On My Bookshelf: The Joy of Hobby Farming

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let myself wander into the daydream about quitting the grind cold turkey – just moving to the country somewhere, planting a big truck garden, getting a flock of chickens and selling handicrafts. But then I think of the rent/mortgage payment, the student loans, the employer-sponsored healthcare… and reality sets in. I snap out of it and go back to toiling away for the man without complaint (okay, not entirely without, but minimal).

But maybe I’ve got it all wrong; maybe there’s hope. Maybe I can have the proverbial cake and eat it too. Michael and Audrey Levatino seem to think it’s possible. In their new book The Joy of Hobby Farming they maintain that you can have the farm and the security of a 9-to-5 job at the same time – it’s just all about scale. A lot of people seem to think of “hobby” as a dirty word – people that just live on an estate with a horse and a fancy farmhouse. Anyone who farms as a hobby can’t possibly be a real farmer, right? The Levatino’s show us this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth.

This book covers all of the basics of starting your farm on a small scale that’s perfectly manageable while still working outside the home – how to find your farm, growing food and flowers, managing animals and how to run your farm as a business. It’s laid out in a sensible fashion, with useful sidebars summarizing the main points, as well as helpful charts and lists. And the thing that I absolutely love about this book is the full-color photographs. In addition to photos of their and some of their neighbor’s farms, there are also step-by-step photos for many skills discussed in the book, from extracting your tractor from the mud, cutting down a tree, inoculating your own mushroom log and many more. It’s one thing to read about a process, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be very hard to visualize and actually do, so having the step-by-step photos is a great addition. It brings you that much closer to realizing your dream.

The Joy of Hobby Farming literally just came out on April 1st and I certainly recommend it as an addition to your homesteading library – especially for those that want to farm but have reservations about leaving the office jobs for good. Now that you don’t have to, it can be done!

(And thanks to the fine folks at Skyhorse Publishing who put this read on my radar and were kind enough to send me a copy for review.)

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Ugh, More Books!?

Some deals are too good to pass up, and I’m a sucker for used bookstores. I can’t help it – it’s an addiction! But it’s always necessary to increase the food library (especially since I’m trying on this food writer thing for size) and I scored some excellent reference works this weekend – for a song.

The Best Wine Bars & Shops of Paris: Fifty Charming & Notable Cavistes by Pierrick Jegu 

Tapas: Delicious Little Dishes From Spain by Ryland, Peters & Small

Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl

Food: A Culinary History edited by Albert Sonnenfeld

Olives: The Life & Lore of a Noble Fruit by Mort Rosenblum

Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating by Ari Weinzweig

The Foodie Handbook: The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy by Pim Techamuanvivit

Recent Book Reads

It’s been quite since time since I’ve updated on the books that I’ve been reading, and I’m sure that I’m going to miss quite a few. I’ve been checking things out from the library more often than often than not these days because I’m trying to stick to a budget. But sometimes I find a book that I just have to have –

The River Cottage Break Handbook ­by Daniel Stevens

Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage by Warren Anderson

Cured by Lindy Wildsmith

Notice a theme there? It’s always that food books that ruin my best intentions to not make a purchase. More reasonably, these are a few of the selections I’ve gotten from the library –

Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army of America in the Great War by Elaine F. Weiss

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford

The Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White

The Wild Butcher: From Field to Table by Creative Publishing International

Pickled, Potted and Canned: How the Art & Science of Food Preserving Changed the World by Sue Shephard

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Ungarnished Truth: A Cooking Contest Memoir by Ellie Mathews

Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado

The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World’s Fiercest Food Fight by Mark Caro

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food & the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

Under the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School by Katherine Darling

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones

The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman

Sewing Green: Projects & Ideas for Stitching with Organic, Repurposed & Recycled Fabrics by Betz White