Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Simple vs. Savvy Living

I'm still in the planning stages for my homesteading future, a topic which has now become part of my leisure reading.

I want to be conscious of my ecological footprint and do my best to reduce it. I also want to develop certain skills that will support my friends and family, no matter what circumstances affect us.

On the one hand, I could try high-tech materials, devices and techniques. On the other hand, I could focus on tried-and-true traditional skills, relying more on myself than science.

Simple versus savvy.

Two books that are helping me conceive this future are The Self-Sufficiency Handbook by Alan and Gill Bridgewater, and Back to Basics by Abigail Gehring. They take different approaches towards green living but both are staggering in the quality of information provided.

The Self-Sufficiency Handbook dazzles me with its structure, breaking down broad concepts into manageable chunks. Solid advice is given for purchasing land and tailoring one's home to that environment. Rather than push one lifestyle over another, Bridgewater discusses everything from living off the grid to living with high technology.

A third of the book is dedicated to food production with over 20 pages just on plant-specific schedules - planting, pruning, and harvesting. As well, the next 20 pages on animal husbandry makes me believe even I can raise goats and bees!

Back to Basics is literally that, a book about traditional crafts. From building log cabins and waterwheels to shearing sheep and maple sugaring, this book is extensive. The many topics are organized by function: land, energy, planting, harvesting, crafts and recreation. Each chapter is rich with illustrations, instructions, and theory simplified for the layman.

What appeals to me about this duo of books is that the first title provides inspiration and structure, while the second title fills in the blanks. Not only can I design my lifestyle, but I can be prepared for whatever eventuality comes my way.

No matter what circumstances befall me and mine.

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