Book List

Book suggestions I’ve run across

· Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemmingway

· Restoration Agriculture, by Mark Shepard

· The Prosperous Homesteader

· How to Blog for Profit W/out Selling Your Soul

· Raising Goats Naturally, by Pat Coleby

· The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals, edited by Gail Damerow

· Naturescaping: A Landscaping Partnership with Nature, by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

· Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, by Russell Link

· Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon

· Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants, by Robin Rose, Caryn E. C. Chachulski, Diane L. Haase

· National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest, by Peter Alden

· Trees and Shrubs of California, by John D. Stuart and John O. Sawyer

· Growing California Native Plants, by Marjorie D. Schmidt

· National Audubon Society Field Guide to California, by Peter Alden

· Native Plants of the Coastal Garden, by April Pettinger

· Naturalistic Gardening: Reflecting the Planting Patterns of Nature, by Anne Lovejoy

· Portland Plant Lists, by the Portland Planning Bureau

· Wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge, by Russ Jolley

Homesteading Lessons

farm journal


  • Surrender to making something out of nothing, over and over again.
  • Never give up.
  • Don’t name your animals!
  • Don’t try to do it all at once. Add something new only after you’re comfortable with what you are already doing.
  • There is no end goal.  There is no perfect plan. There is no one that is doing this exactly the way you will, and there is no reason to wear yourself out to the point of exhaustion and burn out. It must be a mix of effort, perseverance, humility, and enjoyment.
  • Start small and research as much as possible.
  • It’s worth the time and money to do it right the first time.  Buy cheap materials and you’ll just be redoing it in a year or two, which is not really saving anything… ie fencing, coops, cages, etc
  • Patience.
  • You’re going to fail a lot.
  • Lots of things depend on you, so don’t neglect taking care of yourself.
  • Don’t underestimate how much firewood to put up for winter.
  • Think outside the box. Way outside the box.
  • Motivation is essential.
  • Babies are born at night and you’ll take a big risk of losing mom and/or baby if you sleep through it.
  • You know less than you think. You can do more than you believe. Your older than your mind tells you, but younger than the mirror says. Drink more water – then drink some more.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Break large tasks down into small tasks.
  • Schedule time to rest.
  • The simple life is a LOT of work.
  • Don’t pretend to know everything, people will see through you.
  • Set goals – 6 months, 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, etc.

Too Many Figs

Ok, so there is no such thing as too many figs, but just in case, here is a list of ideas for what to do when you have an abundance of this amazing fruit.  Since figs in my house have never lasted long enough to do more than dehydrate the handful that ripped faster than we could eat them, I have not tried any of the ideas or cookbooks listed below.


FROG jam (Fig, Raspberry, Orange, Ginger)

Figs in syrup

Fig mostarda (Oh?)

Slow roasted figs in lemon syrup by Epicurious

Figs in lemon syrup by Our Life Handmade

Fig pickles

Fig and Lemon Marmalade

Honey Roasted Figs

Strawberry Fig Jam

Dice into pasta salad

Broiled figs – slice in half, brush on olive oil or butter, put under the broiler till the tops bubble. Even better, drizzle with honey before broiling.

Cookbook:  Jam Sessions, by Joyce Goldstein – particularly the Sicilian Fig Marmalade

Cookbook: The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster


Websites, YouTube, & Blogs

An every changing list of resources. Add your favorites in the comments and I’ll check them out!  Books have been moved to their own list.

Trinity College Library, Dublin Ireland
Trinity College Library – Dublin, Ireland




Homesteading Today

· Homestead Hustle by Mother Earth News

· Survival Podcast




· Maple Creek Farm PNW  (me! me! me!) Subscribe so we can get a custom URL!

· An American Homestead is a great channel with tons of information

· Urban Farmer Curtis Stone talks about microgreens and market gardens

· Red Poppy Ranch documents his journey building his family home in Idaho





· Attainable Sustainable

· 5 Acres and a Dream



· by Marjorie Wildcraft

· Gopher Valley Journal native flowers





Backwoods Home

Self Reliance


Small Farmers Journal

Hobby Farms


Cappers Farmer (looks trendy)


– New Pioneer

Real World Survivor

· Organic Gardening is now digital only, but I couldn’t find it. Look for printed copies in used book stores, thrift stores, garage sales, friend’s garages…

· Mother Earth News – the USB archive with 40+ years of info can be ordered





· This Farming Life (BritBox)

· Pioneer Quest







Maple Creek Farm PNW (me! me! me!)

