Winter Book List 2019

I am done reading seed catalogues for the season.  I got my extensive order in and am dreaming and scheming up all sorts of garden plans.  From indoors, on my sofa, with a cup of great coffee and my sleeping farm dog who doesn’t love cold.  All that dreaming aside, this is the time for catching up on projects or reading.  Otherwise one might be prone to give in to seasonal affective disorder and crying until spring.  I have lots of books and plenty to do around her to get me through until spring crops.


#1 #Do Not Disturb; How I Ghosted My Cell Phone To Take Back My Life by Jedediah Bila was a must.  I try to put my damn phone down long enough to read it.  When I was young (“Oh here we go…” I can hear you say.) we could not have even fathomed such a thing.  A phone without a cord?  A phone that you can take with you?  The computers had math games on them.  There was no Google, we had encyclopedias and libraries.  When the first shoe box sized phone came out in my great aunt’s fancy car, I couldn’t believe it.  So, to say that I am not sure how much time I lose checking email, texts, instagram, facebook, and googling things is beyond my scope of imagination.  I have eye strain, anxiety, and I see the detriment these things have brought our society.  Where children and spouses are ignored, personas are created, and time disappears.  Yes, I am reading this book!


#2 Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Ngugen is magnificently written with captivating prose and such convincing characters and scenarios that I am tempted to google what is fact and fiction as the narrative is so convincing in this Little House on the Prairie obsessed novel.  Read it!  You will love it.

Also on my list to start-


#3 Mud Season; How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont Raising Children, Chickens, and Sheep & Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another by Ellen Stimson- I checked this book out many years ago from the library and I am not sure why I didn’t get very far in it.  Did another book show up that I wanted to read more, was it not interesting?  I don’t know but the plot sounds fun so I will start it soon.  I have a friend who did just this, left and went to a small town, a place in the country, and started a farm and café in Vermont.  Perhaps she read this book!


#4 My Gentle Barn; Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope by Ellie Laks- I follow this beautiful sanctuary on social media and I am looking forward to going there via the pages of this memoir.  My small sanctuary that I told you I was starting last year has come to be and eventually we want land where we can welcome more animals so reading first hand the pros and cons and ins and outs and triumphs will be a lovely way to learn.


#5 Grow the Good Life; Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise by Michele Owens- You don’t have to tell me twice!  I am well aware of the powers of the garden, but I love reading other’s accounts, often hilarious and educational.

I have a few other memoirs ready to start as well and I hope no one requests them at the library so I have time to read all of them!  Wishing you great reading this cold winter season.  What are your favorite books right now?  Respond in the comments so we all have more books to look into!

A Few Books For Summer Reading

I have a few books to recommend that really inspired me.  So grab a big glass of lemonade and a porch swing and enjoy.

off on our own

The first one is “Off On Our Own; Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence” by Ted Carns.  He details how he and his wife have lived in an off-grid house and off the land for over thirty years.  The imagery of frogs hopping through the house, a lagoon in the living room, a living compost floor, outbuildings holding odds and ends of things he can use in his buildings.  He has thrown away one small load of trash in thirty years and even regrets that.  Everything is put back to work.  He builds filters to capture rain water and creates electricity.  Not being mechanically minded, I sure wish I could have understood his explanations on how to build all these things but I know many people that would.  A mixture of spiritual and how-to makes this book an interesting read.  His model of living is inspirational and gave me many ideas for our homestead.

a bushels worth

I just finished “A Bushel’s Worth; An Ecobiography” by Kayann Short.  I was delighted to see that it takes place here in Colorado.  Her farm is in Boulder and she and her husband were professors at Colorado University at the same time that Doug went there.  She even mentioned one of my favorite farmers, the Millers.  Learning from a farmer via print that is in a similar climate as I am was fun and inspirational.  I love her CSA model that she runs her farm on.  She doesn’t do markets but instead has many members that help with everything from pressing apples to painting barns in exchange for their share.  Some pay for their shares.  All come together for pancake breakfasts and concerts at the end of the season.

She talks about the sobering fact that our subdivisions are named after the farm they now stand on.  The ranches that were taken over.  A sad tribute to once was.  She says that preserving farmland may even be more important than preserving public lands.  Miles and miles of it out here in my county for sale waiting to be bland homes on tiny plots.

The other day a sweet family came to visit our farm.  The children helped me pull garlic and planted radishes.  They oohed and ahhed over the gardens.  They visited with the animals.  A four year old boy told me to use fish to make the corn grow.  He, himself, grows a two foot square plot in a greenhouse at his home two towns over.  So pleased they were with their visit.  As they were leaving I mentioned that hopefully this time next year we’ll be on a bigger farm and stopped myself as I realized how rather ungrateful I sounded.

This kind of rental is incredibly rare.  An adorable old house, two lots, no rules against livestock or digging up one’s front yard.  A darling town and fabulous neighbors.  Really, what more could I ask for?

I am so grateful for the opportunity to farm here and if the doors close on anything else I will be happy as a sunflower staying here.  I do hope though that my request is somehow, miraculously, granted.  I do not wish for a bigger house.  I do not wish for more land out of greed.  I do not wish to be tucked away from society on our massive land.  I would love to help preserve a patch of God’s gorgeous earth, to nurture it, to feed people, to help folks learn to feed themselves and learn old time arts.  I am limited here because I cannot do business out of our home.  My classes are actually outlawed and having people over to buy eggs is a against the law as well.  I am certain there is an old homestead out there that needs tending and a plot of land that wants to feed people and bring smiles to many faces, where a blue grass band plays at a pumpkin festival….

In the meantime I will keep reading and learning and being inspired until that door opens and work with what I have!

Have you read any good farm books lately?  Do share!

Five More Favorite Farm Books

I have learned so much through non-fiction accounts of people becoming farmers.  Not only do the books keep me laughing, the protagonist always reels me in more to farm life, and I am smitten with everything farming entails, the good and the bad.  This is part two of my Favorite Farm Books.  Five more for your perusal.

chickens in the road coverChickens in the Road; An Adventure in Ordinary Splendor by Suzanne McMinn

A memoir about a woman who finds love and a farm but finds that her true love is the farm.  Moving, but very funny!

one woman farm coverOne Woman Farm; My Life Shared with Sheep, Pigs, Chickens, Goats, and a Fine Fiddle by Jenna Woginrich

My favorite author is back with this sweet journal of life on a farm.  A full of year of journal entries, whimsical drawings (by an illustrator), and beautiful imagery.

soil and sacrament bookSoil and Sacrament; A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith by Fred Bahnson

This was a different type of farming book than the kind I usually indulge in.  It takes place in different settings through the years, his time visiting a monastery that grows mushrooms, Mexico to grow coffee, a permaculture farm, a charity farm, his own church farm, and a Jewish retreat center/farm.  All giving valuable lessons on farming but also intertwining our search for spiritual nurturing and God’s undeniable presence in food and farms.

homegrown honey bees coverHomegrown Honey Bees; Beekeeping Your First Year from Hiving to Honey Harvest by Alethea Morrison

This book is full of great pictures and absolute step-by-step guides to take the anxiety out of getting bees.  It touts itself as the Absolute Beginner’s Guide which sums me up perfectly!

growing herbs cover101 Herbs that Heal; Gardening Techniques, Recipes, and Remedies by Tammi Hartung

The first book that got me hooked on medicinal herbs and started me on this journey of ours.  It is full of herbs, their properties, how to grow them, and how to make a few basic medicines.