Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Happy Homesteader
You can tell what season it is by looking at my side table with the stack of books that never leaves! I have a permanent book pile that always contains an array of books that I am currently perusing. The pile is always there, but the selection changes seemingly from season to season and year to year. This is one of the things that I love about homesteading. You have so many varied things that you do that you get to become familiar with a ton of different topics. I have noticed a trend in my book pile which correlates to the homestead life.
First, from year to year I have seen the books go from introductory things like Storey's Guides to raising chickens, pigs, sheep, etc. to more in-depth books like Grass-fed Cattle and The Barn Guide to Treating Dairy Cows Naturally. I have also seen my reading change from a focus on soil to more of a focus on landscape. When we first moved to the homestead it was neglected land so I read much about managing pastures and planting forages with books such as Greener Pastures on Your Side of the Fence. Now that the land is in good shape I find myself finally getting to the "decorating" with perennial flower beds for the bees and edible landscapes for us. Now I like books like Natures Garden. There was no time for these things in the beginning of our farming days! When looking at my gardening resources I see that my taste has changed from things like plant guides such as Heirloom Life Gardener to more thoughtful planting like The Winter Harvest Handbook.
More interesting than the maturation of my reading selections, I find it very telling as to what season it is by observing my reading pile. In the early months of winter my table is taken over by seed catalogues as I dream of next year's garden. Also at this time you can usually find a novel in the pile. I enjoyed reading The Dirty Life this past winter. This is a clear sign that the dark slow days of winter are upon us and I actually have time for a little entertainment! I also usually have one topic of interest at this time that I am focusing on. I try to learn one new thing each winter while I have some time for studying. Last winter I absorbed myself in learning to knit.
As the spring rolls around my pile changes to lots of gardening books as I begin planting crops. I also find my pile taken over by beekeeping books since this is the time of year that things are really changing in the hives and I'm trying to figure out what those little girls are doing! I use Beekeeping for Dummies as my all time reference. It always seems that I get some renewed energy in the spring after a slow winter and I take on many things at once - sometimes too many! Besides all of the work around the gardens and farm, I usually use my spring fever to fuel craft projects. I have learned how to make garden structures from Easy Concrete and containers and bird houses from The Weekend Crafter Series on Gourd Crafts.
In the summer my pile changes to signify the harvest has come in. My focus is on preserving food and I use books like Keeping the Harvest and Balls Complete Book of Home Preserving. These books always have tons of dog-earred pages of recipes I am planning on trying! As the herbs are maturing in the summer sun I begin visiting my medicinal herb books. I've just found a great resource in Prescription for Herbal Healing. By late summer the honey harvest has come in and I begin to think about what I'm going to do with all those jars of liquid gold. I have a couple of cook books associated with honey that I have been flipping through. One is Joy of Honey and the other is Old Favorite Honey Recipes. You might also find some light reading in the pile, but this is always something that I can pick up and put down easily since time is a precious gift during the long busy days. Right now I am reading Spirits of the Earth which is a Native American guide to nature symbols. It's helping me to connect with nature on a deeper level than I have before and I enjoy the tidbits of lore and ancient remedies that are interwoven in just about any Native American book.
You can find more about any of these books by clicking on the Farm Dreams bookstore and doing a search. I'm sure as Farm Dreamers you also have a large resource of reading materials. What books are you currently reading and what can you recommend to the rest of us?
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