Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Livin' Off the Land

Probably one of the most popular sections in my library is the homesteading section.  As more and more folks look to be more self-sufficient (I prefer God-dependent) and looking less to the system to care for their needs, these books and videos help to regain the skills lost for the last two generations...skills that were to my grandparents "like breathin'."  I thought I would share some of these resources with you in case your family is seeking to go back to the old paths.

I guess the most obvious choice for learning how our forefathers lived is the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.   Learn from the Ingalls family as they build a cabin, milk a cow, make cheese, bake sourdough bread.  Almost everything they needed, they provided by the work of their own hands.  (An interesting side note - Look at what happened when the trains began bringing supplies to the west...and what happened when they couldn't.)

The Open Gate by Kate Seredy - I LOVE this book!!  I laughed at the struggles of a city family who accidently buys a farm.  Even though my husband and I are from this small town, we still grew up in subdivisons.  The biggest animal I had ever been around when we got our first milk cow was a German Shepherd.  You, too, will laugh and cry...and learn... as this family learns to make a very different life for themselves.

Even though the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody begins on a ranch in Colorado, we still gained so much wisdom to use on our little East Tennessee farm.  One of the keys to success in homesteading is problem-solving and thinking outside the box.  A little common sense doesn't hurt, either, and Ralph's father (and eventually Ralph himself) exemplifies all of these.  Do not miss these books.

In addition to living books, I also have many volumes to teach skills needed for the homesteading life.  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery is a huge book that deals with just about everything you would ever encounter on a homestead.  If you can only buy one book, make it this one.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour - This is my husband's favorite do-it-all book.  I love it, too.  Mr. Seymour also has books such as this one which introduces us to the lost skills of our ancestors.

Keeping a Family Cow by Joann Grohman - When we first got our Jersey cow, Lynette, this book was attached to my right arm for months.  So much cow wisdom!

Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel is a great book if you would like to revive this food storage means. 

Homesteading doesn't always mean lots of land.  Many in our society today have very small plots of dirt but can still be successful in providing for their family's needs.  Mini Farming by Brett Markham is a good resource for those seeking self-sufficiency on a quarter acre.

The Foxfire books are treasures in my home.  We have the set my late father-in-law had which I did not allow to be checked out in my library.  Thankfully I found a set for 50 cents each at a library sale.  Now many of my patrons enjoy learning about the skills of our ancestors in Southern Appalachia, my home.

Sometimes a video fits the bill better when we are trying to learn a lost skill.  The West ladies, featured on the Homestead Blessings video series, teach us many arts such as cooking, gardening, herbs, candle making, soap making and many more.   The Homesteading for Beginners DVD set is amazing, teaching many many skills necessary to live off the land. 

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to humbly suggest a profound and challenging book.  This is the only book I own besides the Bible that I have read more than twice.  I'm now on my fourth read.  Surviving Off Off-Grid by Michael Bunker looks at history and scripture to see how we should view life and to Whom we should be dependent.  This is not just a how-to book, but a history book, and a philosophy book.  Those who read it either love it or hate it...or both.  This is not a "chicken little" book, but a realistic look at where our culture started and where it's gone.  I highly recommend it.

I hope you will search out some of these gems if for no other reason than to connect with the past.  Where we are is a result of where we've been.  Consider introducing yourselves and your children to the old paths.

This post was shared at the Homestead Blog Hop.


  1. Robin,
    Wow, what an excellent post - thank you! I am excited to seek out some of the books you recommended. Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours!

  2. Thank you, Kelly. We really love this life. Just today we learned to tie brooms from an 89yo relative. There are so many skills we are seeking to learn. I hope these books are helpful. There are MANY to choose from as I believe God is calling many of us back. Praying His blessings on your family as well.

  3. We have five of the book series and DVD sets you mentioned. Great list of books you mentioned. I will have to check out your last recommendation as I have never heard of it. Thanks for linking up these gems to the Art of Home-Making Mondays!