6 Homesteading Books You Need to Buy!
Starting a homestead, let alone a hobby garden can seem like a daunting task. I’ve been at the stage where my ‘homestead’ consisted of me googling a million different projects I had no way of completing, and absolutely no know how. A few things that really kicked my butt into gear (other than the raw want of being self-sufficient) was investing in some books that became the base of my homestead. Like picking up any new skill, one of the best ways to achieve is to do, and before doing I like to research!
If you’re like me and are looking for some good reads to get you started check out this list!
The Essential Book of Homesteading
The very bottom of the cover reads “The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Living”, and let me tell you this book delivers!! The Essential Book of Homesteading goes into detail on everything from chicken raising and all the nuances plus costs that are included, to making your own apple butter. Breaking these bigger aspects down into smaller manageable processes, tips, and supplies definitely took some of the overwhelm out of getting started. Ashley English stands out with the specific way her book is broken down. It takes core homestead projects (chicken raising, canning and preserving, crafting dairy products and bee keeping) and breaks each topic down into digestible content that you can easily adopt and apply, even if you are just getting started. Many of her tips and tricks can even be done with items purchased from a farmers' market, making it useful for those of us who still don’t have as much space for gardening as we’d like. I’m a visual person and the photography in this book, looking back at it today, could have been taken in my backyard. It’s real, authentic, “hey this is what the inside of a dirty chicken coop looks like and here’s how to clean it”. It’s not glamorous, but it’s what you need to know when starting out.
Tip: Considering chickens? The first 75 pages are for you, providing details all the way down to chicken anatomy!
2. Back to Basics- A Complete Guide to Tradition Skills
Edited by Abigail R. Gehring
This book is the book you read when you want to see all the possible things you could do on a homestead, and find the best option for you. Do you want to build your own log cabin? Or maybe a stone house? Have you ever thought of fish farming, or learning how to use a loom? This book gives you ideas that may have never even run across your mind to begin with, and at first glance my thoughts were, “wow this is really out of the box thinking”, and then a moment of clarity hits, and you come to the realization it's actually just back to our roots and back to basics! It made things like renewable energy seem doable, and not like paying a company to come rent me equipment and profit off my solar, but no, do it MYSELF! This back-to-basics book puts the home in homestead, and is one I’m consistently going back to! It’s a mix of content that is obtainable today and right now, but also things I’d like to work on in my five-year plan, and some things that maybe I’ll personally never do, but hey it keeps me aspiring!!
3. Nature Anatomy; The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World
First off, let's talk about the illustration. The hand drawn illustrations in the book have to be some of my absolute favorites. Flash back 4 years ago, I couldn’t tell the difference between a honey bee and a carpenter bee, and this book is where I started. To stick with the simplistic beauty of this book I’ll keep it short. In three phrases I would say it is informative, diversified, and a PERFECT place to start whether you want to learn how to identify bees & butterflies or trees & mosses.
Another quick note, it’s one of those rare books that is equally suitable for children as it is for adults.
4. Preserving; Conserving, Salting, Smoking, Pickling
Ginette Mathiot, Revised & Updated by Clotilde Dusoulier
This book isn’t my Saturday night relax and settle in book, it’s more of my “I need to learn how to do this right, and I need a reliable source!”. When it comes to food preparations, I don’t trust what just anyone says, I need to do the research and make sure I’m getting the job done right! Could you imagine canning, the wrong way, and causing your entire family to get food poisoning, talk about a nightmare! This book made me confident going over every single detail to make it totally beginner friendly. As the title says it’s not limited to preserving, Clotilde does a deep dive into salting, smoking, and pickling. I’ve preserved pounds upon pounds of food, safely and effectively thanks to what I’ve learned in this book. To put it plain and simple, it’s a must have on the homestead!
5. The Encyclopedia of Country Living
6. The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It
John Seymour with Will Sutherland
Now, these two are together for a few reasons. To me they are the equivalent of purchasing a complete set of encyclopedias, homestead edition. I can’t even begin to describe the detail these two books go into on such a vase array of topics. Homesteaders of all experience levels have something to gain from adding these two books to their bookshelves. Each time I open them I find a little golden nugget that’s going to change the way I homestead and make it better and better.