I recently was asked to review two new books from Skyhorse Publishing. They are Abigail Gehring’s Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency. These two books are the latest in Shyhorse’s Back to Basics series.
If you follow my blog, you know that I have recommended the original Reader Digest Back to Basics book for a long time. This is the book that first turned me on to homesteading. While it is tattered and torn now, it still has a prominent place in my library and I have spent many happy hours thumbing though its pages and daydreaming of having a homestead someday.
I have enjoyed reading both books, and while I still love the original, these two new books won’t make it to the shelves of my library for some time, as I plan on keeping them on the coffee table to show them off. Not only are they both full of basic practical skills, every page is crammed with full color photos that bring out the dreamer in me.
Since becoming as self sufficient as possible is a priority for me, Self-Sufficiency A Complete Guide to: Baking, Carpentry, Crafts, Organic Gardening, Preserving Your Harvest, Raising Animals, and More was the first book I opened. This hardcover edition contains 457 pages including appendixes, source lists, and an index.
Something that I really liked, and don’t see very often was the “Junior Homesteader” insets, while the book is written for adults, it has small easier skills that are great for teaching children about a more sustainable life. These covered experiments in a plant’s capillary action, how to root plants using discarded vegetable tops, and building a tree house.
Even though this book is written for newcomers to this lifestyle, I still learned some neat things in the inset tips sections, as well as getting some new ideas.
Homesteading A Backyard Guide To: Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chicken, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More is the second book I reviewed, at 456 pages its almost the exact same size, and covers many of the same topics, however, this book covered a lot more of the physical setup of a homestead, dealing with things like planning and setting up your homestead, building simple structures on the land, powering your homestead using alternative energy, setting up your home garden, and selecting and basic care of homestead livestock.
I have been planning to build terrace on a hill in my yard, and this book even had a page or two on that subject.
In the bread baking section of this book, there was a tip on how to make baking powder from baking soda, cornstarch, and cream of tartar.
I am not a big gear nut, and don’t spend a lot of money on the latest and greatest piece of tacticool gear, but I do love books – my weakness is reference books. If you have been involved in homesteading, preparedness, or self-sufficiency, you probably have a small library of specialty books that covers specific topics in depth. These two books are not those types of books. Both Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency are a lot broader in scope than homesteading books that cover a specific field like gardening or preservation. That isn’t to say that you won’t learn from them, or that they don’t have a place in a seasoned homesteader’s library. These books are great for a quick answer, or for mining for new ideas.
What I plan to use two books for is to show family members how accessible these skills really are. I can do that because the quality and amount of the photographs and illustrations makes it very easy for someone to pick one of them up and find something that catches their eye. All of us that live this lifestyle have someone we love that thinks it’s all a little overwhelming and these books show that its not.
The easiest place to order either Homesteading A Backyard Guide To: Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chicken, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and Moreor Self-Sufficiency A Complete Guide to: Baking, Carpentry, Crafts, Organic Gardening, Preserving Your Harvest, Raising Animals, and More is through amazon.com, but you can also find them online at the publisher’s website Skyhorse Publishing