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Reference Library for Homesteaders

This is no where near all the books, just the ones that fit on the shelf, and have not been squirreled away to the office or bedroom for reference purposes
This is nowhere near all the books, just the ones that fit on the shelf, and have not been squirreled away to the office or bedroom for reference purposes

A great homesteader’s reference library is essential when you live so far out in the country that connectivity is limited. Aside from that every Future Farmer loves books! Not the digital kind. The kind you can hold in your hand and flip through or read before bed without the blue tinted backlight that makes it difficult to fall asleep.

On Cape Cod we used to get a lot of great books really cheap from the enormous library book sale they had every 4th of July. Now we live pretty far everything, including the book store. Although we are close to the library (thank goodness!) I don’t think the library has an annual book sale.

Often the books I want aren’t at the library or the bookstore, so we are forced to order out books or purchase them directly from the author online. Below is a list of all of the reference books we have in the Future Farm library. Well, it’s not ALL of them. I left out the ones I didn’t find very informative…

Below is a list of my favorite reference books. The first three are on my desk as I type which is why they aren’t on the book shelf. Well they are always on my desk, I reference them constantly! There are also some books on this list that still have to be rescued from the moving boxes…

A Few of My FAVORITE Books

The Humanure Handbook – I literally recommend this book to everyone! Everything you ever wanted to know about composting. Read this book and overcome your fear of poop! I found this to be an entertaining and informative read. It has design plans for building your own composting toilet and explains composting in depth. We have the 2nd edition (with the cute outhouse illustration) but I am sure the 3rd edition is just as awesome!

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook – This book has everything you need to know about starting your own organic farming business. It even comes with a cd containing spreadsheets for tracking farm expenses. I actually borrowed it from the library first and thought it was so good I had to have a copy at the house (or tell the library I lost it) so I bought a copy, cuz I don’t steal books from the library.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture – A great book for understanding how everything works together in a home-scale permaculture system. Lots of practical examples, tables and information on how to plan your own home-scale permaculture operation.

Storey’s Guide to  – Storey has published guides to so many topics. I have the Raising Poultry guide (it comes with free plans and supply list for building your own poultry coop) and it is eggs-cellent. I also borrowed the guide to Raising Dairy Goats from the library and found it very informative. We also have the guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing and Smoking Meat, Fish and Game and Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game. Their Backyard Homestead series combines information on a range of topics to help you start or manage your own backyard homestead. These are great for a novice wanting to have nuts to bolts information about a topic on hand (rather than online).

Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation – See you knew it all along, beer is good for you. This book is full of history, culture and best of all recipes! This was an excellent read and inspired me to want to ferment everything. Now that I live on 11.5 acres, I finally have lots of things to ferment. Unfortunately this book is still in a box somewhere after the move…digging it out soon.

Edible Wild Plants (a Peterson Field Guide)– This is a must have for obvious reasons. Excellent descriptions. I only wish it had more photographs, but it has wonderful illustrations.

National Audubon Society – We love anything from the National Audubon Society. We have Field Guide To Mushrooms, Field Guide to Weather, Field Guide to Fishes, Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders and next on my purchase list the Regional Guide to the Southeastern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina.

Some Oldies but Goodies

These might be hard to find online. Try used bookstores. I got mine at a used book sale that benefited the library.

Other Homes and Garbage

Using Wayside Plants

Better Homes and Gardens new complete guide to gardening

The Time Life Encyclopedia of Gardening Pests and Disease

The Gardeners Bug Book by Cynthia Westcott – This is great for identifying bugs, you will want to pick and choose the information you take on how to deal with pests. This book is not based on the most environmentally friendly approach to dealing with pests.

How to Grow by the Organic Method – J.I. Rodale

Health Books 

I reference these constantly too

The doctors book of home remedies II

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine

Natural Pet Cures

When There is No Doctor

Healthful Herbs

Occasional Reference

Here are a few I have in the library, and reference on occasion, but have not had time to read all the way through:

Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook by Layton – This one is full of information on the amount of food, they types of food and how long they will keep with regards to long term survival in an emergency situation.

Panty Hose, Hot Peppers, Tea Bags and more for the garden – It’s easier to find this information online now, but should your internet fail you there are some good suggestions in this book.

All New Square Foot Gardening

When Technology Fails – a manual for self reliance and planetary survival

Making Electronics


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