Spring is a tough time to get a lot of reading and book learning done, with all of the hands-on homesteading action that’s taking place. Still, I like to pick out a few books, read a few pages each night, and boost my homestead knowledge and inspiration. This winter/early spring I read a few great books that I wanted to share.
The Nourishing Homestead by Ben Hewitt
One day this winter, I opened our mailbox to find a copy of The Nourishing Homestead, sent by the awesome team at Chelsea Green. I honestly think I squealed in delight. I have really enjoyed some of Ben Hewitt’s other books, such as The Town that Food Saved, and knew that he was a real-deal homesteader. After reading The Nourishing Homestead, I now stand firmly in awe of what he and his family have accomplished on their homestead.
Like us, the Hewitts began their homestead on raw land, and worked slowly over time building homes and outbuildings with their own hands. They are also raising two homeschooled children while living off-grid, creating their homestead, and growing most of their own food. And here is what I most related to: they did it with a modest income and very little debt.
I’ve read a lot of amazing homesteading books, and this one ranks in the top five. What makes this book so awesome? For me, it’s because this is a book not about theory (although Hewitt does wax poetic about his “practiculture” philosophy), but it’s a book that embodies practice. Flip through the pages, and you will see what can happen when four people work hard to connect with a piece of land: a diet made almost entirely of food that they raised, grew, or foraged; nourished animals; a homestead that grew organically as time and money became available; and a family that has time to connect with one another on a daily basis.
In my humble opinion, The Nourishing Homestead is a must-own.
Home Butchering Handbook by Jamie Waldron and Angela England
I’m a huge proponent of home butchering, and what I lack in knowledge and skill, I make up for with enthusiasm. My husband is our homestead butcher, and I’m his sidekick-cheerleader. Sure, I can make an amazing sausage, but butchering an animal into cuts of meat – not my forte!
That’s why I appreciate Home Butchering Handbook – it starts at the basics and walks you through step-by-step. Photos accompany every single cut, so you could literally start with a plucked and eviscerated chicken and turn it into all of the breasts, wings, and thighs that your recipe requires.
Note: this is not a book about slaughtering, and it does not teach you how to humanely and safely kill an animal for meat, but rather picks up where that process leaves off. And it is assumed that the larger animals (beef, pork) will have already been broken down into sides. So if you’re looking for a pasture to table guide, this isn’t your book. But I found it to be a well put together guide for those that want to create specific cuts of meat for their table.
Native Bee Habitat in your Backyard by Samantha Burns
Don’t have the space or time to keep bees? There are other ways that you can help pollinators – right in your backyard. Samantha Burns of Runamuk Acres has written a compact, information-filled eBook that will guide you in simple steps to create native bee and pollinator habitat. Even on the smallest plot of land, planting perennial and native pollinator plants, giving them homes, providing water, and other simple steps will encourage the native pollinator population to visit your home and garden. It’s a win-win: you give them valuable food and habitat in exchange for increase yields in your garden.
What I like about this eBook is that it’s a quick and easy read – just 20 pages – but filled with straightforward action steps that you could implement today. Plus, a robust resource section and bibliography offers further reading for those that are ready to dive in!
You can purchase this eBook for only $5.95 here.
The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm
Because I enjoy reading about birth and pregnancy (even though I’m not pregnant), and because I love other books by Aviva Jill Romm (particularly Naturally Healthy Babies and Children), I was excited to receive a review copy of The Natural Pregnancy Book from Blogging for Books.
Aviva Romm is a midwife, herbalist, and physician who fills her book with the empowering message, “Birth is Natural.” Yes, there are situations where intervention is called for, and necessary, but Romm gives the reader tools and information to have a safe and natural pregnancy.
My own birth experiences were wonderful, planned home births with a Certified Professional Midwife. I did a lot of pre-birth preparation – weekly birth class, reading galore, hour-long visits with my midwife, and yet, reading this book, I came across information I really wish I had had with my own two births. For instance, Romm includes an entire chapter dedicated to exercise and posture, complete with essential movements for pregnant women, and a section on pelvic health (which is so important, but SO underemphasized in most pregnancy books).
Some other highlights include chapters on nutrition and safe use of herbs while pregnant, a look at pregnancy as a rite of passage, and a chapter called “Your Changing Family” (again, wish I had had this resource while pregnant with my second child – I was so full of apprehensive about how we’d have enough time to really give our attention to BOTH kids). Finally, there is an A-Z resource – A Guide to Common Pregnancy Issues that covers concerns such as anemia, constipation, fatigue, high blood pressure, miscarriage, and much more.
This book is a must have for pregnant women seeking to have a natural, empowering birth experience, and would make a great gift for your favorite pregnant friend!
Gone Feral: Tracking my Dad Through the Wild by Novella Carpenter
A few years ago I read Novella Carpenter’s tale of homesteading in the inner city of Oakland, Farm City. I was really captivated by her spunky, sassy voice, and the ambitious nature of her urban homestead. Livestock in Oakland? What!?!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Gone Feral. It is a different sort of book, but no less entertaining. It’s a memoir about family, about searching for your roots, about trying to understand your past as you bring a child into the future.
I read this book quickly – it is interesting and compelling and I zipped right through the pages. I would consider it a fun summer read. Pick it up each evening as you wind down for bed, after a long day of homesteading, and connect with a kindred spirit.
What books would you add to this list?