Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

 That’s When I’m Happy

One of the many reasons a family may choose to homestead is to provide a wholesome environment for their children.  Much of the media our children encounter today is directly opposed to homesteading and it’s values- consumerism vs. living simply, waste vs. ingenious reuse etc…   Simply walk down a toy isle and you will be confronted with sexy dolls requiring loads of accessories to be “complete.”

In view of this, it is refreshing to find a children’s book that promotes the values of simplicity and finding happiness in family and experiences rather than commercial goods.  “That’s When I’m Happy” is one such book.

The book features a bear cub recounting all the times he/she’s happy in order to recover from a bout of gloominess.  Running through leaves, counting stars, cuddling with mommy, reading books- these are the things that make her happy- not Bratz dolls and new clothes.  I love reading this book to my daughter and she finds great pleasure in the colorful illustrations.  I would definitely recomend this book for children ages 0-7 – with Christmas gone crazy, it might be the perfect gift to remind children (and parents) that it isn’t about what you get or have, it’s what you do that makes your life special.


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Rowlands, John J.  The Cache Lake Country. W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York, NY. 1947 2nd Ed 272 p.p.

When I was about fourteen, I plucked The Cache Lake Country out of my father’s collection of outdoor books.  It was winter vacation, I was bored and it had appealing illustrations.  The book was written in an informal, chatty, tone I couldn’t resist.  I devoured it in two days.


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Seymour, John The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It. DK Press, New York, NY. 2003 1st American Edition 312 p.p.

This was the first book on Self Sufficiency that Stuart and I bought and it’s still probably my favorite. While it’s not the most comprehensive book out there on the subject, it is an easy and enjoyable introduction to the concept. With wonderful illustrations and a thoughtful progression of topics, The Self-Sufficient Life, is the perfect book to pick up for that friend or family member you’ve been nudging about sustainability. I’ve loaned the book out to most of my family and I’ve yet to find anyone who was able to resist its charms. Its simple explanations and beguiling illustrations make even the staunchest “grasshopper” contemplate the joys of planting a small garden. It’s great for those of you in the city as well; with special sections for people who live in the city, homesteading anywhere is possible.

My favorite part about this book is that it features plans for all types of gardens and farms for those of is in all situations, from the countryside to the inner city. Full page plans for urban gardens, community gardens, one acre and five acre farms greet the reader, proving that this is a homesteading book for everyone. Sections from the book include:


Chapter 1: The Meaning of Self-Sufficiency

Chapter 2: Food from the Garden

Chapter 3: Food from Animals

Chapter 4: Food from the Fields

Chapter 5: Food from the Wild

Chapter 6: In the Dairy

Chapter 7: In the Kitchen

Chapter 8: Brewing and Wine-Making

Chapter 9: Energy and Waste

Chapter 10: Crafts and Skills

Chapter 11: Things You Need to Know


This book really ought to be in every homesteader or wannabe-homesteader’s library. If for no other reason than its handiness in explaining the homesteader lifestyle and ethic.

The author, John Seymour, has written over forty books on the subject including Forgotten Crafts, which is written and illustrated in much the same style. While containing information on many subjects, The Self-Sufficient Life manages to give each a fairly in-depth coverage; something quite lacking in many homesteading books. No, owning this book won’t make you an expert, but it will help you learn the basics and then direct you on to other more specialized books.

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Build it Better Yourself, Editors Organic Farming Magazine. Rodale Press, Emmaus PA, 1977. 941 pp ISBN: O-87857-133-7


This most excellent and weighty tome is filled with plans for greenhouses, out buildings, tools, storage containers, garden structures, carts and much more.  Each plan features detailed instructions, a list of tools and materials required and an exploded drawing of the finished object complete with measurements of each piece.  I received my copy through paperbackswap.com (which I recommend to anyone!) for the equivalent of 2.83, but I have seen it go on eBay for over fifteen dollars.  This is an eminently reasonable price when you consider that it includes sections on:

Indoor Gardening Projects – Planting Flats, Plant Stands, Growlights, Houseplant Worktables, Mushroom Shelves & more

Outdoor Gardening Projects – Gardening Tools, Compost Bins, Cold Frames, Planting Beds, Plant Protectors, Arbors, Trellises, Orchard and Woodlot Aids, Irrigation, Birdhouses and Traps

Food Storage Projects – Food Processing, Food Dryers and Underground Storage

Around the Homestead – Concrete (floors, footings, projects etc…)  Walks and Patios, Walls, Fences, Gates, Bridges, Outdoor Furniture and Garden Ponds

Outbuildings – Repairing Old Outbuildings, Building from the Ground Up, Sheds and Barns, Livestock Housing, Crop Storage, Greenhouses and The Homestead Shop

Helpful encyclopedia of useful terms, tools and techniques.

 I absolutely cannot recommend this book highly enough.  My favorite project is the mushroom shelf which I will be building shortly.  Who wants fungus growing in their cellar… I do!

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