Whether you are just starting out on your homesteading journey or you have been at it for a while, there are some essential books that every homesteader should read.
These books will give you information and ideas about everything from gardening to raising livestock to preserving food. So, if you are looking to expand your knowledge, check out these must-read books for homesteaders!
A homesteader library is so important. A good collection of resources is a must have for any homesteader.
Because, let’s face it, there is no way we all can know everything there is to know about animal husbandry, gardening, preserving and such. And to think that way means you won’t get any farther than you are on the homestead.
There is so much to learn and grow from, and so many awesome resources out there. I am going to share with you some of my absolute favorites that I glean information from time and again.
When you visit a link in this article that takes you to a different website where you can purchase something, I may earn a commission. Read my full disclosure for more details.
My father in law helped to stoke the fires of our desire to keep bees, and this is one that I am glad to share with other friends who wish to do the same. It’s given us a lot of great tips for our beekeeping projects!
Another book given to us from my father in law, this one has helped us understand why our bees died and how to improve our odds next time.
We picked this book up at Menards on one of our “project trips” and it’s given us a lot of great ideas.
We haven’t been able to afford most of the projects the way they are written, but it gave us a place to start on many things, including our chicken coop from a dog house project.
Written by my bloggy friend, Angela, this book has been a go to for many things, including our research into the shepherd foray.
General Homesteading Books
This was the book that started it all for us. Once we read this book, I knew that we could “do the homesteady thing”. It’s one that I read from cover to cover at least 2x a year still.
The Essential Book of Homesteading by Ashley English
The Essential Book of Homesteading is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about homesteading.
Ashley English covers everything from choosing the right location for your homestead to figuring out what kind of animals to raise.
In addition, she provides helpful tips on gardening, canning, and other essential homesteading skills.
Whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced homesteader, this book is sure to provide valuable insights. Interspersed with personal stories and beautiful photographs, The Essential Book of Homesteading is an inspiring and informative read.
Backyard Homesteading by Todd Brock
I recently had the pleasure of reading Backyard Homesteading by Todd Brock. The book is a comprehensive guide to homesteading, and it covers everything from raising animals to growing fruits and vegetables.
Brock provides clear instructions and useful tips, making it an invaluable resource for anyone interested in backyard homesteading. In addition, the book is beautifully written and illustrated, making it a pleasure to read.
I highly recommend Backyard Homesteading to anyone considering homesteading, or even just wanting to learn more about it.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
First published in 1974, The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery is considered a classic in the self-sufficiency genre.
The book covers a wide range of topics related to living off the land, including gardening, food preservation, and natural healing. In addition, Emery provides instructions on how to build simple shelters and live without modern conveniences.
While some of the information in the book is now outdated, it remains an invaluable resource for those interested in homesteading and self-reliance.
This has a TON of information, from gardening, to raising chickens, to preserving food. If you can only add 1 book to your resources, this should be it!
The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it by John Seymour
John Seymour’s The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It is a comprehensive guide to living off the land. Seymour covers everything from growing your own food to generating your own power, and provides detailed instructions on each topic.
The book is well-written and easy to follow, making it an excellent resource for anyone interested in living a self-sufficient lifestyle.
While some of the information may be outdated, overall The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It is an essential guide for anyone wanting to live off the grid.
The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living by Kris Bordessa
Kris Bordessa’s “The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living” is a captivating look at the possibility of living a more simple and self-sufficient life.
Bordessa weaves together personal stories, historical examples, and practical advice to create a convincing case for a more sustainable way of life.
One of the most compelling aspects of the book is Bordessa’s own story of making the transition from a conventional lifestyle to one that is more in line with her values.
By sharing both her successes and failures, Bordessa provides readers with a realistic picture of what it takes to make such a shift.
In addition to being an inspiring read, “The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living” is also an informative and practical guide for anyone interested in exploring a more sustainable way of life.
