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A Tale of Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency

A Tale of Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency

In an era when “going green” is sometimes just a marketing slogan, it can really shake you (and perhaps greatly inspire you) when you learn of people who have wholeheartedly ditched a life of consumerism, convenience and excess energy consumption. That’s how I felt when I first read about Robert and Summer Schulz.

Robert and Summer, who live with their young son in Wisconsin, dreamt of creating a homestead since they were teenagers. They saved as much money as possible over many years and did everything they could to learn rural skills, including working on several farms.

They craved a life in which they could be largely self-sufficient, yet remain meaningfully involved in a local community. They spent months looking for the right property, and when they found it, spent many more months building their home with their hands using sustainable, natural building methods.

In their beautiful, hand-built home, they use little fuel, relying mostly on a solar system to power lights. They do without a refrigerator, freezer, TV and water heater—they use wood to heat their water and home. They use a team of three draft horses to till their large garden, which grows most of the food they eat throughout the year. They drink water from a clean spring that runs through their property.

A rural life full of hard work isn’t for everyone, but can be deeply satisfying. Here’s how Robert describes how they live:

“In living a rural lifestyle, we feel thoroughly fulfilled in our lives. We work hard each day and celebrate with creativity and good food. We enjoy being close to our friends and becoming stronger as a family. These are all things that take time and effort, and it’s what we want to be doing … We are so blessed to be living on our land, in the home we built … We are guided by our conscience, supported by our friends and family, and inspired by what’s to come. The struggles we face often bring frustration, but the realization that we can pull through and grow stronger from such experiences has made us eager to take on the next challenge in front of us. With a spirit of innovation and a love for simplicity and living wisely, we wake up each morning with ambition. We hope to inspire others as we have been inspired, and we look to the future with optimism.”

To read more of Robert and Summer’s story, go to Learning to Live a Self-Sufficient Life. To see pictures of this family’s homestead, check out this Image Gallery.

Do you desire a rural life? These resources might help make your dreams a reality:

Photo by John Ivanko

Related: Learn 3 New Homesteading Skills, Could You Live Off the Grid? and Living on Less: 10 Trusty Tips

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.


+ add your own
12:05PM PST on Mar 5, 2012

Very admirable! I'd love to be that dedicated to pull that off!

6:37PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Thank you

1:54AM PST on Feb 10, 2012


6:26AM PST on Feb 7, 2012

nononono. don't tell people to have horse that pull a cart! animal lovers want the practice to end, as it's slavery. just read what users here say on the approperate topics.

*pretends to cry*

3:08PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

no Kristina, i live in an area with large numbers of Amish. they are only partly self sufficient and for most of them definitely not green.

7:29PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

good for them......I hope their clean spring doesn't get polluted by surrounding farms, etc.....

5:53AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

I admire this couple, but it is definitely a very hard life style which not many people could commit to

3:53AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

Nobody is ever selfsufficient. We are all interdependent. The fact with these well meaning people and the way they want to live their lives, they still hurt the environment just with the structure they built, the fact that they use wood for heating etc..It is just all an illusion..If we all put an effort into minimizing our footprint, it would be a better World.
I would start by outlawing companies like Monsanto and the whole war industry.
We are the most destructive animals on this planet!

3:36PM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Blessed, indeed!

11:08AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

thanks for sharing this

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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