on June 29, 1999
Carla Emery was a national treasure and this book ensures her legacy. This is simply the most informative book ever written on country living, the next best thing to having a live-in grandmother who knows everything there is to getting homegrown food from dreams to dinner plates plus nearly anything else you need to know. Begun as a 12-page table of contents for a recipe book in 1969, the present ninth edition has 858 pages of far more than recipes. Veggies, vines, trees, grains, poultry, goats, cows, bees, rabbits, sheep, pigs. Planning, nurturing, harvesting, preserving, preparing. Flipping pages at random finds starting transplants, breads leavened with eggs and beating, speeding up tomato sauce-making, harvesting herbs, making cider, managing an existing stand of trees, root cellar storage, soap making, brooding chicks, secrets to safe cattle handling, cultured buttermilk, cooking on a wood stove, jams and jellies, making a wool quilt. I use my "Carla book" constantly. If your budget or bookshelf has room for only one book, this is the book to buy. Yes, even before you buy mine.
on August 11, 1998
When I purchased an 8-acre ranch in 1985 I had a six-month old baby one on the way and had never been off of concrete in my life. Now I had 8-acres, goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, geese, pigs, 60 fruit and nut trees and an acre garden. I had no clue how or what to do! I learned everything from reading that book. How to harvest, can and cook up your garden & orchard harvest, feed and butcher animals, all kinds of doctoring for kids and animals, crafts, and even how to cut hair. That book is so dog-eared with tape from all of my years of use. I owe my sanity to that book. It has every scenario imaginable. I recommend it to anyone living in the country or on a farm or thinking of it. What I learned from Carla Emery's book will stay with me forever! The knowledge is priceless.
on November 12, 2009
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, A Review, by Sher June
This book is phenomenal! Besides offering general information on
gardening and variations on the usual ways to prepare and preserve
produce, Carla Emery includes thousands of other exotic and old
fashioned recipes. That alone would be remarkable, but she doesn't stop
there. She covers information on every aspect of farming and
homesteading from buying a farm to delivering your own baby---yes, if you
are all alone when you go into labor!
Here is a general idea of what she includes, as well as some of the
How to get water - dowsing, getting it to your farm, using it, pollution
Living primitively - shelter, backwoods refrigeration, campfire kitchens
Alternative energy - information and resources, using a solar cooker (We
have one, and they really do work.)
Washing clothes by hand
Candle making - paraffin and beeswax
Foraging - also poisonous plants and mushrooms
Wood - harvesting, heating, wood cook stoves
Fertilizing your soil
Raising earthworms for gardening, bait, or money making
Using draft horses and oxen
Grain (all kinds!) - planting; mowing by hand; binding sheaves and making
shocks to cure them;
threshing by hand, with animals, or machinery; winnowing; drying;
storing; grinding; and protecting from pests
Preserving food - canning, freezing, drying, salting, larding, fermenting,
jams and juices, making vinegar
Saving seeds for next year plants
Herbs - culinary, not medicinal
Pressing oil from seeds
Acorns - making meal and flour
Bamboo - growing, recipes, and various other uses
Wild Rice - foraging and growing your own
Flax - growing and making linen
Maple sugaring - collecting sap and making syrup
Dandelion root or chicory coffee
Beekeeping - keeping bees, harvesting and using wax and honey
Raising, feeding, and caring for all types of livestock
Building barns, fences, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, etc.
Pastures, forage, hay, feeds
Diseases and veterinary care
Reproduction from breeding to births
Dehorning, castrating, hoof trimming
Sheep shearing and using wool
Pigs - housing, fencing, and how to catch a pig!
Poultry - chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas; hatching chicks;
preserving eggs and testing them for safety; using feathers
Dairying - milking and milk handling; all types of dairy products; cream
separators and butter churns
Butchering - preserving meat; making sausage, soap, and lard; tanning
hides; making pickled pig feet!
Home funerals and burying your dead
In March 1974 Carla Emery self-published the first edition of what she then called "The Old Fashioned Recipe Book." It made the "Guinness Book of World Records" as the largest book ever printed on a mimeograph machine. It was well over 900 pages, hand bound, and some of the early ones were held together with plastic coated copper wire through a 3-hole punch. We were lucky to get one of the early mimeographed editions before she sold it in 1977 to Bantam Books, who continued to publish until 1988. Sasquatch Books began republishing it in 1992 under the current title, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living," and continues to publish it today.