The Homestead Companion by Jennifer Poindexter
In her book, The Homestead Companion, Jennifer Poindexter provides readers with an in-depth look at homesteading.
She covers topics such as choosing the right location, building a home, and raising animals. She also includes information on gardening, canning, and other homesteading skills.
Throughout the book, Poindexter provides helpful tips and resources that will be valuable to anyone interested in starting a homestead.
In addition, she includes personal stories and interviews with other homesteaders that provide insight into the day-to-day realities of homesteading life. The Homestead Companion is an essential read for anyone considering a move to the country.
The Weekend Homesteader – a Twelve Month Guide to Self Sufficiency
The Weekend Homesteader is a book that provides a twelve month guide to self sufficiency. The book is divided into sections, each section providing information on a different area of homesteading.
The sections include: growing your own food, raising animals, preserving food, building shelters, and living off the grid. The book also includes information on setting up a homestead, as well as tips and tricks for homesteaders of all levels of experience.
Whether you are just starting out or have been homesteading for years, The Weekend Homesteader is a great resource for learning how to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.
Mini Farming: Self Sufficiency on ¼ Acre by Brett Markham
Brett Markham’s Mini Farming: Self Sufficiency on ¼ Acre is a comprehensive guide to starting and maintaining a successful mini farm. The book covers everything from choosing the right location for your farm to selecting the best crops for your climate.
Markham also includes detailed instructions for building raised beds, fencing, and other farm infrastructure. Throughout the book, he emphasizes the importance of using organic methods to produce healthy food.
Mini Farming is an essential read for anyone interested in starting their own small farm. With Markham’s clear and practical advice, you’ll be on your way to self-sufficiency in no time.
The Homesteading Handbook by Abigail Gehring
The Homesteading Handbook is a comprehensive guide to self-sufficiency. Written by Abigail Gehring, it covers a wide range of topics, from growing your own food to generating your own energy.
The book is divided into sections, each of which focuses on a different aspect of homesteading. For example, the section on canning includes recipes for pickles, jams, and other preserved foods.
The section on chickens offers advice on chicken care and flock management. And the section on herbal medicine provides an overview of common herbs and their uses.
Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or just getting started, The Homesteading Handbook is an essential resource.
This book is a comprehensive, illustrated guide to how to grow the highest quality food in your own backyard.
If you’re not in the mood for a lengthy read that takes months to get through, this is the homesteading book for you. It will walk you through everything from how to milk a cow to how to make your own jellies and jams. Comprehensive, again, to say the least!
You Can Farm by Joel Salatin
In You Can Farm, author Joel Salatin sets out to dispel the myth that farming is a difficult and unattainable profession. Salatin is a successful farmer himself, and in this book he shares his vast knowledge and experience in a clear and concise manner.
The book covers all the basics of starting and running a farm, from choosing the right location to marketing your products.
In addition, Salatin offers valuable insights into the challenges of modern farming, such as dealing with government regulations and the impact of technology on the industry.
Whether you’re an aspiring farmer or simply interested in learning more about where your food comes from, You Can Farm is an essential read.
Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin
Yup, one more Joel Salatin book!
Joel Salatin has been a pioneer in the sustainable food movement for decades, and his new book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal, is a call to action for everyone who cares about the future of our food supply.
Salatin offers a powerful combination of personal stories, practical advice, and philosophical reflection, all grounded in a deep love for the land and a commitment to stewardship.
His vision for the future is one in which farmers work with nature to create healthy ecosystems that produce nutritious food.
This is truly a visionary work that will inspire readers to think differently about the way we grow our food.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
In “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, Barbara Kingsolver details her family’s year-long experiment of eating only locally-grown food.
The book chronicles their journey from city dwelling to rural homestead, and the challenges and rewards that come with a lifestyle change.
Kingsolver is a gifted writer, and her love for food shines through on every page. In addition to being a fascinating read, the book offers valuable insights into the benefits of eating locally-grown food.
