My hubby and I were doing a mini re-model project in my office over the weekend. I was pulling books off the upper shelves to clean and prep them for paint and came across a few gems that I absolutely love and wouldn’t do without in my personal library. Since they were a hair’s width away from the ceiling I don’t drag out the ladder to pull them down and reference them as much as I used to but after perusing them today, while hubby painted, I knew I had to write about them.
Despite the fact that I will probably always live in the city I have strong country girl roots. I was born in the country, spent all my summers on a farm in Ohio and lived and worked on that same farm for a short while as an adult. The last 5ish years I spent in Arizona were lived not on a farm but deep in the country on a mountain only accessible by a treacherous dirt road. My “backyard” was probably about 500 acres of desert, with mountains, mining shafts, and mountain lions. Oh and rattle snakes (shudder). One got into the house once too. Thank goodness hubby is as afraid of them as he would be a puppy or we would have moved out before I tried to touch it.
Living in these types of places helps you to see the value of self sufficiency. You also begin to see how fun and rewarding it can be. Most of the books I mention below I got while living on my grandmother’s farm after she passed away. Now I live in the city (albeit a small one) but I still see the value if self sufficiency. It helps you to grow as a person, live on your own terms, and save money even. Many green enthusiasts dream of living off the grid so these books would be especially interesting to them but there are great lessons for everyone. I had a blast looking at them and got inspired to bring more country living to my city home.
The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour. This book is a classic. It is about simple living more than anything and meeting your own needs.
It is time to cut out what we do not need so we can live more simply and happily. Good food, comfortable clothes, serviceable housing, and true culture – those are the things that matter – John Seymour
This book is great for people who want to live more self sufficient lives on a grand scale (aka off the grid, farming, raising livestock, making their own tools, building their own homes, etc.) and for those that are interested on a small scale (making your own bread for instance). It has diagrams for gardens in urban areas like a paved patio, for community gardens, and for full scale farms. It has a lot of info about planting and growing your food and how to di it, step by step with full color pictures. It has info on raising animals for food and preparing and butchering that food yourself (not something that ever interested me much). Other chapters help you identify wild foods like mushrooms, nuts, and berries. It has instructions for making your own milk, cheese, bread, wine, canned goods, preserves…you name it. The last chapters address building, spinning you own wool, making bricks by hand, woodworking, and dozens of others things.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living – It has the compiled wisdom of many folks and farmers in the country and in the city have learned to rely more on themselves then “the man”. It really does have a format like an encyclopedia but it is rich with info: gardening, buying land, emergency supplies, mothering in cold climates, homebirth, laundry, quilting, candlemaking, money mangement, buying at auctions, poisonous bites and so much more. There are TONS of recipes too.
My favorite though is MaryJane’s Ideabook – Cookbook – Lifebook. It is for the farm girl in all of us whether on a farm or not. MaryJane Butters has a popular magazine I love to read to. This book is like 50 full color magazines combined except without any ads. The pictures are so gorgeous the book is worth it just for those. MaryJane is the quintessential farm girl and homemaker. She lives on her farm in Idaho, bakes pies, wears homemade aprons, gardens, knits, embroiders, and cooks up country feasts worthy of kings all with the style and grace of Martha Stewart. The book is full of recipes, stories about women of all walks of life, stories about women of days past, patterns for various crafts projects, and delightful information about bringing the farm girl life anywhere. Just try putting it on a coffee table when you have guests and they won’t be able to put it down. It highlights the heritage of farming that belongs to all of us and how it can be philosophy of living even for those that don’t actually live on farms. You will fall in love with MaryJane too…I am ready to move in with her!