I agree with Nick in that I believe the better question isn’t about making one’s property self-sufficient. The better question is about making the people of a homestead self-sufficient. If we’re talking about surviving independently and not being assimilated into some type of collective, which I believe is more aligned with the independent mentality, then I offer an alternative approach to the survivalist scenario.
This alternative is needed when either a civilian force or a government force is, at some point, going to come for your land and operation. The timing of this depends on the duration of the SHtF scenario and your proximity to population centers. No, contrary to what tens of thousands of survivalists believe, you will not be able to out gun or defend your property should a motivated force leadership decides they want your operation. Even if several well-armed families band together and train properly, regional authorities or even a civilian force will only attempt to take your property with superior firepower. Yes, you may encounter a scouting group, but once the larger force or authority learns of your resources, they will come with force enough to take what they want. Dying does not constitute successful defense of your property.
You could possibly make yourself and your family indispensable in some way. But, growing food and managing animals is not an indispensable set of skills. I know that may bristle some feathers here at Permies. But, those skills will already be in the attacking force or within the collective supporting them. Yes, these are good skillsets to have, but you are not indispensable as one farmer. You need to find something else. Even then, however, you are at the mercy of the warlord or local government leader. That seems to me to be contrary to the independent objective we’re discussing.
My thinking is that to truly survive and not be subject to some power or force is to be mobile. One writer refers to it as going gypsy. I’m not referring to bugging out. Bugging out is usually to get you to a planned destination, which then you are again subject to the external force, no matter how well trained your family is. Your food supply has to be mobile. Since you can only carry very little food and water, your ability to forage is key. These are some of the best skills you can acquire on your homestead now, more important than than say, auto mechanic. You don’t have the ability to preserve food on the go, so you need skills at foraging and scrounging. In addition to foraging, in my opinion, goats are one of the best mobile options for fresh food supply (dairy, meat). I think goats are better choices than small cattle or sheep, which are both more difficult to move clandestinely and more picky about their feed. Goats are good foragers and can be better managed in a mobile situation as you have to move from place to place to avoid external forces. Goats eating leaves from trees are theoretically going to provide more mineral nutrients than purely grass-fed grazers – arguably.
Once the external force has either exhausted the resources of your property or lost interest they may leave it. You may have an opportunity to return. However, your risk of discovery is pretty high once you plant yourself back there. Going gypsy means that your value system is not based in your land but in the people of your family or mobile group. Where you are on any given day serves as either a resource or as cover; it is not your home. Your home is defined by the people you’re with, not a physical location. Choosing when to move is based on external threats and resource availability and your family or group’s ambulatory nature. Going gypsy is on foot. Vehicles are loud, require fuel and maintenance, and most require some kind of roadway and are easily spotted. Your homestead is whatever you can carry or lead.
Not everyone will be cut out for gypsy survival. Some will submit themselves to some authority or new collective. Some will resist an external force and may or may not survive. Some will be in a remote enough area where they may not ever encounter an external force. For the rest of us, I believe only by evasion will independent individualists survive. In my opinion, mobility is the way to survive a widespread SHtF scenario.