Pls help me find good books on farming

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by dla, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    Damascus, Maryland
    Still don't know much about how to handle our gradual move to self-sustaining agriculture and perhaps "community supported agriculture", but I'm looking for a good list of books to read this winter.
    I saw a thread a while back with a list of resources, can anyone find it or suggest titles?
    We have "The self sufficient Life", but I have a lot more questions about agriculture than it provides.
    I would really appreciate it. I'd rather learn the easy way (in books) that the hard way (in sweat, cash and heartache) as much as possible.
    Deb

    FYI - we are in Maryland, near everything (stores, etc), own 50 acres cleared and previously planted in corn. Spent last year and a half clearing neglected land with bush hog. Hope to fence off unused acres on hilly area for cows in spring. Daughter keeps horses for income, so we are planting hay to avoid buying as a first step. Have tractor, bush hog. Willing to buy some equiptment. Hope to start serious garden next year. Thanks folks.
     
  2. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.
     

  3. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,523
    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening.
    If I could only have one book about gardening, this would be it. Even if you don't want to do the organic thing, you can get a huge amount of information from it.
    It covers vegetables, fruit trees, nut trees, plant diseases, insects, fertilizers, etc.,etc., etc. A great book!!!!
     
  4. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,908
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Fl Zones 11
    5 Acres and Independence
    and
    Independence on a 5 Acre Farm.
    These are 2 seperate books. The second one was the very first homesteading book I read- back in the 70's- and it was not only educational but enjoyable. The reference to 5 acres in the title was the author's nod to a rule of thumb- without animals, selfsufficiency calls for 1 acre per family member.

    Get back copies of Countryside and Backwoods Home.

    Learn small engine repair. The less you have to pay for small engine repair the better off you'll be.

    Hope this posts- I just bathed my computer in bottled water (dropped hurricane stock I was hauling in)
     
  5. ponyexpress

    ponyexpress Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    183
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2003
    A few of my personal favorites:
    Any of Ruth Stout's books That lady knew her stuff and she wrote in a factual, entertaining way. I bet she would have loved this board!
    Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
    The Have More Plan by Ed Robinson
    Lasagna Gardening by Pat Lanza
    Carla's book of course!
    The postage stamp garden (can't remember who wrote it --- great for beginners like me!)

    I just traded a bunch of paperbacks for Rodale's Organic Gardening and I think I got the best end of that deal!
    Personally, I didn't like 5 Acres and Independence at all. The author made me feel like it was a shortcoming of mine that I had to pay a mortage. Just my take on it.
     
  6. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

    Messages:
    6,244
    Joined:
    May 11, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I would try any book by this guy: Joel Salatin .

    Search him on Amazon.com
     
  7. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

    Messages:
    2,722
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2002
    Location:
    NE PA
    I'd second on all the above books, but would also recommend "Back
    to Basics," a Readers Digest Book (believe it or not), which was
    highly recommended during Y2K times. It covers a lot of territory,
    from housing, to gardening to animals to basic recipes for cheese,
    yogurt, wine, bread, and just about anything else you might need.
    I've never seen Carly Emery's book, so it may be a duplication of
    the same topics.
    Ann
     
  8. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    329
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Location:
    Estillfork, Alabama
  9. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    68
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    pennsylvania
    If you are talking about a CSA vegetable operation here are a few books that come to mind.

    Sustainable Vegetable Production from Startup to Market by Vern Grubinger

    Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En ( CSA book )

    The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski

    Grassroots Marketing by Shel Horowitz

    Feed the Soil by Edwin McLeod

    Building Soils for Better Crops by Fred Magdoff and Harold van Es

    How to Survive Without a Salary by Charles Long

    Also somewhat usefull are Eliot Colemans books

    The New Organic Grower (revised edition) and
    Four-Season Harvest

    one caveat about Mr. Coleman and also about the Joel Salatin books recommended in an earlier post. Both of them paint a much rosier picture than your reality will probably look like. Both of them are way optomistic about the amounts of money you can make per acre and per man hour in my opinion and I think it is because they are trying to sell books. So take the financial estimates and lower your expectations and take their labor estimates and raise your expectations, Eliot Coleman in particular gives some really wacky estimates as to how much labor it takes to run a few acres of vegetables. It must never rain right when you need to cultivate in Perfection County, USA where he did his farming. Good Luck. Its a great life if you don't weaken.
     
