Thursday, 22 January 2015

9 Self Sufficiency Goals For 2015

I used to be a big list writer and it helped keep me focused and organised, but I've slipped out of the habit. I've decided to try and write down some goals and then I'll see how close I get to them!


  • Increase my growing area - I've already started on this with the new raised beds but I want to be able to grow a larger variety of things as well as having an area for growing trees and shrubs to sell on a small scale.
  • Produce more protein on the homestead - The obvious way is with meat. I keep toying with getting pigs and/or rabbits, I think the girls have got their hearts set on both! I need to finish building pens and get water supplies sorted first. I could also look at growing chickpeas or something similar for a vegatarian option (and they would help with a point below).
  • Improve my composting and "loop closing" - Trying to make sure that as little as possible leaves the homestead (unless someone has bought it). I want us to produce less landfill waste, recycle more (cardboard on the garden etc) and get really organised with my compost. I want to be buying a lot less compost in years to come, last year was a great success with my home made plant foods, removing something I used to buy quite often, so hopefully I'll be able to start making an impact with this as well.
  • Look at experimenting with growing staples - I'm pretty good at growing fruit and veg but they're not normally the main part of a meal. I grow potatoes but I also want to look at growing a cereal or a grain to see if it can be done on a small scale, ridiculous really as my dad grows hundreds of tons of wheat but it will be an interesting experiment if I get around to it!
  • Increase my number of herbs and spices - The easiest way to change a meal is with herbs or spices but I'd like to increase the number I've got here and experiment with some new ones. I'd also like to look at growing something for my indigestion - mint tea isn't enough sometimes and I eat far too many Rennies!


  • Improve my food storage - I want to waste less food so having somewhere good to store it is essential. I've got a few ideas on this one, from building a purpose built shed in the garden to improving how we store food in the house, my can rotator door I built last year was a good start on this. I also want to preserve more food and be better at using it in day to day cooking. 
  • Seed Saving - This is a big one I think! You can't be very self sufficient if you're having to buy seed each year. I want to try and collect more seed, set biannual plants apart and let some go to flower each year as well. I'd like to learn more about it and learn how to create my own hybrids (with squashes) or keep plants pure. 
  • Fire wood - My willow coppice wasn't much of a success last year but I'd like to improve on that in the next year as well as thinning out some trees from our hedge rows and sawing up a few at my dads farm for firewood.
  • Baking - I'd like to start baking bread a little more often. I baked lots of soda bread last year but I'd like to start making bread from scratch or maybe starting a sour dough culture to use regularly.

What other goals do you think I should set for myself? 
Have you set any goals in a similar vein for yourself this year?

42 comments:

  1. I'd say that you have your work cut out for you, but all the goals make sense.

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    1. Gotta keep busy and push forward! I'm at home at the moment so a lot of it should be doable hopefully.

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  2. That's a lot of goals. I would certainly recommend that "Small Scale Grain Raising" Book by Logsden we talked about a while back for your staples raising. Pigs are always good to have unless the neighbors complain :)

    If anyone could pull off so many goals it's you I imagine.

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    1. I got the book for Christmas and just starting to read it. Neighbours shouldn't complain about pigs and if they do...

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  3. Good luck with your plans. We used to fatten pigs and kept sheep for our protein and goats for milk and some meat too.
    I don't want to be alarmist but before Col had the stents and heart problems in 2013 he had terrible indigestion quite often, He used to take rennies all the time, now hardly ever.
    PS the doctors prescribe Gaviscon which has less something in than rennies - aluminium?

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    1. I've heard this before about rennies and that's one of the reasons I want to cut them out. My indigestion can be pretty bad though and thats why I keep using them, never got on as well with Gaviscon.

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  4. With the preserving food, have you looked at dehydrating and canning, I got into canning the year before last, not really a british thing, I bought an All American canner its a great way of preserving just about any food,
    saves n the freezer space too, this year I am going to be canning more.
    You didnt mention water supplies, that is one on our list for this year, water for the livestock and garden I want from a water catchment system rather than off mains, we want to reduce our water bill as much as possible. Our last one for one month was £3.76

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    1. Canning is what I'd like to do and once I start I'm sure I'd be fine! Always a bit worrying when you read about the risks. I do dehydrate quite a bit (mainly fruit) but my dehydrator isn't that great.
      As for water we're on rates so it doesn't matter how much we use cost wise, although I try to keep it to a minimum with lots of rain barrels (much better for the plants I think) and when I build the extension I have plans for a flow diverter so all the rain water can either go down a soak away or fill up a large barrel to stock up our summer water supply. I doubt that will happen this year, but last year I got given about 5 extra rain barrels so they've helped reduce my summer water consumption loads.

