October 05, 2011

Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

A wonderful mix of how-to and storytelling, this book is a testament to the simple pleasures in life. Cunningly split into several chapters, it encompasses many aspects of farm life as seen through the authors eyes and performed by her hands.

The first chapter, Chickens, is exactly that. From her own experiences with chickens, to a basic guide on caring for them, this encompasses all of what it means to have a small flock of chickens. I enjoyed the stories of her chickens and their antics, and the detail she put into describing some of the different breeds and the description of what a banty chicken is.

Next is Grow Your Own Meal, a small chapter on the joys and hardships of gardening. She gives great ideas for raised beds and tells of her own successes (and not so successful attempts) at gardening on a piece of land in Idaho.

Beekeeping is a very basic guide to beekeeping. If this is a hobby that interests you, I strongly recommend buying supplemental reading. However, it does detail the hardships of keeping bees and just where a beginner can go wrong. While Woginrich would eventually learn to care for them the proper way, she had a hard lesson in the first couple years of keeping bees.

The Country Kitchen held a wonderful collection of the joys of baking and the pleasure it gives to cook not only for yourself, but friends as well from scratch. It also includes a recipe for bread, butter, and excellent coffee (so the writer proclaims).

Old Stuff is a small chapter on antiquing and making the most out of your old finds. Instead of going just for the value, she shows how you can find old things that are still quite usable today. As an added bonus most don't even run on electricity, saving energy.

DIY Wardrobe is also a small chapter. While she talks about making clothes and how wonderful it is to create something unique, there is no real guide in how to do this.

Working House Dogs describes the use of dogs for carrying packs, pulling a cart, and of course, dog sleds. Full of detail, it is probably very helpful for those who want to do this. However, it is probably not practical for most people who will read this book.

Angora Rabbits:Portable Livestock mainly covers the author's trials with her rabbits rather than be a guide on how to keep and collect from these fiber animals. However, the knowledge of her enjoyment in these creatures is enough to keep reading.

One of the later chapters, Homemade Mountain Music, has a description of how she learned the Dulcimer, Guitar, and Banjo. She also tells where these skills can be learned and the best instruments for what the person would like to do.

Outside the Farm is a short bit on finding like-minded people in the community with who you can learn a new skill, or just have a good conversation. She also arranges it by type so if you're looking for a hiking buddy, or someone to knit with, it is easy to tell the difference.

The last parts of the book are Want More, and the research section. This section includes recipes, links to helpful websites, and a great listing of books for more reading in the homesteading arts.

While Made from Scratch does not go as in depth as most other homesteading books, it is perfect for inspiring a first timer, or maybe an old time homesteader who would like to learn a new skill. It also shows that you don't have to own a farm to do all these things. They can be done in the smallest apartment (some of them anyway).

I vastly enjoyed this book, but then I love all books of this genre. Even for people not ready to go full out into this type of homesteading, I highly recommend it just for small things. Bake that loaf of bread, stitch your own skirt, it doesn't have to be something large to be enjoyable.

Made From Scratch
Copyright 2008
184 pages

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