Twenty years ago, when authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased the land they would come to name the Sow’s Ear, the state of Ohio designated it “not suitable for agriculture.” Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.
Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture management. Pioneered by such luminaries as Allan Savory, Greg Judy, and Joel Salatin, the tenets of holistic grazing―employed mostly by larger-scale commercial operations―have been adapted by the Doughertys to fit their family’s needs. In The Independent Farmstead, The Sow’s Ear model for regenerating the land and growing food―“the best you ever tasted”―is elucidated for others to use and build upon.
In witty and welcoming style, The Independent Farmstead covers everything from choosing a species of ruminant and incorporating it into a grass-based system to innovative electric fencing and watering systems, to what to do with all of the milk, meat, and, yes, manure that the self-sustaining farm produces. Within these pages, the Doughertys discuss how to:
-Find and improve poor, waste, or abused land and develop its natural water resources;
-Select and purchase the appropriate ruminant for regenerating your farmstead;
-Apply fencing strategies and pasture management basics;
-Implement basic, uncomplicated food processing, including large and small animal butchering and cheese making; and
-Integrate grass, gardens, and livestock to minimize or eliminate the need for off-farm inputs.
As the Doughertys write, more and more people today are feeling “the desire for clean, affordable food, unmodified, unprocessed, and unmedicated and the security of local food sourcing for ourselves and our children.” The Independent Farmstead is a must-have -resource for those who count themselves as part of this movement: both new and prospective farmers and homesteaders, and those who are interested in switching to grass-based systems. Best of all it’s the kind of rare how-to book that the authors themselves view not as a compendium of one-size-fits-all instructions but as “the beginning of a conversation,” one that is utterly informative, sincere, and inspiring.
About the Authors:
Shawn and Beth Dougherty have been farming together for over thirty years, the last twenty in eastern Ohio on their home farm, the Sow’s Ear, where they and their children raise grass, dairy and beef cows, sheep, pigs, and poultry. They identify intensive grass management as the point of union between good stewardship and good food. Their ongoing goal is to rediscover the methods and means by which a small parcel of land, carefully husbanded with the application of ruminants, pigs, and poultry, can be made to gain fertility and resilience while feeding the animals and humans living on it.
This book is a wonderful read, with plenty of beautiful pictures to help take the readers imagination directly to The Sow's Ear Farm where the authors live and run their small independent farm. The authors did a wonderful job writing this book in an easy flowing and digestible way that kept me turning pages. It contains a bounty of useful information about homesteading and farming that includes electric fencing, water, building soil, animal husbandry and so much more that can help any new or experienced homesteader or farmer further their skills and enjoyment of living a more independent lifestyle.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
I give this a 10 of 10. Definitely worth the read.
I first watched their series on YouTube "Living Web Farms". Here's the link to first video of the series "Reviving the Independant Homestead ".
I downloaded the videos so I can re-watch them when I need a kick in the butt (motivation) to get busy!
After watching them, I bought the book. It's full of information that is beneficial to new and existing homesteaders. I refer to it often.
It's written in an enjoyable format to read as well. They offer the types of products they use and why. This is nice so you don't have to spend hours or days researching what they're talking about, so you can compare and decide what works for you.
You'll see their reasoning for why they did/do things, so you can apply it (or not) to your situation.
The glass is neither half full or half empty. It is too big. But this tiny ad is just right: