Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from the Elliott Homestead, by Shaye Elliott (2017)

Nonfiction
Adult
Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from the Elliott Homestead by Shaye ElliottThis isn’t the first book on homesteading I’ve reviewed, but it’s certainly one of the best. Shaye Elliott began sharing her farmgirl dream in 2010 via a blog, and has created a compilation that is beautifully illustrated with full-colour photos and hand-drawn art. It’s also comprehensive and well organised, complete with a well done table of contents and an absolutely excellent index. Elliott opens with an introduction that explains how she, the granddaughter of an orchardist, managed to convince her non-farmer husband to move across the country and take up farming. She then gets down to business, starting with gardening, focusing primarily on how to build a potager or kitchen garden that will fully meet your family’s needs. She covers starting from seed, progressive planting and what to grow at what times of year, and of course how to preserve the bounty. She then moves to livestock, increasing in size from chickens and rabbits to goats and cows. She covers care for each animal, as well as how to make the most of your choices, from eggs and tasty chicken to the benefits of raw milk and how to make yoghurt and cheese. There’s a chapter on beekeeping that I found quite interesting, and the chapter on butchering was quite revealing. She doesn’t shy from the gory bits! The section “How to Butcher a Chicken” is a thorough introduction to butchering basics, and a bit tough to read, but it prepares you for her discussion of lambs, rabbits, and pigs. And while she is matter-of-fact and thorough, Elliott quickly admits butchering is not pleasant, and to this day she is honest in stating it’s not easy to butcher a lamb, ever. Raising meat isn’t for everyone, she notes, but in addition to increasing your appreciation for where meat comes from, as with growing your vegetables it means you know exactly what has gone into the food on your table. Each section includes helpful tips, a discussion of supplies or tools, methods, and the like. Elliott shares her mistakes and what she has learned, making this a really useful book for those who take up homesteading with little real experience. After a section on fruit trees, the book finishes with short pieces from other homesteaders across the U.S. (the Elliotts are in Eastern Washington), including one urban resident who advocates for all of us to support farmers by buying local produce and shopping at farmers’ markets. In addition the aforementioned index (it spans 7 pages!!), there is a resource section that offers tips on which tools and supplies are worth getting to make your hobby farm productive, in the kitchen and the barnyard. While I found a few too many amens for my taste, this is a fascinating book, filled with humour and an honest portrayal of the work and the rewards. My thanks to Lyons Press for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34024098
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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