Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book review: The Self-Reliant Homestead

I adore reading books on homesteading. I always learn something.

The thing about homesteading in north Idaho is it's not the same as homesteading in Indiana, or New Mexico, or Maine, or Louisiana. Every place is different and faces different climates, challenges, and requirements. But a good homesteading book takes into account all these differences, and walks people through all the possibilities inherent with diverse locations and situations.

I just got a copy of The Self-Reliant Homestead: A Book of Country Skills and I'm pleased to report it qualifies as a classically good homesteading book (high accolades!). It's particularly suitable for beginners since it covers moving to the country, equipment and tools, gardening, livestock, food preservation, wood heat and woodlot management, fences and walls, firearms, barns and outbuildings, ponds, wells and water, and other necessary considerations.

This is an excellent resource and should be on every potential homesteader's library bookshelf.

The author, Charles Sanders, also keeps a spiffy blog by the same title.

If you're interested in homesteading but either haven't yet taken on the challenge, or are just embarking on your new adventure, I highly recommend this book!


  1. i ordered and recieved this book last week and it is indeed full of great information for homesteading...and his blog is really good too. i have found that it is not only interesting but very helpful to know what is going on with farming, homesteading, other states. sometimes, i can put tips and ideas to work for myself that i may never have even though of.

  2. Patrice,

    Perhaps this book can help answer a huge issue.

    We live in Oklahoma. Canning in the extreme heat of the last couple of years has me on the edge of questioning the entire process. We had WEEKS of 100+ temps last year with extended stretches of ~115 heat indices. This year's actual temps have hovered 98-105, but so far have been accompanied by low humidity. Traditionally, our hottest weeks are still ahead.

    I've done a lot of canning in the very late night or early hours to escape the worst of the heat, but until I can figure out how to get the garden to produce in the fall or winter, :) I'm stuck canning in the heat.

    We've been working on some land for two years - built a barn (with "house" capabilities), drilled a well, put in a nice garden, fencing, etc. and we're preparing a spot to build our future home. Before we settle in on a plan, I want to explore all the possibilities for a different arrangement for canning. Hubby works in the heat all day and I'd like for him to have a cool(er) place to rest when he comes in.

    Options to date:

    1) Outside "kitchen" -- not one of those ostentatious dream kitchens I've seen outside some huge homes, but basically just a stove on the back porch. Am I asking for trouble, with wind and pests? I've heard horror stories of canning failures thought to be due to the air movement outside.

    2) Put a stove in a room of the barn (no barn animals yet). Room has concrete floor, water and propane.

    3) Continue canning inside the house. Since air conditioners have a hard time just keeping up with a 20 degree inside/outside differential (ours is set 80-82), I don't want to put more strain on the system so usually turn it off when I can. I currently use a small fan on my legs to help cut the oppressive heat.

    Do you or any of your readers have any suggestions?
    I need help here.

    Thank you,