· 5 Acre Living – even if you have half an acre, 500 acres, or live in an apartment in the city

· Goat Vet Corner – read the files

· Farei Kennels LGD Training – Read the files and don’t dispute their methods.  If you don’t like what they teach, just move along.  They’re very serious about this. IMO, their training methods are great and can be applied to all breeds of dogs, as well as horses, children… I wouldn’t recommend it for spouses.



Must Haves & Tips


A list of things you “must have” to run a homestead, farmstead, hobby farm, etc. that I’ve collected from forum posts.  Not everyone needs everything, like electricity in the barn, but it’s something to consider.

Clean water!  Nothing else matters if you have no access to water.

  • Shelter – anything that will keep you out of the elements, keep you warm, and protect your family and food (check your county ordinances before making a final decision).
    • RV or travel trailer
    • Yurt
    • Tiny house
    • Mansion
  • Good sun exposure for gardening, growing livestock feed, solar power, and general good health.
  • Heat – wood stove, pellet stove, or central heating *radiant heat
    • Supply of wood if using wood stove
  • Truck
  •  Tractor
    • Not just for gardening
    • Don’t wait to buy your tractor
    • Auger
    • Backhoe
    • Front end loader
  • 4 wheeler with a dump bed
    • Moon Buggy by Bobcat, has fork bucket and rake attachment (front) and back is mini tilt tray in the back
  • Redundancy – “two is one, and one is none”. Buy extra of anything you’d be in a hole if the ONE you have breaks down.
    • A potential for income without too much investment
      • Forest
      • Rent pasture or fields to other farmers
      • 2nd house for rental or Air BnB
    • Access to internet (really depends on the person, but necessary to teach children about the modern world)
    • Security
      • Dogs
      • Fence
      • Security cameras (needed in some areas)
    • Fencing
      • “High tensile is wonderful”, easy to fix once set up
    • Garden
      • Good soil or ability to bring in good soil
          • Send soil samples to your local ag extension or soil conservation office to be tested. Saves time and money trying to figure out how to improve your soil.


      • Compost
      • Irrigation
      • Hoses
      • Fence
      • Seeds
      • Tiller
      • Bees
      • Fruit trees
      • Hand tools – shovel, Japanese weed knife, clippers
      • Shovel, hoe, etc
      • Garden cart
      • Harvesting baskets or bins
      • Market Garden
        • Wash station
        • Cold room
        • Packaging
        • Grow trays
        • Large Harvesting Bins
      • Preserving equipment
        • Pressure canner
        • Waterbath canner
        • Canning jars – lots and lots of canning jars with lids and seals
        • Reference books, like the Ball canning book
        • Dehydrator
      • Printed books on any and all skills needed to live off the land and away from modern facilities
        • Gardening
        • Homeopathy (medical)
        • Foraging
        • Mechanics (cars, tractors, chainsaw, etc)
        • Livestock
      • Livestock
        • Housing to protect from inclement weather
        • Fences
          • Some say Red Brand Fencing is worth the price
          • Don’t buy cheap fencing, you’ll have to repair/replace too often
          • 4 strands of hot wire, not just 2 (6 for goats – 4 at the bottom)
        • Food sources
        • Water source
          • Preferably at the barn/pasture so you don’t have to carry it
          • Hoses
        • Animal husbandry books
        • First-aid kit specific to your livestock choices. First-aid kit in the barn for yourself, too.
        • Dogs (keep predators away)
          • Extra leads and leashes
        • Weapons (predators the dogs don’t deter)
        • Barn should have electricity and water
          • Design livestock facilities so you don’t have to go in with the animals to feed them
          • If you harvest your own meat
        • Good butchering knife
        • Good skinning knife
        • Bone saw
        • Vacuum sealer
        • Meat grinder
        • Scalding pot
      • Tools & Equipment
        • Better to have good tools for building or repairing structures than just basic items
        • Chainsaw
          • Stihl has been suggested
        • Mechanical tools
        • Corded and Cordless drill, screwdriver
        • Lots of buckets in different sizes: 5 gallon, 2 gallon, and 1 gallon. Even a 1/2 gallon comes in handy
        • Strong wire cutters
        • Ax
        • Ropes
        • WD-40
        • Wheelbarrow (not just for the garden)
          • Some people prefer the 4-wheel wheelbarrow over the 3-wheel
        • Sledgehammer
        • Tape
          • Electrical tape
          • Duct tape
          • Duck tape
          • Painters tape
      • First-Aid kit – people
        • Basic knowledge
        • Basic medications
        • Basic wound care
        • Detailed quick reference books for emergencies
        • Homeopathic reference books and supplies
      • First-Aid kit – animals
        • Basic knowledge
        • Basic medications
        • Basic wound care
        • Detailed quick reference books for emergencies
        • Homeopathic reference books and supplies
      • Skills – have or ability to learn quickly
        • Strong work ethics
        • Gardening
        • Animal care
        • Building
        • Mechanics
        • Construction


