Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Backyard Homestead

Today's post is a reprint from my old blog, but still a good resource that some of you may find helpful for planning your own homestead. Our current home sits on 4 and 1/2 acres of mostly hillside and is not very user friendly. We have it for sale with the hopes of cashing out another home by downsizing and buying a bit less land but with more useable space. This is where my interest comes in for the book The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan. I would have originally brushed this book off as an impossible "pie in the sky" theory if I hadn't seen what the Dervaes family had done on their own Pasadena suburban lot. Thinking ahead of what you want to do and good planning can make a world of difference. Hope this resource is an inspiration for many of you! (To purchase, you'll find The Backyard Homestead under the tab "Books" up above.)

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 LifeThe 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.

I suggest that you check this book out and let Carleen encourage you with the possibilities on your own property. Who knows what bountiful harvests await you?


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