This summer as I was babysitting my darling Max, I tried to keep an oar in the water by refining my plan and educating myself further. There were days I just couldn't bear the confines of the house and would pack up Max and we would head to the Half Price Book Store. This is a national chain of bookstores selling gently used books. They sometimes have new books as well so I think they must buy up end of runs and odd lots. The good news is that I can typically afford the place. The bad news is that they don't always have what I'm looking for. I always find something of interest though, whether it's useful or not, could be debated.
So, here is what I have been reading....
The Joy of Hobby Farming by Michael and Audrey Levatino
I'd have to call it a good all-rounder. It balances text to good photography and to be honest, sometimes I can learn as much from a photo. There were a few points that I wouldn't agree with the authors on but nothing much more then a quibble. I will keep this one.
Free Range Chicken Gardening by Jessi Bloom
Beautiful photographs! Lighter on information. It is geared more towards the urban chicken keeper but plenty of ideas for me to try out. I'll probably keep this one too, just cause it's so darn pretty to look at.
A Practical Guide to Self Sufficiency by Terry Bridge
I like this book. I'll keep it. It is a bit harder to read cover to cover but laid out so I will always be able to find the section on apples when I want to. Or the section on home energy... or building your own privy.. or canning produce.. or dyeing yarn... you name it, and it seems to have some information on it. Good photos as well.
Barnheart: the Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own. by Jenna Woginrich
This one is for motivation. If you like James Herriot books then you will like this one. Jenna's experiences remind me to always, always build the best fences that you can, because I swear nothing seems to be able to stay penned up at her place! She also has a blog if you want to try that out first. Search for Cold Antler Farm.
I'm currently reading two books. Wafting back and forth. One is The Profitable Hobby Farm: How to Build a Sustainable Foods Business by Sarah Beth Aubrey. No pictures to speak of and very heavy in much needed information. Sometimes it is a bit painful to read. It probably is a must have... but it won't be fun. But I will have to admit that she writes it so I understand the stuff. I have read other articles on the business side of farming and they were totally undigestible. You should be able to get through this and understand what you read.
The other current book is...
The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka This is about a man's learning curve to become able to farm with nature. Because it is geared toward the climate and crop rotation in Japan it might not be directly applicable. But this is more about training your mind to see a way within your own dynamic setting. And the perk is that if you find a way to work within nature, then you don't have to do near as much work. The goal, I believe, is for me to look around and see what nature is wanting to provide here, and then gently guide it. It's a principle more then an agricultural how-to.
In the wings I have, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. I know, I know, it has nothing to do with farming. But someday I will have the construction done. I'll have the fences up, the sheds built, the raised beds raised, and I'll have to come into the house. At which point I have no doubt that I will look around and say...."Holy Shit!" Someday, I will really, really have to clean my house.
Not to forget, every winter I spend a little time and re-read Sylvia's Farm by Sylvia Jorrin. She reminds me to keep going. It doesn't matter if the pipes are frozen, you have three feet of snow on the ground and ice so treacherous, you slide on your belly to get to the barn. You keep going because what else can you do? You keep going because somehow, in your heart, your a farmer.