  10. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    Damascus, Maryland
    Guys, I really appreciate the help and support. It is not as though there are folks over the fence doing the same thing we are doing, and I am SO glad to have the resources! :cool:
     
  11. margo

    margo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    858
    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    A bit off the topic of your question, but, I will throw it in for your consideration. and see if others agree.
    My suggestion is to plow your ground this fall if the area you are planning to place your garden is in sod.
    Thoughts of others on this are welcome. I was thinking that would allow the winter freeze and thaw to break it up as well. and expose grubs, etc to the cold. ............Margo
     
  12. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,622
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    Maine
    Amen to that, margo

    Other books that are must reads are books by Helen and Scott Nearing, like "The Good Life."

    Eliot Coleman's books will give you a good idea of how much you can produce on a piece of land given good cultural practices and excellent crop rotation schedules.

    Salatin's book "You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farm Enterprise" is one of our bibles.

    Ron Macher has a book called "Making Your Small Farm Profitable."
     
  13. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    UGG. I hate this guy's work... one vote for, one vote decidedly AGAINST. Opinionated, negative.. and if memory serves he's had to recant some of his numbers in the books on raising chickens for profit. Never felt like burning a book before, but his book "You CAN Farm" very nearly made it into the burn pile. Sent it instead to someone who wanted to talk her husband OUT of farming! You might be able to make use of some of his suggestions, but you'd have to wade through the junk to get to them.

    I can't speak for these books, the titles just crossed my desk in an email this morning but they look interesting:

    Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook

    Don't Get Caught With Your Pantry Down

    Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to
    Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis

    The NEW Passport To Survival. 12 Steps to Self-Sufficient Living

    Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

    Eat Well For 99 cents a Day

    99 cents a Meal Cookbook

    The International Pantry Cookbook

    How To Develop A Low-Cost Family Storage System

    Eating Off the Grid.... storing and cooking foods without electricity
     
  14. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,446
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    1) Carla Emery's book. Excellent general knowledge about damn near anything. The back to basics book isn't as robust as Carla's book, although it is good for inspiration.

    2) Salatin's books. Makes it all sound so damn simple! Just keep in mind that his soil/climate is a bit different than your own.

    4) The Permaculture books. The big book is finally published again. I scored a copy a few weeks ago for $67. This takes Salatins ideas plus organic to the next level.

    5) Buy the square foot gardening book, and check out the Stout books from the library.
     
  15. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    510
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    SE PA, zone 6b
    one caveat about Mr. Coleman and also about the Joel Salatin books recommended in an earlier post. Both of them paint a much rosier picture than your reality will probably look like. Both of them are way optomistic about the amounts of money you can make per acre and per man hour in my opinion and I think it is because they are trying to sell books. So take the financial estimates and lower your expectations and take their labor estimates and raise your expectations, Eliot Coleman in particular gives some really wacky estimates as to how much labor it takes to run a few acres of vegetables. It must never rain right when you need to cultivate in Perfection County, USA where he did his farming. Good Luck. Its a great life if you don't weaken.[/QUOTE]
    *********

    Additional comments about the two authors: Joel Salatin shows one a lot of labot saving, cost containment, relatively easy ways to make some money. Different people will make varying amounts depending on the amount of work they do, the markets, amt. of land available, etc. We can all do these things, but before his books, we had to reinvent the wheel. He is very opinionated, speaks in a straightforward way. I like that, but others don't. His is one model of a multi-generational farm that works. He also demonstrates that one needs a number of profit centers on the farm in order to make a living. Each profit point has its own niche, yet all work together to the benefit of all.

    Elliot Coleman has been farming vegetables on relatively small amounts of land since he was about 19 or 20. He learned initially from Helen and Scott Nearing. He currently farms in Maine, near the shore known for its rocks. Any quality of his soil has been built by him. He loves to research and read and observe other farmers. I cannot think of anyone who has more to offer the market gardener and am very very greatful for his sharing of his knowledge. I started reading his articles in Organic Gardening and Farming, nearly 40 years ago.

    It is interesting that both these men are making a good living at what they do. I do not think either one of them needs to push the books. Too many people need the info they contain. I wonder how many farmers take their vacations in June and july? Coleman does, and many many people are now doing variations on the same theme. I am thrilled to learn how to have fresh vegetables in the winter.

    I highly recommend both authors, and overlook the parts that don't fit my life.

