The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, A Review, by Sher June
This book is phenomenal! Besides offering general information on
gardening and variations on the usual ways to prepare and preserve
produce, Carla Emery includes thousands of other exotic and old
fashioned recipes. That alone would be remarkable, but she doesn't stop
there. She covers information on every aspect of farming and
homesteading from buying a farm to delivering your own baby---yes, if you
are all alone when you go into labor!
Here is a general idea of what she includes, as well as some of the
How to get water - dowsing, getting it to your farm, using it, pollution
Living primitively - shelter, backwoods refrigeration, campfire kitchens
Alternative energy - information and resources, using a solar cooker (We
have one, and they really do work.)
Washing clothes by hand
Candle making - paraffin and beeswax
Foraging - also poisonous plants and mushrooms
Wood - harvesting, heating, wood cook stoves
Fertilizing your soil
Raising earthworms for gardening, bait, or money making
Using draft horses and oxen
Grain (all kinds!) - planting; mowing by hand; binding sheaves and making
shocks to cure them;
threshing by hand, with animals, or machinery; winnowing; drying;
storing; grinding; and protecting from pests
Preserving food - canning, freezing, drying, salting, larding, fermenting,
jams and juices, making vinegar
Saving seeds for next year plants
Herbs - culinary, not medicinal
Pressing oil from seeds
Acorns - making meal and flour
Bamboo - growing, recipes, and various other uses
Wild Rice - foraging and growing your own
Flax - growing and making linen
Maple sugaring - collecting sap and making syrup
Dandelion root or chicory coffee
Beekeeping - keeping bees, harvesting and using wax and honey
Raising, feeding, and caring for all types of livestock
Building barns, fences, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, etc.
Pastures, forage, hay, feeds
Diseases and veterinary care
Reproduction from breeding to births
Dehorning, castrating, hoof trimming
Sheep shearing and using wool
Pigs - housing, fencing, and how to catch a pig!
Poultry - chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas; hatching chicks;
preserving eggs and testing them for safety; using feathers
Dairying - milking and milk handling; all types of dairy products; cream
separators and butter churns
Butchering - preserving meat; making sausage, soap, and lard; tanning
hides; making pickled pig feet!
Home funerals and burying your dead
In March 1974 Carla Emery self-published the first edition of what she then called "The Old Fashioned Recipe Book." It made the "Guinness Book of World Records" as the largest book ever printed on a mimeograph machine. It was well over 900 pages, hand bound, and some of the early ones were held together with plastic coated copper wire through a 3-hole punch. We were lucky to get one of the early mimeographed editions before she sold it in 1977 to Bantam Books, who continued to publish until 1988. Sasquatch Books began republishing it in 1992 under the current title, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living," and continues to publish it today.
Carla's recipes and homesteading information came largely from her personal experience farming, which she did while raising 6 children and running the School for Country Living for a while in Kendrick, Idaho with her husband Mike. She also
gleaned much information for the book from elderly farming friends and neighbors who still possessed these basic skills and favorite old recipes. Once Carla started publishing her mimeographed editions, she quickly became famous enough to be interviewed on major national TV talk shows, etc., and folks started sending her even more homesteading tips and recipes. So her book kept expanding until it weighed several pounds and looks today like a big city phone directory!
I have been referring to Carla's book for over 30 years on many topics for our own farm, and found it very helpful. I particularly used her recipes on preparing and preserving food. My own 30 year area of expertise is in keeping dairy goats. I found her goat information quite useful and accurate, although I did disagree with her on a couple of points, which isn't unusual with any
book on animal raising. For instance, she says any doe who has trouble giving birth twice should be butchered. Goat birthing problems are almost always tangled or backwards kids, which you can usually help deliver, and are just bad luck. Also she recommended a wormer that is outdated, because worms do become immune to these products after a number of years in general use.
There are useful resources throughout the book for further reference or purchasing products. These include books, periodicals, government agencies, and organizations.
This book is surely unique. I have never seen anything remotely as useful, thorough, and inclusive as this homesteading reference. It was a labor of love.
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