Monday, August 19, 2013

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)

As I sit here there is a tinge of fall in the air. In fact this is the third day in a row where it has felt like fall and that is really strange for August. This morning I fed the chickens, gathered the eggs, checked the garden (I will have to cut okra when I am done here), got a couple of loads out of the old house, and split some firewood. My wife says that I peck at things till they are done. She laughs and says I am a pecker. Guilty as charged. I gradually peck at all of the projects I have working until I get them done. I do this with almost everything including reading.

As summer growing season is winding down, the time to start planning the fall and next springs gardens draws near. My wife and I had a long talk about what we are going to grow next summer. I have never really had much of a fall garden, that is until this year.

I have been reading the book Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides). This book has inspired me to really expand my fall garden and I would like to share why it is a good read for anyone who is interested in having a homestead lifestyle. The book was written by Angela England. She really put a lot of time into research for this book. This is not just a gardening book. It is a lifestyle book.

Angela describes some of the reasons that producing at least some of your food is a good idea. She talks about the lack of nutrition in many of the foods we buy at the grocery store, the health and cost benefits of producing as much as you can. You do not have to go into the homestead lifestyle with both feet. Start small if you need to, be sucessful do more each year. Just do something.

There is a chapter on selecting a homestead and one on homesteading where you are now. Angela has included possible layouts for one quarter, one half, and a full acre. Her designs are very functional and asthetically pleasing as well. These designs are not set in stone and can be customized to fit each persons situation.

Angela covers the tools that would be needed on a homestead and basic skills that should be developed. She does a very good job of covering fencing and outbuilding that the homestead is likely to need. She does not include any plans for building because those are so situation dependent.

Angela does an excellent job of covering many types of fruits and vegetables, tips on growing these varieties, several recipies in which to use your produce and ways to preserve much of your produce for the winter and early spring. She was so thorough with her coverage of things that could be grown in the fall and winter that I am going to be planting a full fall garden this year for the first time in years.

There are chapters on keeping chickens, rabbits, sheep and goats, and beekeeping. You can tell that this book was written with an eye on trying to be as self sustainable as possible. I do not know if I will ever talk all of my family into the idea of raising rabits or goats for food, but the information is here to get someone started.

I was very impressed with the section on Crafting from the Backyard Farm. This section focuses on trying to create an income from your homestead. This is a topic that I feel that many people overlook. It is very difficult if not impossible for one family to be self sufficient. By producing things that can be sold or traded on the homestead, we can add a level of sustainability. Doing this gives us the ability to buy or trade for things that we cannot produce.

In the appendeses there are plans for cold frames, to extend the growing season, plans for a chicken coop, and plans for a sheep or goat shed. There are also gardening journal pages which can be copied and used for the next several years. Angela also included references to all of the organizations that she referenced in the book.

Scattered throughout the book are important points. Some are called Over the Garden Fence. These are tips on how to do things easier or ways to save money. Some points are called Thorny Matters. Thorny Matters are warning about things to avoid. Other points are called On a Different Scale. These points are just other ways of doing things, I have found that I tend to do quite a few things that were listed in the On a Different Scale.

This is a great book for the beginner or intermediate homesteader and is written in a way that even people who have been gardening their whole life will learn or in some cases relearn things that will really help them produce more of their families food.

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) is just one more way, no matter where you live, that you can...

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