    Sandi
     
  16. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,130
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2003
    Location:
    Verndale MN
    Cornell has part of their historic agriculture library online at: http://chla.library.cornell.edu A ton of valuable info. on farming that has fallen by the wayside in the past 50 years.
     
  17. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    Damascus, Maryland
    Wow. This may require more than one winter's reading...
     
  18. madmarchie

    madmarchie Active Member

    Messages:
    28
    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I have found alot of interesting titles at www.back40books.com. Click on "books" and "farming". Check out all those topics!!! I want all the books! I love books y'all :)

    ~ Megan
     
  19. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    68
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    pennsylvania
    [/QUOTE]
    Joel Salatin shows one a lot of labot saving, cost containment, relatively easy ways to make some money. Different people will make varying amounts depending on the amount of work they do, the markets, amt. of land available, etc. We can all do these things, but before his books, we had to reinvent the wheel. He is very opinionated, speaks in a straightforward way. [/QUOTE]

    Joel Salatin was not the first to say these things either, in my opinion Mr. Salatin's number one talent is salesmanship. He can sell anything, that explains his success at selling so much chicken in the middle of nowhere in Virginia. I also think that that kind of hustle and hard sell pushiness is very difficult for some people to do and he glosses over that in his books. Salatin is a genius at selling himself and his products. How do you think he's sold so many books. He also no longer makes all his money farming. He does a LOT of public speaking and conferences these days and gets paid very well. Good thing he's got that "practically Amish" family back home to run things for him and those interns working for $400 a month and the priviledge of working for Polyface. :)

    [/QUOTE]
    Elliot Coleman has been farming vegetables on relatively small amounts of land since he was about 19 or 20. He learned initially from Helen and Scott Nearing. He currently farms in Maine, near the shore known for its rocks. Any quality of his soil has been built by him. He loves to research and read and observe other farmers. I cannot think of anyone who has more to offer the market gardener and am very very greatful for his sharing of his knowledge. [/QUOTE]

    Eliot is not a full time farmer and as far as I can tell has NEVER made his living exclusively from the sales of his produce. The one time he worked full time as a farmer he was paid a salary as he was working for that school in Vermont. He absolutely spends a lot of time speaking and doing conferences all over the country and gets PAID WELL for it. He has a number of books that MAKE MONEY for him. He and his wife also have a TELEVISION SHOW on the Home and Garden Channel. If I had a TV show I could probably take June and July off too.

    I'm not saying that there is nothing to learn from these guys, I'm just saying is that they paint far too rosy a picture of how much work and struggle is involved and definitely gloss over the sacrifices that have to be made at times. You will need more labor to grow your vegetables than Eliot Coleman says you will, Customers will not flock to buy your chicken as fast as Joel Salatin says they will. I'm not saying growing vegetables is impossible, I do it myself, full time and Eliot Colemans book got me started. But I've worked on five organic farms in the Northeast US besides my own and you cannot keep five acres of mixed vegetables weeded with the amount of labor Eliot says you can. Let alone harvested and washed and marketed. Weather will not let you.

    [/QUOTE]
    It is interesting that both these men are making a good living at what they do. I do not think either one of them needs to push the books. Sandi[/QUOTE]

    It is interesting, I just feel that they are misleading and I also know that niether of them makes all their living farming, That is the point I was trying to make. Full time farming is very hard and especially in the beginning you will make almost no money. Most farmers make money somewhere else to suplement, including Eliot and Joel.
     
  20. j.r. guerra in s. tx.

    j.r. guerra in s. tx. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    678
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    First of all - welcome to the board. Hope you find it as informative as I do.

    Mother Earth News used to be a really great DIY homesteading magazine. They sell a CD-ROM of their first 100 issues - here is a taste of what subjects are in it:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/index.php?page=archindex

    A fantastic resource - well worth the money.

    Other titles: Husbandry, by Nathan Griffith.

    Quite a few titles by Jerome Berlanger, originator to the magazine Countryside. Very informative.

    Other authors: John Vivian.

    Magazines: Backwoods Home is a very good one. They also sell Anthologies, which are a compendium of a years articles into one book. Pretty good stuff - here is the magazines web page for an overview:

    www.backwoodshome.com

    If you have a university library, be sure to check their library - they often have tons of Government pamphlets / reports on agricultural enterprises.

    Hope this helps.