Whether you’re considering making the switch to a local diet or simply curious about the process, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is an essential read.
The Independent Farmstead by Beth Dougherty
The Independent Farmstead by Beth Dougherty is an interesting book that provides a lot of information on how to be self-sufficient on a farm. The author includes information on a variety of topics, such as raising chickens, growing vegetables, and making cheese.
One of the most useful aspects of the book is the section on canning and preserving food. This is essential information for anyone who wants to be able to store food for the winter months.
Overall, The Independent Farmstead is a well-written book that provides a wealth of useful information for anyone interested in self-sufficiency.
The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion by Amy Fewell is a comprehensive guide to using herbs for health, beauty, and homemaking. The book is divided into three sections: Health and First Aid, Beauty, and Household.
Each section includes a wide range of information on topics such as making herbal teas and tinctures, growing and harvesting herbs, and using herbs in recipes.
The book also includes helpful tips on storing and drying herbs, as well as a glossary of common terms. Whether you are new to using herbs or are looking for ways to expand your repertoire, The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion is an invaluable resource.
Rosemary Gladstar is a well-known authority on medicinal herbs, and in her book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, she provides an introductory yet comprehensive overview of this subject.
Gladstone covers a wide range of topics, from the history of herbal medicine to the ways in which different herbs can be used for healing. She also discusses the importance of sustainability and safety when harvesting and using herbs.
Throughout the book, Gladstone provides clear and concise information that makes it easy for beginners to understand the basics of medicinal herb use. In addition, her engaging writing style makes the book a pleasure to read.
Whether you are new to herbal medicine or simply looking for a good introduction to the subject, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstone is an excellent choice.
Perhaps the most misunderstood book on our shelf, this one got us started with the idea of square foot gardening to maximize our space.
It’s not the author’s fault we still thought planting 200 plants in 16 square feet was a good idea 😉
No Dig Organic Home and Garden by C. Dowding and S. Hafferty is a great resource for anyone interested in starting an organic garden.
The authors provide clear instructions on how to get started, including how to choose the right location and what type of soil to use. They also discuss the benefits of using organic methods, such as improved plant health and increased yields.
One of the best features of the book is the section on composting, which includes step-by-step instructions on how to make your own compost bin. Overall, this is an excellent guide for anyone wanting to start an organic garden.
Seed to Seed is a comprehensive guide to seed saving and growing techniques. Author Suzanne Ashworth covers everything from basic seed biology to more advanced topics such as hybridization and genetic diversity.
One of the most useful aspects of the book is the step-by-step instructions for saving seeds from a variety of common vegetables.
The book also includes a section on seed germination, which is essential for any gardener who wants to ensure a successful gardening season.
Overall, Seed to Seed is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in saving and growing their own vegetables.
Whether you’re new to gardening or you’re looking for a more efficient way to grow your plants, raised bed gardening can be a great option.
In a raised bed garden, the soil is higher than the surrounding ground, which can help to improve drainage and prevent weeds from taking over.
Plus, raised beds can be customized to fit any space, making them ideal for small gardens or patios.
If you’re thinking about starting a raised bed garden, Tammy Wylie’s “Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners” is a great place to start.
Wylie walks readers through everything they need to know, from choosing the right location for their garden to selecting the best plants for their needs.
With clear instructions and helpful tips, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to give raised bed gardening a try.
For anyone who has ever dreamed of owning their own homestead, Melissa Norris’s The Family Garden Plan is the perfect guide. Norris walks readers through every step of the process, from choosing the right location to starting a garden.
She covers a wide range of topics, including crop rotation, seed saving, and animal husbandry.
With her clear and concise writing style, Norris makes homesteading seem within reach for even the most novice gardener. In addition, she includes a wealth of resources, such as a list of recommended reading material and websites.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been homesteading for years, The Family Garden Plan is sure to be a valuable addition to your library.
Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Harvest is an essential guide for anyone interested in year-round gardening.
