It should come as no surprise that this book was conceived in the late 1960s when hippiedom and back-to-earth living were in vogue. The Encyclopedia of Country Livingis currently in its 10th edition and still as useful as it was on its initial publication in 1974—if not more so after years of revision and improvements and important additions.
The fact that the entire 900+ page volume is about self-sufficiencyissurprising. Not that it isn't an enormous subject that demands extensive treatment; the fact that Carla Emery was able to produce the closest thing available to an exhaustive compendium by herself is the surprising part. But she has done just that, offering information and advice on everything from choosing your land to baking bread to pruning fruit trees to sharpening axes and knives to raising animals and driving a tractor.
This isn't the kind of book you just sit down and read, but it is the kind you'll reference again and again and again, particularly if you're involved in living off the land to any extent, either in the middle of nowhere, the suburbs or a mid-city tenement. Each section begins with its own introduction and table of contents for easy reference. Black and white drawings throughout both illustrate procedures and offer some humor.
Unwary readers may get mired in the sheer volume of information. Under "chickens," for example, Emery discusses breeds with details about each variety, how to house your birds, information concerning diseases and common problems, methods of butchering, recipes for eating, etc. For garden crops she presents information about soil, planting, seed selection, maintenance, harvest, and pretty much anything else you could need or want to know.
None of this is useless—you'll find no extraneous or repeated information here. Each topic is accompanied by references including websites, mail-order catalogues, further reading, etc. Intended as a guide for country-dwellers looking to achieve a measure of independence, The Encyclopedia of Country Livingis a great reference for anyone interested in canning and preserving, growing fruits and vegetables, raising animals, practicing home remedies, beekeeping, milling flour, or any other element of self-sufficient living related to food and consumable production and use.
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