Living self sufficient for our family

We are on our way to live self sufficient but it is a goal we might never reach. Why not? Because living self sufficient is more about making choices than about making jam. It is more about taming cravings and training willpower than growing enough potatoes.

So what CAN you expect in this blog? Tips and tricks from practical realists, ideas and experiments worth mentioning, our stories that are interesting enough to be told.

We live on our 12 hectare homestead (called Bogata Suma – Rich Forest) in the hilly forests in the heart of Croatia. Part of our land is forest, part is wilderness and the majority of land we turned into an edible landscape. Our food savanna is almost a food forest (2 more years?) and we planted a polyculture nut orchard, and a peach and pear orchard.

Polyculture example 1
Lots of marigold flowers in our garden to attract bees, as companion plants, to brighten up salads and to make oil for hand cream with.

We have 4 well water sources on our terrain and we use on-the-grid-water (because of our heavy consuming camping guests).
We have a solar panel setup but it is an extra. Our backup system for when the grid fails (like: regularly).

Our garden and greenhouse produce year round fresh vegetables. The chickens produce our egg supply and chicken meat, and they fertilize, hunt bugs and turn the compost. The rabbits produce these nice pellets of compost, their straw is our vegetable-mulch and when they are mature, we butcher them for their nice and lean meat.

We usually have volunteers and/or guests at the table to enjoy organic, colourful meals with ingredients from our garden and terrain, from the stable and the forest. And what we don’t grow or make, we buy. Preferably from the neighbours (a pig in November, a lamb in spring) or the local farmers market.

Coffee isn’t local at all. Or chocolate. Or black pepper. And somehow I never manage to grow good eggplants and enough tomatoes. Olive oil and sea salt comes preferably from (friends on) the islands and sometimes from the supermarket. I tried to grow risotto a few times now, without success.

Jams, chutneys

You can plant the right amount of potatoes for (at least) a year, but when there is hardly any rain in that year, your potatoes aren’t big enough to feed you year round.
Apples we store as good as we can, but they never last longer than a few months. And our mandarine tree gives around 5 mandarines a year. An amount that our daughter prefers to eat on 1 day.

Dried herbs, canned fruits and vegetables

We make our own medicine: herbal teas, tinctures, salves and syrups. They keep us healthy, but what if we catch something stronger than our healthy lifestyle and good immune systems can handle?

Washing powder we make, with ingredients (soap bar, soda, citric acid, borax, coarse sea salt) that we have to buy. Same with hand creams and facial creams. we do make them ourselves, but we can’t make all of the ingredients.
Toilet paper we buy, although cutting up an old towel to wipe after a pee works as well.

And clothes? Oh I would love to make all our clothes myself! In theory, because where to find the time and the right materials… So I only knit and crochet a few items, felt some things with wool from the neighbour’s sheep and the rest we buy. Mainly second hand, because you can choose quality that is so much better than what is in fashion.

My conclusion is that living fully self sufficient is only possible when you can spend all your time on it and you don’t mind a simple life. I think it is much harder when you involve children
Ideally you work together with your neighbours to provide for your collective needs. You can spread the work load and the risk, and maybe grow more diversity. So that is what we are growing now: a village with like minded people!

> Growing a village

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