The goals on our homestead and micro-farm are pretty simple: to live life sustainably. But what exactly does living sustainably mean? Wikipedia describes it as the ‘capacity to endure’, Merriam-Webster defines it as ‘capable of being sustained’ (to withstand). For our home, it included a bit more.
Defining Sustainable Living
The best way that I could describe it would be to be able to live and thrive come what may. It means being self-sufficient. It means if a natural disaster happens or something similar and our home is left pretty much in tact but the power is out, we won’t starve. Our chickens will still be laying eggs. Goats will be providing milk to drink. Herbs, fruits and veggies are all growing in the beds for nourishment or it’s been put back for the season after harvesting and ready and waiting for us when we need it.
It also means knowing how to make do with what we have in case there is a financial problem. It means knowing how to mend things and being able to do it yourself or learning the art of bartering for other things we may need. It means knowing skills that we can use to find the happy sustainable life we want to have like hunting, canning, cooking from scratch, wildcrafting, sewing, basic farming, gardening, etc.
Starting to Live Sustainably
So how do you get to a point of having a sustainable life? Well, it doesn’t happen overnight, but with enough time and effort you will get there. For us, it started with simple things. At one time I can sadly say we lived like ‘disposable people’. What I mean by that is everything was disposable. After realizing how much we consumed and threw away – disposable plates, microwave dinners, disposable cups, spoons, forks, etc. and we were always being broke, I realized, we’d have to learn how to live sustainably.
The first step was finding ways to trim down our spending and go ‘greener’. This meant setting up a strict budget and sticking to it. I cut out using the paper plates and hand-washed our real plates, cups, and utensils. We started mass buying produce and meats and freezing and canning it until we could get our own garden going. Once the garden was made, planted and harvested we stopped wasting food and made the most of it.
I learned to cook from scratch. We use dish towels instead of paper towels, cloth napkins instead of the paper ones. Lights are turned off in the day and only used when needed. We don’t have TV – so no cable or satellite. We do have the internet, because this helps us stay in touch with friends and family, plus I do freelance jobs with it as well as take online classes and if we need entertainment we get it from somewhere on the internet. Wherever unnecessary things could be cut, they were and we learned to substitute them with things that have value and meaning to our lives.
We pass down what we can no longer wear or donate it, and we buy at thrift shops and yard sales, but not unless it’s needed. We now have a clothing budget so we can even afford to buy new clothes from department stores if we want. I also have a sewing machine and make things or alter them to fit. I also learned to knit and make homemade gifts.
Our most recent adventure on the path to living sustainably was starting our micro-farm. First we got the chickens for eggs and meat. We also have goats for milk and meat and also rabbits, and our next step is beekeeping. This of course is just the start, and it’s a journey that lasts a lifetime.