So, it should come as no surprise that while Birch and I scheme and plan to exit our current life and enter into a dreamworld (to us) of buying farmland, raising heritage breed farm animals, building a sustainable house, and becoming self-sufficient, we are both soaking in just about everything related we can get our hands on. We talk to friends we've made here (farmers and ranchers) and vendors at the farmer's markets, read blogs written by farmers across the country, read magazines and articles dedicated to farming, and follow farm-related news. But most of all, we read books. As you can imagine, some are more helpful than others and some are more inspiring than others.
We borrow books from our local library then buy the ones we know we'll read again and again. Here is our list:
- Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on a 1/4 acre by Brett L. Markham
- The Backyard Homestead edited by Carleen Madigan
- The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals by Gail Damerow
- Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow
- Small-Scale Livestock Farming by Carol Ekarius
- Making Your Small Farm Profitable by Ron Macher
- Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm by Sarah Beth Aubrey
- You Can Farm by Joel Salatin
- Storey's Guide (to anything)
- The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
- Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan
- The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery
- Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game by John J. Mettler
- Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth
- Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
- The Heirloom Life Gardener by Jere and Emilee Gettle
- Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions by Oscar H. Will & Karen K. Will
There are SO many books out there begging to be soaked in and churned out into practice. We're still making our way through them and more continue to be written! It is so exciting to experience this life through others and I am so grateful that so many people are returning to the farming life, even those converting their yards into a place rich in animals and vegetation. I look at this shift not as a trend or "the hip thing to do" but a movement. Sure, there are people not as serious about the philosophy behind the change, but I believe that as more and more people start growing their own food, more appreciation and concern will surface and our world will be a better place for it.
Birch and I struggle with our current place in this movement: willing and dedicated, but honestly, scared. Right now, Birch has job security, a regular paycheck, and amazing health insurance. He also has debt that we must pay. Changing our lives will mean the end of all those things. It will be a sacrifice. However, it is a sacrifice we are willing to make. We are confident that the satisfaction of our new life as farm owners and workers will greatly outweigh the comfort we feel now. It will be a difficult change which is why we strive to go in knowing as much as we can.
We can't, however, research forever. At some point, we'll have to act. Find land, move, and start the rest of our lives. So now we wait for that When. It's coming but not yet and we'll need to learn a bit more patience and take advantage of our advantages while we can.
What do you aspire to be? How do you help yourself to become the person you long to be?