Retirement comes sometimes suddenly, but sometimes gently. In my case it has been a slow moving into a retired state. I had intended to continue supply teaching for a few years yet, but the while the agencies still have older people on their books, they seem more concerned to find jobs for the younger ones. Well, the younger teachers need a future! But we older ones still need something to do, and many of us need more money than are provided by our pensions. My own strategy is to carry on doing some economic work, but place far more emphasis on self-reliance.
Do an audit
A key part of any self-reliance strategy is to audit your opportunities and skills. In my case I am a qualifed horticulturalist and have an allotment. I am also generally competent at making and mending, but need professionals for some tasks, such as plumbing, gas and electricity. I also have some economic opportunities still. I am an examiner and am still being invited to apply for promotion [I don't want it.] I write and can continue doing my successful private tution business. Mix self-reliance with some surviving economic opportunities.
Key to any self-reliance strategy is the need to provide food. You need to develop the art of growing vegetables. If you have a garden or an allotment, fine, but you can grow in containers. Potatoes can be grown in sacks or specially designed containers in any yard. A greenhouse will provide you with tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables that require heat. A plastic one can be purchased quite cheaply. Window ledges and balconies can be home to containers that can produce some salad vegetables, but always ensure that you are not overloading a balcony. Salad vegetables are easy to grow and by regular sowing you can ensure a steady supply of salads.
Mushrooms can be grown in any darker part of your house. mushrooms do not need darkness, but they do need an airflow. Some, like shiitake, are great but need warmth.
Sometimes you can turn dairy products into cheese and yoghurt. I have a yoghurt maker. All you need is milk and a starter culture. Currently starter culturesare hard to acquire, but you can use a live yoghurt as the starter. It requires a good dose of starter, and ideally it should not be infused withany fruit juice. Similarly, milk can be turned into ccottage cheese quite easily. All you need to do is boil it to a high temperature and, if you cannot add rennet, do what I did and add lemon or orange juice. Add salt and then strain. Once it has drained tie it tightly into a bundle to drain and then three days later you have cottage cheese. Eat quickly, as it does not keep well. With cheese and yoghurt always ensure that your equipment is clean, so as to avoid impurity. If a yoghurt shows a red streak, throw it away! A good guide book is always very useful and can protect agains mistakes.
Wine is a great addition to your self-reliance strategy. You will have the time to forage for blackberries and elderberries. These with the aid of sugar and yeast can be made into wine. Wine made with only elderberries can be very tart and upsets some people, but elderberry mixed with blackberry is great. I have made a fantastic wine from blackberry and apple.
Depending on where you are there may be opportunities for foraging. To do this you need a good book, such as Food for Free, by Richard Mabey. A range of books will show you various plants from different angles. There are a few poisonous plants to be avoided, but there are many nutritious ones growing round our towns and lanes. It is important to know what you are picking. If you live near the sea there is foraging that can be done on the shore, but if like me you live in a town, you have to make do with what is found by road and canal sides. Find out what is likely to be growing in your local area and concentrate on that.
Mushroom foraging can be profitable, but you need to be very careful that you know what to forage. Never pick a mushroom that you do not know. Never pick button mushrooms wild, as you cannot tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous ones. Get some good books on mushroom identification and be very careful.