Would you like to have your own smallholding? Do you long to live a more independent and fulfilling life? Would you like to raise 90% of your food from a small scale grass based system? If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Independent Farmstead by Shawn and Beth Dougherty is definitely worth your consideration.
Lets Get To The Meat and Potatoes
There are lots of books out there claiming to teach you the secrets of obtaining independence and food security from a small farm. Many are full of wild, unproven ideas that are not sustainable, realistic or attainable. As my father was fond of saying, “paper never refused ink!” So, I always start into these kinds of books with the eye of a skeptic. I am happy to report that this book is not one of “those kind of books”.
The Independent Farmstead is pleasurable read, well written and easy to follow. The subtitle gives a hint to the contents, “Growing soil, biodiversity, and nutrient dense food with grassfed animals and intensive pasture management”. I was quite impressed with the depth and quality of information.
Shawn and Beth purchased some marginal farmland in Ohio that was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state and then turned it into a thriving smallholding that produces 90% of the food. They talk about their farming and stewardship philosophies and practices, and how they differ from mainline agriculture.
The book isn’t just philosophy though.
It is a treasure trove of practical grazing information. From watering systems, fencing, and paddock management; this book is an excellent place to gain real world grazing knowledge. The book looks at several types of livestock husbandry, ruminants, poultry and pigs. There is useful information on dairy, food processing and butchering. It also covers manure management and nutrient recycling.
The book is definitely worth the price. As someone who has been making my living in the grazing business for a good many years, I can attest to the quality of information it contains. I think the book would be useful for any smallholder who is interested in grass based homesteading.
The only part of the book that I didn’t appreciate was when the authors referred to the Virgin Birth and Great Flood as myths. The claim was made trying to prove an idea about the modern perception that small scale farming “can’t be done anymore”. I agreed with the idea they were trying to prove and the point they were making, but it left a bad taste in mouth. Never the less, all and all, I enjoyed the book very much and thought it was informative.