Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Books and blogs

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for "how we did it" type books documenting how people transition from urban to rural life. So when I came across The Accidental Farmers, I knew this was a must-read.

Well let me tell you, this book is honest. In sometimes gut-wrenching language, Tim Young describes what it takes to leave behind corporate America and build a farm from the ground up. Unlike the eternally optimistic perfection too often implied in country magazines, Mr. Young's rural journey wasn't all a bed of roses. There were quite a few thorns along the way. The book is riveting in its honesty and refreshing in its unvarnished approach.

The Young's journey began, like so many other urban-to-rural migrations, with the realization of how artificial modern conveniences are. "Urban living is all about convenience," he wrote. "Whatever you need there is a store or solution reasonably close by, easily identifiable by an endless line of traffic in low-speed pursuit. The perceived benefit of this reality is of course subjective. We moved in part due to the box stores that were beginning to encircle us, slowly moving in for the kill on our wallet. Within just a few miles of where we formerly lived was every conceivable type of restaurant, organic grocery store, specialty and large-scale retail, pet grooming, lumber and landscaping centers, malls, concert arenas, professional sports teams, museums, theaters, nightclubs, you name it. We felt drawn to many of these places, I think, simply because they were there."


One of the first things the Youngs discovered in their new location is allergies, which raises a philosophical and unanswerable question: "Does anyone honestly think this was a problem a thousand years ago? We've created such a perfect manmade world that we, the inhabitants who created it, cannot live outside of it."

Characteristic of the success he had in corporate America before chucking it all, Mr. Young and his wife approached their new farm with determination to succeed. "I don't know why I'm so stubbornly drawn to challenges and obstacles," he wrote, "but if it was a challenge my sub-conscious wanted it should now be permanently satiated by taking on sustainable livestock farming." Regarding farming in general and its reputation for being hard work, he wrote, "Still, the need is there and somebody needs to do it, and this fact is what pushed me over the edge."

The book outlines the Young family's journey toward building an organic sustainable farm as well as farm products. It's not always pretty. But when things are pretty, he tells about it. And that's what characterizes rural life in general, particularly when farming for a living instead of a hobby.

Anyway, I highly recommend The Accidental Farmer for a deep and honest read.

So imagine my surprise when Mr. Young contacted me -- me! -- and asked if I wanted to participate in a new book he was writing entitled How to Make Money Homesteading. The premise behind this book is a truthful analysis of how to earn an income in the country, whether it's selling farm-produced goods, or selling skills-based goods or services. The book is excellent and contains the author's characteristic honesty when it comes to rural life. As someone who's always trying to take the rose-colored blinders off country living, this is something I appreciate.

Now Mr. Young has a new blog called The Self-Sufficient Blog. It's a start up but it's great.

I'm impressed with Tim Young's multifaceted approach to country living. He blogs. He writes. He raises organic meat. He makes organic cheeses. He teaches classes. He conducts workshops. In short, he personifies the "many irons in the fire" structure of earning an income that I recommend to anyone living rural.


  1. I am currently clearing my shelves of some books (selling, gifting, donating) in order to get book boxes unpacked and I vowed yesterday that I would use the library from now on, but I am already breaking that no-more-books vow! I will order these books and probably make his blog a morning read.
    We are on a similar journey and it's going forward as fast as you can pour honey that's sugared up. We are planning a retirement farm, rather a change of career, and it's required us to live in two different states...miss my honey and it's a long drive back and forth but we do it.
    We didn't get the fencing in at our place in ID, so the county will probably drop our AG exemption. I will have to dedicate our savings to taxes rather than fence most likely until we can satisfy the county that we are a farm. Other matters had to be attended to first, such as my mother getting pneumonia and I went to MO to take care of her when she was released. The apples and pears didn't get picked, I didn't find a market or get them sold otherwise.
    I created a FB page to document our journey, but didn't have the heart to write about what didn't get done. I have also found that at the end of the day, I don't have much time or energy to post. We haven't lost hope, and we wake up every morning and begin the day with a glad heart that we are at least getting to try to achieve this dream.
    I am thankful for people that openly and honestly share their experiences. Your blog alone has helped me tremendously; it's helped me to narrow down what it is I want to do (beef, chickens, bees, orchard and garden). I have a small orchard of 25 apple trees, several cherry, and two full sized pear trees. I have a place for the garden. It has several inches of gravel in it, as I learned from you that the voles/moles will decimate the efforts of any gardener. It was a blessing that the space and gravel was all ready here when we purchased this place. I've planted some strawberries, asparagus and onions. I have a source for the breed of beef cattle I want to raise.
    I think these books will be a source of valuable information and encouragement and I am excitedly looking forward to finding a spot for them in the shelves.
    If you know of any ID homeschool sites where families exchange information, or county sites (I live in Benewah), I have some books to give away.
    Thanks for letting me ramble.

  2. Thanks for sharing this information. I'll definitely check out his site and the book!

  3. Thanks you Patrice! I will add it to the reading list.

  4. Gosh, this is better than sports! I found myself totally enjoying the first few paragraphs, cheering as I read and making plans to read this book, and THEN I got to the place where Patrice wrote "...Mr. Young contacted me -- me! -- "... I was laughing out loud at that point. One of the most humble giants of canning/farming/blogging/milking/cattle/cheese making/home schooling/etc comes face to face with an admirer that she admires. Better than the Super Bowl!!! Your daughters may understand this reference more easily, but did Captain Picard realize the power of his Captain Picard-ness? Patrice, you are already one of the LEGENDS. Go get 'em!

    Oh, and, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  5. I recently attended a cheese class at Nature's Harmony Farm by Tim Young. He is the real deal! His class was excellent too, if anyone near Georgia wants to ever learn a ton about cheese making!

  6. I learned a good bit about Ossabaw Island pigs, which we now raise way back from Mr. Young's Nature's Harmony website. I also recommend his fiction novel "Poisoned Soil" I loved it, couldn't put it down!

  7. I bought the "how to Make Money Homesteading" based on your recommendation. I devoured it in one day! We just purchased a new home with 38 acres and were scared about the property taxes. This gave me all kinds of suggestions on how to make money off our land. I can't wait for Springtime to get started. Thanks so much!