“The complete guide to a simpler, greener life” announces the back cover. It also offers to provide step-by-step guidance to becoming more energy efficient, raise and manage livestock and woodlots and gardens.
The book is divided up into sections: an introduction into a “new way to self-sufficiency”, “The Home” “The Yard” and “Traditional Knowledge” with subchapters on building with straw bales, alternative energy, hydroponics, growing, foraging, keeping specific livestock, preserving food, working with wood, and others—
I was disappointed with this book for two reasons. First, it is geared primarily toward readers in the U.K. On page 153…“Here are a couple of unusual trees we plan to try”—namely, Pecans and Honey Locust! And in the section on food preservation, I was astonished to read, “Preserving vegetables at home by canning is not advisable since they have to be heated to a very high temperature to make them safe”… “Our advice is to only can fruit, and preserve your vegetables by freezing them”. The other criticism is that while the authors touch upon many topics, none go in depth to the extent that you could master the skill—for example there are two pages on bee keeping from establishing a colony to gathering honey. In less than one page we are instructed how to slaughter and butcher beef, with most of that showing a large beef carcass with cuts drawn on it.
The book is useful for getting an overview of farm life and getting ideas for further study—but you certainly won’t become self sufficient by reading this book. More helpful resources I would recommend include archives of The Mother Earth News, available on CD, and Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living