The biggest challenge to identifying our homestead core values (see Homestead Core Values) may be defining those values. We should and can only define them by our own standards, in as much as they are values we hold dear. Each value I’ve previously covered, Family, Frugality, and Hard Work, are fairly easy for us to define. The value of Self-Reliance proves more difficult. For starters, is the term hyphenated, or not? Spelling and grammar checking systems disagree . . . .
Moreover, two terms, self-reliance and self-sufficience, have become somewhat interchangeable in current discourse. In the early years of this blog I also wrote for another site, a collaborative self-reliance blog, where we hashed out workable definitions for these two terms.
Here’s how I tend to use these two terms on this site:
Self-reliance: to meet ones needs and support oneself mostly or completely on one’s own resources.
Self-sufficience: to live mostly or completely free of support from others, community, or society.
In this day and age, self-reliance is arguably possible; self-sufficiency is arguably not. One can’t truly claim self-sufficiency if one purchases food, goods or services, or relies on infrastructure from public roads to the laws that support one’s claim to land ownership.
Under these definitions, self-reliance is a homestead core value for my family, self-sufficience is not. That’s why I try very hard to avoid the latter term on this site.
Like many values people hold, we consider our self-reliance more aspirational than the others listed above. We practice self-reliance to a considerable degree, but we’re less self-sufficient than we’d like to be.
Part of that comes from our geographic location. We simply can’t grow many of the goods we prefer not to live without, most notably sugar, coffee, and black tea. Ours is a rich region, but it can’t provide all we want out of life.
Still, we grow, forage, hunt and fish more of our food than many Americans. We generate our own electricity, gather and process our own firewood to heat our home and water. We own our home and property free and clear. We live without most luxuries that our society considers “necessities.” These last three allow us to live on considerably less income than most, which allows us to earn less than most people must. We rely on our own resources, and aspire to increase that self-reliance in the future.