Lest you think I don’t read anything more substantial than seed catalogs all winter, I thought I’d give you a list of some real books to read while you wait for it to warm up outside. These days, because I’m so in love with my chickens and with the whole concept of raising and growing my own food, I’m stuck on farm memoir type books. Especially the ones written by women.
I love these kinds of books for several reasons. One, I can live vicariously through them…raising pigs in the city? Dumpster diving for livestock food? Trying to balance a writing life with moving onto a farm? Things I’ve wanted to try, things I’ve never thought to try, things I’d never want to try…all contained in the pages.
I also love learning from them…not only what they do right, but what they do wrong. Don’t leave your new baby chicks alone in a room with your husky dogs, even for a second. Be careful when jumping over an electric fence lest you get shocked in surprising places. Think twice before you plot out a garden the size of the Astrodome (it’s those seed catalog’s fault).
Women trying their hand at growing their own food speak my language. They love gardening, chickens, bees, experimenting, farming…all of it. They win some. They lose some. They get back up and try again. And again. And again.
Lastly (so far anyway) every chick-turned-farmer that I’ve read has a great sense of humor. Any of you that have launched into raising and growing your own food realize how essential this is. Listening to them make light of their mistakes, or describing the surprising twists involved in lambing season, or chasing a pig down a busy city street, is enjoyable reading (especially since it isn’t happening to me)!
So, in addition to the Winter Reading (part 1) list, where I suggested filling your brain with seed catalog eye candy, I’d like to add some real books.
First, I’d like to suggest some books I’ve already read and enjoyed:
- Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life (by Jenna Woginrich)
- Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn (by Catherine Friend)
- Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (by Novella Carpenter)
Here’s some of the books I haven’t yet read, but would like to read this winter:
- Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea (by Catherine Goldhammer)
- Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories and Recipes from the Great Depression (by Clara Cannucciari)
- The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love (by Kristin Kimball)
While I’m at it, I thought I’d throw in a couple good kids books as some others just for fun (as in, laughing your fool head off kind of fun):
- First the Egg (by Laura Vaccaro) This book is a Caldecott Honor Book as well as a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book
- Beautiful Yetta, the Yiddish Chicken (by Daniel and Jill Pinkwater)
- Duck on a Bike (by David Shannon)
And actually, anything by Sloane Tanen that I’ve seen is hysterical! She’s got a wacky sense of humor and she creates these little scenes using those tiny pipe-cleaner-like yellow chicks you see in the stores at Easter. Some of them are very kid-oriented. Some of them are targeting an older humor group. Books include titles like: Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same: The Life and Times of Some Chickens, or Hatched! The Big Push from Pregnancy to Motherhood
I’ve also got a larger list of farming/chicken/bee, etc. kinds of books on my website, if you’d like to check it out.
Do you have any great winter reading books to suggest? If so, please pass them along!