Recently I had a gift card from Amazon which was slowly but surely burning a hole in my pocket. It is not often I find myself in such a spot and I was determined to savor this opportunity to shop for whatever titles held my fancy. As a former librarian I was foaming at the mouth pouring over lists of books trying to top off my summer reading book shelf. I was like a kid in a candy shop changing my list with each new volume I spied. A few days later as I ripped open the boxes and waded through my new books I realized how my choices were a reflection of the homesteading lifestyle I had chosen as well as the dreams I hold for the future.
My current endeavors in the garden were covered by Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and the newly released Growing Your Own Vegetables by Carla Emery and Lorene Forkner. These two texts have helped me get my garden off to a great start and answered all my questions about growing veggies from Aphids to Zucchini.
Putting Food By written by a trio of canning and preserving wizards, Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan, was an old standby on my wishlist for ages. It is chock full of all the info and advise needed to successfully and safely pressure can, water bath can, dehydrate, or freeze food for storage. It now stands proudly beside my battered and stained copy of Ball's Blue Book of Preserving, hands down the Bible of pressure canning and preserving.
Around this time, deep in volumes of guides and texts, I was glad I had ordered some lighter fare to even things out. A recent article in Mother Earth News highlighting Jenna Woginrich's Made From Scratch caught my eye and after checking out her blog at coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com I quickly added it to my shopping list. I am now half way through the book and thoroughly enjoying Jenna's take on living her farming dreams on her rented rural homestead amid chickens, sheep and beehives.
Moving to a rural location to expand my homestead and literally get away from the crowds and chaos is my topmost long term goal. Knowing that each day I am closing in on that goal often makes the difference between a bad day and a good day for me. So into the shopping cart went How to Find Your Ideal Country Home by Gene GeRue. This guide to searching out the perfect relocation spot is very thorough and covers everything to consider from water to weather and taxes to toxic waste sites. It should be a great tool for me to narrow down the area I choose to replant myself in the next few years.
And having just a few dollars left on my giftcard I finished off my order with the very comprehensive guide to homesteading The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the great Carla Emery. This hefty volume covers so much information I am in awe- gardening, beekeeping, livestock, this book has it all. Not to mention it contains some of the best recipes I have ever tried. If there is one all inclusive manual for living off the land this is it.
As I look over this pile of weighty material I have to wonder where I will grab the time to curl up and free my brain to soak up all the wonderful bits of wisdom. Most likely it will be consumed in small bites in dentist's waiting rooms or pre-dawn hours waiting for the chickens to call for me. However I do it I know I will come away much better prepared to tackle a more self-sufficient life.
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