Coleman provides detailed information on how to extend the growing season by using artificially heated greenhouses and cold frames. He also discusses the benefits of growing crops in a controlled environment, such as increased yields and earlier harvests.
In addition, Coleman offers practical advice on topics such as irrigation, pest control, and crop rotation. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner, Four Season Harvest will give you the tools you need to enjoy fresh produce all year round.
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway
Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture is one of the definitive works on the subject of permaculture.
In it, Hemenway lays out the principles of permaculture and provides detailed instructions on how to apply them to a home garden.
As expected, the key concept in the book is the idea of designing gardens that mimic natural ecosystems.
By using native plants and creating diverse habitats, gardeners can create an environment that is both beautiful and functional.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of Gaia’s Garden is the extensive plant directory, which includes information on the ideal conditions for each species.
Whether you are just getting started in permaculture or are looking for ways to improve your existing garden, Gaia’s Garden is an essential resource.
Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza
Patricia Lanza’s “Lasagna Gardening” is a guide to a type of gardening that utilizes layers of organic materials to create a rich, fertile growing environment.
Lanza begins by explaining the benefits of lasagna gardening, including its ability to improve drainage and aeration, increase fertility, and reduce the need for watering.
She then provides step-by-step instructions for creating a lasagna garden, including choosing a location, preparing the soil, and adding layers of organic materials.
The book also includes helpful tips on choosing plants, caring for your garden, and dealing with common problems.
The two above were the first books I ever checked out from the library on the subject of keeping chickens, and I borrowed them so often that I eventually bought them.
They were some of the best “hand holders” that we needed at first. They inspired me to write about my own experiences keeping chickens.
Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow
Agricultural expert Gail Damerow has written a comprehensive guide to raising farm animals in Barnyard in Your Backyard. The book covers everything from chickens and ducks to goats and pigs, providing detailed instructions on care and husbandry.
Damerow also includes helpful information on pasture management, fencing, and other topics related to keeping livestock.
Whether you’re an experienced farmer or a complete novice, Barnyard in Your Backyard is an essential resource for anyone interested in raising animals.
Mark Shepard’s book, “Restoration Agriculture” offers an interesting and novel approach to sustainable farming. Shepard advocates for the use of perennial plants, rather than annuals, in order to create a more natural and efficient ecosystem.
Perennials are better equipped to hold soil in place and provide essential nutrients, while also requiring less water and energy to grow.
As a result, Shepard’s approach has the potential to help farmers reduce their impact on the environment while still providing a high yield. However, Shepard’s approach is not without its critics.
Some argue that his ideas are too simplistic and that his methods have not been proven to work on a large scale. Nonetheless, “Restoration Agriculture” provides an intriguing glimpse into the future of sustainable farming.
Amy Fewell’s The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook is a great resource for those wanting to learn more about keeping chickens.
The book starts with the basics of chicken care, including housing, feeding, and health. It then goes on to cover more advanced topics, such as chicken breeds, egg production, and even butchering.
Throughout the book, Fewell includes plenty of photos and diagrams to help readers visualize the concepts being discussed.
The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Goats is an excellent resource for anyone considering adding goats to their farm.
The book covers everything from choosing the right breed of goat to building a shelter and fencing. Bradshaw also provides helpful tips on feeding and caring for your goats, as well as common health problems to look out for.
Perhaps most importantly, Bradshaw stresses the importance of developing a relationship with your goats, as they are social animals that thrive on human interaction.
Whether you’re a seasoned farmer or a first-time goat owner, The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Goats is a must-read.
Ok, one more – and then I’ll stop!
Joel Salatin’s The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs is a delightful and informative read about the natural history, evolution, and current status of pigs.
Salatin, a self-proclaimed “pig farmer,” provides readers with a wealth of information about these interesting animals, from their origins in the forests of Eurasia to their present-day role as important livestock.
Along the way, he dispelled many common myths about pigs, such as that they are dirty animals or that they are only suited for eating garbage.
