Before we started the farm, Jenn and I did a lot of dreaming about how it would look for us to be farmers, and how exactly we would go about it. As such, we read a lot of books and magazines that are dedicated to the type of farming we dreamt of, that being, small family farms. When we started looking for materials, we were surprised. There is a lot of literature dedicated to the vocation of small or family farming. At first, we picked up a lot of books at our local libraries that were pretty antiquated, but still address the critical issue – our dreams. One such book was “Five Acres and Independence” by M.G. Kains. We rarely refer to it now, but it was a great starter book. We gleaned a lot of good information about all kinds of livestock from the “Storey” guides, which are advertized in nearly every farming, homesteading, or specialty magazine (www.storey.com) . Also, there is a magazine called “Countryside and Small Stock Journal” (www.countrysidemag.com) that is always loaded with interesting ideas, though more from an “individualistic” homesteaders point of view than that of a CSA or community perspective.
When we visited our first CSA farm, and asked if there was any good literature that they could recommend, they insisted that “You Can Farm” by the legendary Joel Salatin would be the most inspiring book we could read. Inspiring does not necessarily translate in “how to” but it certainly gets one started in the confidence department. After reading Salatin’s story of success, you will feel that successful small farming is within your reach. Salatin has written numerous other books, he writes for Stockman Grass Journal, and does numerous workshops around the nation. His farm, Polyface, is also open to visitors. In fact, if you google Salatin, you will see that he is the author of many articles and books dedicated to issues ranging from starting your own farm to quasi-rants against government regulation. All of his work contains a lot of truth, and it is not a truth that he maintains between the lines. Sometimes, he can be a little tough to swallow for just that reason.
For basic backyard poultry, and more, find a copy of Andy Lee’s and Pat Foreman’s “Chicken Tractor: A Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil.” Even Salatin refers to this book as a classic in small farming “howtoitedness.” Undoubtedly, if you want to start with layer hens or meat chickens, there is an overwhelming amount of literature available, most all of it useful, and available through library systems.
As for magazines, other than Countryside, we read an occasional issue of Stockman Grass Farmer which has PDF’s available at www.stockmangrassfarmer.com, as well as a plethora of small farm and grazier related books for sale. SGF is highly informative, but for our needs, a little advanced, and targeted toward larger scale operations.
I highly recommend “Farming Magazine.” Jenn and I ran across our first issue of this magazine while attending Ohio Yearly Meeting in Barnseville, OH. We fell in love with it, as it is dedicated to exactly the same kind of farming and lifestyle that our family is. We forgot about it for a short time, then googled it and asked the publisher for a sample copy. We then felt we wanted a subscription, but put it off until yesterday, when we were visiting with some Amish friends. They also had a subscription, and loaned us a copy. I ordered our subscription today. It has articles from Gene Logsdon (google his name for some great titles), and has had many contributions from Wendell Berry. It is an Amish publication, but is not overwhelmingly (or even marginally) religious. It is just very simple, very well written, and very in-tune with those who see farming as a vocation. In fact, most every title I mentioned in this blog views farming as a family centered vocation, just as Jenn and I do. Find out more about “Farming Magazine” by getting basic information from a basic website, www.farmingmagazine.net.