Book Review: Living on a Few Acres: the 1978 Yearbook of the USDA


This baby is out of print but you can still find it online. We scored our copy at Powell’s (!) when we took the train down to Portland last year.

This is a good book for someone who is just starting out in the country, with an inclination towards homesteading or self-sufficiency, or for someone who is making the move from the city to the suburbs or a rural area to expand on an existing hobby farm or vegetable garden level of self sufficiency. This book is a collection of articles and essays by experts (usually USDA county extension agents) on the nuts and bolts of moving to the country, finding and fixing up a place, and deciding on what use best suits you and your land. Obviously the dollar amounts they reference are way off given the amount of inflation that’s taken place in the past 34 years, but most of the points they raise are still valid: Can you afford the mortgage? Can you keep your day job if you move out here? Is your land really suited to crops or would it be better put to animals? Can you handle doing your own butchering? Do you have the discipline to run your own small business from your home? Would you really be comfortable with your property being opened to strangers if you operated a B&B? Is there a market for honey (or whatever) in your area? Have you considered a Christmas tree farm for a second income?

Plenty of good food for thought in this book. You may hone your existing plan, you may drop a plan that was unwise, or you may come across a great idea you never considered.

– Amanda
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