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Old 08-23-2014, 05:12 PM   #41
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I do all our food preparation, with some help (chopping) from Mr. A. We purchase most of our food fresh/raw, and have managed to eliminate almost all "junk" food from the family diet. No chips, crackers, etc., and all baked goods are baked by me. We do eat commercial ice cream, and sadly went back to packaged bread, after the fourth bread machine in a row began to produce inedible hunks which no ingredient "tweaking" seemed able to fix. I also grind coffee beans. I tried making yogurt in an electric yogurt maker. The yogurt tasted great, but the prep was a nuisance so I gave it up.

Nine months out of 12, I use the "solar dryer" for machine-washed sheets. Gym clothes are always washed by hand and air-dried. Towels and such go in the dryer, because otherwise they're stiff as a board. I don't think the solar drying really saves much $$; it's just that we love the smell of wind-and-sun-dried fabric.

We do our own interior painting.

We wash and wax our car, although there's an automatic car wash 3 miles away.

As mentioned in other threads, we do our own yard maintenance, unlike our neighbors. It seems to us that it has been about 15 years since average folks started hiring landscaping companies. Their trucks and trailers are everywhere on the road, whereas 15 years ago you hardly ever saw them.

I would love to be able to hunt deer on our property, but it is not allowed. Gardening used to be a major joy in life but the deer have wrecked that. They even chewed up junipers, hollies and Leyland cypress last winter, and they're not supposed to like those.

I mend clothes that are good enough to be worth the trouble. Nowadays, making clothes is not worth the considerable effort involved -and fabric and patterns aren't cheap! When the U.S. did not trade with China, clothes were comparatively more expensive and sewing made more sense. My mother hailed from that era, and taught my sister and me to sew. In fact, I made custom curtains for our master bath this spring, because I could not find anything I liked ready-made that would fit the odd-sized window, and I could make curtains far cheaper than custom-made.

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Old 08-23-2014, 06:13 PM   #42
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We grew up mostly self-sufficient, as much as one can be in suburbia. Did all our own car maintenance/repairs as well as on the house. Paying someone to do it was simply not an option because we didn't t have the money for that.

Perhaps because of that upbringing, I have a passionate loathing of plumbing. It always took six trips to the hardware store, always for some oddball never-before-heard-of piece, part, or tool. So the instant I could afford it, I called a plumber for any of those maintenance items. To me, having the money to call a plumber is a luxury that I don't hesitate to indulge in for anything that will take longer than about an hour.

We didn't garden, no one ever had the interest in it for some reason. I never did either.

While I could if I wanted to do all or most of my car maintenance the last few years that has been limited to oil changes and light bulb replacements. I had my fill of sitting or lying in the driveway, freezing or broiling, and getting greasy up to my elbows. And frankly, vehicles now seem to need a lot less work to keep up than they did then. So I take it to a shop when it does need work done. That's a luxury too.

Lately I've even been taking them to a car wash instead of doing it myself.

This is the first year I hired a lawn service. A couple months ago I had a little issue with a blocked heart artery and ended up with two stents. No permanent damage, and doc says full recovery with no restrictions. But it manifested itself when I was mowing the lawn, and DW seems to believe that if I ever touch a lawn mower again I will instantly die. So to ease her concerns I hired a lawn service for the rest of this year. I fully intend to resume my own lawn-mowing next year.

But it may turn out that by then I will have become spoiled and not do that. It sure is nice to have the option.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:23 PM   #43
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The local grocery stores have plenty of free samples practically every day. So "foraging" in the stores can be quite productive.

One trick is to have a set of 5 to 10 close-by stores that one can eat at for free without being in the same store every day. If they are within walking or biking distance, so much the better.

I still remember one store celebrating king crab legs day. I think my son ate about 5 pounds of them just by himself, but the staff was very happy that they didn't have to throw them away.

Another favorite is wine-tasting at these places.
Sounds like urban foraging! Lot lower risk of inadvertently gathering something poisonous too.
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Old 08-23-2014, 07:11 PM   #44
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DW was not recovered enough from the ugly cold that poleaxed both of us, so camping trip this weekend was out. So this morning I went up the canyon and "foraged" a daily limit of trout. I used worms from our compost heap as bait. Then I took a hike in a state wildlife area and saw a number of squirrels, signs of deer and a rabbit. Season is around the corner...
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Old 08-23-2014, 07:34 PM   #45
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Amethyst,

Do they not have urban bow hunts in your area? While bow hunting takes some time to learn, many hunters will take care of your deer problem for free. They might even share the harvest with you.

