When I first decided to guide our family towards a more self-sufficient life, computers had yet to be a staple. I couldn’t just think it up then look it up all in the same minute. So, out I went searching for the most useful homesteading books that I could use to fill up my homestead library. And to be honest, yes, it took a bit of effort.
And rather than buy and see, I need to try first. And off I went to one of my favorite places in the world, the library.
I adore books and back then I would visit the library almost weekly to take out as many books as I could carry. It was a comical sight, 10 thick books in a tower while towing 2 young children to the car. I am sure the librarians got a kick out of me. 😊
After taking homesteading books out from the library more times than I care to count, I finally realized it was time to own my own copies. I made a list of those books that I tended to take out again and again and started buying them. That was over 15 years ago, and even as I am typing this now, those favorites sit on my bookshelf.
Even with the internet being such a staple in just about every home, having a library that is full of resources is still something I recommend homesteaders of all walks of life to invest in. Books are great for finding old-timer tips and it’s those tips that are so valuable. Get to know your authors and form a relationship with them. Trust what they have to say and try out the tips they share.
When going to the library, here is a good tip. The sign of a really good book is its condition. These books are usually the ones that are (secretly) highlighted and dog-eared. You can tell just by the sight of it that it has helped many people.
And yes, every single one is included in this list. These books are my top picks. The same ones that are now full of my own scribbles and highlights and post-it notes.
Needless to say, I have read my share of books on homesteading, and even though computers and iPhones are everywhere today I am sure there are still those out there like me that love to get juicy tidbits from a good old book.
If you are new to homesteading, a seasoned pro, or have yet to take that first step these books are my tried and true’s, the ones that now sit on my shelf. The books that I love to revisit again and again.
My Top 8+ Homesteading Books For Your Homestead Library
Book #1 Lasagna Gardening
When most folks begin homesteading, a garden is usually the first step. Starting out on the right foot, in the beginning, can save you years of frustration and heartache. Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza is the perfect go-to guide to soil health and healthy plant support through layering. A system, called lasagna gardening that has been around for a while now and calls for no digging, tilling, or weeding.
I love this natural way to support the soil in my garden. Now, even though the book contains mainly hand-drawn pictures, it is done in a way that is clear concise.
Patricia includes checklists (which I LOVE), tips and time-savers, and exactly what needs to be done to the soil for each vegetable, herb, and even flower. She covers each plant as to how it grows, the best place to plant, care, harvest, and uses. She really does cover it all.
Book #2 Complete Book of Home Preserving
If you have a garden the next step is learning how to preserve your bounty. Next on the homesteading home library list is the Complete Book of Home Preserving by Ball.
This homesteading book is specifically on canning and covers everything from jams and jellies, relishes, and condiments to pickles and tomatoes. With over 400 pages of canning recipes, I do believe you will find it all in this book. The back of the book does touch on the why and the how of canning which is just enough to ensure your cans seal and last on your pantry shelf.
My famous (well at least in my family it is!) salsa recipe started from this book and the tomato-stained pages are there to prove it. A great book I highly recommend.
Book #3 The Backyard Homestead
One of my favorite go-to books is the Backyard Homestead edited by Carleen Madigan. This book on homesteading really does cover it all. You begin the book with nothing and by the end of the pages, you have a viable and self-sufficient homestead.
My favorite part is the sample layouts that are laid out on the pages for you to see and better visualize. They are set up like a map, which I just love. They have layouts for 1/10th of an acre, 1/4 of an acre, 1/2 of an acre, and more. Seeing how each sized property is laid out in regards to the garden, the home, the compost area, and the barn really gives you an idea of how much you can do on the land you own now.
This book also covers an overview on canning, gardening, butchering, and harvesting. Finally, at the end of the book, there is a pretty thorough overview of the different types of livestock you may want to consider raising on your own homestead.
With just over 340 pages this resource is a great book to have in your homestead library and one that you really should check out. Especially if you are on the fence as to whether or not you should try your hand at homesteading.
Book #4 Raising Farm Animals
The sister book to the Backyard Homestead, this book is specifically geared towards farm animals. This 325 + paged book gives an awesome overview of any animal that can be raised on a homestead.
This book goes over the basics touching on breeding, care, feeding, and housing. If you are unsure what you can or even want to raise on your own homestead, this book will help make your decision a bit easier.
