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The story I'm about to share proves that most peoples' idea of self sufficient living, just like recycling and going green, are much more grandiose than they have to be. Not that there is anything wrong with self-sufficiency or recycling on a large scale, it's just not that practical for most people without large farms with plenty of acreage.

My earliest example of a self-sufficient life came through the example set by a man who probably had no property at all much less enough farmland with pastures filled with homegrown livestock and land where he could grow his own vegetables. Bill’s way of life was simple and while it would probably not be appealing to everybody; it was effective.

Bill didn’t own a vehicle, and what money he raised he did by doing yard work. He didn’t own a vehicle and oddly enough didn’t even own a lawn mower (much less his own farm). When he cut your yard he did it with your family’s lawnmower.

He walked to work and spent his day going from house to house in our subdivision asking if anything needed done, setting a price and then taking care of business. This part of the process was just part of the equation in Bill’s style of self sufficient living.

Most afternoons, on his way out of the neighborhood, he would be carrying a sack filled with food and stuff that other people were letting go to waste (his words). While he was tending peoples’ yards, he would also gather poke salad for supper, plums, apples and in the fall he would stay after work to pick up pecans in what we called the "old hospital yard". The nuts that fell off those trees were no bigger than your thumbnail and everybody else considered shelling them to be way too much work for what little meat you got for your trouble.

In my opinion, this is a super example of how simple a self sufficient lifestyle can be. Self sufficiency doesn't have to be fancy, just making the best use of what is around us and not letting anything go to waste by recycling and a little bit of scavenging. The things we recycle help the environment and the items we find and make use of soothe our souls and lift our spirits.

And, yes, Bill was happy with his special brand of self sufficient living. In fact, he was probably more satisfied with his life than CEOs of major corporations who make millions of dollars a year will ever be.


Gisele said...

Beyond Self Sufficient... Environmental Heroes. Couple Puts Out Remote Forest Fire

With forest fire risks high on the radar, meet impromptu environmental heroes, Steve and Giselle Holmik. Spotting a flash fire from their small plane, they risked their lives to save the tinder try Boreal forest near their remote cottage west of Sudbury Ontario.

With the forest fire rating at Extreme in Northern Ontario due to the unusually dry Spring, the couple were enjoying a scenic flight in their small plane, on the way to their off the grid getaway on Lonely Lake. Veering overhead to see if friends were at their camp on neighbouring Onaping Lake, they noticed forest fires in the distance in every direction. Giselle relates, “As we were over Helen Lake approaching Lonely, we suddenly sighted a huge explosion seemingly coming out of the ground near Lonely. It was just like a volcano erupting. We had just heard an announcement on the radio that there was a fire North of Wahnapitae and a smaller one to the West.” Steve, piloting their small plane, tried to convince himself that it was just a train, but soon realized the tracks are not that close to the lake.

The couple flew over, scouting out a safe place to land. Taxiing by the narrows and observing the smoke, it was clear that fire had been burning for a few days. “With all the other fires going on, we had no idea how long it would take for the Ministry of Natural Resources to take action and the fire being near the camp, it was too close for comfort to be wondering and waiting,” says Giselle. Forest fire in Canada is a dangerous situation at the best of times, let alone in a remote location. Seeing no option, Steve acted quickly and calmly, incredibly getting their small fire pump going. It had not been working for a couple of years.

“By the time we got to the site, there were trees going up in flames like fire crackers and Steve had to work at the old burnt site, still smoldering, before getting to the flames,” reports Giselle. They determined the fire, set by recent lightning, had tunneled into the ground. Realizing this was going to take longer that they thought, Giselle headed back to get more fuel for the water pump and a second hose. They connected the hoses and Steve continued working his way to the flames. Giselle was able to go in and start digging where he had put flames out, as it was obvious the parched earth underneath was still on fire.

Three grueling hours later, the environmental heroes had the area under control. During that time, a fire bomber was buzzing overhead. That crew realized that the couple amazingly had things under control, and moved on to other fires in the distance.

Later that evening, the couple inspected the site and found smoke still smoldering. By the next morning however, the area was smoke free. “That same night, a helicopter flew over Lonely, hovered a bit over the site with some sort of heat sensing equipment and then took off up North. It was a relief to see that!” the couple relates. The couple flew over the area again this week, spotted fine wisps of smoke and reported it to the MNR, who took over from there.