Carla's recipes and homesteading information came largely from her personal experience farming, which she did while raising 6 children and running the School for Country Living for a while in Kendrick, Idaho with her husband Mike. She also
gleaned much information for the book from elderly farming friends and neighbors who still possessed these basic skills and favorite old recipes. Once Carla started publishing her mimeographed editions, she quickly became famous enough to be interviewed on major national TV talk shows, etc., and folks started sending her even more homesteading tips and recipes. So her book kept expanding until it weighed several pounds and looks today like a big city phone directory!
I have been referring to Carla's book for over 30 years on many topics for our own farm, and found it very helpful. I particularly used her recipes on preparing and preserving food. My own 30 year area of expertise is in keeping dairy goats. I found her goat information quite useful and accurate, although I did disagree with her on a couple of points, which isn't unusual with any
book on animal raising. For instance, she says any doe who has trouble giving birth twice should be butchered. Goat birthing problems are almost always tangled or backwards kids, which you can usually help deliver, and are just bad luck. Also she recommended a wormer that is outdated, because worms do become immune to these products after a number of years in general use.
There are useful resources throughout the book for further reference or purchasing products. These include books, periodicals, government agencies, and organizations.
This book is surely unique. I have never seen anything remotely as useful, thorough, and inclusive as this homesteading reference. It was a labor of love.
- from [...]
on November 28, 2004
I have the first, home-printed edition of this book, as well as the latest edition.When I read the various comments, I see some misunderstanding of the nature of this book.Carla's book is not just a reference (there are better ones in specific areas)but an autobiography as well. We learn about a lifestyle many of us will never know, but find facinating. We learn of the struggles and successes of one family. And along the way, we learn a great deal about small subsistance farms (not hobby farms). Use Carla's book for reference, but also entertainment and education. It's a fun read, and need not be done in one sitting or in any order. Just enjoy!
on April 13, 2005
This is a charming and useful book. I am a newcomer to Carla Emery's work and indeed have read many of the other more concise, straightforward and professional books out there about farming and country living. Not only is there a TON of useful information in this book, people who enjoy the meandering, prolific style are not at fault for liking the book. Carla Emery, who has been living this way and writing long before other resources appeared, is still a respected source of wisdom. There are tidbits and tips that you might never see in a "professional" book, and the "Oddments" section alone was worth buying this book. The list of resources from native skills to homesteading to renewable energy sources to emergency preparedness is amazing. If you want to live closer to the land and be radically more self-sufficient doing so, you probably will not find more information on a wide range of topics in one place. In Carla's book, you get detailed information PLUS recommendations about other sources of information, classes, organizations, magazines, and more. I didn't know so much was out there!
Together with a stock of standard, concise, and more professional books on raising livestock, organic gardening, energy, or whatever else you choose to incorporate into your lifestyle, this book is invaluable and passionate -- because passionate is what we SHOULD be about the agrarian movement.
[To add to this review...] The scope and detail of this book is amazing. It has TONS of recipes, stories, and ideas for back-to-basics traditional living that come from years and years of collected wisdom and experience that you probably couldn't get anywhere else. What if you lived in a rural area for, say, a month, and couldn't go to a grocery store and wanted to know how to survive? It is truly an encyclopedia of folk knowledge and so much more. Want to know how to use garlic and onion for medicinal purposes? Want to learn about different types of diets? Want to use up scraps and throw away very little, or eat more vegetables, or be entertained by tidbits and tales from the country? Here is a compendium of information, in all its glory.
"The Encyclopedia of Country Living" is an expansive volume of collected wisdom, techniques, recipes, and other information for living in the country. To a great extent it is a volume on self-sufficiency without harming the environment in any substantial way. The only assumption that seems to be made is that the land you purchase will have a house on it or you will have one built. Everything else, from buying the land, to what plants to plant, when to plant them, where to get them, how to grow them, and how to harvest them to what animals to raise, how to raise them, how to use them for food and dairy to how to deal with child birthing in the wilderness (where you may be alone when it happens), dealing with pollution, enriching your soil, and even worm farming. This is an exhaustive study in country living with very detailed and thorough sections on farming. In addition the author includes page after page of other sources of information, where to purchase things, catalogue sources, websites, and just about every other conceivable way to get the items mentioned in the text. If there was a way to take all the old-timers in the country, get them all together, draw out all the skills they have learned over the years and distill it into a book this is the book that you would create. "The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 9th Edition" is a very highly recommended read not only for those looking to move to the country after a lifetime in the city, but also for those who, like me, have that backyard garden and could use the extensive information presented here to make it even more successful and fun.
