Hello all, I have been lurking these forums for a while and learned a few things, mostly learned that I have so much more to learn.
I recently purchased 80 acres undeveloped land and hope to start an off grid homestead there.
While the internet is full of information, I am concerned about future access to the internet and would like to build a library of physical books that cover everything a person needs to know to build and maintain
a self sufficient homestead.
By "self sufficient" I mean be able to raise and breed animals as well as gardening/farming where I breed the plants on my own with the idea that in worst case scenarios I do not need access to retail stores for seeds, fertilizers, baby animals, etc.
This is probably a very difficult goal to achieve, but I believe a worthy goal to strive for.
My question to the experienced and knowledgeable permies here is what books would you recommend I stock my library with?
Thank you so much in advance for any suggestions.
** EDIT: If it matters, the location of my homestead is in Eureka County Nevada, flat land, I desire to grow year round in green houses, as many as needed.
Physical books have the disadvantage of no longer being published or very few copies are available. They can sometimes be very expensive for this reason - here's an example.
If the only option is physical books, and you want the most detailed information possible, my recommendations would be: Permaculture: A Designer's Manual(PDM) and Edible Forest Gardens(EFG) Volume 1 and 2. The PDM is the best overall for permaculture strategies that can be implemented anywhere, while EFG is filled with similar strategies, but is also a psuedo-encyclopedia specific to North America and has detailed information such as which plants accumulate which resources, how to handle winter/dry climates, etc. I can't think of a reference off-hand, but having a homestead-skills book would probably fill in some missing gaps.
Gaia's garden and many other popular permaculture/gardening books are more theory-oriented or echo parts of the PDM. I also feel they aren't equipped with enough knowledge to turn 80 acres into a thriving homestead, but my standards are different from the norm.
As for raising animals, there isn't a book I've read that has the same quality as the PDM/EFG (though I haven't looked hard), so you might have to look around and buy a few different ones to get a good overall view of the subject. There are plenty of resources out there for free aimed at ranchers on government/state sites though.
Greenhouses would probably be something along the lines of Eliot Coleman, but Citrus in the Snow is a much better example of greenhouse usage in my opinion. Last I recall it's only $2-5 or something for 80 pages.
Much like yourself, I'm also quite concerned about access to meaningful information in the future. While I could go into the reasoning and causes, that'd probably be an off-topic, so I'll leave it at all.
With that in mind, in the last year I've really started to ramp up the time I spend building my own digital library. For online webpages, the keyboard shortcut crtl + s saves a webpage in HTML format. Sometimes the saved information doesn't look as pretty as the original, but it's still there on your hard drive. You can also use tools like youtube-dl to save important videos you've watched. There are Windows versions available half way down the page.
"Our ability to change the face of the earth increases at a faster rate than our ability to foresee the consequences of that change"
- L.Charles Birch
I love books, but my library is increasingly thinned to volumes I cannot find anywhere else. And while I share some concerns about the transient nature of the Internet ("we can forget it for you wholesale") it is also a tremendous resource.
Do you forsee having the ability to view offline data in your situation? It may be worthwhile to consider archiving information from the Internet for future use.
The book that first woke me up to the whole idea of self sufficiency was The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour. He also wrote a more focused volume on the Self Sufficient Gardener, which I gave away (or rather lent without any real expectation of getting it back, to a homeless project). It maybe that when I leaf through this book the thrill of inspiration I get is largely nostalgic though!
Another book I would like to recommend is A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander et al. It's not about permaculture as such, being primarily about architcture and town planning, but it does have some beautiful insights into designing living spaces at many scales that allow human beings to thrive.
I would highly recommend Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster. These books are incredibly helpful for understanding how to work with water and your land in ways that grow abundance for you and your watershed.
A solid field guide to plants, preferably specific to your bioregion, would probably be good to have. One with a key system of some sort is ideal. A plant field guide is one my most often used books.
"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky."
I'll second Permaculture; A Designers Manual. It is a great text on the basics of land stewardship planning and the tools and techniques needed to find your best plan. It also has some great detailed info about specific techniques
Finding books cheaply you want to keep? There’s a method or two. Look them up on
Be SURE you select the option which shows the price including shipping, that’s in the preferences.
Be willing to get an ex-library book or one that’s less than perfect. Look at the dates, if it has been reprinted, the earlier editions maybe much more expensive or much cheaper. Only you know if you need the most up to date info or not.
Buying books from charities is sometimes a lot cheaper.
If you want more, let me know
Here’s a link to Mollisons intro. To permaculture.