When I was a boy, my father used to buy Mother Earth News from the grocery store. The magazine was filled with stories about self-sufficient country living, the sort of thing my dad aspired to. I’d read the magazine after he was finished, but never really understood the appeal of building your own greenhouse or raising goats. Now, as an adult, it makes a little more sense.
Kris and I are not radically self-sufficient, but we do enjoy growing our own food. (And she recently agreed that we could get chickens!) The content at GRS reflects my interest in the DIY lifestyle. Besides frequent articles on gardening, in the past I’ve shared stories like these:
- Frugality in practice: Home canning
- An introduction to homesteading, a guest post from Phelan of A Homesteading Neophyte
- My review of Back to Basics: A Guide to Traditional Skills
Though our own adventures in self-sufficiency are limited, they’re edifying, and I admire those who do even more. I’m a strong advocate of the DIY ethic. I believe there’s real value in traditional skills, such as gardening and sewing, canning and carpentry. As a bonus, most of these practices save money.
After spending last Saturday planting peas and pruning fruit trees — and contemplating where to put a chicken coop — I took some time to research the current state of homesteading magazines. Turns out there are half a dozen that seem interesting. Most of them have a companion website with excellent information:
Mother Earth News
Mother Earth News is “the original guide to living wisely”. Its content leans left, and includes articles on subjects such as renewable energy, green homes, organic gardening, green transportation, and sustainable farming.
The Mother Earth News website is polished and filled with content, with stories on:
- How to cut your food bill in half
- Keeping the stimulus bill green
- And, just for me, raising chickens and building a chicken a coop
Backwoods Home, is like the first two publications in this list — but with guns. Backwoods Home leans right (or libertarian), and offers “practical ideas for self-reliant living”. Like BackHome, it offers how-to articles on owner-built housing, independent energy, self-employment, and country living. And there’s a regular column on gun ownership.
The Backwoods Home website is fantastic, packed with great stuff, including articles on:
- City gardening
- Growing fruit trees
- Kicking the credit-card habit
- Ways to make money on your land
- Chickens: the most valuable animal on the homestead
- And the inspiration for this entire post today: Build your own home in two years
I am not a libertarian, and I’m ambivalent about guns, but after looking at the website, I think I’m going to subscribe to Backwoods Home. This magazine looks awesome.
Small Farm Today
Small Farm Today is “the original how-to magazine of alternative and traditional crops and livestock”. According to Amazon, this publication discusses “alternative and traditional crops, livestock, and direct marketing, designed to help make small and family farmers profitable and sustainable”.
The Small Farm Today website doesn’t provide much useful content, and offers no glimpse of what a typical issue features. It does provide farm links, an events calendar, and online classified ads, but I’d rather see some past articles so that I could know if I’d find it useful.
Hobby Farms is a magazine about “rural living for pleasure and profit”. Its marketing copy says that it “embraces the growing segment of population that is returning to farm life in search of a more meaningful existence”.
The Hobby Farms website includes plenty of useful stuff, including:
- The basics of beekeeping
- An awesome article on planning your vegetable garden
- How to grow and sell heirloom tomatoes
- How to build raised beds
- Another article on building chicken coops
- Downloadable checklists and templates
Countryside & Small Stock Journal is “the magazine of modern homesteading”. It features articles on constructing a homestead, the homestead as a business, the country kitchen, and self-reliance and survival.
- Marketing your crafts
- Stocking your emergency food pantry
- Raising your own backyard pig
- How we went from $42,000 to $6500 and lived to tell about it
Here’s a long list of past Countryside articles for future reading.
Looking at the contents of these magazines makes me dream of things I can build and grow. I don’t subscribe to any of them right now, but may have to begin picking up a few. Or maybe I’ll just start checking out their websites regularly. Do you read any of the these? Do you know of other magazines for people who want to practice self-sufficiency? What about books? I’d love to build a small library devoted to the subject.