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Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition Hardcover – April 17, 2008


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Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition + Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre + Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 3rd edition (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602392331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602392335
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 10.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Abigail R. Gehring is the editor of Back to Basics, Homesteading, and Self-Sufficiency, and author of Odd Jobs and Dangerous Jobs. She’s practiced living self-sufficiently since her childhood in Vermont, being home-schooled, home-canning jams and jellies, and enjoying natural crafts. She lives in New York City and Windham, Vermont.

Customer Reviews

The book is very well illustrated.
Charlie P.
I haven't finished this entire book yet but, wow... It is jam packed with everything from buying land to building houses to raising livestock gardening and cooking!
Jonathan O.
Any one interested in how to get by without Chinamart needs this book, you may find it interesting just to read through it.
JAMES COOPER

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

190 of 195 people found the following review helpful By David Bennett VINE VOICE on July 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Until I checked this book out of the library, I had rarely given a thought to getting "back to basics," that is learning how to be more self-sufficient. After I read the book, I soon bought it, because it opened my eyes to the many ways that I am almost entirely dependent upon others for my basic needs. "Back to Basics" is a helpful guide for those who want to get away from it all and live totally independently on a farm, and even those like myself that live in town, but that want to become more self-sufficient, and less dependent on expensive fossil fuels and foods that someone else has raised or grown.

"Back to Basics" is a colorful, easy-to-understand encyclopedia of basic skills. There are hundreds of color photos, and most lessons are laid out step-by-step, making the concepts very easy to learn. The book is divided into six basic parts:

I. Land: Buying It - Building on it (how to choose land, build a home, develop a water supply, create a sauna, etc)

II. Energy from Wood, Water, Wind, and Sun (making your home more efficient, how to use wind energy, setting up a solar-powered house, etc)

III. Raising Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, and Livestock (how to properly grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and grains, how to farm fish, beekeeping, butchering an animal, etc)

IV. Enjoying Your Harvest Year Round (canning, preserving all kinds of foods, making cheese and wine, etc)

V. Skills and Crafts for House and Homestead (making natural dyes, weaving, woodworking, stenciling, soapmaking, making homemade perfumes, etc)

VI.
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508 of 552 people found the following review helpful By Patrick W. Crabtree TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This illustrated book has been published chiefly for those who are new to country living, and/or who have an interest in self-sufficiency and in retrieving some of the "lost arts" which are appurtenant to traditional country life. The information is mostly introductory and rudimentary... a good start for most folks new to these areas of interest.

I have lived in the foothills of rural Appalachia for 55 years and have been involved in carrying out nearly all the construction, activities, arts, and crafts found within this text. Some of the text, (along with the accompanying drawings and photos), is quite good. The information is solid and one can get started along the right track; however, the work goes astray (the publishers sort of "threw in the kitchen sink"), into areas which are not particularly relevant to traditional country living. The editors simply went too far afield when they got into topics such as "Winter Sports," "Kayaking and Rafting," "Foraging for Flour and Emergency Rations," and so on. Most of these subjects are tagged on at the end, I felt just to make the book longer, (it's plenty long enough at 456 pages!)

Additionally, on topics such as "Emergency First Aid," "Fly Fishing" (and fish identification), and "Recipes," there are obligatory sections, none of which are all that useful since these are subjects, any one of which could fill volumes. Had these areas of specific interest been omitted, the more appropriate topics could have been somewhat expanded, such as "Barn Building" or "Preserving Meat and Fish".

While there is quite a great deal of quality information in this Skyhorse Publishing Third Edition (2008) for those seeking a new or improved life in the rural countryside, I still feel that the editors strayed off-base to the point that I cannot heartily recommend the work.
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83 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Steve Thompson on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is simply the best reference book for self sufficient country living ever, bar none. From building to growing to conserving to preserving to raising animals to cooking... recreation, knitting, herbs, knots, quilting, cider, canoeing, candle making, soaps, blacksmithing, not to mention beer and wine making; and everything in between and extending from both ends - this book has it all. The table of contents only touches on what's contained. If you can think of it, this book probably has it. It is *the* encyclopedia of living the "basics."

At the end of the movie adaptation of H.G.Wells classic "The Time Machine", the main character escapes to the future where humanity has forgotten all basic knowledge and skills. The friends that he leaves behind discover that he has taken only three books with him, and we're left to wonderingly consider which three - and which three we might bring. This book would be one of my three. After all, what culture could survive long without beer, smoked meats, cheese and wine?
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By C. Erickson on December 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a great overview of a lot of things, but doesn't get too much into the weeds. As the daughter of a contractor, I'll tell you that the book leaves a LOT out of building your own home. But I'd like to build a stone cottage some day, so i appreciate the ideas it offers. I'm not all the way through, but I like how they offer other books to read if you are interested in one specific activity, allowing you to gain more knowledge than the general overview the book provides. Good overview, but if you want to do something on your own, you're going to have to purchase a lot of specialty books in each area.
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