This book was interesting because it was part memoir and part how-to. Basically, Woginrich talks about how she wanted to start living a more sustainable life, but there wasn’t any way that she could quit her job and start living off the land somewhere – mainly because she didn’t have any land to live off of. Instead, she started trying to make small changes in her regular life. This book talks about her efforts and her mistakes, and encourages her readers to start trying to become more self-sufficient even if they aren’t comfortable butchering their own hogs and building a log cabin by hand.
It was also interesting because I actually read Woginrich’s second book, Barnheart, a while back. In this book, she’s still living a small town in Idaho, and ends her story by driving across the country to a new job in Vermont. Barnheart focuses on the Vermont home.
While this book does cover some of the more “regular” topics in homestead-y books, like chickens and gardening, she also touches on things like sewing, knitting, antiquing, teaching your dog to carry a pack, and learning how to play an acoustic instrument. She raises bees and angora rabbits (as well as the traditional chickens and tomatoes) and has a strong sense of humor, even while recounting some pretty serious mistakes.
Each chapter is focused on a different aspect of a more self-sufficient life. Woginrich talks about how she got started in that area, some of what she’s learned, and concludes with some practical how-tos for the area. She also has an extensive list of resources in the back, with actual descriptions of things so you don’t have to just mindlessly visit a bunch of websites, hoping to find what you want. This book isn’t an end-all reference guide, but it’s a great place to start for some inspiration and ideas.
I really liked that Woginrich is (at the time of writing this book, anyway) both single and a renter. These are two obstacles that many people use to put off learning about self-sufficiency, but Woginrich doesn’t let those things stop her. A flexible landlord definitely helps if you want to raise chickens and bees, or plant a large garden, but things like container gardening, learning how to sew, and canning, can be done anywhere.
Frequently, I get annoyed when people assume that because I’m prolife and fiscally conservative, I must also hate nature and love eating meat raised on factory farms. It’s 100% possible to be socially and fiscally conservative, and to also believe in shopping locally, eating food that has been raised humanely, reconnecting with our heritage, and supporting parks. While I don’t have any idea where Woginrich stands on political issues, her book reminded me that learning to be more self-sufficient is important, challenging, and interesting – and that taking baby steps are better than taking no steps at all. 4/5 and recommended.