As the daylight hours grow longer, it’s rare that I climb in bed until well after 11pm. Still, I try to prepare for sleep by reading and have a giant stack of in-progress books above my bed. Although I’m a sucker for a good novel, I can’t read them before bed because I get drawn in to the story and won’t put the book down! So homesteading and non-fiction books are my favorite way to unwind. Here are a few homesteading books and eBooks that I’ve been enjoying recently.
Meredith Skyer writes the blog ImaginAcres and heads the awesome site Backyard Chicken Project. She knows her chickens, shares amazing content, and takes incredible photos. Meredith has combined these talents into a beautiful and very informative eBook about raising chickens in the city: Patio Raptors. As someone who has never raised chickens in the city, I was not aware of some of the unique challenges that city dwellers face: city ordinances, neighbors, rodents, small space challenges, roosters. Meredith addresses each of these topics in detail so chicken newbies can feel totally comfortable bringing their first chicks home.
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking
We’ve made cheese for well over a decade now; first goat cheese made with the milk of our wonderful herd of Alpine dairy goats, and now with the milk of Creme Brûlée. Cheesemaking is one of those skills that takes a lifetime to master, but is fun as heck to eat your way through learning!
Although we’ve really enjoyed other cheesemaking books, such as Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producer, when I had the chance to review The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, by David Asher, I was beyond excited.
Home cheesemaking usually involves purchasing rennet, culture, and perhaps other ingredients like enzymes or innoculum. While the expense is worth the outcome, it has always felt a little wrong – surely, there is a more sustainable way to make cheese that doesn’t involve always running to the store?
Asher, an organic farmer and fermentationist, has elevated the craft of cheesemaking with a sustainable twist. Instead of adding packets of culture, Asher sustains his natural cheesemaking culture with kefir grains. At home, we have tried a few of his recipes with kefir grains borrowed from a neighbor, and had wonderful success with our first cheddars. It’s felt revolutionary to make cheese in this way, and much more aligned with our DIY values.
This is truly a must-buy book for the Radical Homesteading cheesemaker.
Living Large in Our Little House
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell’s story of downsizing her living space, but upsizing her life is an honest look at tiny house living. Sharing a 480 square foot home in the Ozarks with her husband and their six dogs (!), Kerri experiences many of the same challenges and joys of small house living that my family experiences in our 350 sq ft home: How to make working from home work for you, how to cook from scratch in a small kitchen, how to host guests, how to organize your “stuff,” how to peaceful co-exist with your spouse in such an intimate space.
Previously living in Kansas City in a standard American house, Kerri and her husband didn’t set out to be tiny house dwellers, but circumstance led to them living in what was supposed to be their vacation guesthouse. One of the things I most appreciated about Living Large in Our Little House is the candor with which Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell shares the ins and outs of their journey, including the financial twists and turns that landed them in their little house. Like us, she and her husband have come to enjoy the significant financial benefits and significant freedoms that building and living in a tiny house affords. Indeed, the uplifting message of this book is that quality of life is not measured by the size of your home, but by the ways “live large.”
The book also profiles other tiny house dwellers, from off-grid singletons, to tiny house families, to families touring the world on a sailboat! Interestingly, when she caught up with them later, not all were still living in tiny houses!
Kerri and her husband live a lifestyle that is connected with nature, but decidedly less gritty than my own. For that reason, Living Large in Our Little House will appeal to readers that like the idea of small space living, but enjoy their comforts as well.
The Resilient Gardener
The subtitle of this book is Food Production & Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, and this book is every bit as practical as its name. The Resilient Gardener is not necessarily a beginner’s book, but the information within has inspired my approach to gardening. Instead of growing every amazing variety of heirloom tomatoes that I can find, I am now planning my garden with more of an eye toward growing the most nutrient-dense food I can in the space I have available. Carol Deppe focuses her attention on potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs, and shares ways to grow these crops and others with minimal external inputs and little to no irrigation, and in the face of climatic changes.
A Garden to Dye For
I was gifted this book last year and have enjoyed flipping through it for inspiration. I have two gorgeous skeins of Cormo yarn that a reader sent me in their natural, undyed state. I hope to create a color that is as beautiful as the yarn with the help of this book. What I enjoy about A Garden to Dye For is that it’s approachable. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the information, yet I’m inspired by the beautiful colors and possibilities that might already exist right in my garden. (For more information about natural dyeing with native plants and wildflowers, check out this post.)
What homesteading books are you loving? Let’s share a list in the comments!
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