Joy's Reviews > Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living

Homegrown and Handmade by Deborah Niemann
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's review
Apr 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: crafting
Read in March, 2012

I learned about this book from the Cold Antler Farm blog a week or so ago, and was interested enough to pick it up for my Kindle. I found this book to be a very good "primer" on how to add more self-reliance into your life, whether that is growing vegetables, making cheese from your own goat milk, or raising rabbits for fiber. The author is not trying to write an exhaustive or definitive work on any one subject, but instead writes clearly and approachably about various topics that she has personal experience with on her own farm.

Each section is laid out with a bit about why you would want to do something, what you will need to do it, how to find what you need to do with it, and how to finish up when you've got it. So for the section on dairy animals, there is motivation (fresh milk where you know exactly what went into the animal's diet and how the milk was handled), guidance on what you need to get started (a dairy animal, a milking shed, etc.), a bit on technique and choices (how to pick which dairy animal is right for you, basic milking technique), and what to do with the milk when you're done (yogurt, cheese, etc.). The author also provides various notes on important things to consider, such as finding a vet for your animal before you bring it home or the importance of cleaning udders before milking, that someone who hasn't had the experience might not know.

The book is sprinkled with anecdotes from various people, and each of those is applicable and illustrative to the section where it is included. The author's voice is clear, calm, and provides lots of interesting information in an easily digestible manner with a good dose of humor along for the ride. While I am not personally planning to raise my own animals or food to any great extent, I am very interested in learning more about the different processes that go into such ventures, and I really enjoyed this book for teaching me.
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