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  5. Great list of goals.

    My research tells me plants have a lot of protein than we realise. It is worth looking into. Another thing we aren't told about...plenty of protein in eggs too :)

    Bread making is a part of our routine now. It does take a while, but so worth it :)

    Wheat grass is a super food. I am going to grow it as I can source organic wheat from my dad. Looks easy to grow, so that's a bonus.

    My one goal for this year is to get rid of "stuff"!

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    1. Yeah we use a lot of eggs and I had forgotten about that. I plan on starting a sour dough and hopefully I'll get into a routine with it.
      I'm trying to de clutter at the moment as well, it's not going very well yet though, I just seem to be moving stuff around. going to ebay some tools I don't use or have too many multiples of as well.

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  6. I looked at growing chick peas but you only get 1 or 2 seeds per pod! Bread making is easy once you get into the rhythm.

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    1. Yeah I read that but I'm guessing here must be a lot of pods on each plant? or do you have to grow them on such scale that it makes it worthless on garden type plot?

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    2. From reading about them, you need 7-8 plants per person and range pf pods per plant is 10-60 or so. I think they are quite small plants. I haven't the room to spare.

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    3. I might try ithem one year then- I'll add it to the list!

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  7. I think you should gets some pigs and rabbits Kev. You will have veg and meat and be fully self supporting. Wish I could brew beer.

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    1. I bet you could grow some barley and malt it, then feed the left overs to the cattle. I'd love to have a go as well but I'll stick to cider for now - much easier.
      We will get some animals this year that's for sure, just not sure which yet!

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  8. Rabbits are probably the best meat producers for the small holding, cheap to buy, easy to keep, easy to feed, breed like, well, rabbits. Don't need any heavy duty walls or electric fences to keep them in. Safe enough for small children to handle. And don't need the services of an abattoir to slaughter and prepare, or any storage capacity, one rabbit equals one meal, Healthy fat-free meat as well.

    You might even be able to find a use for the skins?

    I used to keep New Zealand Whites, a big rabbit that grows very quickly. Had to take them to my parents to dispatch, my then wife wouldn't allow it; my dad used to hover with his tin plate, he wanted the livers, hearts and kidneys.

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    1. It's the New Zealand Whites I've been looking at, although I can't find a local breeder which is annoying. Any ideas where I should be looking? I like the idea that there is no issues with keeping the meat as you only kill them when you want them.

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    2. Sorry Kev, can't help with that, only try google?

      Sure they'd be a winner though, and your skills are spot-on for building good accommodation for them. I'd love to get a buck and 4 or 5 breeding does, but it's strictly forbidden by wife, she says she couldn't eat little furry things that I've fed for a few weeks; same reason I can't keep chickens. Funny thing she likes to see the lambs in spring, but doesn't mind eating lamb chops, pork nor beef either, she must think all her meat comes from animals that die naturally from old age?

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    3. It's weird that some people don't like to think about where their meat comes from. I'd rather know mine and know it hax good life than get something wrapped in plastic.
      And you're right about the skills just not enough time!

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  9. If you grow beans for drying they give you a good source of protein and roughage. ( and winter food) I grow butter beans, kidney beans, borlotti, blue lake and emergo all for drying.
    Enough goals there methinks Kev.

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    1. When we had an allotment I grew loads of beans for drying and then didn't do much with them. I didn't used to think far enough ahead to soak them over night and that's why they didn't get used. I bet I'd be much better at it now as I do try to plan meals.

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    2. If you have a crockpot, beans are easy. I soak my beans overnight, then put them in the crockpot with new water before heading out to work. They're done when I get home from work in the evening.

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  10. Those are great worthwhile goals. I have enjoyed getting to know your blog today.

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    1. Cheers, I'm pleased you've been reading.

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  11. Been reading for awhile now. Really enjoy your blog. We live over in the states in Texas and have started raised beds last year. You inspire me to do more in the garden.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Suzanne! Growing your own really is great isn't it! The way you have to garden is so different with your climate - no need for shade covers here! There's a great blog I follow from your state called Texan she's a master gardener and I bet you'd get on.

