I don't know about you, but I have a lot of books about gardening, homesteading and other related topics. In fact, I counted them. It turns out I have 126 of them. Each of them has prices ranging from $9.95 (very few) to $49.95 (also very few) but most are in the range of 25 to 30 bucks. That means, just using the average, I have spent $3150-$3780 on those type of books.
Now, I don't know if I actually spent that much since a good portion of them came from Amazon, but even if I got a discount, that is pretty ridiculous.
What is worse, most of them are simply not that useful.
When an expert writes a book on say, gardening, they assume too much or they get too basic. It is difficult to fill a book up with material and it seems no one wants to write pamphlets that won't bring in good money.
Of course, there are exceptions and I do have a handspan of books I just couldn't do without. And almost all of them have their place and have been used for reference or to double check things.
I just got a new one though and I find it so wonderful, so awesome and well, so darn great that I've got to tell you all about it. It is a short book, more of an oversized pamphlet really and it was written in the 1940's. It is called the "Have-More" Plan by Ed and Carolyn Robinson.
I just got mine from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds instead of Amazon because it is one of the few books that doesn't have a discount and I like to support my favorite places.
Ed and Carolyn were city people who simply got tired of it, took their young son and went to the country. As total novices they managed to commute for work to the city and have a mini-homestead that supplied a truly amazing part of their support. And this was in the 40's!
The book is oversized and paperback and reprinted exactly as it was on the second edition, which had a few more lessons learned in it. It's written more like a series of articles, none of them meant to be the end all in how to for any subject, but more of a guide to how they chose and did it and all the things they wound up doing wrong in doing so.
Subjects range from Bee Keeping to home meat rabbits and even in setting up a Harvest Kitchen. These two are amazing...really.
It's told in a wonderfully conversational tone and is filled with those lovely pre-1960s assumptions on gender roles that will have you cracking up a bit. They included lots of family snapshots that aren't just cute, but incredibly useful. Even right to his little chicken guillotine, complete with chicken under the blade. (Don't worry, no gore and it is just before the ax fell.)
Some of the sections are pretty eye-opening. Under their food preservation section they do go on about using a freezer. These were very new to the market then and they actually paid more for their freezer in 1941 than I would in buy the same sized one today!
They do use actual money numbers in the book and while clearly we don't buy our homestead for 2,650.00 anymore, the use of relative numbers does work in many instances because we don't make 100 bucks a month anymore either.
Some of you may really like the goat section. I learned a LOT about goats here and have a lot less fear of getting those dairy goats than before. His were awfully cute too.
The tone of the book is such that you'd think you were talking to a city dweller today. The urge for sustainable living and a bit more control over our food and a happy and less stressful life appears to remain unchanged.
One of the most surprising parts of this book is the whole pre-1960's gender role thing. While it is clear their speech indicates they were raised with those views, like everyone else, their reality was far different. Once they got homesteading, they really did become equal with each relying on the other. They don't say it in so many words, but she is a far more powerful member of the household than she was before homesteading. I do like that!
Nonetheless, I find this to be the most enjoyable and useful of the books I've gotten since Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening. And it was the cheapest one too!
I did find it online however I'm not sure if it is a legal copy so I'm not including the link. It looks like a scanned copy of the original and since that one isn't copyrighted, but in 1978 it was, I can't be sure. I'll keep researching and update if I find it is a legal copy. Either way, the scan is a bad one and the lovely copy I have is a delight to own.
*Disclaimer: I do NOT have an Amazon store or any other concession for these links. They are the same links you'd get from google searching. I don't do ads or commissions and get no kick backs. Just passing on the good info....