Book #5 Sheep Or Goats
If you raise (or plan to) sheep or goats this book simply must be in your homestead collection. Storey’s Barn Guide To Sheep is by far the best homesteading book for the birth care of both sheep and goats. There is a section in this book that is worth its weight in gold. Abnormal birth is a hand-drawn guide to different types of birthing that are not the norm.
When I first started breeding goats I was not at all prepared for birthing issues. I was told by the vet if a kid should not present with nose and 2 hooves, then there was a problem and I would need to go in and “fix” things. This book shows you the different positions and just how to fix them. Actually seeing the positions in print really helped me to visualize what was going on inside of my goats.
I cannot tell you enough how much this one book has helped me with breeding. In an emergency situation, you only have minutes to fix things and if a vet is not by your side, this book is the next best thing.
Book #6 Raising Dairy Goats
When it comes to raising animals of any kind, nothing beats the Storey Guidebooks. Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger and Sara Thomson Bredesen is by far my favorite go-to goat guide.
At 286 pages it is safe to say this homesteading book covers it all sides. From types of dairy goats, to feed mixing, housing and breeding. You can get help in every area of this book and it’s the first place I go if I have a goat-related question or issue. This book was super valuable as I learned all the components that went into goat feed. This allowed me to make my own feed and really customize a diet that benefited my herd and where we lived.
Not a dairy goat raiser?
No problem! Just search for Storey’s guide to ……and simply fill in the blank. They pretty much have a book on every animal out there.
Book #7 Let’s Talk Chickens!
It seems more and more folks are trying their hand had chickens and I could not be more thrilled! There is nothing I love more than fresh farm eggs and knowing there are people with chickens in the city is just the coolest thing!
If you are looking for a homesteading book that covers backyard and urban chickens this one is it. The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide To Keeping Chickens by Andy G. Schneider and Dr. Bridid McCrea, Ph.D. is my favorite chicken care book. The pictures alone had me sold and not something you find in most homesteading books.
This book includes a pretty thorough list of chickens to raise along with the pros and cons of each chicken breed. They include a picture (which is quite helpful), list its features, and even tells you the personality which is so important if you live in the city or/and have children. They even go into parasite control and health issues where the pictures are not as lovely but still top quality.
Book #8 Homestead Planning
One of my favorite homestead planning books is The Complete Homestead Planner by Cynthia Bombach. This month-by-month planner is perfect for the new homestead library. There is a lot that needs to be done on a homestead especially if you have animals and live in a 4 season area.
Why worry about forgetting things that are important and need attention? Use this little book as your companion to make sure you get it all done. The book is broken down by month and covers gardens, harvesting, foraging, livestock, bees, pets, and even your household!
At just 131 pages this quick read is full of helpful tips that I know you will love as much as I do.
Book #9 Planning Out The Homestead.
Okay, you are going to chuckle a bit when you see this next book, but hear me out. The “Have More” Plan by Ed and Carolyn Robinson is the perfect homesteading book for the new homesteader. This book is over 60 years old and one of my very favorite books to look through.
This quaint homesteading book is a great overview of homesteading. The idea that a little land can equal a lot of living is what this book is all about and is so relevant today.
Please note that the use of pesticides may be mentioned and even suggested.
But that was a different time back then and not the reason why I love this book. I just love the idea of a simpler time and using a vintage homesteading book as a reference in a corny way makes me a part of that wonderful group.
Book #10 Projects, Projects, And More Projects.
No homesteading list would be complete without a how-to book. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead by David Toht is awesome! With step-by-step instructions and vivid how-to images, you will find a wide range of projects that you can use as-is or easily adapt to your own situation.
Even for me this homesteading book is laid out in an easy-to-follow way and has some pretty great ideas for any homesteader.
When you have a homestead, a home library full of books you can depend on and refer to when you need them can be the most valuable source.
Holding in your hands a reference book or guide that will help to answer your questions is more valuable than any computer. You don’t need Wi-Fi for a book and for a homesteader that is the perfect tool to have. Add in a few notes of your own and you will create a guide that is custom-tailored to you.
Think about it: a homesteading book is the original self-sufficient tool!! So get your home library started today. 🙂
What homesteading books do you have in your library? Share in the comments below so I can add to my own resources.
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