Customer Reviews: The Homesteading Handbook: A Back to Basics Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More (The Handbook Series)
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on March 19, 2012
I received this book as a gift, after having heard great things about it. After owning it for a few months, I've come to the conclusion that this is an excellent example of when not to buy a book based on online reviews alone. (ironic that I should be writing that in just such a review, isn't it?)

The summary is right there in my title, "Lots of information, TERRIBLE editing". there are typos on nearly half the pages, several captions are switched, the insets refer to pictures as being below when they're above and vice versa, and some images were clearly simply cut from websites and scaled out of proportion without any regard to their quality. (the entire alternative energy section springs to mind)

If you have any experience with canning whatsoever, then before you buy this book you should know that a disproportionate percentage of the book is devoted to canning your food. While some topics get a single page worth of text, canning alone apparently warrants forty seven.

If for some reason you already own this book and are reading this, please pay attention when reading the edible poisonous mushroom section. Although its caption is accurate, the VERY POISONOUS wild amanita mushroom is featured in a picture without its own heading.

And finally, a note to Ms. Gehring:

My apologies if the above comes off as harsh. It is readily apparent that a lot of work went into gathering the information contained in your book, but it's just as apparent that little to no work went into the editing process. I realize that things like typefaces are important. But text that relates accurately to the illustration, and illustrations that are legible are just as important, if not more so.
As this is the first printing, I hope my criticism can be considered constructive, and your next edition will be greatly improved.

A Homesteader
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on April 29, 2014
I just purchased this book and haven't had time to go through it all...but being a small dairy goat/poultry farmer, I decided to check out the 'Backyard Farm' section first. It became shockingly apparent that this person has little to NO first hand knkwledge in this area. Facts were not facts at all!! The picture of the lamancha goat described as having no external ears (which isn't actually true anyways) VERY clearly has long white ears in the included picture. Not even close to a lamancha. Also...please educate me on what mathre goat weighs 20 lbs!? I used to raise pygmies and know MANY breeders of nigerian dwarvs and have never heard of one. Pygmies are not a dairy breed As for the poultry section....that's aovely goose in the duck section...and I had never even heard of the Aylesbury duck....with gkod reason! It is NOT a common breed at all! There is 1 pure flock in the UK and it is a critcally endangered species in the US. I could truly go on and on but I believe you get the picture. Please do not buy this with great expectation or hopes it will guide you on your homesteading journey.
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on May 24, 2011
This book is chock full of information about several subjects. Most are what people want to learn and do more of now to help the Earth and keep our families healthy. Very well written and detailed. The softcover version is easy to handle and I think it has even more pictures than the hardcover. I'm reading the book for the third time now and am starting to incorporate what I've learned into our new garden and can't wait to do the same with livestock soon.
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on May 6, 2011
This book is totally practical, and also totally fun to read!

Whether you're just looking to save a little money during the Great Recession by growing and preserving some of your own food-- or racing to cultivate the survival skills that will keep you alive during the coming zombie apocalypse (me)-- this book will teach you how to grow and store food, avoid poisonous plants, and generally figure out how to live off the land. Awesome! Very few books can be said to be literally invaluable (as opposed to figuratively invaluable), but this one DEFINITELY is.
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on March 1, 2013
Before ordering this book, I noticed most reviews were very 'glowing' and 'positive'. So I agreed to pay international shipping to order this book.

The book covers the following topics

Part 1: The home garden (planting the garden, improving the soil, conserving water, mulching, organic gardening, terracing, start your own veggie garden, start your own flower garden, planting trees, container gardening, rooftop gardens, raised beds, growing plants without soil, pest and disease management, harvesting your garden)

Part 2: Pantry (canning, drying, and freezing, edible wild plants and mushrooms, make your own foods)

Part 3 The backyard farm (chickens, ducks, turkeys, beekeeping, goats, sheep, llamas,

Part 4: Simple structures for your land (doghouses, birdhouses, simple stables, poultry houses, fences, gates, pens, tool sheds, smoke houses, root cellars)

Part 5 Energy

Part 6 Crafts

Part 7 Well being

Although the book covered a lot of topics, it did so only in a cursory way. No ordering information or contact information was provided if we wanted to order or buy any of the things discussed.

