Homesteading in the 21st Century

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-05-03
  • Publisher: Taunton Pr
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Not since Thoreau made his home in the woods at Walden Pond has the notion of self-sufficiency held more universal appeal. Therers"s no question wers"re going through some tough economic times, but this book offers an alternative. Itrs"s a guide for anyone who imagines a better life-from struggling families tired of energy dependency to dreamers who always wished they could live off the land someday. This ultimate DIY guide holds to the premise that anyone can homestead, and raise at least a portion of their food themselves-even if they live in the city. This book is absolutely brimming with ideas on how to take control of your life by degrees-whether that means keeping chickens, growing a garden, or brewing your own beer.


A lot of folks are thinking about ways to do a little more for themselves, entertaining notions of growing some portion of their food, both for security and pleasure, maybe brewing a backyard batch of biodiesel or installing solar panels on the rooftop or a woodstove in the living room. Some folks might be motivated to do a little more to fight global climate change than recycling their bottles and newspapers. And some folks are just looking for a rewarding hobby. In times of increasing uncertainly, it’s understandable that many of us would want to feel a little more secure, a little more in control of our lives and livelihoods, a little less at the mercy of distant corporations or the tectonic upheavals of the economy. Keeping a few chickens or raising some herbs and tomatoes may be all it takes.

No matter how far out back of beyond you might go, no matter how far off the grid you wander, in today’s world, you can’t ever really get away from it all or entirely escape the money economy. All you can do is choose which level of the game to play at. You still have to somehow earn enough actual money to pay property taxes and whatever mortgage, fire or health insurance, or other costs of property ownership and personal predilections. The goal is to live a more satisfying life, insofar as that can be defined by freeing yourself from the burden of useless possessions and obsessions and to forge strong family ties, raising kids that grow up curious and not jaded, and adults who can enjoy gathering together around the dinner table to celebrate good food and good living. Cultivating not only a garden, but the ability to enjoy the small stuff and take pleasure in honest work – manual labor as a life sport.
Ultimately, our intent is to show you how to appreciate and celebrate the enduring realities of life--food, shelter, livelihood, family, and community--how to develop the hands-on skills that you’ll need to reclaim and reconnect with the natural world and to live a life more in harmony with the great cycle of the seasons. Such would be a life sufficient unto itself, sustainable and satisfying, successful, indeed. A useful life and a dignified death – what more does anyone really need?


There is a cornucopia of books in and out of print on the subject of self-sufficient or sustainable living, rural cottage industry and small-scale agriculture under the rubric of “homesteading.” Almost all of them are useful; some more, some less. Unlike virtually every other book on the subject, we don’t make the claim that ours is “complete.” There is no such thing as a complete guide to homesteading. There’s always more to learn and do than can fit between the covers of any one or any dozen books. The possibilities and challenges of a hand-made life are inexhaustible. The skills and knowledge which were just once normal life have to be relearned from scratch and sometimes, even rediscovered. While we touch on as many subjects as we can within our allocated pages, our intent is not an exhaustive treatment of any of them, but rather to present enough information to help you get started, pique your interest, answer the FAQ’s and give you a roadmap for your particular path. We’ve also read (or at least skimmed) a lot of books on the subject and have included them in an annotated “For Further Reading” addendum at the end of the book. A necessarily incomplete directory of online resources is also appended.
Fortunately, you really don’t need to know everything you’ll eventually need to know upfront. You can learn as you go and grow as you grow. As your skills sharpen and your knowledge increases you can take on more projects and do them better. So indeed, read, read, read, everything you can. Build a library, visit your local library, track down helpful websites, subscribe to magazines (There are specialized journals that cover every conceivable aspect of gardening and small stock raising.) Find a mentor, a neighbor, or friend of a friend who can show you how to whatever --the guy who comes to your farm to kill the pig, the old woman who shows you which mushrooms are safe to eat and where to gather the best fiddleheads, the neighbor who captures a swarm of bees and relocates it to your hive. Eventually you’ll become that guy who knows how to do it. Whatever it takes to find reassurance and inspiration, find it.

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