Review by Tiffany
In 2009, I purchased an abandoned overgrown farmstead in the northwest of Montana (as far north as you can get without saying, “Eh!”) The farmstead consists of approximately 4 acres, a 1900s two story house (originally constructed as a government building in 1920) a weathered barn and chicken coop.
A hand pumped well is an added bonus, although I’ve not had the time (or know-how) to proof it yet. The first three years I spent in “reclamation” of the property from the prairie, the out of control windbreak, and ailing buildings. I muddled about with chickens, sheep, a random goat, with no direction and minimal “payback” for my efforts. Last year I made a commitment to food “self-sufficiency” as much as possible given the short growing season and my available time and resources.
During the long winter, I devoured several books on ‘homesteading’ and ‘country skills’ however, one book stands out due to its comprehensive and easy to assimilate information. “The Backyard Homestead, produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!” produced by Storey Publishing and edited by Carleen Madigan is self-proclaimed as “The Indispensable Guide to Food Self-Sufficiency.” The book details how to grow, harvest, preserve, and prepare just about everything edible, from vegetables, to wild foods and herbs, to farm animals.
It is written for all audiences from those with only a patio garden to those with several acres at their disposal. I enjoyed the organization of the book with its main topics broken down into subtopics for easy reference. Additionally, in each topic and subtopic, tips, recipes (the peach preserves are to die for!), common difficulties, diseases, etc. are provided.
The illustrations in the book make it easy to imagine and plan your homestead for maximum yield and efficiency. I liked this book and the information provided due to range of topics addressed, its ease of use and reference (and re-reference), and the “all encompassing” approach taking you from planting to food preparation and everything in between. My one criticism of this book is that wild caught fish and domestic fish production and preservation are not covered.
I’d recommend this book to busy or beginning homesteaders who want a “nuts and bolts” no fluff how-too covering a full range of food production topics. My random ineffective muddling has become focused and in one season, the homestead has taken shape, producing chickens and eggs, ducks, geese, turkeys, cattle, several vegetable gardens, and animal fodder crops. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll keep going back to this book for its easily referenced and digestible information that can be put to immediate use!