Are you ready for backyard farming? Here’s a great resource for that!
To be honest, we’re particularly fond of our own backyard farming reference, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Written on four levels of homesteading experience and presented over 400 pages of information, there’s sure to be something here that will be of use to you. If you’d like to read a sample chapter, just send me an email at Tessa@homesteadlady.com.
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I own or have read many books on the topic of homesteading and backyard farming. I’ve found something of value in almost every single one of them. Let me tell you why I think this book by Ms. England might make a good edition to your homesteading library, especially if you’re just starting out.
Just Enough, Not Too Much
First of all, it should be understood that this book isn’t meant to be a comprehensive treatise on every subject covered. There’s exactly enough information on each topic to begin your education, get you interested, and get you started. England can also help you determine if a particular subject is something you can pass on for now.
As you will soon learn, if you haven’t already, you can simply never study any of these topics enough. There’s always, always another good book or post to read and another great mentor from whom you can learn.
The Why of Homesteading
The first part of this book is dedicated to discussing why a person would want to take on the adventure of backyard homesteading. Apart from the discussed personal benefits, Ms. England talks about the various valuable cultural and ecological reasons in a way that doesn’t get obnoxious. A lot of those who are passionate about sustainability let their passion alienate their audience by taking an accusatory or caustic tone. Ms. England manages to give an articulate explanation of the many benefits of the backyard farming lifestyle, while being honest about the amount of work you should be prepared for!
Yes, the author dares to suggest that you might need to change your lifestyle while you’re changing your lifestyle.
The next section is about the land:
- how to buy land (including ways you may not have considered
- how to work with land you already have
Both options are very do-able and the amount of land you really need is dependent upon what you’re realistically expecting to do. You can do more than you think on what you have, is the bottom line. The key is to start making workable plans. Ms. England helps jog our brains into thinking about all the variables.
A good deal of the rest of Backyard Farming on an Acre, More or Less is devoted to gardening, which makes sense since this is where most of us start. She covers everything from soil to veggie selections to extending your harvest. For those learning about cool season and warm season crops, she has suggestions of varieties in both categories.
She also spends time on soft fruits, orchard fruits and nuts. Included as well are herbs and a section on how to save seed, including why you’d want to do such a thing!
There is, of course, a lot to be said about small farm livestock. These are specifically animals you can keep in smaller numbers on a smaller farm, as opposed to hundreds of mono-species on larger scale farms. The sections are well outlined and the information sound. When you become interested in one of these animals specifically then you will, no doubt, want to read more in order to develop your own philosophies and practices.
There is a hand crafting section at the end that is a nice review of many homestead products you can expect to craft. Which of these you might decide to do will greatly impact how you raise your animals, and how you process the products that come from them. So, begin with the end in mind. An animal is a living thing that depends on you, so be sure you know why the animal is part of your homestead and care for it accordingly.
There is a large section given to explaining the various methods of preserving what you harvest from your homestead including canning, freezing, dehydrating, smoking, root cellars and various herbal formulations. This section also includes seasonal recipes, which is a great bonus! Learning to prepare food according to what is being harvested from your land is one of the great benefits of growing your own food in the first place.
Overall, this is an excellent overview of nearly everything you’d need to know to start a backyard farm. I learned some new things and relearned several others. I can heartily recommend it as worth a read and some note taking!
You can find Backyard Farming on Amazon or click below:
Cover photo gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.