i loved these books!
The Backyard Homestead's Guide to Raising Farm Animals is becoming a favorite around here. I got it because I wanted to see how it would be different than the original Backyard Homestead (the book it's a spin-off of) and was so happy with it. I think it's a fine introduction for anyone jumping into this life and already has a crate of chickens in the back of their sedan. But who I really suggest it for, is you dreamers out there—folks who have never held their own chicks or put on a bee veil. This explains in friendly detail exactly what goes into starting with poultry, cows, goats, rabbits, sheep and pigs so you have a really good idea what you're getting into. Illustrated, charted, and with plenty of easy-to-read sidebars it's what the beginner needs to digest information in understandable doses. Also, you can read it as several smaller books by animal. Not into pigs? Fine, skip to the sheep chapter. Allergic to bees? No problem, you don't need to read it to get what it takes to raise fiber rabbits. Grab it.
Another book I want to mention, for those of you who have near-Amish dreams of off grid living is Back to Basics. This book has been around forever, originally a Reader's Digest Compendium, but now it's back and better than ever. When I was ten-years-old my grandmother had a copy of this in her house and I used to page through it totally enthralled at people making maple syrup and working with horses, but after a while I would put it down and join her for tea and The Golden Girls. Flash forward a few decades later and my editor finds the same book at a book sale, and sends it as a gift. My heart melted. I made black tea the way my grandmother made it for me (two scoops lemon, two scoops sugar) and sat down to page through it again. My heart then beat like crazy. This book I read as a child, like a picture book, was now showing me things I was doing everyday of my life...
Back to Basics is out again, a newer version but the same rectangle and illustrations it always had before. This is a big ol' bible of serious homestead living. I mean, it teaches you how to make roads with a draft horse and an old metal barrel. Roads!?! I mean, what back-to-the-land book covers road construction via horsepower? It explains searching for and buying land, building a dulcimer from scratch, and how to chop up a lamb shank (and a lot more). It's another seriously great book for those of you dealing with a very primal diagnose of Barnheart. It's not anywhere near as detailed on animals as the title above, but if you're just looking through it as a catalog of inspiration, you gotta have one. Check it out from your library, or better yet, just check your grandmother's bookcase.