Book Review: Encyclopedia of Country Living

Whether you are a homesteading wannabe or have years of experience in self-sufficiency, this book is a must-have resource.

| Oct. 8, 2008

If you have ever contemplated moving to the country, homesteading or simply becoming more self-reliant, The Encyclopedia of Country Living will inspire you to make the move and give you proven advice. This tenth edition contains 922 pages of recipes, resources, and firsthand experiences of the author — and many of the 650,000 who have purchased previous editions of the book.

The Beginning

Emery grew up on a Montana ranch and was already familiar with many of the farm and self-sufficiency skills needed to raise a family in rural Idaho. She and her husband, Mike, were also committed to providing as much of the family’s food as possible and raising their five children with a strong work ethic and an appreciation for thriftiness. Carla wrote the first edition of the book over a period of four years, starting in 1970, then published (using a mimeograph machine) and marketed the book herself.

She conceived the contents of the book after reading letters to the editor in Organic Gardening requesting information on canning, raising chickens and milking a cow. In a May 1975 interview, Carla said, “What these people needed was a book. A great, large book like an encyclopedia that tells everything you need to know to raise your own food and process it and raise food for animals and so on. A big, dependable guide to self-sufficiency that's written simply and clearly.” And that is what she did — while raising five children and helping her husband run the farm.

3 Cents a Page

The “Table of Contents” is a sedate list of topics that does nothing to alert the reader as to the depth of the content found in each chapter. The first chapter, “Oddments,” covers choosing and buying land, schools of country living, looking for love, home births, caring for your dead, backwoods (primitive) housekeeping, quilting, candlestick making … and more.

Chapter three, “Grasses, Grains & Canes,” tells how to plant, harvest and cook with all of the standard grains plus a few you might not be familiar with — millet, quinoa and spelt. And if you want to know how to grow and prepare culinary and medicinal herb, plus the best flavorings for your home-cooked meals, chapter five on herbs and flavorings, from ajwain to yucca, is sure to be a favorite. And this tenth edition of the book includes 22 pages of self-sufficiency resources: magazines, books, mail-order companies, renewable energy resources and emergency preparedness suppliers to assist you in your self-reliant life.

Every chapter is filled with practical, how-to advice along with the author’s personal successes and failures along the way. One of the best comes from the chapter on children and clothing — let the clothes get really dirty before you wash them. It will save you time and money and the clothes will last longer!

Tom Bolin
10/16/2008 1:00:11 AM

DITO everything said below. I got mine from Mother Earth and their service is fast and easy. I have read and reread it several times. I did have to make some adjustments to some things because of our crazy Oklahoma weather but you can trust everything in the book. They are tried and true methoids. This is a must have!!!!!!!

10/15/2008 11:42:51 AM

I've used, shared, and re-read this book many, many times since I bought (?edition) in '98 or '99! Determining what a person is really "up to doing" is hard, be it raising chickens, sheep or just planting an herb garden. This encyclopedia, with all of its personal tone and notes and recipess and instructions, has made our personal back-to-earth plan possible. And as we age, and tone down, I use and re-use this book for smaller 'green' projects. IMHO it is a must have for anyone determining how, where, when and what to do in planning a more self sufficient life style!

10/13/2008 8:43:29 AM

A MUST HAVE book for anyone wanting to live in the country or are already here. I love this book. It is one of the best purchases I've ever made.

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