This book reminds me of those Laura Ingalls books I read as a kid. Laura's family lived by the seasons. In the summer they harvested hay, canned preserves and tended to livestock. In the fall, they butchered pigs and stored food in the attic for winter. Neighbors helped bring in the harvest and the Ingalls family returned the favor. They made their own fun and survived terrible things. Remember when the locusts ate Pa's wheat crop? Now, compare their lifestyle to city living. An office job and shopping for groceries at Safeway seems so dull and unsatisfying in comparison. To get started on living your own life, read John Seymour's book, The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It
. After reading this book, city pleasures like fancy restaurants, cinemas and nightclubs will seem empty and dull.
This book is an updated version of the 1975 edition, which sold over 600,000 copies. It has over 150 color illustrations and an addendum by John Seymour explaining why the self-sufficient lifestyle is so important. This book is enormously useful and engaging and a sheer pleasure to read. There's an enormous amount of information inside, but it's neatly subdivided into broad categories: food, energy and waste, crafts and skills.
This book is the complete guide to getting back to the land. Learn how to mortar bricks, cure bacon, make cheese, spin wool, breed rabbits and butcher pigs, cows and chickens. Plant your own garden and start a compost pile. Make your own wine, beer and cider. Make hay, bake bread, raise chickens, sheep, goats and livestock. The author doesn't expect readers to flee the city and begin rural living immediately, however; The Self Sufficient Life is an excellent reference for beginners who want to start an urban garden as well as seasoned farmers who want to brush up on their thatching skills.
In the last chapter, Becoming a Self-Supporter, Seymour explains the philosophy of rural living. Country folks learn to depend on one another for daily survival. By doing so, they lose the anonymity and isolation that city life puts on them, and once-important things like new clothes, frivolous entertainment and convenience foods fall away. Instead, great satisfaction is gained in growing your own vegetables, learning a craft, and raising livestock. Rural neighbors barter and help one another out instead of relying on an expensive contractor, plumber or carpenter. You can trade eggs, milk, meat and produce as well as your skills, tools and time to your neighbors, since they'll do the same for you someday. Seymour also writes eloquently about how people have become less social in today's urban lifestyle. Each family has to paddle its own canoe...earning its own money, paying its own bills, and surviving its own crises. Work, school and survival take up so much time it seems there is no spare time left to develop alternative social contacts. Now is the time to change all of that.
This book might seem daunting to some. Don't worry. You don't have to do everything at once. Even someone who lives in an high-rise apartment can grow tomatoes on their balcony. If you have access to a yard, you can start a compost pile. If you don't, join a community garden in your neighborhood. It's all about learning and taking small steps towards the satisfaction of self-sufficiency.
John Seymour, born in 1914, is the grandfather of the Back to Basics movement. He has written over 40 books, including Fat of the Land, Blueprint for a Green Planet, Forgotten Arts and Crafts, Forgotten Household Crafts, Farming for Self Sufficiency and many others.