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Old 08-23-2014, 07:54 PM   #46
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Amethyst,

Do they not have urban bow hunts in your area? While bow hunting takes some time to learn, many hunters will take care of your deer problem for free. They might even share the harvest with you.

ArkTinkerer
Depends on the severity of the problem. I used to live in the People's Republic of New Jersey. One of the nearby county parks had a severe deer problem. A large tree would fall and instead of a race to see which sapling would replace it, nothing grew because the damn deer would eat it to the ground. A population survey found more than 30 deer per square mile in the park, where natural levels would be 1 to 2. They allowed bowhunting and muzzle loader hunting, but it did not make a dent. Finally the parks department decided to try a cull. They had to hold hearings and after the predictable "don't kill Bambi" crowd had its say they closed the park for two weeks and gave the rangers shotguns to kill every deer they could find. They snuffed scads of deer and gave the meat to local food pantries. 6 months later they did a populations survey: 30+ deer per square mile...
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:05 PM   #47
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My wife and I take great satisfaction in growing/harvesting a lot of the food we eat. I have a big vegetable garden that produces a lot of the veggies we eat; we collect local fruits/berries for wine-making and fresh eating; we hunt and fish (try to get 2-3 deer for the freezer every year); we buy other meat (beef, lamb, pork, chickens) from farmer friends nearby; we get eggs from another farmer friend down the road; we grow several varieties of hops for use in making beer; we grow mushrooms on logs; we harvest wild rice; and more.

I try to do most of the house/yard maintenance and repair work around here, but there are occasionally jobs I'd rather not tackle myself, so we hire those out (like the new porch a local carpenter just built for us). I do simple vehicle maintenance, but major vehicle repair is not something I'm going to attempt.

All in all, we keep plenty busy doing the things we are good at, and that we enjoy doing. It's not really work to us, it's just part of our lifestyle. If I wasn't able to do some of these things, I'd probably be pretty unhappy....
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:12 PM   #48
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All in all, we keep plenty busy doing the things we are good at, and that we enjoy doing. It's not really work to us, it's just part of our lifestyle. If I wasn't able to do some of these things, I'd probably be pretty unhappy....
Pretty much the way I feel about it. There is a lot more satisfaction for me in sitting down to a meal I largely hunted/fished/foraged myself accompanied by a glass of homebrew compared with stuff I bought and assembled.
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:08 PM   #49
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Depends on the severity of the problem. I used to live in the People's Republic of New Jersey. One of the nearby county parks had a severe deer problem. A large tree would fall and instead of a race to see which sapling would replace it, nothing grew because the damn deer would eat it to the ground. A population survey found more than 30 deer per square mile in the park, where natural levels would be 1 to 2. They allowed bowhunting and muzzle loader hunting, but it did not make a dent. Finally the parks department decided to try a cull. They had to hold hearings and after the predictable "don't kill Bambi" crowd had its say they closed the park for two weeks and gave the rangers shotguns to kill every deer they could find. They snuffed scads of deer and gave the meat to local food pantries. 6 months later they did a populations survey: 30+ deer per square mile...
My parents told me about the Kiabab Forest after the non-hunters had their way. Big deer population boom and then starvation and disease wiped them out. Said it was the saddest thing they every saw. Took years to recover both the forest and the deer.
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:22 PM   #50
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I recall when I was in my thirties I considered buying a house with a lot of land and living off the land - cutting, splitting and stacking wood for heat, hunting for meat, fishing for meat, having a large garden for vegetable and fruits, canning fruits and vegetables, having a root cellar, etc. At the end of the day, I decided that self-sufficiency would be too much work and decided to keep working.

Today, DW has a small garden and does some canning. We had a few trees fall a couple years ago and had the wood cut (bigger than my chainsaw would handle easily) but i borrowed a friend's log splitter and split it and that is what we burned last winter, but normally we buy wood cut, split and delivered. I do a lot of our home maintenance and home improvement projects though because I enjoy it and it saves us a a lot at what carpenters charge.
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Old 08-24-2014, 03:24 AM   #51
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We live in the city and in a building with concierge service and most probably not move away from the city. So, in terms of self-sufficiency, I can prepare our meals, replace light bulbs, clean our home and that's about it for self- sufficiency.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:01 AM   #52
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An orchard and maybe some berry vines sounds like the just right amount of food-growing self-sufficiency to this fruit- and pecan-loving city boy.