Under "Simple structures for your land" there was no mention of housing for rabbits which are probably the easiest and cheapest farm animal to raise. However, I found another book on rabbit housing which is excellent:
Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits, 4th Edition

The section on solar energy did not mention anything about the difference between lead-acid batteries (most commonly used)(which don't last long) and Lithium Ion batteries (which last longer, and are lighter and cheaper in the long run). These Lithium Ion batteries can deep cycle without damage. Also Lithium Ion batteries necessary for a house are only 36kg as opposed to lead-acid batteries which are 90kg.

The author also promoted large, heavy, fragile solar panels as opposed to light-weight, thin-film solar panels (such as sinotech solar)(that don't break easily).

I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Please let us know if these reviews are helpful.
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on December 28, 2011
I wouldn't consider this a homesteaders bible but it is informative, lots of different topics only a couple pages each and fun to read. Not sure why all of these books need to waste space in the fist third of the book talking about moving back to the land. That is covered in other books just on that topic.
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on August 19, 2011
I really liked this book and found that it really organized a lot of great information about setting up your own homestead. I would recommend it to others considering taking on this kind of a lifestyle.
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on December 6, 2013
This book was kind of a waste. It really does not have as much info as one would like. It isnt even that great of an all around book. It has very minimal info about a very large number of topics... it leaves out a lot of information on a lot of good topics too. Save your money, buy a book on the specific topic you want to learn about.
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on September 24, 2011
This books is amazing. It has very easy step by step guidelines to grow your own food up to creating your own power from a wind turbine. Great information on home growing, canning, and raising animals for food and for clothing. Really recommend this book even for just curiosity sake, but will come in handy should society break down a bit if that said apocalypse happens. :)
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on September 3, 2011
The Homesteading Handbook
Abigail R. Gehring

The Homesteading Handbook is your back to the basics guide for just about everything homesteading. It touches on a multitude of topics, giving a basic description and idea for each. If you want to get your feet wet on homesteading ideas and the vastness that can go with it from raising your own garden to generating your own electricity.. this book is perfect for you.

This book covers such a vast amount of topics that I was just amazed. It begins with gardening, testing your soil, the right place for a garden and in detail which vegetables work best together, which trees are best for your environment, and even flowers to add to your garden. Pest control, water irrigation, and composting add to the gardeners knowledge.
Canning and preserving foods naturally fits in nicely after the gardening topic. The homesteader needs to know pressure times, canning information, dehydrating, freezing information to get started and this book provides a wealth of information on this topic. It even includes recipes for the beginner to utilize.
Raising farm animals is another topic that the book covers, small sections on a majority of the major farm animals. If you are looking for a more detailed livestock guide you will want to get a book tailored to the animals you want to raise. This just covers some basic information.
A section on barns, sheds, chicken coops, bridges and how to build them is a nice addition to any homestead farm. It gives basic plans and ideas for building which can propel you to design on your own or find a more detailed book specific to the building you want to build.
I was surprised to see a section on energy included in the homesteading book, guess I just personally had not given it much thought, but it is indeed a modern day homesteading need for creating your own electricity and energy via windmills, solar energy, and geothermal heat pumps.

The Homestead Handbook covers a little bit of everything homestead related. I think it is a great book for someone thinking about getting back to the basics and getting a taste of what it may take to achieve that goal. A new landowner can be exposed to a wide range of possibilities for their land and then be able to pick and choose the ideas that speak to them. They would want then to get a book detailed to that subject.
Fantastic beginner guide, and very thorough its sphere of subjects!

I received a copy of this book from Skyhorse publishing in exchange for an honest review.
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