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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Free Resources for Homesteaders

It has been my experiance, that at least in the United States, the highest period of self sufficiency existed between the Civil War and the great depression. This was a time when Chemical fertilizers were being introduced, and mass-production/mass-transportation were being introduced as well. While these things were being used, they did not have the influence that they have in the modern world.

Now, thanks to other technologies, the knowledge of this time period is easily available through digitized books. These books cover a wide range of topics, and while some of the information in them is dated, (we may know better methods of curing animals, or building) much of the information is as good now as it was then.

This blog I will devote to buildings, and how they were built and used. These building plans were typically designed for those without electricity, but would be a great resource for homesteaders looking to make simple but efficient structures on their homestead.

These books can be found through the Internet Archive project. ( A quick search will provide the books, and they may either be read online, or downloaded to a computer. The books are public domain, and therefore can be provided free of charge.

Farm Buildings -W.A. Foster
This book published in 1922 provides plans and advice for the construction of a wide variety of farm buildings, from dairy barns to the farm house itself. The book also provides ideas and designs for home built farm equipment.

Modern Farm Buildings - A Dudley Clarke
This book, publishid in 1899, provides advice similar to fosters book on farm buildings. Clarke however, provides more insight into how the homestead should be laid out and how to best arrange a farm.

Practical Farm Buildings, plans and suggestions - A.F. Hunter
Published in 1905, this book explores ways to make farm buildings more efficient, such as creating a single chicken house with multiple runs, allowing the chickens to rotate from one area to another. At a small 40 pages, this book can provide ideas you may not have thought of.

The Book of Farm Buildings - Henry Stephens
This book provides an in depth look at the construction of everything from farm gates, to investigating "useful apparatus for the farm" such as furnaces and cranes.

Farm Buildings - Sanders Publishing Co.
This book covers a range of farm buildings from "general farm barns, cattle barns, all the way to feeding racks". The wide range of this book allows someone looking to add on to their homestead a way to do it while seeing how these buildings worked in real life.

Radford's practical Barn Plans - William A. Radford
These plans show not only the basic layout of the barn, but also how the beams are arranged, where feeding boxes or other structures should go, and many other great things for erecting your first barn.

Modern Farm Buildings - Alfred Hopkins
Hopkins looks at how to design farm buildings along not only efficient, but aesthetic lines, looking for beauty as well as function. In true homesteading fashion, art and work are mingled.

Cottage Residences - A.J. Downing
It is difficult to discuss books on house construction from this time period without mentioning A.J. Downing once or twice. Downing wrote unsurpassed books on architecture and landscape, and if you want to design a home that is convenient, with a minimum of the modern trappings, Downing would be a good place to start.

The Architecture of Country Houses - A.J. Downing
In this book, Downing looks at country houses from around the world, and gives designs and recommendations on how to build similar houses in the United States.

Last but not least

Handy Farm Devices and How to make them - Ralph Colbeigh
This book is not necessarily on farm buildings, but should be on every homesteader's radar. Colbeigh provides wonderful contraptions and devices that make life on the homestead easier, and often they are made from cast off materials!

I hope that you all enjoy the book list I have provided, and explore the internet archive to find your own favorite books.

Never Stop Learning

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