There is no other way I can begin this review than to tell you up front, this is the best homesteading book I have ever read. It is also the best book of any kind that I have read in a long, long time. Those who know me, know these are not proclamations that I lightly throw out there. This is a masterpiece! This book should be mandatory reading for anyone considering pursuing the homestead life!
Ben Hewitt and his wife, Penny, have two children and homestead in Vermont, where they use what they have coined “practiculture” to provide 90% of their calorie needs. They raise chickens, cattle, sheep, and goats. They raise an impressive amount of vegetables, of the highest nutrient and mineral content, as well as blueberries and other perennial crops. In addition to food, they produce and process fiber, firewood, and sawlogs. The children trap and hunt, and the whole family practices a wide array of traditional handcrafts like basket making, carving, and hide tanning.
This book covers much of the practical “how-to” aspects of raising food with “deep nutrition”. This is valuable information for sure, but not the most valuable information in the book. Hewitt has a deep and piercing understanding of true “homestead accounting”. He has an understanding of industrialism, the modern economy, and what homesteading is really about. His understanding of these things far exceeds most of the homesteading authors out there today. To top it off, Hewitt has the ability to articulate it in a poetic, yet easy to understand manner. Hewitt is a gifted writer and this book is so easy to read, and flows so effortlessly that one cannot stop once they have started.
Although the Hewitts don’t share my Christian faith, we do share a tremendous amount of things that include the way we choose to live, the way we raise our children, and a love for the land and its bounty. Ben Hewitt says a lot of the same things about economics and homesteading that I’ve been saying. He just flat out says it a lot better than I do. I’d give my right eye to sit down and have a beer with Ben. And I can guarantee that if you read this book you will be better off for it.