If you’re into homesteading and self-reliance you’ll find three very valuable lessons in this article, as well as tons of inspiration!
In the video you’ll get to follow along Kirsten Dirksen as she tours the homestead of alternative housing icon Lloyd Kahn and his wife Lesley Creed.
Lloyd got started in publishing as the shelter editor for the Whole Earth Catalog, and he has also published the books Domebook One and Two, the classic Shelter, Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter and Builders of the Pacific Coast.
In the video Kahn will show you his wild-caught pigeons, his seaweed harvest, well-fermented sauerkraut, home-cured olives, oatmeal grinder and workshop (where he still keeps his father’s “nuts and bolts box”). You’ll also see Creed baking her sourdough bread (from her kitchen-harvested starter) and drying “bread seed” poppies.
Years ago the couple were pushing the boundaries of self-sufficiency to include goats and harvests of wheat, but Kahn found his limits.
“With self-sufficiency you never get there, you never become self-sufficient. I mean we tried back in the seventies. We had goats and chickens and bees and I was trying to raise grain. Pretty soon I realized that if I want to raise enough wheat for the bread for a year here, it’s better left to a specialist, like I can’t be my own dentist. So you do, it’s a direction self-sufficiency. You do what you can do as much of it as you can.”
And this is lesson #1 on how to approach self-reliance (while keeping your sanity).
Let’s remember that back in the days of true self-reliance in America and Europe (and in many parts of the world still today) where you were either self-reliant or dead, you did not do all the work alone. You had a whole extended family spanning multiple generations that worked together to stay alive.
Not only that, but many tasks were also done on a tribe or community level, for example hunting big game, harvesting, and so on.
Today on the other hand, the tribal and family units have been fragmented and we’re pretty much all on our own. We put our parents in homes and our children in daycare while we spend most of our waking time at work, and it’s not unusual today to not even know the names of your neighbors. And that’s why complete self-reliance is hard today.
Lloyd goes on saying:
“I want to use what I can from the past but I think you’ve got to hit the right balance. I don’t want to plow the field with horses. You have to find the line between the modern world and craftsmanship. You can’t take forever, but at the same time some things from the past can be useful today.”
There is an old saying that our great-grandparents used to know:
“Once in life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a FARMER.”
And in this we find lesson #2…
I’d go so far as to suggest that it’s completely fine to use unsustainable technologies and fossil fuel to take that initial leap to a more self-reliant and regenerative lifestyle.
Case in point: If you have a big property you can spend months digging swales / dams with a shovel, or you can hire an excavator and do the same job in a few days. The result will last for generations, so if it takes burning some fossil fuel to get it done then that’s what you should do. Posterity will thank you.
Of course, there are some technologies that are more appropriate for self-reliance than others. You can read more about appropriate technology here.
Lesley also gives a wonderful example of the use of technology in self-reliance:
“Sure there’s lots of backbreaking work [but] we don’t really need to beat our clothes on the rocks. A washing machine is a wonderful thing. There’s lots of other areas where you lose so much, like food. To take salt, flour and water, and that’s bread.”
The washing machine is such a perfect example of a technology most of us wouldn’t want to be without. It just saves so much precious time.
And it’s so easy to start right now and bake your own delicious and nutritious bread from scratch instead of buying mass-produced bread in the supermarket. All it takes is a slower and more mindful approach to food.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
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The Lost Ways prepares you to deal with worst-case scenarios with the minimum amount of resources just like our forefathers lived their lives, totally independent from electricity, cars, or modern technology whatsoever, which means you’ll also be bulletproof against the ever-increasing threat of an Electro Magnetic Pulse, a Powerful Economic Breakdown, Famines, Wars, and Natural Disasters. You’ll have the power to protect and save your family…even to rebuild your community during the worst times.
Besides that, The Lost Ways is not merely a survival book, because most of the knowledge you’ll find in it will begin improving things in your life starting today. What I’m talking about is the type of self-sufficiency that our great-grandfathers used to have. I’m talking about things that they did around their homes and the healthy lives that they lived.
At the same time, you get to take part in doing something GREAT—saving our forefathers’ lost skills!
Now, I consider I’ve done my part: the hardest and costliest part if I may say so. All you need to do is to make sure you hand this knowledge over when it’s time to and take full advantage of it until then.
Really, this is all just a peek. The Lost Ways is a far-reaching book with chapters ranging from simple things like making tasty bark-bread—like people did when there was no food—to building a traditional backyard smokehouse… and many, many, many more!