I started a self-reliance challenge for myself in 2022. And I’m continuing it this year!
I really loved learning 1 new skill a month. It was enough to challenge myself but not too overwhelming.
Here’s a recap of what skills I wanted to learn and which ones I was able to tackle. The checkmarks are skills I started tackling and have learned a bit about. I’m obviously not an expert in any single one. The circles are ones that I just didn’t get to this year, or wasn’t successful in (that one is reserved for hunting).
A 2022 Self-Reliance Challenge Recap
So how did last year’s challenge actually go? Well according to the checkmarks, I would say it was a 75% success 🙂 I learned a ton of new skills, ones that I’ll continue to improve upon this year and create space to learn even more new ones in 2023.
I taught myself how to make gluten-free sourdough and have just recently started teaching myself how to make a regular sourdough recipe. I’m still learning how to make a regular sourdough but am proud to have stuck to improving upon this skill all year. It’s a lot to feed two starters a day so I’m hoping I’m more successful in regular sourdough recipes and can go down to one. I’m purchasing 1847 flour that does not include added iron so I’ve been able to eat these sourdough loaves of bread without any issues.
Canning & Ferminting
I have successfully canned pickles, beets, peaches, pumpkin, and “nomato” sauce. I use a water bath canning method and that felt very doable for me. I have also successfully fermented sauerkraut and carrots. I’ll continue expanding my food-preserving knowledge but feel very accomplished in this area in such a short amount of time.
I successfully started seeds in March & April of last year. I was able to grow onions, cauliflower, pumpkin, cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, squash, zucchini, leeks, kale, and cabbage. Let’s not discuss how many of them survived in the garden but at least I know I can start plants well! I didn’t end up growing microgreens. I just haven’t been eating enough salads to warrant growing these to add on top of them.
Gardening / Weeding / Composting
I had my husband build me 2 gardens. A long rectangular one and a square one with fencing around to keep our dogs and the squirrels out. We miscalculated the placement of the gardens this year and they just didn’t receive enough sunlight to provide the plants with enough to grow. We’ll keep going next year but move the gardens to a more sunny spot. My husband was saying he’d like to put them on the roof but I’m not keen on hauling buckets of soil up there to move them there. We considered even putting them in the front yard but have to look up by-law regulations first.
In regards to composting, I had wanted to organize a back area of our yard but just never got to it so I’m adding it to the list for this year.
I took a really great workshop last year on foraging and identifying edible plants. With new book resources in my possession, I’m excited to continue learning in this area.
Volunteer on a Farm
I actually managed to do this earlier in the year while I was between jobs. I volunteered on a farm called Alpenblick Farm. My job was to move cow feed from the shed to the barn, make the feed buckets for the cows, feed the sheep hay, and muck sheep, goats, or cow pens. I learned a lot while I was there. I loved getting to know the owners and asking lots of questions. I was only there for a few short months but am grateful for the experience.
While our twins are not school-age, I wanted to create an environment for them to start learning. And at 2 years old it’s super simple with reading, learning the alphabet, numbers, and crafts with their hands. I bought them a few key things that they use with us or their nanny. I also simply created a schedule for crafts so they are doing something different every single day.
- Monday – Playdough
- Tuesday – Messless Painting
- Wednesday – Painting
- Thursday – Colouring
- Friday – Construction Paper Glueing
We also bought the Melissa & Doug My First Calendar so they could also start learning about months, years, days of the week, seasons, temperatures, weather, holidays, what activities they would do each day, and how they were/are feeling.
I managed to dry and save seeds from cucumbers I grew and from squash I bought from a local organic vegetable farmer.
I ordered two kits from We Are Knitters. In December I managed to knit half a blanket. I’ve got a pair of mittens that I’ll try next. Knitting is so calming and such a perfect stress-reduction tool. I’m putting it on the list again this year but specifying that I’ll learn how to knit a hat.
My 2023 Self-Reliance Challenge
So I’ll take the skills I didn’t learn in 2022 and tackle them in 2023.
I’m trialing a new platform to document my self-reliance challenge over on substack. There will be free and paid content if you’d like to read more about this year’s challenge you can subscribe to that newsletter.