Storey Publishers have recently released a new book by Carleen Madigan called The Backyard Homestead. This book will appeal to lots of us interested in becoming more self-sufficient and self-sustaining. The economic future doesn't look pretty and lately the buzz everywhere is leaning towards home gardens.
But why stop there? Madigan lays out the basics on what a person can grow or raise on just one half, one quarter, and even on one tenth of an acre if you plan well. For example, on a quarter acre that is well laid out you can yield approximately:
50 lbs. of wheat
280 lbs. of pork
120 cartons of eggs
100 lbs. of honey
between 25 -75 lbs. of nuts
600 lbs. of fruit
2,000 lbs. of vegetables
Of course you can make substitutions and raise rabbits instead of pigs, oats instead of wheat, or add an herb garden. But you get the point. Depending on climate, the size of your house's footprint, zoning ordinances, etc., you can pull off a reasonable harvest that will save money in the long run.
What I like about this book is the concept of what one can do on a small piece of land. Madigan does a great job of giving her readers ideas to get their imagination going. Listing over seven categories of interest with many subcategories, The Backyard Homestead covers just about everything.
The drawback of the book is obvious. You can't develop each subject or idea well enough to make this book the kind of reference source that will answer all your questions. It does cover the basics well, but anyone venturing into a new area on their own homestead will want to get a book that addresses that particular subject at length. In comparing this book to A Slice of Organic Life, The Backyard Homestead is much more technical and helpful, but without the glossy color photographs that capture your heart in A Slice of Organic Life. However, it does include some great line drawings.