Saturday, April 09, 2005


When I started Homesteader Life I thought if I was lucky, it would be read by my 4 friends and my wife. I was was really surprised when I started getting emails from folks all over the US and Canada that wanted to get back to the land and live a more simple way of life. I'm happy to see that so many folks are working to make their dreams a reality. Its often been said that farming is something you can't learn from a book. Its partly true. You are either born with it in your blood or your not. But I have seen many folks that were not raised on farms start them and do a really good job. It was in the blood. For those in that camp I have listed some books worth reading.

Family Friendly Farming....A Multi-Generational Home-Based Business Testament
This book by Joel Salatin is very good from what I hear, though I haven't read it yet. Mr.Salatin writes from experience. In other words.....he has manure on his boots!

Pastured Poultry Profits
Also by Salatin, this is the model we use with our meat birds.

The Backyard Orchardist
The Backyard Berry Book
Both these books are by Stella Otto. They are worth 10 times what they cost. The best books on the subjects, bar none. You will learn a lot. If you plan on planting fruit trees and berries this year you need these books.

Five Acres & Independence
The classic guide to living on the land is still available. Many things have changed since the 1940 original publication of this book, but there is still plenty of basic, down-to-earth good advice to be had in this guide to getting back to the soil. I enjoyed this book by M.G. Kains.


At 4/09/2005 7:37 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Joel Salatin's You Can Farm is another good one for anyone contemplating a farming vocation.

Though not strictly farming books, one may also want to take a look at:

The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour. This book combines information from several of Seymour's books over the years. His biographical Fat of the Land is a fun read on how he and his family got started with the homestead life in rural England. And as is typical of the English, his prose is quite enjoyable. (For those interested in a good historical summary of various trades and crafts I would also recommend his Forgotten Arts and Crafts)

The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing which includes both Living the Good Life, and Continuing the Good Life. While the Nearings were atheistic socialists, there is something to be learned from someone who actually lived off of the land for over 40 years. Their accounts are full of good insights and are quite well written. Just think of it as plundering Egypt and ignore the periodic worldview fallacies.

The Manual of Practical Homesteading (Rodale) by John Vivian is out of print but can be found readily through Bookfinder.
Vivian, who also wrote books on bee keeping, wood heat, fences, stone walls as well as many of the small Storey pamphlets, is a veteran homesteader and his Manual is worth finding just for the first chapter In Pursuit of a Better Life. This book is another good practical summary text.

Gene Logsdon of

The Contrary Farmerand Living At Nature's Pace: Farming and the American Dream fame wrote two other good books (Rodale) titled Homesteading:How to Find New Independence on the Land, and Two Acre Eden. Homesteading is more “How-To”, and Two Acre Eden, though it contains practical information, is told in more of a story format with Logdson's dry humor poking fun at a lot of the conventional homesteading wisdom of that era. His chapter on compost had me in stitches.

Though I have a copy of the Schwenke's Build Your Own Stone House, I have yet to get my hands on a copy of their Successful Small Scale Farming: An Organic Approach but it seems to be a fairly ubiquitous and often referred to volume.

For pure inspiration, and as a Kentuckian, I must also recommend

Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society by Harlan Hubbard. Harlan and his wife, Anna, married when in their forties, built a shantyboat and then floated down the Ohio, and Mississippi rivers (including the bayous of Louisiana) over a 5 year period in the late 1940's. They then returned to their first summer stop at Payne Hollow, Kentucky, and purchased a small plot of land on which they lived for another 30+ years. Wendell Berry has also written a biography of Hubbard as well. Hubbard is the type of writer that one can read and re-read without a sense of staleness. Though not a Christian (sadly), his insights into the beauty of the Creation are timeless.

Of course, there are a whole host of books on specific areas of homesteading that are very useful if one is going to pursue those areas. I have found that there were many written in the seventies and eighties by Rodale that were very good and are now mostly out of print.

Jeff Schmidt

At 4/09/2005 9:28 AM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

Hey Jeff

Thanks for the imput. I like Gene Logsdon too. I have an old copy of "Homesteading...finding a new independence on the land" great book but out of print. I should point out Rick sells "You can farm" as well as the 2 I linked in the post by Salatin. This Harlan Hubbard sounds like a pretty neat guy. I'll have to get that book when I have some cash.


At 4/09/2005 10:37 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

One of my favorite quotes.

“I had no theories to prove. I merely wanted to try living by my own hands, independent as far as possible from a system of division of labor in which the participant loses most of the pleasure of making and growing things for himself. I wanted to grow my own food, catch it in the river, or forage after it. In short, I wanted to do as much as I could for myself, because I had already realized from partial experience the inexpressible joy of so doing.” ~Harlan Hubbard

One thing that was quite interesting to me in reading Hubbard's various books and journals, was the abundance of food (fruits and vegetables) that they were able to find in the wild (in addition to their own garden).

I want to clarify that I provided the Amazon links for purely informational purposes. By all means, purchase books from folks like Rick Saenz at Draught Horse Press, Books on the Path, and others when possible.

Jeff Schmidt

At 4/09/2005 1:43 PM, Blogger The BadgerMum said...

Thanks so much! Those all look like just what we need.

At 4/09/2005 3:16 PM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

"In short, I wanted to do as much as I could for myself, because I had already realized from partial experience the inexpressible joy of so doing.”

Amen...Nothing like working hard and finishing a job that that actually acomplishes somthing. There are few joys in life that equal providing your family with food and fiber. This our paper shuffling brothers never experience.



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