Striving for self sufficiency on the smallholding is what we all dream about. It’s that sense of using everything around us and wasting nothing. It’s about doing as much for ourselves as we can. It’s about spending less, it’s about being creative, but most of all it’s about how you feel when you let the chickens out of a beautiful coop you made yourself from discarded pallets, or when you pen your sheep up using homemade hurdles fashioned from coppiced willow.
In a world where bills are going up and income is coming down, where “cutting back” is the new mantra for the holder of the household purse strings, and “home-made” is more sought-after than “designer”, finding new ways of becoming self reliant, and self sufficient on the smallholding is more important than ever.
Important, and achievable. Part of the key to becoming more self sufficient on the smallholding lies in pre-planning, so for example if you had a pig going off in the autumn from which you have decided to make your own chorizo, consider planting some pulses that are easy to grow in this country, can be dried and will be perfect for a really hearty homemade cassoulet. It’s this ability to think about the end result and tie produce together that can make so much difference, without changing very much of what you are already doing. Self sufficiency is not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. Many smallholders keep chickens. If you have too many eggs in the summer months, think about making pasta (and if you have a bread machine, you can even make the pasta in the bread machine which cuts down on time, effort and mess). But pasta is no good on it’s own, so put a little of your vegetable patch over to growing more Mediterranean vegetables for a sauce, such as ratatouille, which makes a wonderful topping for pasta, or the best filling for homemade lasagne imaginable. In Italy, pork mince is popular in ragouts, so if you keep pigs that’s an obvious choice, but then you will need to grow more herbs; basil, marjoram, oregano and loads of garlic!
For the full guide see July's Smallholder.