on October 16, 2005
What the previous reviewer seems not to realize, is that this book began more like a subscription recipe newsletter than a book. My grandmother subscribed to it in the 70s and she got it a few pages at a time, as Carla wrote it... oft times her subscribers wrote her their ideas/experiences/etc and she included these notes in her "newsletters"... the book kind of grew from this, and that's why it's a huge book where the author seems to take a long time getting to the many points made in the book... there are a lot of points, because she sent out a lot of separate "newsletters" on different topics! And that's also why there are lots of comments from her friends (subscribers) through-out.
This book is a wonderful treasure for any homesteader, and I'm happy to have inherited my grandmother's copy (in a *huge* three ring notebook) as well as a newer bound edition.
Sadly the world lost Carla Emery this week, but I'm sure heaven is enjoying her presence! She was an amazing, fascinating person.
on October 23, 1998
Unlike the previous reviewers, I lived this book. I was raised in a big city in Florida and moved to a small country town (pop. 181) in the Arkansas mountains. I was in my late 20's and imagined myself as part of the back-to-the-earth movement. A friendly librarian pointed me to this book, which I bought after checking it out so often.
Since we moved to a small community where "everyone was related" except us, we did not get much neighborly help at first. The first week there we bought baby goats (which rode home in the front seat with me), 2 pigs (which didn't), and planted our garden. Using Carla's book we mail-ordered baby chicks who lived in our bathtub until the weather got warmer. We bought a wood stove and learned to can and dry vegetables. I tried most everything, using Carla's book as a reference.
When it came time to butcher our hogs, we could not get anyone to help us, even for $$. The closest we had been to a hog before moving to Oden was in the grocery store. So we checked out Carla's book and I sat on the cab of the truck reading the instructions aloud while DH took aim and shot the pig. We were both very nervous, so we went inside (it was very cold) and had a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, when we went back outside, the pig was up and boy, was he mad! I won't go into any further details except to say we had funny looking meat that winter, but it was tasty. By the way, the townsfolk treated us differently from then on.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that you can really do what she says and make it happen. Carla gives you practical backyard-to-table "hands-on" advice, and I've recommended it to may people.
on August 29, 2001
This is it folks. This gem is unbelievable. In my life I must have purchased over 3,000 cookbooks - probably 500 from amazon alone. Although this is NOT a cookbook (it does have many recipies), this is "THE" book! Read the previous reviews. I'll echo them. Be warned though, it is going to take you months to get through it all. It is THAT detailed. There are no pretty, color, glossy pictures - rather a weatlh of information I think would take you and I years to find. Carla Emery pulled this one off for us! It took her 24 years to produce (read about it in her bio in the back of the book).
Want to learn how to churn butter? ...turn to page 759. Need info on raising chickens? ...turn to page 619. How about topics like this: practical advice on milking a goat, canning peaches, cooking on a wood stove, how to catch a pig, buying land, drying your herbs, making sourdough spiced apple cookies, secrets of quick pickles, homemade spiced orange tea, preserving meat. Also learn how to: travel with animals, what to do if you see a downed animal, how to make good gelatin, freezing fish, raising chickens, feeding geese, vetting and grooming a goat, butchering a cow, making home made cheese - I mean this gem is loaded.
I also thought what a great gift this would make for someone bedridden - say in traction in the hospital? This will certainly keep ones interest since it covers THOUSANDS of topics - hence the name; The ENCYCLOPEDIA of Country Living. (Move over Martha Stewart!) Give this book to some of your city slicker friends - they might learn a thing or two about life outside of a 10 x 10' garden. Hey - get one for yourself, a dozen or so for Christmas gifts, a gross for the Annual Church Bizaar. Enjoy! (DISCLAIMER: I am in no way receiving compensation for this review - heck, I just loved the book!)
on November 18, 2008
For someone who knew nothing of outdoor, independant living, I walked away from this book a wealthy, knowledgeable person after having read it. In a nutshell, please buy this book FIRST! You will find that after buying this book that you will need very few other books out in the market. This author addresses everything you need to know about various topics of outdoor, independant living, and if she doesn't have all the answers, she forwards you to other sources that will get you the specific info you need. This book is worth the money. I bought it to learn more about gardening, and came away learning so much more. This is a book that one MUST purchase as a staple in their book collection.