Book Review: Country Wisdom and Know-How

country wisdomCountry Wisdom and Know-How: A Practical Guide to Living Off the Land
by M. John Storey
Nonfiction / Homesteading
1055 pages
Published 2004

This is a heck of an encyclopedia on homesteading topics. It gathers up a bunch of bulletins previously published by the Storey company, collating them into one very large book. It’s divided into six main categories: Animals, Cooking, Crafts, Gardening, Health and Well-Being, and Home. Each of those categories is divided into 2-5 subcategories, then individual columns under those. For example “Home” is divided into “Inside the House” and “Fences, Orchards, Outbuildings and More.” Under the latter category we have topics ranging from “Making Maple Syrup” and “Cold Storage for Fruits & Vegetables” to “Building Stone Walls” and “Build a Pole Woodshed.”

There’s an entire line of these encyclopedias; this seems to be the most broad of them, as others have slightly narrowed focus, like Garden Wisdom & Know-How or Woodworking Wisdom & Know-How. They are absolutely not books you’d read cover to cover, but are also books I want on my shelf and in my Survival Library. I only have this one from the library currently, but I definitely want to own it, and the entire line.

Country Wisdom & Know-How is well put together, with LOTS of diagrams and instructions. It’s often hard to visualize how something goes together if you’ve never done it before, and the book solves that with the diagrams, very clearly. It’s a gigantic book, but it’s PACKED with information on a huge number of topics – 144 individual topics plus 8 appendices!

From the cover of Country Wisdom & Know-How:

(This is actually the description from Goodreads, as the back cover just has a list of topics)

Reminiscent in both spirit and design of the beloved Whole Earth Catalog, Country Wisdom & Know-How is an unprecedented collection of information on nearly 200 individual topics of country and self-sustained living. Compiled from the information in Storey Publishing’s landmark series of “Country Wisdom Bulletins,” this book is the most thorough and reliable volume of its kind. Organized by general topic including animals, cooking, crafts, gardening, health and well-being, and home, it is further broken down to cover dozens of specifics from “Building Chicken Coops” to “Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt” to “Improving Your Soil” to “Restoring Hardwood Floors.” Nearly 1,000 black-and-white illustrations and photographs run throughout and fascinating projects and trusted advice crowd every page.

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