"Homesteading: How to Find New Independence on the Land"
In the beginning of it he writes about the “farmers” he has run into over the years, and sates the one thing they all have in common is that they are “one of the last tribes of independent thinking people left in the country.” Then as he starts to talk about a “new” kind of farmer the “Homesteader” he states that he believes that these “new”farmers are from 2 distinct groups. People coming from the city to the country and old farmers who give up most of the acreage they had for a smaller amount just for “family use”. He states the reason behind him writing this book is that you can get a lot of food on a small farm. “All you have to do is know how.” He goes on to point out that “anybody who can read labels can do the job with Chemicals”. So this book is about -NOT- using them. He then proceeds to go through and tell some tales about what “organicists”have done in experimentation. One of them he tells about how some cattle men in New Zealand used root crops to feed cattle with good success so much that one tried that idea with nursing doe rabbits and they wound up cutting their feed bill in half.
In the next chapter he starts off mentioning how everyone envisions the “perfect” farm and then points out that “perfection” does not exist and gives off examples of how the “not perfect” farms work just fine.
The following chapter deals with “places” to homestead as in the land it self. What seems like good land, and.. what isn't. He also lists the “usual” prices for “country” land in smaller acreage amounts, which of course is based on what was going on then not now. One thing he mentions is buying an “old farm house”, as in the kind that hasn't been lived in; in 5-10+ years. They can have more problems than you can tell at a quick glance. If you do buy one be ready to need to fix it up. He goes into not buying property if you cannot get a good deal on it and also points out if you can afford it please do. Don't forget about the taxes either, they can hurt you if you are not ready for them.
In the same chapter he also goes into vehicles for your homestead and what I mean is not just your car/truck, but also tractors; and other farm implements. He gives some advise on buying an older tractor and about how much you'd spend at the time this book was written, one thing he does mention while talking about the tractor is buying attachments for road grading. Which is a minor necessity if you have a gravel/dirt driveway/road. He also points out the time to put gravel down is in the spring before the thaw. He also in this same chapter points out the reasoning behind having a deep freezer, and a hammock. Quote:
“Buy a Hammock. If you can't find time to lie in it and watch the birds on a hot afternoon, somehow your organic homestead ain't making it.” Bottom of pg 39.
The next chapter deals with soil, and his suggestion is to know a little botany to tell you what kind of soil you have as what grows on it before you use will tell you more than tests will. He discusses what can be done if your soil isn't the best. He talks of not using a compost pile but instead sheet composting his beds as they are sizable it would take some time to get enough to compost properly. You may be surprised at some of the methods he lists. He also states using wood ashes from your wood heaters, or if you need to burn brush you have cut do it on the garden beds before planting time.
The next chapter is on food crops for your home stead and the must haves.. and the “don't bother's”., and the best methods for growing them.
The next chapter is on just fruits. He goes into much detail on “pest” prevention whether it is for birds or bugs. He lists his top choices for an orchard, berries, grapes, and melons. The next chapter is just on grains, for both you and your live stock. He gives a lot of info on corn here and also points out how versatile sweet corn is and that it is the only corn he was growing when he wrote the book. Sweet corn can be dried. The next one he talks about is wheat and how it will feed both you and your animals. He discusses the different types of wheat and what kind of flours they make, and what time he grows it. I am guessing from what he says about it, Wheat is a fast grower. In this chapter he also discusses Soybeans (which today may be a no-no for you), Sorghum, Oats and Rye.
The next chapter deals with livestock and the best ideas for them, including space. He includes Bees as livestock as in his opinion they do so much “work” for you that they should be considered as such. Now he also includes fish worms in this as well, because if your garden beds grow well you'll have an abundance of them and you could sell the extras. To other farmers or to fishermen. Next ones he has listed are :
Chickens (goes into great detail especially on how to feed them and what to supplement their feed with)
Turkeys (which he only says “Don't”)
Goats(which he says unless you are allergic to cows milk don't)
Cows (again great deal on then including feed housing and types)
Beef (which for some is a separate category)
Hogs (again great detail including pointing out to make sure either you or the person butchering it knows what they are doing)
Sheep (which he does not think is practical but give plenty of info if you really want to try)
The next chapter deals with “Help from the Wild”. In this chapter while he does “tip his hat” to the person Euell Gibbons (Stalking the Wild Asparagus), he gives a month by month detailing of what can be harvested from the wild on your own property. Which includes the best time to harvest wood and the best way to do it. Tapping trees for sap. Then the various plants and berries harvestable (of course not every one). He includes hunting in all of this in late fall, and mentions using the woods in the winter if you are in the right area for cutting Christmas trees. He also points out all of the good things you can get from your own pond.
The next chapter is all about making money on your homestead, ranging from selling home made items, grown items and even “renting” your land. Now this is for like renting use of your pond for fishing, allowing people to hunt your wood lot. The next chapter is all about blending technologies, as sometimes the “old” works just fine for what you need. The final chapter is just his wrap up including a list of fun things to do in your spare time.
Now I realize I wrote lots of details at first and then gave a verrrrry brief bit of info, well I did that as I noticed I was getting a tad wordy. I don't want to give you all the info I want you to see if you want to read it. I do disagree with Gene on at least on thing, I seem to not be having any trouble with raising Turkeys. However, as he does not say why you shouldn't raise them just says “don't” I will never know why. I love this book and I get lots of info every time I read it I have read it at least 4 times as of now.
Be Well and Blessed Be...