Years before we bought our farm, I was checking out homesteading books from the library. I checked out the following books, often:
They were a DELIGHTFUL read for a young mom in a neighborhood who dreamed of canning vegetables from a big garden and hand-churning butter. However, one word of caution: these books are teasers. Yes. Teasers. Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot of good information, and I do recommend them. But they cover every topic imaginable, and only a little bit of each topic. When we moved to our farm and expected to actually jump in and get started with this homesteading thing, these books provided only surface information for us. We had to dig deeper. Between the two books above, Storey’s Basic Country Skills is more organized and scientific, though, I personally think it contains less useful information than The Encyclopedia of Country Living (which sometimes feels a little random, but it’s full of great recipes, etc.). Another teaser is The Backyard Homestead. It’s super cute, and has some fun facts, but it’s not really enough to get you started on a homestead. You’ll need to know more.
In the defense of the “teaser” books, because I know that the authors put a lot of work into them, and they ARE great books:
There is SO much to learn about farming. There were skills that were passed down by generations in the past, and if you are a young farmer starting out, you just don’t have that knowledge or those skills. You’re literally starting from scratch and there is an overwhelming amount of information to learn! These books will help you “touch the surface” and learn a little about each subject to see if it is something you want to pursue. They have their place. Just don’t count on these books to give you everything you need to know to really be a homesteader.
Our Favorite Homesteading Books:
I love, love, love The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It. It’s full of good information, it’s got glossy, colorful, beautiful pages, and I love John Seymour’s writing style. This book draws me in. In some areas, it is still a book that only scratches the surface. You will likely need more information to really get started. But of the 3 “basic” books, this is my favorite one! Warning: the author was a farmer in Wales, and some of the terminology is unfamiliar to me as an American. It’s still a lovely and useful read!!
The Backyard Beekeeper has been one of the books that my husband has gone back to several times. It is a great book, with beautiful pictures. It is still a little bit too much of a surface overview, without presenting everything you need to know to raise bees.
The Beekeeper’s Guide This is my husband’s FAVORITE beekeeping book, but you can’t find it in print anywhere. 🙁 I’m sorry to tease you with this! My husband’s uncle sent it to him, from his grandparent’s 280 acre farm in Montana. My husband’s grandfather used to keep bees, and beef, and chickens, and a large garden, etc. There was so much knowledge in that generation, that unfortunately, skipped a generation. We are trying to learn it all. Thankfully, at least we have his grandfather’s beekeeping book! 🙂
I teased my husband when he first checked this book out from the library–“Success with Chicks?” 🙂 He thought I was funny! This was a super useful guide for us when we were getting started with both laying hens and meat birds.
Out of all of Joel Salatin’s farming books (which are all great!), Pastured Poultry Profits has been the most useful book we have read. It’s a little less organized/scientific than a Storey-style book, but it also feels more personal and detailed.
Before we moved to our farm, I started gardening by the Square Foot Gardening methods, and I loved it. I learned SO much from this book! It’s great for a beginner. Again, it’s not going to teach you everything you need to know about gardening. It’s a great place to start, though!
This is another great gardening book that has helped me. It’s a great reference guide for learning about many (but not all) fruits and vegetables, their companions, the pests that attack them, and the conditions they need for growing. I look at this book often.
I wish I could say that there were more! The truth is, we’ve been SO disappointed by the majority of the homesteading books on the market. They were either created for BIG farms who use conventional methods (like antibiotics in the chicken’s feed, etc.) or they were created with very little actual how-to information. We’ve had to learn most of our homesteading skills by trial and error and from asking a lot of questions. I am working on writing some basic homesteading books to share the things that we have learned (and continue to learn!) in a way that is easy to follow and put into practice! Keep watching this site for my books to come out!! 🙂
I hope this list was helpful! What are your favorite homesteading books?