This blog will not be adding more posts but will remain open for you to access the information that will remain here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Classics on my Bookshelf

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
I think I'm older than most of my fellow writers here. I lack the fervor of the newly reformed too. I've always pretty much lived this lifestyle. I missed most of the greed and acquisitiveness of the 80's because I spent that decade living in a rather remote mountain town. Back when I was wanting to learn more about a self-sufficient lifestyle, there was no Internet and mentors were hard to find. So I turned to books.

And even now, with information so easily available, just a few keyboard clicks away, I'm still apt to look to my self-built reference library for answers. I'll check out new information, but some of my old books have served me well for decades. I've noticed that many of them, unavailable for many years, are now back in print. Others you may be able to find cheap, second-hand, as some old folks start looking to downsize their living space and clean out old clutter. Here are a few of my favorite titles; ones I think are worth snapping up if you happen to come across one, and perhaps even searching out.

Hands-down, the stuck-on-a-desert-island, one-book-only, choice I'd pick would be the Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery. That book covers everything, in an easy to read, amusing style. She's written how-to's about raising animals, gardens and orchards, recipes, preserving food - everything from midwifery to burying your dead are covered in this one amazing book.

For those looking to build up an emergency store of food, I have an old book, finally now available as a reprint. The new Passport to Survival, by Rita Bingham and Esther Dickey, is a step-by-step plan for first figuring out how much of what you'd need for a year (as members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, they are writing from experience), tips on how to acquire and store it, and then recipes for using what you've stored. Parts of the book I read with a critical eye, as they can get a bit preachy about some "miracle-food" items, but overall I consider it a valuable resource.

I just recently wrote about my sourdough starter over on my own blog. My copy of Adventures in Sourdough Cooking & Baking, by Charles Wilford, is so well-used I might have to start looking for another copy. It's a great reference for a beginner, with instructions about the care and feeding of your starter. There are a multitude of various bread and breakfast recipes, but also things like noodles, cookies, and pot pie dough.

I grow my fruits and vegetables in a rather harsh, high-desert, climate. I absolutely love anything written by Eliot Coleman. His Four-Season Harvest has helped me stretch our fresh-eating season to practically year-round. I'm still playing with various season-extender covers, but his writing is helping us to redefine normal in terms of a seasonal diet.

We do have a root cellar for storing winter produce (and the fig trees - a whole 'nother story) - dug and built by hand. Root Cellaring, by Mike & Nancy Bubel, helped with figuring out the design, how to use it, and the best storage varieties of fruits and vegetables. I know this one will appeal to fewer readers out there, but I can't tell you how much I love "shopping" in my cellar during these cold, snowy, winter days.

In finding the links to the above books, I've noticed the covers of most of them don't look like my copies anymore, but I'm sure most of the information hasn't changed. I have lots of cookbooks too, that could be considered "classics," such as the Small Planet, The Farm, or the Moosewood ones. But the recipes they contain, though revolutionary at the time, are now pretty much standard fare. Other books on my kitchen bookshelf, such as the Make Your Own Groceries ones, are no longer in print. I also figure I might have left out your personal favorites, so please, any more suggestions are welcome in the comments.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list. I'm going to have a look/buy these books, knowing they must be winners, being recommended by an expert. Love reading your words.:)

Colleen said...

Right now I'm reading We Wanted a Farm, by M.G. Kains. It's full of good stories and good advice at the same time - I'm loving it, and I think it's a great resource. I also have 5 Acres and Independence (same author) but haven't read it yet - so I'll hold off on recommending it (or not) until I do. But I'm guessing it's going to be a good one too!

Somerlyn said...

Gosh, what a blast from the past. I had the book, Make Your Own Groceries. I was a hippie chick way back when and made our own bread, lived off the land. Oh yes...remember it all well.

Viggie's Veggies said...

Oh yay! I just adore books and have been building my reference collection. I added Adventures in Sourdough to my wishlist.

David said...

Perhaps the canon is different here in the UK, but John Seymour's Complete Self-Sufficiency definately deserves a mention. I go back to it more than any other.

Joyful said...

Looks like you have a wonderful library (I'm going to try to find some of those books) and a great stockpile :-)

Mary said...

Thanks for the review of Root Cellaring, I've had this book on my shelf for over 15 years and never done much with the info (we move around a lot.) I'm encouraged to get one going, even if we end up moving in a few years. Build experience, right?

Kymber said...

the only thing i could add to your well-stocked library is anything by Ruth Stout - what an amazing woman!

Simple in France said...

Thank you! I'm sort of mulling over book titles that would be good to have on hand. I try not to buy too many books, but I make an exception for those that will be reference books that I can turn to constantly--with info you can't get online! I've been curious about root cellars and raising my own food, so these are great resources--and since I'm in France, I can't just browse through the books on the shelves to see if I like them--but I must order!

Sadge said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone! I'll have to look for John Seymour's Complete Self-Sufficiency book, David. It sounds just like what I like to have around.

Ruth Stout did some amazing things in her gardens, Kymber. I remember reading her articles in the Mother Earth News magazine, sitting in the local library on snowy, Saturday afternoons - back when I was still dreaming about making it all a reality.

Sadge said...

Or maybe it was Organic Gardening magazine. Robert Rodale was another one of my earliest inspirations.

Countryside magazine is another one I still read regularly, although since its content is reader-generated you have to take any info offered with a grain of salt.

Sunset magazine also frequently has great info and project building plans. Ask if your local library will carry a subscription to any of the above magazines - well worth your time to look through, and if you find something you like, xerox the page or then find it online.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing some great titles! Loved reading your words.
Renee

Anonymous said...

A great post on your book collection. Thank you for sharing. I am downsizing my life as much as possible for several reasons. But when it comes to books, it's probably the only area I won't downsize. I love being able to go my collection to gain some wisdom. I'm reading more lately, and find it gives me peace during the day.

Lyn

Francesca said...

I also learned what I know from books (I only got an internet connection just over a year ago), and from my farmer neighbors. My books are still invaluable to me, and I refer to them constantly (for some reason, over here in Italy we mainly get German books about organic farming in translation). Your classics sound very good, I'm especially interested in the Encyclopedia. Thank you Sadge.

gum disease treatment said...

Thanks for this list! I like looking at this...

Laura said...

I recognize the Rodale Herb Book! I permanently borrowed that one from my dad and I like it a lot. I've had a hard time finding something that substantial among the more modern herb books.

Chookie said...

A couple of Australian books:

Australian Traditional Bush Crafts, by Ron Edwards. Three volumes with varying titles, probably out of print, but full of stuff like how to plait a stockwhip and repair fishing nets. I've used the section on knots at bit.

Keith and Irene Smith's (founders of Earth Garden magazine) books are all good value, particularly the New Hard Times Handbook which would be handy for younger people who haven't read SGFC for very long.

Jackie French's Chook Book, and her other books, are fun but not overly in-depth. She tells you how rather than why, which isn't quite enough for me.