Hello friends. The 2013 “Year of Self Sufficiency” has come to an end. I made a goal at the beginning of the year to complete a self sufficiency project each month and document my progress right here. Thank you for staying tuned this year! Your encouragement has helped me stay on track. I can’t say that every project was a smashing success, but looking back I can say that we accomplished a lot. Here is a list of the projects that were done:
Food Storage – I set out to store a year’s worth of food for my family. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get a year’s worth of food stored away. I am about 50% there. If you are planning to put together a stockpile of emergency food for your family, I recommend reading the recommendations that I’ve put together.
Aquaponics – I set up an indoor system to grow vegetables and fish. This was one of my favorite projects this year. We were able to successfully set up and run a system using a 55 gallon barral, a 35 gallon barrol garbage bin, a large plastic storage bin, pvc pipe, a small water fountain pump, and gravel. We eventually discontinued the system after 4 months because of issues related to being indoors. I hope to expand this system in the future in an outdoor greenhouse. I’ve missed hearing the bell siphon discharging water.
Soap Making – I learned how to make my own soap using oil, shortening, lye, and water. I felt like a mad scientist as I mixed the ingredients together and watched the chemical reaction melt the plastic bin I was using. Although the soap didn’t turnout as good as I had hoped, we are still putting it to good use.
Raising Chickens – This was by far the most fun project we did this year. We bought chicks in March and our home hasn’t been the same since. We constructed a coop, covered chicken run, nesting boxes, PVC feeder, waterer, and heater for the winter. My little helpers have loved going out in our backyard and being with the chickens. We go our first egg in August, and they have continued to supply us fresh eggs every morning.
Garden – Although this wasn’t our first garden, there were several first time experiments that we did. (I think most gardeners I’ve met seem to be scientists and are continually trying new methods or crops). Some of the highlights from our garden this year were watermelons, cantaloup, more zucchini that we could possibly eat, pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, squash for pumpkin pie, and using landscape cloth to drastically cut down our weeding.
Survival Cooking – I put together an outdoor barbeque pit and did some dutch oven meals. I would like to continue learning new methods of cooking, such as solar, in the future.
Solar Power – I put together a small solar system using a 9 volt solar panel, a 6 volt battery, a 6 volt charge controller, a light switch, and a light bulb. I would like to up size this setup in the future to provide power to a greenhouse.
Wild Edibles – I put together a list of 20 common edible plants that are found in the wild. We also went as a family and picked wild blackberries that we later used to make jam. A delicious bounty from Mother Nature.
Food Preservation – I used our dehydrator and water bath caner to put away food for later use. We discovered that cantaloup works well for dehydrating, but watermelon does not. There are a lot of different methods for food preservation. I plan to learn more about these in the future.
Homemade Blanket – I discovered that a man really CAN sew a blanket. Although, it did not come out looking as nice as if my wife had done it!
Financial Master Plan – I have a good start at putting together a financial master plan for our family. It has helped us put together our long term goals, as well as having a place to put important documents. This is something we will continue to add to and revise in the future.
Rocket Mass Heater – I completed Phase 1 of the heater which involved a highly insulated heat riser and a burn tunnel. The 3 weeks of concrete curing is almost complete. Next step is to connect the heat exchange barrel and air duct, then fire it up.
What’s Planned For 2014?
I’ve had a lot of fun in 2013, and I hope that you have had a good time with me as well. I created the AntiReliant website as a challenge to myself to learn self-sufficient projects and also to inspire you in your projects. Through the learning experiences I’ve shared through this year you can see that I’m no expert, but I’ve learn a lot of valuable information that I’ve tried to pass on to you. So what do I have planned for 2014? …More AntiReliant Projects! I am planning to build a greenhouse for a new aquaponics setup which will incorporate the rocket mass heater, and solar power. I’m sure there will be other projects along the way as well. I’m also planning to add a lot more valuable information on the website.
I know many of you are doing a lot of projects yourself. Keep me informed, and let me know if you have something to share! Lets continue our Antireliant journey together one project at a time!
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