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The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It Hardcover – August 17, 2009

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The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It + The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself + Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: DK Publishing; 0100- edition (August 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756654505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756654504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"John Seymour, self-sufficiency guru, offers a wealth of ideas to get you started." -- Sentinel<br /><br />"This book ... will appeal to those seeking simpler and environmentally responsible ways of living ..." --Library Journal

About the Author

John Seymour is remembered as the "Father of Self-Sufficiency." Educated in England and Switzerland, his worldwide experience of husbandry and the benefits of rural life is unparalleled. After studying at an agricultural college, he worked on farms in England, and then spent some 10 years in Africa, where he managed a sheep and cattle farm and acted as a livestock officer for a veterinary department.

His most influential contribution was to live, teach, and promote self-sufficiency, first on five acres, and then on 62 acres, and then in Ireland, where the School of Self-Sufficiency that he established with Angela Ashe attracts new recruits in increasing numbers.

Customer Reviews

Great illustrations and very informative.
She has convinced several friends and family members to purchase this book for themselves.
Kyle Steinman
This is a great how to book for how to live a self sustaining and rewarding life.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent one for dreaming. The volume looks like a coffee table book; it's large and filled with color pictures. And while John Seymour was able to live a pretty self-sufficient life on a farm, I know it's unlikely I'll ever do so. Nevertheless, reading about all Seymour learned and how he suggests others follow in his footsteps is inspiring.

Seymour is quick to note that self-sufficiency isn't about going back in time and living what is probably an idealized version of the old homesteading days. But he does realize the more self sufficient we are, the more free we are. And so his book explains how to raise and grow food, produce your own energy, and build a variety of things (from compost toilets to brick walls). While there are a couple of pages with ideas for the urban garden, this book is really for those who have (or dream of having) real acreage. Seymour explains what he'd do with one acre, five acres, and more. Those of us without the means to buy that much property can only drool.

The gardening section of the book provides solid, organic gardening advice, with good information about keeping the soil working and healthy with crop rotation, growing grains, the basics of extending the season by "growing under cover," how to grow a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits, and building and using a greenhouse. The next largest section focuses on raising cows, goats, pigs, sheep, poultry, and bees.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jolene Pirrone on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you have trouble with British English and/or don't want to take the time to look up a few words here and there, this book is not for you. Which is unfortunate, because this is the best organized, well written book on this subject. Specialized topic books may be more in depth, but other general homesteading books aren't. And I've read them all from my library.

A great thing about this book it the season by season planning guides. The vegetable growing charts are a lot more useful as well because the focuses on the work to be done a different times in the season rather than seed depths and spacing. That info it on most seed packets anyway.

Another thing I like is that it does not repeatedly tell you to spend money and/or use chemicals. Many methods are described with options such as The Old Way, The European Way, the Conventional Way and the "I Don't Want To Spend and Money" Way. Many things are presented in a very "laissez faire" manner, which I appreciate.

Unlike books such as The Backyard Homestead, this book is all always on topic. New, sometimes foreign, concepts are explained well. There is no filler and fluff. For example, this book give instructions for making ice cream and provides a basic recipe. Fine. More time is spent explaining more relevant topics. The other book I mention has a few pages of "different" ice cream recipes - which are not really needed as it just involves adding different flavorings - but the gardening info is explained on a VERY basic level.

BTW, the book is text heavy. I consider this a good thing because it really explains topics in much more detail.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By LilLaTLuv on March 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

First I'll give you all my warning: This was written by a man who lived in England. And that is reflected by a lot of the things written inside this book. However, everything it contains can be used in other countries as well. Sure, if you live in a tropical climate, or even a semi-tropical climate, the information may be a little problematic, but I'm sure with some slight adjustments, you can still make it work.

This information comes from a great source, a man who truly lived the self-sufficient life. And, sure, he's a bit annoying about how if you don't live his way, you're living the wrong way, but the publishers seemed to have strived very hard to smother that attitude, and have, for the most part, succeeded. This book allows for the option of living in a suburban neighborhood and still being self-sufficient. It lays out a lot of options, some truly awesome.

One thing I didn't expect before I bought this book: It has recently been expanded to include over 100 pages from The New Self-Sufficent Gardener By: John Seymour. The version I checked out at my local library did not have this, so it was quite a pleasant surprise.

Hope this helps all you potential customers, and happy reading!

Luv ya,
Tashi :)
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mdefields on October 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While this is a really good book, a classic on the subject, it doesn't go into depth on any one subject. It's more like a list of what you might need to be self-sufficient and a page or two about each item. As an example, the pages on goats mentions how to house them and what to feed them, but never mentions that you'll need to trim their hooves and how to do so. It's a good book, and definitely one to have for your self-sufficiency library, but it won't teach you everything you'll need to know. I would also suggest "The Backyard Homestead" by Carleen Madigan and "The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition " by Carla Emery (for a start).
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More About the Author

John Seymour is the acknowledged founding father of the self-sufficiency movement. Author of more than 40 books, he draws students from around the world to learn self-sufficiency first hand at his farm in County Wexford.