At the Carolina Farm Stewardship conference last weekend I found the book vendor’s booth very tempting. Most of the books were the “how to” variety, and I wanted to fill a bag with them. But bags of books aren’t in the budget anymore, and I already have piles of books waiting to be read, so I exercised self-control and came home without any new books.
It’s not as if we don’t already have shelves full of farming/homesteading books already. Back when we were planning the transition to this life I greedily consumed nearly every book I could find about homesteading and sustainable farming. I read the message boards on Homesteading Today. I subscribed to every relevant magazine I knew about. I read ATTRA publications. I was trying to soak in all I could, while planning the self-sufficient future I imagined.
Looking back I now realize that much of what I had planned to do was unrealistic. It takes trial and error and real-life experiences to figure that what will work, what won’t, and how much is enough.
We have a good life now. We’re not self-sufficient, but we are self-reliant. We don’t produce our own electricity (as I had hoped we would), but we do produce nearly all of our food. We aren’t obtaining everything we need by bartering, but we have established a farm business that provides us with meaningful work and the minimal income we need. Things didn’t work out exactly as I’d imagined they would, but they did work out.
Twelve years ago my favorite homesteading book was Carla Emery’s Encylopedia of Country Living, which I read cover to cover. Now my go-to book reference is Pam Dawling’s Sustainable Market Farming.
I wonder what the most-consulted book on my shelf will be twelve years from now?