Instead, he paints a picture of pigs as intelligent and adaptable creatures that have much to offer both farmers and consumers.
In addition to being an enjoyable read, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs is sure to leave its readers with a greater appreciation for these often misunderstood animals.
Greg Judy’s book, “Comeback Farms”, is an inspiring look at how American agriculture can be revived.
Judy describes his own journey from working in a feedlot to becoming a successful grass-fed beef farmer.
He chronicles the challenges and obstacles he faced along the way, as well as the lessons he learned about grazing, soil health, and record-keeping.
Judy’s insights are valuable for both beginning farmers and experienced ranchers alike.
His passion for regenerative agriculture is evident on every page, and his vision for a more sustainable future is both convincing and achievable.
If more farmers were to follow Judy’s lead, there is no doubt that American agriculture would be in better shape today.
Last but not least, for anyone interested in raising farm animals, The Backyard Homestead by Gail Damerow is an essential guide. The book covers everything from choosing the right animals for your homestead to caring for them throughout their life cycle.
Damerow includes detailed instructions on how to build shelter, fences, and other infrastructure, as well as how to provide proper nutrition and health care.
Perhaps most importantly, she emphasizes the importance of animal welfare and providing a humane environment. With Damerow’s expert advice, even novice homesteaders can successfully raise healthy and happy animals.
Cooking and Other Homesteading Skills
This is one of my favorites because she has recipes that I hadn’t tried before. My pantry canning skills took off when I realized I could put up my own chili and soups!
Since this first came out in 1931, this has had many editions and updates to it. It’s basically the Bible of all things food.
I am blessed enough to not only have my Grandmother’s 1945 edition, but my Mother’s 1967 edition as well as a 2001 edition that was purchased just for me.
I love seeing how things have changed, food wise over time. But, the canning and preserving techniques in there are timeless.
The Homestead Canning Cookbook by Georgia Varozza is a comprehensive guide to canning and preserving food. The book includes step-by-step instructions for canning fruits, vegetables, meats, and more.
It also includes recipes for canning recipes for jams, jellies, pickles, and other preserves. In addition, the book includes tips on canning safety, equipment, and techniques.
The Homestead Canning Cookbook is an essential resource for anyone interested in canning and preserving food. It is well-written and easy to follow, and it provides everything you need to get started.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to home preserving, then the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a great resource. This book covers everything from canning and pickling to fermenting and drying, and includes step-by-step instructions for each method.
In addition, the book includes over 400 recipes that range from classics like strawberry jam to more unique options like pickled watermelon rinds.
Whether you’re a seasoned canner or just getting started, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving has everything you need to create delicious, shelf-stable foods at home.
Jan Berry’s book, “Simple and Natural Soapmaking,” is a great resource for anyone interested in making their own soap. The book provides clear instructions and helpful illustrations, making it easy to follow along.
In addition, the book includes recipes for both cold process and hot process soap, as well as recipes for specialty soaps such as Castile soap and shampoo bars. Berry also provides tips on troubleshooting common problems that soapmakers may encounter.
Overall, “Simple and Natural Soapmaking” is an excellent guide for anyone looking to get started in soapmaking.
Have you ever dreamt of living off the land? Of being self-sufficient and growing your own food? If so, then 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead by David Toht is the book for you.
This comprehensive guide covers everything from building a chicken coop to creating a winter garden, and each project includes step-by-step instructions and detailed illustrations.
Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or just getting started, this book has something for everyone.
And with projects that range from easy to advanced, you’re sure to find something that suits your skill level.
The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning is an essential resource for anyone who wants to learn how to pressure can.
The book provides clear and concise instructions on everything from choosing the right equipment to canning foods safely. In addition, the book includes a wealth of information on the different types of pressure canning and how to use them effectively.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning will help you become an expert at pressure canning.
