The Independent Farmstead

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Paperback, 336 pages.
by Beth Dougherty and Shaun Dougherty
ISBN: 978-1603586221

"If we work hard, we sleep well." These simple words distill the farming ethos of authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty, who twenty years ago purchased a small parcel of land deemed "not suitable for agriculture" by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90 percent of their own food on that very land.

The Independent Farmstead reveals how such self-sufficiency can be achieved if you center your farming practices around intensive pasture management. Pioneered by such luminaries as Allen Savory and Joel Salatin, he tenets of holistic grazing - employed mostly by larger-scale commercial operations - have been adopted by the Doughertys to fit their needs. In The Independent Farmstead, their model for regenerating the land and growing food - "the best you ever tasted" - is described in detail for others to build upon. It's more hands-on for the farmer, and much more work, but has enormous health benefits for both the animals and the working landscape.

In witty and welcoming style, The Independent Farmstead covers everything from choosing a species of ruminant and incorporating it into a grass-based system to innovative electric fencing and watering systems to what to do with all the milk, meat, and, yes, manure that a self-sustaining farm produces. Within these pages, you'll learn how to:

  • Find and improve poor, waste, or abused land and develop its natural water resources
  • Select and purchase the appropriate ruminate for regenerating their farmstead
  • Apply fencing strategies and pasture management basics
  • Implement basic food processing, including large and small animal butchering and cheese making
  • Integrate grass, gardens, and livestock to minimize or eliminate the need for off-farm inputs

If you, like a growing number of homesteaders and farmers, feel "the desire for clean, affordable food, unmodified, unprocessed, and unmedicated," The Independent Farmstead is a must have resource. Best of all, it's the rare how-to book that the authors themselves view not a compendium of one-size-fits-all instructions but as "the beginning of a conversation," one that is utterly informative, sincere, and inspiring.