Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quick Book Review: The Backyard Homestead

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!


Chai Chai said...

Are you trying to get rid of me?

You may find this interesting:

It sounds like they may be in your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. You can easily get 60 lbs of fruit or more from one tree. We have a pear tree in our back yard and when the fruit is ripe, I pick up ten pounds of pears or more every day.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Ha ha, Chai Chai, no way! who else is going to tell you the real truth about farming! thanks for the link - great site, I'll check it out.

Welcome Class factotum! Loved reading your site but now I have the 'save big money at meynards' song in my head. dang!

I'm thinking of tracking some of our harvests... we have one working pear tree (and 2 non-working apple trees and one very temperamental nectarine tree) which were already on the property. Other than that we are starting from nothing.

However, we scored 15 or so random trees at the close out sales last year. We kept them alive over the winter and will plant them this week. Hum... wonder just how many plums we can get...

And somewhere I have the pounds of bacon, sausage, and such from the pigs last fall. This should be interesting.

Sherri said...

Oh, yeah, that is one of my fav books... it's the one that really got me thinking. I don't even have a quarter acre, just a mobile home lot, but last year I grew 100 pounds of produce, started my mini orchard, strawberry patch, raspberries, grapes and blueberries and canned for the first time... great stuff! Love it all!

Come and visit me.. I'm an Ohio gal too!



Ohiofarmgirl said...

WOW Sherri thats great! And I love all your 'live simple' resources on your site. I think folks like you and YardFarmer Julie are so inspirational - just do what you can, with what you have. I love the idea of micro-farming...you don't need a lot to make a difference in your own life.

btw I just watched the PBS special on Richard Proenneke. That guy was amazing.

No more blog said...

Love this book! The concepts have formed the building blocks for our "master plan"!

Love your blog as well. We anxiously look forward to seeing each post and live a vicarious country life through you!

You can laugh at us as we start from zero here:

The D Family

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hey D Family! Nope wont be laughing.... I'll be cheering you on! I'll pop over and check out your site.

Chai Chai said...

From the look of the comments here I think the internet must have a new search filter that sends folks who are starting hobby farms with zero baseline knowledge directly to this blog.

If that is the case one must wonder if it is poetic justice or cosmic humor? Or maybe Bourbon Red is just sending folks this way......

Chai Chai said...

How would you like one of these?


Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thank you Chai Chai, I'm totally going to have nightmares about those weird sheep-pig monstrosities! EEEEEEKKKK!

We all need to stick together, thats for sure. And Bourbon Red is gonna get his.. don't you worry.

Actually I'm fixin' to load up the Big Truck pretty soon and head up his way... just as soon as that Miss Duck hatches her clutch.

Alaena said...

Thanks for the review! That book has been floating around in my Amazon cart for ages. Maybe it's time to bite the bullet. Now where did I put my husbands credit card number.....

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