My fledgling first year toward a more self sufficent lifestyle

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Ollie Beef, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal

    The days are getting shorter and colder, so I thought it might be a good time to take stock of where I am in my self sufficiency journey and hopefully get some guidance of where to go from here from the more experienced folks in the room. Figured that writing it out will make me more accountable next year :)

    I had some successes and failures. I know I have a ton to learn, but at least I got some of it out of the way this year.

    I would say my biggest successes were

    1. Realizing that change in my life was necessary for my future and my kids future. The American lifestyle was great and easy to maintain while we were so far ahead of the rest of the world, but as the rest of the world starts to catch up and America either rests on its laurels or actively goes backwards I believe it is foolish to believe that the lifestyle so many of us have been accustomed to is not going to change. We either change with it or get left behind ourselves.

    2. My wife and I built Ghetto Coop v1.0 from mostly scavenged pallets and wood, along with a chain link run that we got for the low cost of getting rid of it for someone else. We now have a flock of 8 hens, three of which have started laying. All the girls survived the summer. I will have to re-evaluate this success after winter is over, since I have never kept chickens in my life, but I feel pretty good about where we are now on the chicken front.

    3. Paid off all credit card debt. I did not have all that much, but I feel much lighter knowing that interest is not accruing on cards for no good reason. I maintain a credit card that accumulates Amazon points, but I pay it off every month before the interest hits.

    My biggest failures

    1. Learned something about crop rotation, or at least what happens when you ignore it. I planted tomatoes in the same area I had for the past few years (likely too close together too) and experienced a good deal of blossom end rot on my tomaters. The chickens ate a ton as a result, and I didn't end up canning like I had planned. My cucumbers fell victim to powdery mildew as well, ruining my dreams of dill pickles, so I am going to need to get that sorted out as well.

    2. I made a potato box this year. I ended up with about 17 potatoes, many of which were the most pathetic excuse for potatoes you have ever seen. They were delicious in the stew I made with them though. I like the potato box idea, but I am going to figure out a better way to go about it. I think I need to thin out the soil some with straw, and I want to look into making a PVC watering system to make sure the seed taters are getting their water.

    3. My wife and I got these grand ideas about moving out of the city. We jumped right in and found a piece of property that looked just right and then got our hopes dashed when the bank would not finance us because we were late on one credit card payment months before due to a simple oversight. In retrospect, this was good, because it forced us to re-evaluate our debt situation. In addition, we were moving too fast. If I cannot get a decent size garden to produce good crops on my tiny piece of land, what would happen when I jumped right in on a four acre plot? As a result, I am going to do heavy planning this winter for my spring crops and get my soil right. If I am going to be a self sufficency farmer, I had better do it small scale successfully before I jump in on a larger scale.

    Thanks for listening to me babble! If anyone has any suggestions, like a Ferengi, I am all ears!
    GOG, Tobit, pearlselby and 12 others like this.
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    You are right with the world @Ollie Beef !!

    And light years ahead of me......
  3. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    We humans learn from our mistakes, as it appears you are learning from yours.
    Your biggest mistake at this point would be giving up.
    As Dunerunner says, you're already light years ahead of a number of us, myself included.
  4. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey+

    Hi Ollie,
    Not sure that I have much advice, but a few comments.

    First, congrats on the chickens, chicken coop, and paying down all debts! It's great to be debt-free, as some had commented in the Financial Cents forum. Those are great accomplishments.

    And your last Failure that you listed -- I would list as a success. Think about all that you learned, and your new determination to farm on a small scale before going to 4+ acres. If you can just as much from failure on the tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes, so much the better. Much better than to have had an acre of each, and fail miserably on those 4 acres.

    I'm not a farmer, and I don't play one on TV. But I think you will shortly be getting some advice from other gardeners and farmers that stop by here. I don't know if doing soil samples (for farming) is even a thing, but you might consider that before purchasing any huge tracts of land!
    Yes, we all want to be self-sufficient, but don't bite off more than you can chew in a single month or a single year.

    Good luck!!
    Ollie Beef, GOG, chelloveck and 2 others like this.
  5. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Well done! and thank you for sharing your successes and failures. Most chicken coops are 'ghetto' who cares what they look like. My neighbor raises the chickens and we exchange eggs for produce. He made his coop out of election campaign signs. We both gather those things rvery year after elections for odd jobs like shade. Welcome to our ghetto. ;) keep up the great work you are doing.

    If you have gardening questions just ask. I've made every mistake in the book. And tried some ' out there' ideas.

    If you can, go to your area's County Extension office and get the local gardening book or talk to a master gardener in your area it helps alot with the gardening. Also lots of resources for free stuff as most master gardeners know their local area suppliers
    Ollie Beef, GOG and pearlselby like this.
  6. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Grow up - not across.
    Foody 8 Hydroponic Tower | Foody Vertical Gardens

    No debt? TOTAL WIN. You are DANGEROUS to the system...:) Good job.
    Potatoes....ok.....i got this figured out the hard way.
    It's hit and matter.
    Plant them holes....corners of parks you visit...
    Everywhere. They make no sense...sometimes they will rock in clay better than straw...
    I give up trying to champion taters in a specific area/ never works for "quantity"....
  7. chimo

    chimo the few, the proud, the jarhead monkey crowd

    Ollie Beef and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  8. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal


    The cable has been gone for years, and I don't miss it. As for weeds, I have become interested in edible weeds for myself and the chickens. I got tons of wild spinach this year with no work, as well as wood sorrel, purslane and common mallow. Had a bunch of gallant soldiers in the alley too that I was giving to the chickens until the city got all uppity about it and made me whack it.


    Thanks for the well wishes and suggestions! I do plan on trying to build up more next year. I got a couple of packets of achocha seeds from American Homestead to trellis. We will see how it goes!
  9. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Im Curious .... what is it you like a bout achoca cucs?
    Ollie Beef likes this.
  10. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal

    I drank the Kool-Aid while watching the videos on You Tube. They seemed super stoked about them, and they look tasty. Mostly, I like how they seem to trellis so well. I should be able to construct some kind of support for them that lets them grow above some of my other plants while not depriving them of much light, since the vines & leave do not appear to get too crazy.
    Ganado likes this.
  11. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Thanks, just wondering, I like plants with at least 2 uses, medicinal, culinary, or fun. So wondering what was appealing about those.
    Ollie Beef likes this.
  12. Ollie Beef

    Ollie Beef Foolish Mortal

    Then I would assign culinary and fun, since now I get to build stuff ;)
    Ganado likes this.
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