There are low labor and crop-care requirements outside of the harvest season (I assume). My "plan" also the ability to barter or sell the surplus down at the farmer's market for high-labor food.

Would I have to develop Brewer's taste for squirrel to be truly successful, though?
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:08 AM   #53
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Lots of fruit trees need to be sprayed--even if you just use an organic oil to suffocate the pests. But that is a once or twice a season thing.

Squirrel isn't bad. Not as good as rabbit though!
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:45 AM   #54
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Lots of fruit trees need to be sprayed--even if you just use an organic oil to suffocate the pests. But that is a once or twice a season thing.

Squirrel isn't bad. Not as good as rabbit though!
Both are good. Squirrel pot pie vs. rabbit with bacon, mushrooms, shallots & ale. Lapin au cidre vs. southern fried squirrel.

What you have to do with fruit trees depends on climate. Where I live, apples grow like weeds, as do plums. Back in the East, if you don't spray you are just feeding the pests.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:30 AM   #55
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50+ posts in 2 days... Just imagine the input when the "Preppers" and "Guns" threads begin...
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:59 AM   #56
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50+ posts in 2 days... Just imagine the input when the "Preppers" and "Guns" threads begin...
"
Trying not to go there! Like I said, this is a polite, erudite forum and I like it that way! Even most "anti-gun" types are willing to accept hunting. That said, these days you can't say much of anything without offending someone on the internet. They will search you out to disagree with you!

Always did wonder a bit about gardening--its all about species-ism, chemical and biological warfare against entire species of plants and insects, raising others just to harvest their sex organs, genetic breeding and inbreeding to enhance certain traits. Could be really offensive depending on how you think about it!
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:37 PM   #57
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My SO is a farmer and raises cattle. Since we have been together I have become more self sufficient. We butcher our meat, have a large garden and I have started making my own bread and rolls. I started down this path because I enjoy it, but lately has become a big savings, what with the price of beef and produce.

Of course I am still an avid bargain shopper for sport!


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Old 08-24-2014, 12:47 PM   #58
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LCountz,

No offense here. Very sedate polite forum and I like it this way!

I just see so many people miss out because they get caught up in the commercialization of so many good things in life. Gardening is sticking seeds in the ground. Make it complicated and expensive if you want but don't condemn it later because of what it has become. Biking can be enjoyed on a cheap $20 flea market buy or even a freebie on craigslist or freecycle. Or it can be a $2000+ custom mountain bike!

I have old machine tools I play with (and plan to play with a lot more!). They are worth more as scrap metal than what I paid for them. My machinist friend said I should have bought new $5000+ tools instead. He misses the point that fixing the tools is part of the fun. I will understand the tools better, and their limitations, after going over every inch of them.
Is it profitable? Maybe. I could make a lot more selling my time. But that would be real work instead of tinkering...
You should read some of Ference Mate's writing. His books are what started me down the ER path but he is a real believer in modern self sufficient lifestyles, for instance building your own house (with your own hands), etc. Try "A Real Life."

I am not self sufficient by any means. But I do strive to do things for myself when it is something I am remotely interested in. I am more interested in gaining skills and knowledge than saving money on services, though that is always a nice benefit when it works out.

One of the overriding themes in my life has been that I am always working on building some new skill. Right now it is baking and boat repair...
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:11 PM   #59
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I initially got interested in ER when I started reading a homestead magazine and realized the people in the magazine were living on next to nothing and living healthier lives, getting more family time, fresh air, sunshine and exercise than we were. We're not into the hard work part, but then I found resources on sustainable living and simple living and we were able to slash our annual expenditures that way.

I like to hunt. Instead of animals I just hunt for loss leaders, art work at estate sales, bargains and ideas on how to live better but for less money than we used to spend. If you are doing what you enjoy, whether it is installing solar panels or scoring free play tickets or making your own bread, then it isn't work to you.
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Old 08-24-2014, 02:28 PM   #60
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Hunting is not allowed in residential areas, period. If it were, I have several acquaintances who would gladly take out the 8-point buck and his enormous family with their bows.

Some years ago, the county had "managed deer hunts," and then a rifle bullet was found in the exterior wall of a day-care center a mile from the hunt site (which seems, to me, like very poor hunt planning). That was the end of the county-sponsored hunts.

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Amethyst,

Do they not have urban bow hunts in your area? While bow hunting takes some time to learn, many hunters will take care of your deer problem for free. They might even share the harvest with you.

ArkTinkerer
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