Here's an update on our journey to being self-sufficient. Each year it gets better.
In the last 3 1/2 years we have really gained progress with self-sufficiency. It does require some investments, but those pay off.
So far this year, with making our own soap with our goat's milk, have not had to buy any bars of soap (and have used it to make homemade laundry detergent also).
We have not purchased dishwasher detergent either, and I am proud that we have reduced those chemicals and costs.
We have not had to buy any onions or potatoes this year. Last year we did.
We went all winter using green peppers we froze versus buying them from the store.
When we are low on eggs, we do without.
We have cut down the cost of buying organic milk by having the goat's, and have drastically cut down the trips to the recycling center (cost of time and gasoline) to take milk jugs in. It's been nice to recycle our canning jars for milk.
I have not had to buy ricotta cheese this year also. Making it is so easy with the goat's milk, but it takes 4 1/2 quarts.
As for making ice cream out of goat's milk, we need another goat for more milk. We need cream to add to the milk, otherwise it will freeze rock hard. My daughter already has her eye on one she wants to add to her herd.
We have not had to buy any jelly or jams for the last two years. Every year I learn more recipes to make and stock up on.
I have cut back on the cost of annual flowers, and used seeds from other farmgirls (lovely zinnia's). We also get the joy of watching butterflies.
We have not had to buy pickles or relish for two years now. We had a bumper crop of cucumbers last year, and have not cut back the cost of carrots.
Our homemade deodorant is lasting so much longer, and had drastically cut back the cost and cut out the chemicals.
Last year, from butcher time to this spring, I never had to buy chicken. Our meat chickens were worth the time to raise and we know they are chemical/antibiotic free.
After last fall, and three rounds of yucky antibiotics, I am really working hard to use natural remedies. Since then, and my awful sickness with allergies, we have been successful. With the purchase of Allergy Easer Oil, I have not had to buy any allergy pills whatsoever (since last fall). I have only had to take ibuprofen one time since then as well. And my 10 year-old, who also suffers horribly, has not had to take one pill either. She uses the roll-on Allergy Easer, and it has eliminated buying over the counter drugs, and we feel much better. We've been successful at reducing our costs, and staying chemical free.
I've learned foraging skills, and have researched the health benefits of eating dandelion greens, and tops. I've been making jelly from dandelions, and using the roots for dandelion "coffee." I've learned that clovers are edible, and I can make jelly from white and red clover. I've been making jelly from the flower of Queen Anne's Lace and studying the uses for the black walnuts on my property. Even foxtail grass is edible. We have wild chickweed on the property (not road side plants) and they can be used to make coffee, natural salves, and such as well. Every year we pick the wild growing black raspberries. It just gets more interesting as we learn.
I've learned skills for natural dyes, including the wild pokeweed growing on our property. I hope to experiment more with plants like the goldenrod that grow here as well.
Over the past two years, I have taught my self to knit and to do needle tatting. My goals are to learn quilting, blacksmithing, foraging for mushrooms, go hunting for deer myself, fish more often, and to learn the art of spinning wool. The list gets longer each year, but our hand crocheted afghans are warmer than any blanket you can buy in the store, and last longer.
This is our first year to plant again for a fall harvest. Thankfully the August rains are helping.
It's all hard work, but in the end, worth it. Our next goals are to make and use homemade toothpaste, grow enough corn to grind down ourselves for cornmeal, raise beef and dairy cows and much more.
Our wish list keeps growing, and every year we gain a few steps forward.