I have not gotten around to purchasing the agricultural land and probably never will. All the same, I have semi-consciously used my 1500 square meter property to test my long-held and deeply-ingrained dream of living off the land. I planted a 400 square meter vegetable garden, some berry bushes, and several fruit trees to experience what it was like to grow my food. I also acquired chickens for eggs.
Now, 1500 square meters – roughly one-third of an acre -- and two dozen hens is not enough to provide for my family, not even in the summer and fall; however, it is enough to obtain the experience of what it might take to pursue self-sufficiency.
After five years of what essentially amounts to hobby gardening and chicken-keeping, I have come to a sober conclusion. Self-sufficiency is far more challenging and time-consuming than most people imagine or assume.
My 400 square meter garden and 25 chickens take up considerable time daily. For example, I spent three hours pruning tomato plants today, and I only managed to get half of them done. Once I factor in the seemingly endless maintenance, repair, and home-improvement tasks around the house – to say nothing of mundane chores like mowing the lawn – I have little time to do anything else. And I haven't even mentioned things like perserving the food.
Put another way, my self-sufficiency LARPing in the summers consumes virtually all the hours between sunrise and sunset – and all this without even aiming to be self-sufficient. I can’t imagine where I would find the time to do the extra things needed to be a true independent homesteader. Granted, I’m not trying to be a true homesteader, but I know one thing for sure – if I were, I would have my work cut out for me.
I write this not to put a damper on anyone’s dreams of homesteading or self-sufficiency but romantic, adventurous souls pining to move to the countryside and carve out a self-sustainable lifestyle take note: Homesteading, subsistence agriculture, and self-sufficient living are far more challenging, arduous, and time-intensive than you likely presume, especially if you have little practical experience.