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The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! Paperback – February 11, 2009


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Frequently Bought Together

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! + Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre + The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself
Price for all three: $44.80

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; 14TH PRINTING edition (February 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603421386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603421386
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (338 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bottom line is, even if you're not ready for complete self-sufficiency, in today's economic climate, it just makes sense to try to produce some of your own food. And this book is a great way to get your feet wet."
(Bust)

"The tone is sweet and accessible, and the well-organized chapters cover all the bases…” — July 2009
(Everyday Prepper)

“This book delivers what it aims to sell. Its 368 pages of information on creating a successful, self sufficient, backyard homestead that will keep you and your family busy and eating all year long. 4.5 out of five stars, this is the book homestead enthusiasts have been looking for. Go buy this book!”
(Boston Sunday Globe)

The Backyard Homestead is a comprehensive and accessible guide to starting a vegetable garden, raising chickens and cows, canning food, making cheese, and a whole lot more.  Editor Carleen Madigan…a homesteader in her own right, draws on the dozens of books about country living that Storey has published since its founding in 1983.”

(New York Times Book Review)

“Because you need to brace yourself for what’s on the horizon:  The Backyard Homestead.  This fascinating, friendly book is brimming with ideas, illustrations, and enthusiasm.  The garden plans are solid, the advice crisp; the diagrams, as on pruning and double digging, are models of decorum.  Halfway through, she puts the pedal to the metal, and whoosh!  At warp speed, we’re growing our own hops and making our own beer, planting our own wheat fields, keeping chickens (ho hum), ducks, geese, and turkeys (now we’re talking) and milking goats, butchering lamb, raising rabbits, and grinding sausage.  Oh, and tapping our maple trees, churning butter, and making our own cheese and yogurt.  Peacocks, anyone?  Need I say more?  Well, yes.  Stock up on some knitting books because next winter, you’ll want to grow your own sweaters, too."

About the Author

Before becoming an editor at Storey Publishing, Carleen Madigan was managing editor of Horticulture magazine and lived on an organic farm outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she learned the homesteading skills contained in The Backyard Homestead. She enjoys gardening, hiking, foraging, baking, spinning wool, and knitting.

Customer Reviews

Lots of great information in this book.
Bobby Thomson
I really, HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone that knows nothing about farming or gardening.
koiphish
It gives you all the information you will need to start your own homestead.
Kathryn A. Lacourciere

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,049 of 1,066 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Claus on June 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Much of this time was spent fantasizing about one day having a 1/10th or 1/4th acre homestead. During that time, the book was eye-opening as to what is possible with that little space. Having soaked up these ideas about raised beds, chickens, dwarf fruit trees, and so on for so long, when I finally got a house recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, which alone is probably worth the price of the book.

But now that I have fruit trees to prune and chicks to raise, I'm not looking to this book for information. For building raised beds, I'm using the instructions from The Urban Homestead (Expanded & Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series), which also details composting with worms, reducing your reliance on the energy grid, and using water more intelligently -things The Backyard Homestead doesn't even mention. Or take pruning. On page 111, "Pruning a Fruit Tree in Four Steps," Step 2 says "First shorten the branch to about a foot, then undercut the branch slightly before sawing it from above. Finally, saw off the stub, leaving a slight collar to promote good healing." These are just the kind of clear-as-mud directions that would greatly benefit from an illustration; unfortunately all that is there is a drawing of a man sawing a branch with a long-handled tool of some kind, nothing to show what exactly a collar is or how much of the remaining foot qualifies as the stub or even why he selected that particular branch. So for pruning, I attended a workshop presented by my local nursery, which was far more informative and has the advantage of pertaining entirely to where I live.
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551 of 592 people found the following review helpful By J. Wagman on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very well put together book with lots of useful information. However there is one area that it is glaringly lacking in information. The author states there isn't room for a dairy animal and suggests pigs instead, but they completely overlook the Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats. Two Nigerian Dwarf dairy does take up less space than the pigs, and even some urban areas area starting to allow them as "pets". A good Nigerian milk doe can give 1/2-3/4 of a gallon of very rich milk daily. Just be sure to buy from someone that breeds them for milking and not someone that just breeds them as pets.

Nigerians also get along well with chickens, and can share the same yard space as long as there is separate sleeping and feeding quarters for the chickens. And keeping 3-4 hens with your goats will keep the fly population down to nearly non-existent levels. So the back portion of your lot could be a single large pen, rather than two small ones, thus saving on the amount of fencing needed. A typical garden shed can be divided up to provide housing and feed storage for both goats and chickens, again saving on the cost (and space) of building separate structures.
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619 of 675 people found the following review helpful By J. Matthews on May 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Like most of the people who buy this book, I'm interested in urban farming and the DIY ethos. So I found this book really exciting for the breadth of topics it covered. How to select a breed of beef cow? Goat? Chicken? Cool! But as I read through some of the sections covering topics I know about I was surprised how out-dated and incomplete they were, which makes me suspicious that the rest of this book is equally poorly researched.

I've been a homebrewer for 5 years, and I grow wine grapes at home. The home-brew beer recipies in this book are from 1989, and are based around buying pre-made beer kits from Coopers or Muntons. Some of the ingredients listed are archane: "Laaglander malt extract" good luck finding it, Laaglander went out of business nearly a decade ago, or "Russian Malt beverage concentrate" whatever that is, you don't need it to make good homebrew.

The wine grapes section is terribly out of date as well. The American hybrid grapes she recommends were the best varieties availible 20 years go (DeChanuc, Baco, Foch) leaving out newer varieties that are much better (Traminette, Marquette, Corot Noir). She refers to Baco, Foch, and Chardonel as European varieties which they aren't. (there's a great book on growing a back-yard vineyard if you search for that phrase)

It may seem like I'm nit-picking, but it leaves me to wonder what careless mistakes are in the sections I don't know anything about? How out-of date are the other varietal recommendations? I get the impression that she culled all of this info from old books and has little experience of her own.

I'm returning my copy.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A. Mattix on April 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I checked this out of the library before buying, and I'm so glad I did.

The premise of this book is exciting. I love the cover illustration, and first few pages have great illustrations of how much you can produce on different sized lots. However, the rest of the book is a simply a rehashed encyclopedia of information that is incredibly frustrating to read. There is no "story" here -- no personal anecdotes, no interviews with people who have done this, no journalistic writing. Since that's not the chosen direction of this book, I can accept that. But without an interesting story, I was hoping for really solid, detailed, concrete information about how to eventually accomplish the goal of turning one's yard into a homestead. I didn't get that either.

The information in this book is almost trivial -- there is a lot of it, and it's well organized, but nothing goes into enough detail to actually be useful. For example, the section on raising chickens provides a vague overview of what is required to keep chickens, then several pages on chicken breeds, but not quite enough information to actually *choose* a breed, then goes into a bunch of detail about how to determine the age of an egg, how to cook an egg, but no information on how to actually care for chickens. There is a section on butchering, which basically tells you to find someone who knows how to butcher a chicken. There is a rough diagram of a fancy chicken coop for 3 chickens, but no discussion of the pros and cons of different kinds of coops, or how to house more than 3 chickens.

Eventually, I realized I can get more information on any subject in this book by doing a Google search.
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