I’ve often been asked,” Where did you start with homesteading?”
I read A LOT!! Anything I could get my hands on I would read. I loved visiting the old farms where they would demonstrate old farming skills.
The next question I’m usually asked is, “Do you recommend any books?”
The answer is a resounding yes!! There are some books and magazines which have been instrumental in getting us where we are today. So I thought I would list them for you and give you a brief overview of why they were helpful to me.
My all time favorite has been Farm and Ranch by Reiman Publication. This comes 6 times a year and there are no advertisements in it!!! That was worth the price right there. When the kids were old enough to recognize the magazine cover, it became a joke that they were on their own for the rest of the day. There weren’t many articles on “how to” farm but a lot of personal anecdotes. Every issue they featured a farm and the family kept a diary for a whole month. I loved to read these because I wanted to know what it was like day to day to live on a farm. They featured all kinds of farms, all sizes, all kinds of people. I remember, particularly, reading one about a family who farmed 5 acres. What an encouragement! I knew I would never own hundreds or even 10′s of acres. I read these from cover to cover and saved issues to reread articles. These magazines got me through the days when I felt claustrophobic living in our suburban neighborhood.
Hobby Farm has also been a magazine that I enjoyed. They’ve had a lot of great “how to” articles, a wonderful resource magazine. The one aspect that I didn’t care for in this magazine is they seemed to be very cutting edge and I wanted to stay more “natural”, organic. I did enjoy the articles where they featured certain breeds of animals. Since I knew so little about farm animals, these regular articles opened my options when considering what type of animals we would have on our homestead.
There are so many more magazine publications out there that I’ve looked at, but these two rose to the top of the pile!
Probably one of the first books I purchased was Back to Basics by Reader’s Digest. I loved this book and would read all the different categories and picture what it would look like on my farm one day! I do believe I would have done very well as a pioneer and this book fed that notion. I loved the simplicity of the life that was portrayed in this book. This is definitely a “how to” book and covers a lot of the ancient or old-fashioned skills of homesteading.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery is another favorite. I liked this book, not just for all the information but also for the little personal stories that Carla would throw in here and there about her life and her progress with homesteading. This is a thick book, maybe and inch and a half, and full of everything you could think of for homesteading!
I have a favorite story to tell in regard to this book. Our first year here, we ended up with extra roosters. I’d never butchered before, nor did I really know anyone who had done it themselves. Everyone seemed to have a relative that had done it but they hadn’t themselves. Finally, a friend of mine admitted to this skill. I would never have guessed! After much coaxing, she agreed to come over and show me what to do. My girls were more than eager to learn so she taught all of us. The only problem, she didn’t know how to dress the rooster out afterwards. Well, I figured the worst was over so I’d figure the next step out on my own. My girls remembered seeing a chapter on butchering in the Encyclopedia of Country Living. Lauren and Emily (Lauren’s friend ) ran and got the book. Lauren, Emily, and Victoria spent the next hour or so on the back porch with a dead rooster, a couple of knives, and this book opened to the chapter on butchering. One would read, one would do what was said, and the other would comment on the progress and how disgusting it all looked! It was hilarious!!
For gardening, my all time favorite is the Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. A friend of mine loaned me the book when I lived in WA state and I used it so much, she finally said to keep it The newest edition, which I purchased this year, is even better than the first. This book was instrumental in helping me be successful in my gardening attempt and I was actually productive with the little bit of land we had in Seattle.
These pictures give you an idea of what our beginnings for homesteading looked like in our suburban neighborhood!
I read anything I could get my hands on that had to do with homesteading, animals, and old-fashioned methods of farming.
Once we moved to our homestead in Georgia, there have been a couple of new books I’ve added to our homesteading collection.
For anyone looking to do pasture animals and having pastures for grazing, I highly recommend You Can Farm by Joel Salatin. I wish I had read this book before we put a single animal on our pastures. Mr. Salatin’s methods made so much “natural” sense and I found out I had made many mistakes. The one difference between Mr. Salatin and me and my husband, we like our farm to look neat and organized. This book deals much more with functionality than cosmetics. However, the worth of Mr. Salatin’s wisdom far exceeded this difference and besides, it was an easy fix on my part!
For every animal that we purchased, we also purchased a Storey book that coincided with that animal. Storey has a marvelous book series for animals. They’re easy to read and understand and the books have pictures – which I always appreciate! Their website is www.storey.com. They have other books on country living as well. Another friend said she refers to their Basic Country Skills book frequently.
Again, there are so many books out there but these that I’ve listed have been most helpful to me and our endeavors here at the Lazy B Farm.
Some other titles to consider:
The Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto
Five Acres and Independence by MG Kains
MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook,Lifebook by MaryJane Butters (Lauren and I LOVE this book!! It’s the fru-fru part of homesteading)
I would love to hear from others who have read books that have been helpful in their homesteading or pursuit of homesteading. How grateful I am for the opportunity to share and receive from others across the country, especially when farming can seem isolated. Homesteading can be complex and the wisdom shared from others is invaluable!