I don’t know about you but I have always had this little dream to have my own ranch. I would be totally self-sufficient, raising and growing my own food. There would be very little need for trips to the grocery store. Ahhh…
While we are blessed to live on 1/3 of an acre, it still seems too small to be a true backyard farm. Certainly we could not comfortably raise our own cow and probably not even our own goat or sheep. Chickens and ducks, maybe. But I don’t know how our dog would feel about sharing his space with a bunch of birds.
Angela England, founder of Untrained Housewife (and one of the blogs I make sure to keep up with), recently released a book that really peaked my interest. Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less), appeared to be just the resource I had been looking for as it related to my sustainable living dream!
Over 430 pages, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) is a comprehensive overview of small-scale self-sufficiency. The Angela England says it best: “It doesn’t take a lot of space to reap a bountiful harvest of nutritious, affordable food. With proper planning, you can grow your own fresh vegetables and fruit; raise chickens and goats for eggs, milk, or meat; and keep bees for honey—on as little as a quarter-acre of land.”
Whether your goal is to eat healthier, save money, live more sustainably, or a combination of these, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) helps you get there. Comprehensive and detailed, it covers everything you need to know to plan, purchase, plant, raise, harvest, preserve, and enjoy your own backyard farm. Written by someone who has done exactly that, this helpful guide is packed with information, illustrations, instructions, advice, and resources.
Ok, I know… 430 pages. Who has time right? Well, the good news is that you do not have to read it cover to cover. It is broken down into 5 parts along with a separate appendix and resource section. Each Part is further broken down to help you digest all of the material in small, manageable blocks. For example, you may already know that you cannot raise animals on your existing property due to County ordinances. No problem…skip that entire section. Perhaps you are already a master gardener. Great – you are one step ahead and might need to only skim the section on gardening.
I really like how this book is laid out. Angela starts with the basics, i.e. why you would even want to embark on a backyard farming adventure. She then moves into the nitty gritty of how to find the land you will need or alternatively, how to make the land you already have work for you. She discusses ¼ acre lots up to 1 acre parcels so honestly, you should have no trouble creating a workable plan with Angela’s sage advice and expertise.
I personally spent a lot of time in the gardening section. I would like to think I know what I am doing with our gardening space but surprise, surprise! I learned a TON! First, I realized that I wasn’t really in touch with my inner green thumb and there were a few basic tools I needed. I also learned quite a bit about crop rotation and crop succession…again, things I thought I already knew quite a bit about. I really like how detailed the information in this book is without being too mind boggling. There were a few sections I did take the time to re-read, simply because I wanted to make sure I really digested the information but honestly, there isn’t anything really confusing about this book. I do suggest taking the time to highlight pieces of information you want to remember or refer back to quickly!
I think my favorite section, and the one I really hope to utilize in the not so distant future, was the one on Animals for a Backyard Farm! Wow! I had no clue you could raise so many animals in such a small space and do so with compassion! Angela truly covers every aspect of selecting, raising, and caring for chickens and other foul, rabbits, sheep, goats, and even bees! Housing, illness/disease, breeding, feeding, general care, and even selling your animals are all topics covered in this section. I was actually pretty tempted to go out and get some ducks after learning that it isn’t THAT complicated to care for them on a smaller parcel.
Another great section in this book is the one all about Enjoying Your Bounty! For a foodie like me, I loved reading more about managing my harvest (when I get one that is) through picking, butchering, fresh eating, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and smoking my bounty! A lot of the information wasn’t terribly new to me but it was presented from an experienced perspective and I did get some new ideas! I did learn quite a bit from the Preserving Garden Herbs section. That is an area I fail in terribly. Angela has given me some renewed energy towards this!
The last section of this book deals with Crafting from the Backyard Farm! I love the ideas presented here. You will find everything from making butter, yogurt and cheese to basket weaving, candle making, working with fibers, home brewing, making plant-based dyes, and making crayons! Tons of cool and fun ideas the entire family can get involved in!
If you are currently thinking about any sort of backyard farm adventure or if you simply would like to investigate a more sustainable lifestyle, I highly recommend Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less). I guarantee you will walk away with lots of inspiration and a ton of newfound knowledge!
You can purchase Backyard Farming on Amazon for $13.60.
But you don’t have to wait until your copy arrives to start enjoying the wonderful resources this book has to offer – check out Angela’s downloadable resources page for free homesteading resources and printables to get you started on your way to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle!