Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sustainable Bookshelf: Country Wisdom & Know-How

Periodically, I like to feature a book that I recommend you buy for your bookshelf.  My criteria for the Sustainable Bookshelf picks are:  1) they are worth buying to use as a reference day-to-day or at least in a given season, and 2) they would be a book that you would wish you had if suddenly you were living a totally sustainable, independent life and for some reason couldn't buy or borrow books or surf the Internet. 

Today's selection for the Sustainable Bookshelf is Country Wisdom and Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Live Off the Land.  While that subtitle may be a little optimistic, this certainly is the go-to reference for some of those oddball intermediate-to-advanced sustainable living questions you may have.

Published in about 6 point font (so get out your reading glasses), this no-frills book has a wealth of information on gardening, farming, raising livestock, butchering, cooking, building, making medicines, carpentry, laying tile, and a few arts and crafts for your "free time."  I have gone to it time and again to answer questions that range from academic to practical, like:
  • What is the difference between a tincture and an infusion, and how do I make them?
  • What is a new recipe for [pick your favorite crop]?
  • How do you skin a rabbit?  (OK, give me a break:  I saw three of them mowing down my beans that day, and I figured it didn't hurt to know one's options....)
One caveat for this book (other than the eye-punishing font):  this is not a book you sit down and read cover-to-cover for enjoyment, and it isn't your first sustainable living book.  If you are brand-new at gardening, for example, you probably won't be able to start on the first page of the gardening section and easily work your way through your steps in chronological order.  However, if you have specific sustainabililty questions and wish to learn the answer, this is the encyclopedia for you.  I'm glad to have it around as a physical reference I know I can depend on to answer my questions.  And with a few tips and tricks from the masters, I'm able to build a better bean fence.

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