Archives & Our Bookshelf
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Oh, how I love this book. Not simply because it caters to new farmers or small-scale farmers but because of its emphasis on the care of the soil and plants. From monocots and dicots to building fence — this book is wonderful and one I highly recommend. I’ve also been known to give it away to my reader friends because it really is that great.
This book also recognizes and embraces the enthusiasm of small-scale farmers today, who are eager to break the mold. The author recognizes them on a much more organic level — more than just the couple from “American Gothic” or symbols of patriotism handy to include in political speeches.
Carefully researched and aptly translated, this book is a refreshing addition to the homestead book collection.
Little Heathens was first given to me by my dear friend, Steve, a man with a pioneering spirit. He knew I would love the innocence and ingenuity of this hardy family as they struggled to make it during our country’s greatest financial crisis. Their frugality, sense of humor, work ethics, morals, and home remedies captured my heart.
Lovingly remembered by the author, this real-life collection of memories is completely true though the author does confess to “the all-too-human tendency to gloss over the bad and glorify, or at least magnify, the good.” Her honesty is delightful and holds a tonic power over even the rainiest of days.
Gone-Away Lake made me want to live off the land from the moment I first read it as a child. I loved each page and wished I could wake up in the world described on those pages — with the two cousins, Aunt Minnehaha, and Uncle Payton in the beautiful and secret Gone-Away Lake. Not only does this book teach children how to play outside instead of wasting away playing video games but the adults are treated with respect (not common in youth-targeted literature, I fear).
My worn out copy of Gone-Away with its dog-eared pages and tattered cover finally bit the dust in 2008 and had to be replaced. As soon as the new copy arrived, I read it cover to cover for the hundredth time.
For all who have romanticized to rolling hills and dramatic cliffs of Ireland and dreamed of living there — here is the homesteader’s version of that very dream. This is the true story of a husband and wife team, who moved from New York City to western Ireland in the mid-1980s. They planned to simply escape the demands of city life and concentrate on their passions (writing and painting) but ended up getting much more than they bargained for — they were forced to live off of the land. Of course, this is first greeted as an adventure, then a dreaded chore, and finally the greatest triumph of their lives.
This is a must-read. In fact, the entire series is a must-read. Kiltumper Cottage in the far reaches of the wind-swept and rain washed rugged verdant Irish countryside will feel like home before long. You will love it as the authors do, as though the gardens were planted by your very own hands and the woodpile created by your own axe.
Few books can hold a candle to The Encyclopedia of Country Living. If you can only afford to buy one book to last you the rest of your natural life (and you already have a Bible) then this should be your purchase. Everything you need to know from planting a garden to making salves, animal husbandry to cooking on a woodstove, and thousands of recipes, tidbits, & knowledge.
While somewhat dated and peppered with letters from readers & friends, this book covers nearly every aspect of homesteading while also managing to be a delightful read. Don’t get hung up on the details, though. Emery was no botanist but she also never claimed to be. Carla Emery, now deceased, left behind an incredible legacy. She inspired and empowered thousands of people to try living off the land or embrace organics.
Remember how I said that few books could hold a candle to The Encyclopedia of Country Living — this is one of them. This is basically a cleaned up, no-fuss, no-muss version of Carla Emery’s book. I like them both and use them all the time. Josh has read Country Wisdom & Know-How from cover to cover.
The large print version of this book would probably weigh as much as a school bus so get ready to pull out a magnifying glass from time-to-time. The print is teeny tiny but filled with recipes, how-tos, animal housing plans, gardening information, and more.
As our economy worsens, the information in this book becomes more and more valuable. Basically, this book contains the entire Foxfire series only better. This is a must-have for the blossoming homesteader or even the avid backyard gardener.