**Please note, this was originally posted to my Steemit blog. It’s a community that pays you in a crytpocurrency called steem to write posts. You can learn more about it over here. If you become a Steemit user (a Steemian) you can also vote and take part of contests that I host there. My user’s name over there is @homesteaders life**
Open The Windows (And Step Up To My Soapbox)
A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. ~ Horace Mann
A homesteader should be a man or woman of books. Real books. The kind with paper, pages and ink. The internet is great, not doubt about it, but it’s fast, it’s loose and there’s no guarantees. I was going through my bookmarked sites reorganizing them today on my browser (Hey it was 40°F and raining, give me a break) and many of them no longer led to the articles that they were originally linked to. There may be copies, I may have to search, and surely, you’d say, there’s the cloud. Why, we’re told every day that nothing disappears from the internet… heck Steemit is built on that very idea, the blockchain with multiple databases for backups and verifications. That said, I can walk in this room and open a book to a bookmarked page that won’t change until I move it. Yes I have and use and love digital books also, but real books engage multiple senses for me. The biggest difference with a real book versus a digital book. Real books, once written and published, just are. They exist without power, connections and devices. Do yourself and your kids a favor. Fill the house with books. I now will step off my soapbox and get to the real point of this article.
I’m going to post a few pictures of my homesteading library. Now, this is just a portion, I literally have these books all over the house and the picture is to remind me of some of them. Some that are in my library aren’t in the picture, they may be in my bedroom or hidden in other areas of my shelf. Now, I say this, not in a trite way or “you’re-a-pastor-you-have-to-say-that way” but my most important homesteading book is my Bible. How could I contemplate and work toward a simpler life without considering my own soul. I’m reminded of the story of the rich man who had a great increase in his harvest. He had so much it wouldn’t fit in the barns, so he pulled down his barns, and in a good prepared homesteader’s way, built bigger barns to put up the harvest and yet he never considered his soul. Later that night he died and God called him a fool for not taking care of the most precious thing he possessed! So that’s number one, and I had to share that with you. Now I’d like to share some of my other books.
My goal is to two fold.
- Share some of my favorites for you (and to GIVE you one of my favorites… more on that at the end)
- Have you share your favorites in the comments – If these are books I don’t have – GREAT, if they are books I do have that’s still good. Hopefully I find some new books to buy and get some real people’s opinions on them!
So here we go, first picture:
- The best homesteading book I have (crunched barely visible in the left hand side of the frame), hands down, is probably Carla Emery’s “The Encyclopedia of Country Living”. I’ve got the last edition that she actually worked on before her untimely death in 2005, but I regularly recommend this book to people. This is the only one that matters in my list as far as order or number after this the rest aren’t in a ranked order. The new editions are good too, but I’m just nostalgic because it’s how she wanted it. I will be giving away a copy of this book to anyone in the Continental United States. I will ship it to your house. It’s not that I don’t love everyone else, it’s just that this is where my Amazon Prime will drop ship! 🙂 How do you qualify? It’s this simple… comment below what your favorite homesteading book (or books) are. I’ll draw randomly 7 days later. If you want to upvote or follow me you can, but I’m not trying to extort you. I just love this book enough to share it with one of you!
- Basic Country Skills – Storey Books – Nice illustrations, covers a wide range of topics. Not encyclopedic but like a coffee table book it gives you plenty of starting points to think about.
- The Have-More Plan – Ed and Carolyn Robinson – This book probably had the greatest influence on me when I was a young man. The pictures of the layout of property, the pragmatic approach to raising your own food. Thin, but packed with information. Some, like raising chickens in a battery brooder, might be outdated or looked down on vs. sustainable methods used today, but this is a must have for your library.
- Barnyard in Your Backyard – Storey Books – is a fun, light book. Not a must have, but a good reader to get others interested in homesteading.
- Pruning Made Easy by Hill – A good visual book to help you start pruning apples and other fruit trees and brambles.
- Any Chilton/Haynes manuals for fixing vehicles… these are must haves. I’m a Ford guy in case you didn’t notice.
*note: for the sake of your and my time, I’ll probably come back to other books I have in another post
- Back to Basics – Reader’s Digest. Yes, Reader’s Digest. This is an excellent book. If I had to pick an all-time top 3, Carla’s book, The Have-More plan and Back to Basics for the most influential in my homesteading library life.
- First Person Rural – Noel Perrin – This is not so much a fiction book, but it’s not a “how-to” book either. It’s really Noel Perrin’s rural life in Vermont! It’s just excellent.
- Square Foot Gardening– Mel Bartholomew – Classic and a must-have. Even if you have acres and acres of land, the raised bed, intensive style that Mel writes about is very productive and sustainable. If you’re a suburbanite or city-dweller. Definitely get this.
- Boy Scout Fieldbook – Go find an old one and buy it. Tons of good information.
- Root Cellaring – Mike & Nancy Bubel – Practical how-to on building and operating a root cellar.
- Botanicas Gardening Encyclopedia – Laurel Glen – Comprehensive gardening encyclopedia.
- Butchering, Processing and Preservation of Meat – Van Nostrand – If you had just this book you could learn to butcher more effectively with practice.
- A Very Small Farm – William Paul Winchester – This book always brings me such contentment as WPW tells his story. I don’t think he ever says the word “homestead” in it, but he is one. This is a how-to book only in the manner of it teaches contentment and joy in hard work, and that alone makes it worthy of my shelf.
- The Herb Book – John Lust – Encyclopedic herb guide.
- Of note: Bird Identification books. Everyone should have one or four of these.
This is a packed little shelf. So much good here.
- The Hive and The Honey Bee – Dadant – Encyclopedic. Great resource.
- The Self-Reliant Homestead – Charles A Sanders – nice illustrations from older out-of-print books. I built an apple picker that I still use from plans in this book. Sander’s writing style is easy reading.
- Stocking Up – Rodale – great food preservation book. Almost all things Rodale Institute are good.
- Living on a few Acres – 1978 Yearbook of Agriculture – You should have this in your library. Actually put out by the Department of Agriculture and has great information on land, how to pick it, how to set up your homestead.
- Surviving Off-Off Grid – Michael Bunker – Ok, couple of things here… Steemit better prepare to get a little bit better and everyone better prepare to raise the bar of quality. Michael Bunker will be joining Steemit shortly (he’s waiting for approval now). Bunker’s writing opens your eyes to how dependent we are on the industrialized, mass-produced, world and how many people exchange one “Grid” for another when they go with a high-tech, complex-dependent systems. One of my favorite people, I’m sure he’ll challenge you and I always love his rapier wit. (Where are you Bunker?)
I could go on, but this post is too long already. What’s on your bookshelf? Share it!
To enter the drawing for Carla Emery’s “Encyclopedia of Country Living” – just comment with your favorite homesteading book(s) below!
If you found this post helpful, intriguing or just entertaining, I’d appreciate you following me, upvoting and doing whatever those other good things are that help minnows (did I get that right?) like me, but you don’t have to. Just comment no matter what! My rewards will be new books to buy!