I couldn’t have taken on 52 homestead skills in a year and the myriad of skills I’ve learned since without the help of a few amazing, informative, and entertaining homesteading books.
No one knows all there is to know about starting a farm or a homestead. No one! But that hasn’t stopped any of us homesteaders from giving it a try. Often whatever knowledge we are lacking can be found inside a good, old-fashioned book.
Yes, you could search online for information or watch a Youtube video, but behind every book are hundreds and hundreds of hours and research and writing sweat. Yes, we sweat with mental exertion! Authors pour their very souls and hearts and tears into their books and they often contain much more well-researched and thought-out information than what you can find online.
So, every week our family goes to the library to peruse the new and old titles – sometimes for knowledge and sometimes just for inspiration and motivation. And then I purchase a few special books that I especially enjoy or regularly refer to.
Yes, I do own a Kobo (and it does come in very handy when I’m traveling and can’t cram six books into my bag), but isn’t there something magical about holding a book in your hands and flipping through its well-worn pages? Yes, I thought so.
Now, before you skip down to the list of homesteading books, I would like to point out that this is not a compendium of all the greatest homesteading books in the world. These are simply the titles that have found their way onto my bookshelf. They are the homesteading books that I love and reference on an ongoing basis.
So, are you ready? Let’s grab a cup of tea and talk about some incredible homesteading books!
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour
If you’re planning a garden this year (especially in our Canadian climate), I can’t recommend this book enough. Niki Jabbour, fellow Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia, will teach you how to grow your own food 365 days of the year. #homesteadinggoals Be sure to check out her garden plans and the many interesting and unique varieties of plants she recommends.
Indoor edible garden by Zia Allaway
This book will inspire you to turn your entire home into a sumptuous food production empire. Cucamelons hanging from your ceiling? Oh yes! Cute peppers growing in colourful pots along your windowsill? Most definitely! A beautiful chile and herb ball thriving in your sunny kitchen? Of course!
This book is ridiculously tantalizing. So many great ideas and step-by-step projects. I also really like that everything is organized by zones based on lighting conditions so you know exactly where to grow everything. I love this book. Can you tell? ALL THE STARS!!!!
Gardening with Chickens by Lisa Steele
How do you keep your chickens out of your garden and incorporate them in it? Lisa has all the answers to how chickens and gardens can not only coexist but benefit each other. This is truly a beautiful book. The photos alone will inspire you to add a few hens to your yard if you don’t already have some. Also, Lisa’s chicken chunnels inspired our own, which you can see here. But we took it one step further and made one in the air.
The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum
Out of all the beekeeping books I’ve read, Kim’s are my favourites. No, not because we share the same name. Because he is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but he includes the wisdom of many, many other beekeepers making his books a real treasure trove of information. Check out his many titles starting with “The Backyard Beekeeper” if you are a beginner. I own “The Beekeeper’s Journal” and I just bought “In Business with Bees“.
Fermented Vegetables by Kristen K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey
“The Fermenting Bible” is what this book should really be called. Just a suggestion Kristen! I actually had the honour of sitting next to her at lunch at the 2018 Texas Mother Earth News Fair and attend some of her talks. She literally blew me away. Attendees threw all sorts of fermenting questions at her and she answered them all without blinking an eye. She knows her fermenting stuff and spreads her wisdom not just around the United States but across the world at many different events.
Kristen and Christopher sell a tonne of books and there is a very good reason for that. They are filled with detailed information and creative, delicious recipes. I own Fermented Vegetables as well as Fiery Ferments. My goal this year is to get better at preserving food and to stop buying expensive probiotic pills. Instead, I want to get my nutrition and a probiotic boost from fermented foods. So, this year, I will be fermenting something new every month. Check out the first post in the series if you want to follow along.
The Natural Soapmaking Book for Beginners by Kelly Cable
After taking a workshop on making my own bar soap, I couldn’t wait to mix up another batch. This is an excellent book for beginners like myself with clear, step-by-step directions and more than 55 all-natural recipes from a “bug away camping soap” to an “anti-aging face bar”.
DIY Natural Beauty
Natural Beauty from the Garden by Janice Cox
This book may not make you a better homesteader in the traditional sense. But what’s the point of homesteading if you can’t take time to have some creative fun and indulge in a few relaxing herbal remedies? In fact, I think incorporating self-care into your homesteading routine is crucial for your mental health. Which, of course, means you’ll be a better homesteader!
