27 August 2008

Book Review: Flight from the City

At the beginning of the Roaring 20's, Ralph Borsodi and his family were forced to move out of their rented house in New York City. But instead of searching endlessly in the middle of a housing shortage for worse accommodations at higher prices, they packed up and moved out to seven acres of land an hour and an half away from the city.

Here they set up to become as nearly self-sufficient as possible. Mr. Borsodi developed and promulgated through his books the theory of "production for use", advocating that products should be manufactured and consumed locally, preferably at the homestead level, and not "produced for profit".

Mr. Borsodi is one of the pioneers of the "back-to-the-land" movement. His works predate those of Helen and Scott Nearing by at least a decade, and his ideas are found, uncredited, on homesteads and in books across the country.

Flight from the City is public domain and available from both archive.org and soilandhealth.org.

26 August 2008

New Favorite Website

I have found a new favorite website: soilandhealth.org , an online library of homesteading and agricultural manuals and books. It is run by Steve Solomon in Tasmania, Australia, according to Australian copyright regulations.

The website explains, "By Australian copyright rules we usually cannot copy books for our users that are currently in print (unless they are also old enough to be public domain material)." But many of the books are public domain, even in the United States. Soil And Health led me to three of the books I am currently reading: Ten Acres Enough, Three Acres and Liberty, and Flight from the City. I also found Construction of a Simplified Wood Gas Generator for Fueling Internal Combustion Engines in a Petroleum Emergency, a U.S. FEMA document from 1989 which seems remarkably prescient in 2008.

I have provided links to all these books in my reading list, but they're pointed to three different providers. Check them all out!

22 August 2008

Book Review: The Humanure Handbook

Joseph Jenkins has written and self-published several books on topics which may be dear to the homesteader's heart, but his 15 minutes of fame is probably based on "The Humanure Handbook". This tome (now in its third edition!) is a discussion of poop, in all its glory.

Jenkins discusses the nutrient cycle, of which every other animal on the planet is part, and shows how humans have broken the cycle (and are breaking the planet!). No other animal, he points out, defecates in its drinking water. And fresh water is becoming a scarce resource worldwide, and only becomes scarcer as population increases.

Jenkins has successfully composted his entire family's--umm, humanure--for nearly 30 years. His process is simple, odor-free, and cyclic, with the compost being reintroduced to the family garden. Many people have an immediate gag reflex to this, but manure from large animals has been used as fertilizer in the fields for thousands of years. Humans are the most numerous large animal on the planet--why should we be any different? This book shows how to do it in a simple, reproducible, sanitary, safe, efficient way.

The book is available from Amazon, or PDF files can be downloaded from josephjenkins.com or jenkinspublishing.com.

21 August 2008

Family Reunion

I apologize for not writing. Again, I've been busy.

On 18 July, I flew out to SLC, UT, where I picked up my kids, borrowed some camping equipment, climbed into the rented minivan, and went to Glacier National Park, MT for a family reunion.

We spent more than a week inside and outside the park, hiking some of the trails, playing with the rest of the family.

I got some GREAT pictures. Some I have stitched together into vast panoramas. (Yes, this one has a visible seam, besides the ones in the sky. It was actually taken from two widely separated points.)

The trail in the first panorama leads to the overlook in the second panorama.

And the wildlife was amazing. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep, just as close as they look in the photos.

So now I'm back to work, back to dealing with my condominium association, back to the grind.

I'd rather be in Glacier.