Creating A Country School: The School of Country Living

Mike and Carla Emery create The School of Country Living, a two-week country school course for families and children covering homesteading topics.

| March/April 1975


Mike and Carla Emery's lifelong dream of a summer country school for families and children is realized and available for others to share.


Five years ago, Mike and Carla Emery were farming 115 acres near Kendrick, Idaho … and raising a couple of children … and, one way and another, managing to keep pretty busy. Which didn't deter Carla from starting on a book she hoped would guide other homesteaders to a satisfying living on the land (and, of course, generate some income at the same time).

The Old Fashioned Recipe Book turned out to be more of an undertaking than anyone had expected … written as it was in the intervals of gardening, milking, canning, butchering, childbearing (three additions in four years), and various family crises including serious illness. There were times when both older Emerys hated the whole project. More than once, in fact, Carla seriously considered dropping the idea and refunding the money she'd collected on advance orders.

Finally — in the spring of 1974 — the job was done … 600 pages, typed, mimeographed, collated, ringbound, and mailed from improvised office space with the help of a few devoted friends and neighbors. The product was (and is) truly impressive: a homesteader's encyclopedia packed full of sound advice on rural self-sufficiency … all of it warm, lively, and intensely personal. (See the Access listing in this issue.)

Sales were slow at first, but picked up when the author and her five children began making promotional trips to West Coast county fairs and exhibitions. Then Carla risked some money with a California public relations firm to arrange a few appearances on talk shows in the Los Angeles area. That did it: The Old Fashioned Recipe Book caught on with a bang. By the end of 1974 — five editions later — over 13,000 copies had been sold and money was coming in at a startling rate.

That was fine, as far as it went … but Carla had long–term plans that called for every penny and a great deal more besides. The new scheme wasn't just daring, it was downright outrageous. If a mere 600-page book seems like a lot to tackle under the circumstances, how about a complete homestead education center fully equipped and staffed to instruct 200 students at a time in the skills of country living?.

The whole notion was impossible, and still is … but the Emerys are doing it anyhow. They've put down $25,000 on over 400 acres near their farm and paid an additional $5,000 for access from the county road. And buildings are already going up on the site, erected by volunteers under the direction of a Kendrick construction specialist named Art Boe.

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