My journey towards self-sufficiency part 1

The pitfalls of a self-sufficient life:

Planning to be Self- sufficient

This is the first entry of my journey towards self-sufficiency my goals, failures, achievements, experiments and meandering. I hope you enjoy reading and I am keen to read your comments, be it critical flaring or applauding.

A sheep or two – beginnings and planning

amaranth drying

It seems odd these days that I begin to write about self-sufficiency, I am time-pressed, building up my nursery having thousands of plants waiting to be potted up, two teenagers, unfinished watering systems, preparations for fairs and markets, a website which needs attention. These days, a day or two of food gardening seems to be a luxury. But anyway the amaranth is drying on the front veranda and is waiting to be further processed. (The picture shows the harvest of one bed maybe 4 meters long and 80 cm wide)

How it all started

The house was appraised “a sheep or two”, that stuck in my brain. Me, being convinced that the breakdown of the society an economic collapse of biblical proportions and peak oil is just around the corner a milking animal seems only logic. Between building a high-security enclosure for a goat or having a cow which would be too big, the sheep seamed the logical answer to Agamemnon. It turned out a little bit different and our society is still there, I even use a computer.

The sheep wouldn’t have been the best animal for this event, at least not in terms of milk. Lily the East Frisian milk sheep never gave more than half a litre and a character she is and any one else could milk her but me. Of course, if you are in the position to milk ten sheep and like spinning then sheep are great “egg-laying wool milk pigs”  which is a translation of a German saying apart from the eggs a sheep gives you everything, however only small quantities of milk, admittedly the best milk I have ever tried.

Milking is incredibly binding and time-consuming, has to be done twice a day at the same time that said I would not introduce any milking animal in the early stage of the development of a property. Between milking one or five sheep, there is not so much difference of time it takes.

kids trying to milk the sheep

How much grass does a sheep eat?

The ‘sheep or two’ was Real Estate agent talk. Neither one let alone two sheep can be kept on half an acre; it is closer to half a sheep and there wouldn’t be any space left for the veggies and fruit trees. I knew it from the very beginning, but determined to get ready for the end of the world, we would simply bring food to the sheep or the sheep outside the property. Of course this plan would have been incredibly time-consuming!

I started to plan the garden, to be precise I planned a garden around a sheep. There was the need for the biggest paddock possible in the hope that the sheep would at least partially be fed there, I should have known that logically there is no grass on such a small paddock!

And what does this mean for your own garden?

The take away message: if you ever plan what to do with a piece of land and the whole plan is dominated by one element, this is the element to question. Do you really need that sheep, that shed or that greenhouse?  To find out what is right for you, you can draw another plan this time without the said sheep. See how it turns out, develop several options, how do they feel like, and then decide. Planning does not mean putting some thoughts together in one plan, it means thinking a bit more, drawing up a lots of possibilities, the rest goes in the bin, the hopefully best is the one to keep.

To make your planning easier, I put together a description on how to print out a scaled plan of your property which you can read here: How to print a scaled base plan of your property.

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