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  12. If you decide to raise rabbits you may have to do what Cumbrian said-take them to your dad's to do 'the deed'. Two little girls might not be too happy about the idea of eating the bunnies!!! I highly recommend getting into canning. Over here in Canada and the States it's very common. I'm always shocked when I read British and Australian blogs that put different foods in jars and then don't process them, just stick them in the cupboard. All what you get taught in your country I guess. If you had a pressure canner you can can ANYTHING!!! All your meat and veg. and fruit. No worries about power outages and loosing the contents of your freezer. Good luck, what ever you decide to do.

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    1. I like think they'd be alright about eating them but I think you could be right!
      I thikn pressure canners seem really scary and because it's not very common over here I have no one to show me how to use them - and it's nice to be shown in person with something like that. Youtube and blogs can only show you so much. I do love the idea of canning though and plan to build an area to store it all in when I get around to doing some, having tomato sauces ready made for pasta and things sounds like it could make many meal times much easier whilst still sing everything I've grown myself!

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    2. I like the idea of canning and not having to rely on the freezer and all of that but doesn't it cost a fortune? I looked up pressure canner on the internet and the first one that came up was £279! And then you've got to use your gas or electricity for half an hour or so, several times, to sterilise everthing, buy special mason/kilner jars to put it all in, makes me wonder if it's worth the time and money really? Just a thought....

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    3. Yeah the cost does put me off but I guess it's how sustaining it can be. Once you've got the jars and canner everything becomes a lot more affordable. There's a blog I read where they run the pressure canner on a wood fire in the open outside. Also I like the idea of making up sauces and having meals nearly ready cooked ready to use. I know what you're saying though and that's what's kept me from it so far!

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  13. Some brilliant goals.

    I am looking forward to the day when once again we will run an almost closed system, with virtually nothing leaving the holding, except as you say things that are bought off us.

    A couple of weaners bought in Spring and kept in a sty or small patches of land that you want rotovating would be good as your main protein. The girls would love them as tiny piglets but lose interest in them when it was almost time for the chop ... with a bit of luck. As long as you take them to slaughter before Winter sets in they would not do too much damage to your land and would eat all the kitchen scraps and give you much needed fertiliser.

    Marie from the blog 'Go Milk the Cow' built a brilliant self contained pig sty that might work for you.

    http://oursmallfamilyholding.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/the-new-pig-sty.html

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    1. The farm I grew up on had a pig sty quite like that, they're the workers toilets now though! Thanks for the link though it looks a good blog.
      I'm thinking a couple of weaners would do us as well for the first year and see how we'd get on.

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  14. Ever thought about beekeeping Kev?

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    1. I have and I want to do a course on it. there is one major downside to it though - I hate honey! They'd be good for my trees though! Long term I'd like to make some top bar hives and try it that way.

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  15. I think you should buy a long bow, a sword and a battle axe. Then , if things go bad, you could be Kev the Saxon, scourge of bandits all and sundry.

    I'd lend you an AK47 but I might have a problem getting an export license to the UK. ;-)

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    1. I've an old crossbow I found in the loft that needs repairing - maybe that would do?

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  16. I always read your blog and find it very interesting. You mention just two things that, to me, seem to go together. They are cider and indigestion! Do you think it find be the acid in the cider that is messing up your digestion. Just a thought. Hope its not as I also like a glass of cider.

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    1. I think you have the wrong Impression of me! I only have a couple of glasses a week on a Friday night and some weeks nothing! Did make me chuckle though! I eat a lot of rich food though which probably doesn't help and big portions!

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  17. Sorry, I should always proof read. The above should read ' Do you think it might be the acid in the cider that is messing up your digestion.

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  18. For protein you could grow the grain amaranth from realseeds. Bloody easy to grow...in fact, impossible to get rid of. The seeds cooked with rice impart a nutty flavour and a hefty dose of protein. The leaves are what West Indian people call 'calaloo' like a mild cabbage or a less slimy spinach. The flowers look cool too...

    And about the bees... beekeeper honey is nothing like that tasteless junk from the supermarket. The wax is really useful too...the bees could do with a little help and so on. Perhaps you could make friends with a bee club and allow a beekeeper to keep a hive on your land for a share of the honey or wax? Good for everyone.

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    1. I did look at amaranth and I think I might even have some seeds I got when I brought a job lot from suttons last year. Maybe I'll give it a go. Is it tricky to harvest and process?
      I keep toying with bees and I know the honey would be better but I don;t even like the smell. I might make some top bar hives if I have a lull in work at some point in the future and maybe sign up to a bee keeping course. Trouble is finding time - I'm not the most organised!

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