Remember how I said my ADD is fritzing? Yeah well, the recent thing to hyperfocus on is small space/urban/backyard homesteading. As I continue to learn more or brush up on my various skills (I've got chicken rearing skills, bow skills, nunchuck skills...) I am amazed by how many people are also interested in this subject. For many reasons as well.
Fresh Food From Small Spaces added another reason for me to homestead. Most people know that gasoline is subsidized. Do you know why? Gasoline costs around $10 a gallon without those subsidies. It is believed that within our lifetimes there will be a food crisis. When shipping costs will rise to the point of making things like bananas too expensive to import. Think about that! I realized how important it is to teach my children how to provide for themselves.
I have always loved the older art forms from grinding my own wheat to make bread (real bread with healthy ingredients, even the healthy stuff on shelves don't compare to fresh ground baked breads) to preparing my own fiber, dyeing, spinning, and weaving it into something wonderful. I am so thrilled to try out some new things and only finances are keeping me from trying it out all at once. I didn't know I could take my fresh, raw nut milks and turn them into yogurts. I knew I could make cheese from them.
I love the idea of making my own foods. First, the pride in having done it myself. Second, I KNOW every single ingredient.
So... anywho... I have been reading like mad crazy. Here are a couple of books I've finished that I wanted to make small comments on and not a large review:
The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: I don't know why its called a backyard homestead other than the first book (The Backyard Homestead) actually covers a backyard. I read the chicken section, skimmed the rabbit, goat, and bees section. This book does not apply to the average backyard.
Chickens are the only livestock animal that I am allowed to raise where I live, except rabbits but I don't really consider them livestock. Most cities do not allow much else. Let alone the average urban household does not have enough acreage to support a goat let alone a cow.
Having said that, I found this book to have a pretty decent overview of information on each animal. If it ever does come to the point of food being a real hardship for the average American and if my family continues to eat meat I would seriously consider raising rabbits for meat. I would also consider fencing my front yard and raising goats for milk and meat. I guess we would learn to butcher or my family would choose to become vegetarians if they couldn't handle that.
The average urban family would gain more from single purpose books. Check out books on chicken rearing, apiculture, or rabbit raising if that interests you.
I liked Bird's bed design and soil infomation more so than Bartholomew's. Bird uses 12" beds with double digging for plants with deep root systems. Bartholomew uses 6" beds except for root bed when he recommends 12". Also Bartholomew is a bit gimmicky in his bed designs, grids, and soil mix.
Maybe Bartholomew's soil is all that and a cupcake, but I feel like he's selling something (which he isn't other than his book).
Anyways, read both of these books and decided for yourself. I won't purchase Cubed Foot Gardening. I am 2/3rd through All New Square Foot Gardening and I'm considering picking up this book. Bartholomew's book is a bit more dumbed down (woot for simplicity!) and I appreciate saving brain capacity for other things. :)
Here are a few more resources:
An inexpensive greenhouse that I am considering building later on, it will work perfectly for my new raised beds and would allow for winter gardening: http://www.motherearthnews.com/do-it-yourself/raised-garden-bed-zm0z12fmzhun.aspx
Mother Earth News has an email newsletter for free as well as a magazine. I haven't tried out their magazine, but I enjoy their newsletter: http://www.motherearthnews.com/
Backyard Farming blog: http://backyardfarming.blogspot.com/
A Garden for the House blog: http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/
If you've found something you love, let me know. I have about 30 books I am reading/skimming from the library and will let you know what I think of them as I go through them. I am almost finished with Bartholomew's book and then I will be reading The Backyard Homestead.
Have a blessed Beltane! If you are local, we will be celebrating at 6 p.m. with a traditional maypole dance and some fertility magick. Blessed be!