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Farm Books for the Ordinary Person

For some reason, I gravitate toward books about farming.  While our family does not farm, we do have huge gardens, bees, chickens, fruit trees, and nut trees—just enough to feed our family and to share.  That’s probably why I like to read about people who work hard and make a living of some sort from the land.

You Can Farm by Joel Salatin is the best farm book I’ve read recently.  It’s both realistic and idealistic, discussing farming practices, business, and life itself.  At one point it seemed like a back-to-the-land version of EntreLeadership.  It’s a great, inspiring book, full of everything.  It pointed out that my husband and I are too old to farm.  However, we’re not too old to learn about becoming more self-sufficient, growing more healthy food, and enjoying living off the land.  My husband rarely reads ‘my’ books, but he read this one!

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is about a New York writer who gave it all up to join a hippie in setting up a farm.  It worked.  They survived.  They even, in some sense, thrived.  But this book focussed a bit too much on the hard side of life.  Kristin’s attitude wasn’t joyful much of the time, and the book seems self-centered in some way.  Which is funny, because The Happiness Project (review coming up) is even more about the author but it doesn’t seem self-centered at all.  Perhaps that is because The Happiness Project is essentially grateful, and The Dirty Life is more ironic.

Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin is a neat book with lots of information about natural practices and how they are not being followed in modern life and farming.  What’s more, it tells you what you can do to get back to normal.  Read my review here.

Now, on a two week loan from a library across the country, we have another Joel Salatin book which should help us decide how we will do our chickens this year: as usual in a huge coop with an outside run, or as pasture poultry. Our family has high expectations for the book, Pastured Poultry Profits We don’t raise chickens for profit but to gain access to healthy food and to teach the children.  I’m curious to see what we’ll learn about this process.

I recently wrote a whole post entitled Learning about the Fascinating World of Farming   and mentioned some farm movies and children’s books that we’ve enjoyed and recommend.

 Will I keep on reading about farming?  Probably next winter, when the harvest has come in, those sorts of books will enter our home again.  For now, we’re reading practical advice and using it immediately in our daily half-hour outside work sessions, gardening, pruning, beekeeping, amending the soil….

 –This post is linked to Booking It and Simple Lives Thursday.


  1. We don’t farm, and we don’t have bees and chickens like you, but I’m still very interested in farming. I’ve read one book by Joel Salatin but this title is new to me. I’ll have to go look it up!

    For a take that’s more philosophical, have you ever read Wendell Berry? He’s one of my favorites. I especially love his essay collection entitled “What Are People For?”

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thanks for the tip! I’m planning to look up his books at the library.

  2. I found your post through Simple Lives Thursday. I don’t have the bees or nut trees (you’re ahead of me on that one) but have read all of these books, and I was greatly inspired by Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profit$. I just wrote a post about my chicken tractor experiences, as a matter of fact: http://thecheerfulagrarian.blogspot.com/2012/04/simple-light-chicken-tractor-diy-plans.html
    Can’t wait to read more of your blog!

  3. Annie Kate says:

    Oh, good! Thank you for linking up. I’ll be over to read that post early next week, after the local homeschool conference.

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