way, perhaps we should re-examine our use of it.

LEVEL VI: In level six, there is a need for a very large shift in mind-set, and it needs to be shifted gradually so as to not be too overwhelming. Choosing to live without electricity instantly removes many things we take totally for granted, many of which we don't really have to have. It is the same with petroleum products. The things we DO require can be produced without modern energy.

Obviously, without electricity from some source, there isn't tv, movies, stereo, or video games, so entertainment becomes a little harder to get (or at least requires some thought and planning). Also, simple things like alarm clocks can no longer be taken for granted. These things are not among the basic necessities, but trust me when I tell you that you can feel pretty lost without them when they are suddenly not there. It takes a couple of weeks to come to grips with it, and yes, it is experience talking.

Lights, refrigerators, washers, driers, microwaves, mixers and a wide variety of thing we use every day, including warmth, hot water and cooking if you live in a total electric home, also cease to exist. If your water comes from a well with an electric pump, water becomes a problem very quickly.

Elimination of petroleum products obviously changes the face of transportation. Moreover, if you don't live in a total electric home, the moment of relief you may have experienced at the thought of not losing heat, hot water and cooking ability along with the electricity, just evaporated with the petroleum. Also, keep in mind that plastic is petroleum based. Look at everything you use that is plastic, and if there is a gasp of panic, you are not alone. Plastic is hard to replace at this point in time simply because so many things we use are made of plastic and nothing else, but keep in mind that many of these plastic items are not among the necessities.

Don't despair, there are other ways of providing for these needs. Light has been produced with candles made of beeswax or tallow, and lamps designed to burn animal fat or other oils, for many centuries. Food has been kept cool in springs and cellars for thousands of years and there are many preservation methods that don't require refrigeration. Clothes can be washed by hand and dried on a clothes line, water can be pumped with a hand pump or captured from rainfall and carried in buckets. There is also the fact that flush toilets require running water, so outdoor or composting toilets would be needed. Wood can be used as fuel for heating, cooking and hot water, but keep in mind that the wood will have to be cut with hand tools as chainsaws run on petroleum.

Without petroleum, transportation becomes an activity powered by people or animals. Walking is good for getting from point A to point B, but horses or mules (I personally favor mules but that is another story) can carry more than you can, and can also pull wagons and farm equipment. They can't haul the big loads a truck is capable of but they do alright. As for raising crops, draft animals are very effective though you have to produce enough grain and hay to feed them, so more land is required. Farming practices can also be entirely people powered. You can't farm as much land but you don't need to.

The information above is very simplified and I DO NOT recommend that anyone make such an abrupt change. I would, however, like to promote an awareness of all that we take for granted and encourage the gradual shift away from mindless use of modern energy. You may be surprised at how much you will gain in physical fitness, personal satisfaction and awareness (not to mention financial savings) as you lower your dependence on energy.

3 comments:

  1. You know, I am finding that (from reading and experience) with only the smallest of extra effort and attention, far more produce can be grown per square foot of land worked by hand, than in the largest of fields worked by commercial machinery. Stripped out, chemical laden soils appear to grow vegetables very sparsely. But when you put forth a little extra effort, rotating your crops, hand-cultivating and naturally enriching your soil, so much more produce can be grown from a much smaller space! Add into the mix, wild edibles. In commercial growing, with commercial equipment, the 'weeds' are cultivated out and sprayed with toxic chemicals to kill them out. But in the hand grown garden, people recognize those 'weeds' as highly nutritious edibles, thinning them out only slightly and letting them grow in harmony along with the planted crops. Then, at harvest time, those 'weeds' are harvested and put up, too, often giving the hand grower triple (or even more) the crop harvest per square foot of the commercial grown fields. An enormous amount of food can be grown by hand in the smallest of spaces. I just finished eating a bowl of turnip greens, cooked with wild chickweed, yum! People stuck on using commercial growing techniques just don't know what they are missing!

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  2. I agree, Anna. As a matter of fact, I don't think any of the "farmers" I know eat what they grow in their fields! I have been working on building raised beds. Its not right for everything, but I had terrific yields this year in them and its so much easier on the back!

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