      • Be patient
      • Be adaptable
      • Think beyond Now
      • Try to avoid easements.  Whether the easement is for a neighbor to cross your property, you to cross a neighbor’s property, or for the utility company to access their towers, things can go south quick and there isn’t much you can do about it when someone else has a legal right to be on your property (or visa versa).
      • If you buy raw land, live on it at least a year (four full seasons) before placing the outbuildings.  Know the sun, shade, water, and wind patterns and how they’ll affect your life once the buildings and gardens are in place.
      • Don’t expect everything to get done as quickly as you want
      • Drainage and wind flow – get it right
        • If you think you will ever possibly maybe want power or water anywhere other than in your house (and barn), run the lines. It’s much harder to run the lines after the fact.
      • Don’t pretend to know everything about anything. People will see through the lie. Also, people love teaching what they know, so let your neighbors share their experiences.
      • There are no temporary buildings, they just become permanent, poorly built buildings
      • Planting fruit trees should be at the top of the to-do list, right after you build deer-fencing around the orchard and garden.
      • Build it stronger than you think it needs to be, regardless of what it is. Dog house, chicken coop, barn, house…
      • Caulk cracks as you build. You’ll never find most of them again.
      • Build fences, animal enclosures, and have supplies before you buy the animals!
      • Meet your neighbors before you buy!
      • Give an inch take a mile… be careful what you let the neighbors do on the fence line just because you want to be nice. It’s easier give permission at a later date than to take it away after the fact.
      • Build gates 6-8” higher than you think they should be. Mud and snow build up in the winter.
      • Get rid of any preconceived notions of how your house and buildings should look from the street / neighbors.
      • Redirect rain water toward the garden, not down the driveway
      • Research fruit trees before you buy. Disease resistance and bloom time are important.
      • Govt grants can tie you to the government in ways you don’t want
      • Goats (and other livestock, really)
        • Get them young (weaned) so you can train them easier
        • Train to not jump on you and not butting
        • Leash/lead train them
        • Faux milking from day one
        • Teach “vet stand” – stand quietly while you run your hands everywhere, open mouths, lift feet, etc
      • Best breeds for meat rabbits
        • Silver Fox
        • New Zealands
        • Californians
        • Standard Chinchillas

What to Use to Start a Fire Instead of Paper


Tips and opinions gleaned from the internet…

* purpose of paper is to prime the flue, or create an updraft in the chimney, which supplies oxygen to the fire

* Leave some ash in the bottom, helps fire start easier

* Dried potato skins help clean creosote from the flue.  Just dehydrate and toss on every fire. (Remember, these are tips and opinions I’ve found online. I have no idea if this is true or even safe.)

* Dried leaves and grass with dry, thin twigs in a t-pee. Thicker twigs on top of that, with larger branches and pinecones on top of that. Keep the vent open till the fire gets going, then shut the front down till almost closed. Also close the pipe vent a bit.  Each stove is different, so you have to experiment till you learn yours.

Vaseline on a cottonball

Cardboard egg cartons filled with sawdust, covered with wax melts

Charcoal / matchlight

Dryer lint and wax

Pinecones (has creosote)

Pinecones with wax (has creosote)


Paper towel used to wipe oil/grease from cast iron skillet

Twigs in an empty toilet paper roll

Used, dry teabags dipped in wax, store in canning jar

Hand sanitizer on a couple paper towels

Doritos chips

Frito chips


Fire starter sticks from Walmart, etc

Pine needles

8” slice of a stump that’s oozing pitch

Dried leaves

Auto-start, handheld torch

Paper trash, like cereal boxes and junk mail

Old bark

Butter wrapper

“fat wood”

Dried sweet gum balls

Sprinkle rubbing alcohol on some wood, let set a minute before lighting

Tree bark, particularly birch, cedar, cottonwood, and sassafras

Handful of folded straw

Steel wool

Twisted newspaper

Eucalyptus leaves (might have creosote)

DIY: round cotton pads, kerosene, dip in wax, dry and store in a canning jar

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