Angie Schneider’s The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about preserving vegetables. Schneider covers everything from choosing the right vegetables to the best methods for preserving them.
She also includes helpful tips on how to troubleshoot any problems that may arise. The book is well-organized and easy to follow, making it an indispensable resource for anyone interested in preserving vegetables.
Whether you’re a seasoned canner or just getting started, The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables is a must-read.
The Prairie Homestead Cookbook by Jill Winger is a cookbook like no other. With over 200 recipes, this book covers all the bases when it comes to cooking for a family.
Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner ideas, this cookbook has something for everyone. In addition to recipes, the book also includes tips on how to save money and time in the kitchen.
One of the best things about this cookbook is that it is packed with photos of the finished dishes. This makes it easy to see what the dish should look like, and it also helps with mouth-watering.
If you’re looking for a new cookbook to add to your collection, be sure to check out The Prairie Homestead Cookbook by Jill Winger. You won’t be disappointed.
Can It & Ferment It: More Than 75 Satisfying Small-Batch Canning and Fermentation Recipes for the Whole Year by Stephanie Thurow
Stephanie Thurow’s “Can It & Ferment It” is a comprehensive guide to small-batch canning and fermentation. The book includes recipes for a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as tips on how to select the best produce for canning and fermentation.
The recipes are easy to follow and yield delicious results.
Whether you’re looking for an easy way to preserve summer fruits or want to try your hand at making sauerkraut, this book has something for everyone. “Can It & Ferment It” is an essential resource for anyone interested in canning and fermentation.
Leda Meredith’s The Skillful Forager is an informative and practical guide to foraging for edible plants.
Meredith covers a wide range of topics, from identifying edible plants to preparing them for consumption. She also includes helpful information on safety, ethical foraging, and preserving food.
Throughout the book, Meredith stresses the importance of being respectful of the environment and taking only what is needed.
The River Cottage Curing & Smoking Handbook is a comprehensive guide to curing and smoking meats, fish, and vegetables.
Steven Lamb is a world-renowned expert on the subject, and in this book he shares his expertise with readers.
The book begins with a discussion of the different types of curing methods, including pickling, salting, and brining. Lamb then provides detailed instructions on how to prepare and smoke various meats, fish, and vegetables.
The recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, and the results are sure to please even the most discerning palate.
Whether you’re an experienced curing and smoking enthusiast or a novice looking to learn more about this delicious method of preparation, The River Cottage Curing & Smoking Handbook is an essential addition to your kitchen library.
Not interested in paying for homesteading books (for now) – or perhaps want a homesteading read that you can take with you on the go?
Here are some good options you can start reading right now:
- Garden Design and Architects’ Gardens by W. Robinson
- Wood and Garden: Notes and thoughts, practical and critical, of a working
- The Amateur Garden by George Washington Cable
- Gardening Without Irrigation: or without much, anyway by Steve Solomon
- Making a Garden of Perennials by W. C. Egan
- Student’s Hand-book of Mushrooms of America, Edible and Poisonous by Thomas Taylor
- Dry-Farming : A System of Agriculture for Countries under a Low Rainfall by Widtsoe
- Our Farm of Four Acres and the Money we Made by it by Miss Coulton
- Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses by M. G. Kains
- Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure by William Thomas Fernie
- New, Old, and Forgotten Remedies: Papers by Many Writers by Edward Pollock Anshutz
- The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
- Soap-Making Manual by Edgar George Thomssen
- Vegetable Dyes: Being a Book of Recipes and Other Information Useful to the Dyer
- Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont
- My Knitting Book by Miss Lambert
- Hand-Loom Weaving: A Manual for School and Home by Mattie Phipps Todd
- Hints on Dairying by T. D. Curtis
- The Pig: Breeding, Rearing, and Marketing by Sanders Spencer
- Sheep, Swine, and Poultry by Robert Jennings
- The Dollar Hen by Milo Hastings
What are some of your favorite resources you must have in your homestead library?
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.