I picked up a book at the library (you all use the library, right?) and thought I'd pass along a good read for folks just getting started, or for those who want to widen their homesteading knowledge base, or just a book to throw at your friends and relatives that think you are nuts for doing your own thing.
The Backyard Homestead, one of the Storey Publishing offerings, by Carleen Madigan is a great overview of manageable homesteading on a smaller property. She claim that on a quarter of an acre you can harvest:
* 1,400 eggs
* 50 pounds of wheat
* 60 pounds of fruit
* 2000 pounds of veggies
* 280 pounds of pork
* and 75 pounds of nuts
Wow! Those are great goals to work toward, and really - I can see how it could happen. Of course your property would have to be "mature," that is, if all you have is a quarter acre lot and a house you'll have a lot of work ahead of you. But if you have the out buildings, fencing, and an orchard, well you could get down to business. It would be a lot of work, that's for sure, but totally do-able.
For those of us starting from almost nothing tho, that may seem a good ways off. While we don't have the fruit or nuts, I'm sure I got about 1,400 eggs in the last week... so we are close. And we don't use all of our property (still chain sawin'....) so these are some good metrics to work with.
One of the things I like about the Storey's guides is that they are so approachable. They don't over-explain, they use easy illustrations, and they put it in terms that everyday folks can understand. This book takes most of the homesteading/farming tasks and puts them in perspective and lays out a logical progression. For instance you can start with a garden, then work on your orchard, then try growing some grains, add some hens, work your way up to pigs, toss in a goat, and before you know it - you're farming! (Homesteading is kind of a weird word to me.... farming seems more rational for some reason).
Each chapter (The Home Vegetable Garden, Poultry for Eggs and Meat, Homegrown Grains, etc.) gives the basics and some good facts and metrics (for instance how many eggs you can expect from chickens or ducks) and some basic information on critter housing and the tools you will need. She also provides a list of additional resources in the back indexes.
The other thing I liked about the book is that she doesn't spend a lot of time trying to convince you WHY you should try "homesteading" but rather points out all the great benefits. For instance, I'm reading another book on intensive gardening. A lot of the words in the book beat the reader over the head with "the end is near" message about how the planet is about to die and if you don't jump in and use his methods... well, friend, The End is on you. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be encouraged than discouraged so its taking me a while to sift thru that one to get to the really good gardening information.
But The Backyard Homestead is a quick read, an easy over view, has some great stuff, and points you were you can learn more. Check it out - literally! From the library!
Happy rainy day everyone!