Books are Like Old Friends

I wanted to use this post to write about some of the books and magazines that have influenced my life.

Before I was old enough to read to myself, I remember my mom and my grandmother reading to me. I loved to hear them read the stories in my Golden Books. It was always the stories involving animals that stole my heart. Some of my favorites were THE LITTLE RED HEN, THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY, and THE ANIMALS OF FARMER JONES. For those who also loved the Little Golden Books you can view a timeline with information on the books here and a history of them here.

I remember the day when with wonder I stared at a letter my mom was reading from my grandmother and realized those little squiggly things on the paper were words! I couldn't wait to go to school and learn to read. I remember applying myself when I got old enough to attend school so that I could finally read books on my own.

Some of the books I read as a child and a young teen that made an impression on me were the Little House on the Praire series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. How I dreamed of some day growing up and moving to a homestead where I could practice all those skills I read about in the series. Of course, my favorite book in the series was Farmer Boy written about Almanzo Wilder's childhood on a farm in New York. As I like to tell everyone, I finally grew up and married my very own farmer. The Little House books are such a favorite of mine that I can't tell you how many times I have read them through. When my children were small, and we lived in little cabins in Alaska and were practicing our homesteading skills, I would read the books to them at night before they went to sleep.

Another favorite of mine in those early years was Heidi. As a child and young teen, I could not think of anything I would have liked better than running with the goats in the beautiful Swiss Alps, eating roasted homemade cheese with grandfather, sleeping on a pile of straw in the loft, and having a friend just like Peter.

My childhood and teen years were filled with more adventures than I could ever begin to recount thanks to the volumes of books that I read. It was not unusual for me to read at least a book a day. Every spare second I could find, I had my nose stuck in a book. Of course, because I loved the outdoors so much, many times one would find me reading out in the cow pasture or in my favorite spot in the woods.

As an adult, I mostly enjoy reading real life adventures. While I don't mind reading a good fiction every now and then, it is the biographies, autobiographies and memoirs that bring me the greatest pleasure. A few of my all time favorites include Tisha the story of a young teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness. Adventure stories set in Alaska always warm my heart as I was fortunate to be able to live my own adventure there for almost 13 years.

Another book that not only is a well written, interesting read but also happens to be written by a lady that I have met on several occasions and whose father was a friend of my grandparents is Road Song by Natalie Kusz. Natalie writes a heart warming story of her family's struggles in the Alaskan Wilderness while being very honest about the trials that they faced.

Another homesteading book that I have read several times is We Like It Wild by Bradford Angier. It is the story of a young couple who left the city life to live in the wilderness of British Columbia.

There are a multitude of books that I could mention but these are just a few of my all time favorites.

In addition there are a few books that have helped me tremendously with both my homesteading ventures and farming. I have been reading and referencing the Foxfire books since I was but a young teen. Not only is there a wealth of information in the series, but so much of what is written reminds me of my Granny who lived in the mountains of North Georgia and practiced many of the skills mentioned in these books.

Carla Emory's Encyclopedia for Country Living is a must have for anyone who wants to live the simple life. Some friends in Alaska gave me a copy of this book and I can't tell you how many times I have referenced it over the years.

While I do not adhere to everything that Joel Salatin says or does, he has written some great books that I have enjoyed reading that have inspired and encouraged me to be the independent farmer that I am today. Joel, whose farm is within 20-30 minutes of our place, is a vocal advocate of eating and buying local and has done a lot to bring awareness to the issues of family farming and keeping the money we spend on food within the local community.

Stillroom Cookery by Grace Firth is a gem of a book I found at our local book fair. Ms. Firth explains the importance of the "stillroom" in days gone by and gives a variety of homestead type recipes including chapters on Cheese and dairy products, yeast breads, beverages, vinegars, cured meats, fish and fowl, garden foods, dry staples and energy savers, and preserving stillroom produce.

If anyone is interested in owning a family cow, an absolute must read is the book Keeping a Family Cow by Joann Grohman. I did not have this book when I started with my family cows, but have purchased multiple copies since. Reading the book is like sitting in a comfortable chair beside the author and talking to her about the important issues regarding one of my most valued possessions..........my family cows.

There are, of course, a lot of magazines that are being published but a few of my favorites are Hobby Farms Magazine, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, and Mother Earth News.

Maybe when the snow flies this winter, I can pull out some of my favorite books and read them over again. Reading them is like hanging out with old friends. It's both comforting and inspiring.

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