While doing my usual round of off-grid living blog reading, I ran across a wonderful blog run by the Cockburn family in Tasmania. I liked the blog so much I decided to buy Linda Cockburn’s book Living the Good Life directly from her blog, thinking I was doing a good thing by directly supporting a family. A few hours later my money was returned and I was informed that she would rather have me buy the book from Amazon.com so there wasn’t so much of an impact from shipping it all the way from Australia. Well I am glad Linda called me out on my oversight because when I got over to Amazon I was confronted with hundreds of upsells (i.e. “If you like that book, you’ll love…”), many of which I ended up buying with absolutely zero buyer’s remorse.
All-in-all, I set out to get one book and ended up spending about $180 USD on a miniature library for a city-slicker who wants to give up the rat race and head out to the country. I spent hours pouring over user ratings and reviews, and here are the books I ended up buying (more reviews to come in the future):
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: Breeds, Care, Dairying
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep: Breeds, Care, Facilities
- Building Chicken Coops: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-224
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens: Care / Feeding / Facilities
- Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
- Five Acres and Independence
- The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (I can’t wait to read this one!)
- Pest-Proofing Your Garden (A Storey Country Wisdom Publication)
- Successful Small-Scale Farming: An Organic Approach
- The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener
- Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance
- Ball Blue Book of Preserving (The BIBLE of preserving food)
While we’re on the subjects of books that every new farmer and off-grid home owner should read, here are a few I’ve already chewed my way through:
- The Solar Living Sourcebook:
If you couldn’t tell by how often I reference this thing, it is the BIBLE of sustainable living.
- The Real Dirt on Farmer John:
This isn’t a book; it’s a DVD. But the documentary about John Peterson (AKA Farmer John) is as inspirational and entertaining as it is informative.
- First Aid & Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guide:
This book by the Red Cross is a must-have if you are living more than 50 miles from a hospital.
If you are lucky enough to have a perennial water source on your property – buy this book! I had no idea a tiny stream could produce so much power using such a small generator / turbine.
- Water Storage:
Everything you’ll need to know about catching and storing rainwater.
- Recipes From America’s Smallest Farms:
What I would consider a precursor to the Permaculture book below, here is a cook-book with recipes from experienced small-scale farmers across the country.
- Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual:
This book is a great place to start learning about becoming self-sufficient through permaculture / sustainable gardening.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
A best-selling book about topics such as “goats, the flowers of a peanut plant nosing their way into the dirt, and the lost art of turkey sex”.
- Other Storey’s Guides:
I’ve read several of these, and the first one I received in the male was a disappointment – at first. It was just so thin I thought I had been ripped off. But once I started reading Grow The Best Blueberries it quickly became apparent why these little books are so popular and highly recommended.
And of course we can’t forget Walden by Henry David Thoreau… This book bored the hell out of me when I was sixteen. I read it again last year, at age thirty, and now understand why it is a classic – and why my fast-paced mind at sixteen couldn’t see the beauty of it while reading each page like I was in some kind of race.