Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the have more plan

The "Have More" Plan is a thin book. At a glance it is nothing particularly special, almost archaic by today's homesteading book criteria. It's the exact opposite to our bible, The Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery. Unlike Emery's newsprint tome (which I think could single-handedly restart civilization if it had to) The "Have More" Plan is a thin book, almost a pamphlet. Yet this little book, with the adoring couple on the cover looking over a scale model of a few acres of land on their living room floor, is a gem and should not be overlooked. It is a great beginner's introduction to buying land, gardening, and small-scale agriculture. It covers hand tools and hard work. The advice is timeless, and the sort written about by those who learned the hard way, which holds a special place in my heart. It's a braver book than most.

The remarkable thing about this book was it was written right after WWII. A guide for suburban-minded families to go back to the land in the late 1940's, when the entire country seemed to be trying to sell them subdivisions and washing machines. This was possibly the bravest little book around admits all this amazing modernization and post-war wealth. Think about the couples who were reading it? Folks who had come through a war, who had been rationing sugar and working in factories when they though, just a few years prior, they would be on their third child in a peaceful world. Now they had seen great upheaval, sacrifice, and hardship and were still drawn to this little book, with duck pen plans and charts of dairy goat quarters, and choosing to find a different type of peace after the war was over. They didn't want a 1/4 acre lot in the suburbs, they wanted eggs and bacon, from their own chickens and hogs. This sounds practical, even normal, to many of us now but it floors me to see a family in 1950's dusting off a copy of this book and walking away from the supermarkets and streetlights so many of their peers had chosen, to live like their parents, or memories, or dreams of plenty.

I love this little book. The fact it was written in such a time concerned with consumerism and fiscal growth, thrills me. If you get the chance to read it, please do. And imagine paging through it in the back of an ol' L-120 pickup on your way to your 5-acres after having casserole at your friend Betty's place in Oak Grove Springs (Lots still available!) as the streetlights and lawnmower din fades into stars.

Here's the ones who came before us.


Blogger Michelle said...

I read that book when we were just starting out. While I don't agree with all they recommend (battery chickens, for starters), I do think it is a valuable resource for us beginning homesteaders. It is certainly very inspirational!

October 5, 2011 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I think the idea is just amazing, think about that post-war world, running to the farm in the face of all that new suburbia...

I don't agree with it all either, but a "battery hen" in 1946 was nothing like the ones we know today!

October 5, 2011 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

"Living the Good Life" by Scott and Helen Nearing and "Five Acres and Independence" are two more books that may be fun to check out.

October 5, 2011 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I love that book! Read it dozens of times over, and still do. :) It was that book that convinced me to try getting a milk cow (even though the cow adventure was a complete flop).

October 5, 2011 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

Very inspiring little book. I designed my "harvest kitchen" using a number of their ideas. There is a sort of a sad ending to their tale. The couple who wrote it had a rather nasty divorce and their homestead was sold to people who turned it back into a suburban property.

October 5, 2011 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

Looks like I have to stop in at Battenkill books on my trip to Vermont this weekend you have given me more reading material... :)

October 5, 2011 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

I love this book...but you have to pick out things that have been proven not DDT laced house paint

October 5, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

That sounds like a fantastic book!

Perhaps less immediately useful, I've always thought that the Foxfire books were the societal rebuilders. I'll have to look at that other one!

October 6, 2011 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Here is a link to a pdf of the book which you can print.


October 6, 2011 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

I LOVE this book, just for the vintage feel. It is on my wishlist as a must-have for our homestead.
I agree with you Jenna, that it took some mighty "out-of-the-box" thinking in that time.

October 6, 2011 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Thanks for the rec! I just requested a copy through interlibrary loan, and discovered that the main branch in my town has a copy. Under the search for "author - Robinson, Ed" I also got a hit for "Starting Right With Dairy Goats" (or words to that effect) so I requested that too - I pick up my four Nigerian Dwarf does on Sunday - three in milk!! I'm so excited :)

October 6, 2011 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Margie said...

Our library has it, so I'll get to read it this weekend. Thanks for the information about it.

October 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger quiltaholic said...

I bought this book a few months ago - and love it! It is one of my go-to books when I have a few spare minutes.

October 6, 2011 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Lilly said...

Don't forget that everything in the past is not worth repeating and commemorating. Others have mentioned some of the books "flaws" - battery cages, pig confinements, etc. But the way it advocated for the post-war to use their new cars and freeway systems to drive, drive, drive out of the cities and into the suburbs is one of the reasons we know face such major climate issues. Balancing a self-sufficient life in the country with how much it makes me drive is something I struggle with every day. And the consequences of my actions can't be brushed aside just because I'm able to raise a few hens and have a garden.

October 6, 2011 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

for the "Balancing a self-sufficient life in the country with how much it makes me drive is something I struggle with every day."

If you're self sufficient, what are you driving so much for anyway? I live in the country and it's a 50 mile return trip to the grocers for me. I make those trips for the things I don't / cant' (so far )make myself maybe twice a month and I make them count, those trips for groceries also are my chance to browse the second-hand shops for others cast offs... cast iron pans, ice cream makers, hand garden tools when everyone else has gone to gas-powered beasts... I have a 10 minute drive to get to work, that's 1/3 of the time that my city job when I lived in the city took! SO I'm thrilled living in the country being able to watch chicken TV and see the surrounding wildlife start to come back as I expand life on the farm

October 6, 2011 at 3:13 PM  

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