Inside this book, you’ll find more than 200 DIY beauty recipes that use ingredients from your garden. So, for example, you could use fresh mint leaves to whip up my favourite “raspberry chocolate mint mouthwash” or “fresh peppermint toothpaste”. Or you can use pumpkin to make a “Jack-O-Lantern Body Mask”. Or how about using fresh marjoram and eucalyptus to make a shower gel? And what homesteader couldn’t use a recipe for a garden boot bath or garden stained hands? There are also special ideas for the kids such as Garden Fairy Bath and Sun Perfume.
All of the recipes are tested and written by Janice, an incredibly talented and exceptionally kind woman whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at The Mother Earth News Fair where I bought my own autographed copy. I secretly want to be Janice when I grow up. Follow her on Instagram to see what I mean. Creativity oozes out of every part of her body.
Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
What the heck, Kimberlee? This is not a homesteading book. Yeah, I know. As a reader of this blog you probably already know that farm life is for those who want to live the most complicated and challenging life possible.
So, this past year, I finally admitted to myself that I needed some kind of system. Thanks to David Allen I have started to grow a second brain. Yes, you read that right. I recently set up a Notion account that I use as my second brain to capture important thoughts and store them. I’ve also begun to implement a project list, a weekly review and so much more. I’m not where I want to be yet, but this book was a great place to start. Now, I’m reading “Make Time” and “The 12 Week Year“. If you’re interested in becoming a more productive homesteader, I will share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the New Year.
Quit Like A Millionnaire: No Gimmicks, Luck, or Trust Fund Required by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung
Oh no! What’s this? Another “not” homesteading book? Yuppers! Because guess what? No money. No homestead. Money is so important and not talked about enough especially on this blog. Homesteaders have to be smarter with money than most of the rest of the population or we won’t be homesteaders for very long. Money is also the question I get asked most about when speaking about homesteading.
Although there are farmers who make a living from farming, as a homesteader, I’m producing for my own family so, in our case, our animals, for example, have to pay for themselves. This year, for the first time, our Babydoll Southdown Sheep earned their keep. We sold just enough roving and dryer balls. And hopefully this spring we will have a better lambing season and can actually earn a little extra – if we are really lucky.
As you can see, our homestead isn’t exactly a money-making machine. Instead, we have become master budgeters and savvy investors. I love the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement BUT my husband and I have no desire to EVER retire. But FIRE allows you to “work” on whatever you love doing without having to worry about making money from it. Now that is FREEDOM. I will keep homesteading for as long as I can and blogging as long as there is someone who wants to read my words. Thank YOU!
Homesteading with Kids
Square Foot Gardening With Kids by Mel Bartholomew
If you’re homesteading with kids, I think they should have their own gardening space so they don’t mess up yours….whoops…I mean…where they can experiment and have fun learning about growing their own food.
Although my kids help out in the garden, they prefer and get more pride from growing in their own little space where they can plant as they see fit without worrying about mom screaming at them when they trample something. Yeah, it happens. Maybe I should add a book on patience to my 2021 New Year’s book reading list.
Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide
I had to share this book because it is written by a 14-year-old gardener from Canada. I’m so inspired by this young woman who raised more than 130 tomato varieties in her Toronto garden in 2019. Way to go Emma Biggs! You rock!
Emma gardened in containers, in straw bales on a driveway, in a neighbor’s yard, in wicking beds under a walnut tree, and on the garage roof. She gives talks at libraries, seed exchanges, garden clubs, and garden shows. She’s also the co-host of The Garage Gardeners Radio Show and kids gardening videos on the From Dirt to Dishes gardening channel on YouTube. If that wasn’t enough, she wrote this book that will inspire all the little ones in your family to get growing.
Special mention: 52 Homestead Skills by me
If you enjoy this blog and would like to support our farm, consider purchasing a copy of my book, which you can read more about here. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution will be to learn 52 Homestead Skills next year.
Don’t like to read books?
If you prefer blogs to books, you can find new and interesting homesteading blogs to follow at https://blog.feedspot.com/homesteading_blogs/.
So, what homesteading books will you be reading next year? What are you planning to learn in the New Year? Do you have a list of the skills you want to learn and the homesteading books that might help you? Let me know if you have a title that I should read.
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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Thank you for your support! You can find the full disclosure here.