homesteading

November (and a little bit into December) is book month at Whipup.net

Ok Ok – I have a dream… it includes a farm and some animals and lots of kids (being good and playing nicely), rain and sunshine and vegetables, honey and fresh air, free range eggs, a pizza oven and homemade bacon. I am thus just a little bit addicted to reading books on these topics, growing my yearning toward change and a new lifestyle – somewhere green and rainy and lush – maybe with a beach – does it sound nice?

The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses By Richard A. Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch. Stewart, Tabori & Chang (April 1, 2011).

Wow – beautiful book, full of amazing historic images, illustrations and posters – full of facts and history – myths and stories – bees in literature, art and ritual – the first chapter makes for incredible bedtime reading. Next everything you need to know about the honeybee- types of bees, the lifecycle, how they communicate, why they sting, where they live, man’s relationship with the bee and how to create a bee friendly garden. All super interesting stuff – and filled with amazing images of bees, bee hives, swarms, bee anatomy, as well as beautiful hand drawn illustrations – just stunning.

Next chapter is the ins and outs of keeping bees, when what how and who – everything you need to know to keep bees and harvest honey in your own garden. This section has wonderful practical advice on hive construction and where to locate it – looking after and feeding your bees and proper hygiene and safety. Again there are some amazing photos and a really informative section on what to expect in a beekeeping year. And of course how to harvest all that lovely honey and beeswax. The next to last section is all about honey and the bee byproducts (beeswax, pollen and royal jelly), including medicinal, scientific and food uses. This section begins with a really informative section on the types of honey, then goes on to make candles from beeswax through to the medicinal properties of honey. Lastly – recipes, crafts and home remedies – from honey syrups, drinks and marinades to hair products, skin creams, soaps and healthful tonics. This is probably the most thorough and interesting book on bees and beekeeping I think I have ever seen (I know I am not an expert – but this book is really fabulous).

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: Choose the Best Breeds for Small-Space Farming, Produce Your Own Grass-Fed Meat, Gather Fresh … Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cattle, & Bees by Gail Damerow. Published by Storey Publishing (March 23, 2011). (Distributed in Australia through Capricorn Link)

A practical guide to raising your own animals for food and includes chapters on each of the animals covered: chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, rabbits, bees, goats, sheep, pigs, and cows. Most of these animals except maybe for ducks, chooks and bees are really not meant for the average backyard, this book really goes beyond the basic small-space animal husbandry and is more hobby farm material than for the suburban backyard farmer. This book is not meant to be a one stop shop – rather it makes for a great general overview while you are researching your topic.

Homesteading in the 21st Century: How One Family Created a More Sustainable, Self-Sufficient, and Satisfying Life By George Nash and Jane Waterman. Published by Taunton Press (May 3, 2011) (Distributed in Australia through Capricorn Link).

Wonderfully inspiring book written by a couple with a lifetime each of experience working and living a self sufficient life. Full of not only practical farming life, but also real interesting stories and advice of farm life. It’s difficult to explain this book – it’s an eclectic mix of part how-to manual and part memoir. The advice given is so obvious heart felt and hard earned – and the writing style is real too – the voices of these farmer folk comes through real and raw – it’s wonderful. A perfect book to be reading over the next year while I think about our next step into the unknown.

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Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More by Ashley English. Lark Books (April 6, 2010)

I was originally drawn to this series of books because of the groovy retro styling of the covers. And the fact that I have chooks and want to learn more about canning. I was not disappointed once delving into these books a little more and want to congratulate Lark on the quality of these books which are printed using sustainable recycled materials.

Ashley English is a homesteader who is learning as she goes and passing on her knowledge to the rest of us. Canning and preserving is a fabulous resource – it is more than recipes, it is also a primer for troubleshooting, tips and tricks and the all important preparation of food preservation. There is a bit on the chemistry of preserving, the importance of a sterile clean environment, what materials and equipment you need – and of course the ingredients. Ingredients are discussed in terms of the seasons – and there are some delicious looking recipes – from jams and marmalade, to pickles and sauces and relishes – lots to explore here.

Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock by Ashley English. Lark Books (April 6, 2010)

Keeping chickens, is a beautiful book for those with chickens already and those thinking of starting up a flock. From all the things you need to consider before getting chooks (like space and neighbours) to what sort of chooks to get, where and how to get them and raise them, where they are going to live (some lovely hutch ideas and project how-tos) to feeding and hatching babies and raising chickens. As well as all about eggs and how to cook them! This book is going to be read over and over by the whole family.

[check out Ashley English's homesteading blog]

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