Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Review: Made from Scratch

I've just been asked to join the team of Wormers to cover a week in months that have a 5th week, and I'm very happy to be here! However, since there isn't a month with a 5th week until March, and I've just read a fantastic book, the other Wormers said they'd be happy to have me post a review here and there. So I'm jumping in on kale for sale's week.

Recently, I came across the book Made from Scratch, Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, by Jenna Woginrich. I put it on my bedside table, expecting to read a chapter a night to help me fall asleep, but I stayed up late and read it all. It's a fairly quick read, but it is so engaging and interesting you won't want to stop. The author is a young woman who moved from the East to Idaho, and decided to try homesteading in a pretty huge way for a single web designer with a full time job. The book is divided into chapters, each about a particular area of homesteading - keeping chickens, gardening, beekeeping, etc.

Woginrich jumped into each area with gusto, having some successes and failures in every area. Her writing is very personal and funny and makes you feel as if you are sitting with her at her farmhouse table. It is refreshing to read about someone who makes mistakes along the way, yet still keeps on trying, and in the process, has a great deal of success. Woginrich has a mentor in a friend who is an experienced homesteader, who really helps her get started in many areas, and also helps solves the problems she encounters. This book made me wish I were friends with both of them!

Made from Scratch is pretty inspiring - be careful or you might want to keep Angora rabbits or train your dogs to carry produce home from the farmers' market. It made me want to search for an old-fashioned coffee percoloator which Woginrich claims makes the best tasting coffee ever (as well as saving a treasure from another time from the landfill and preventing the purchase of a new, mainly plastic coffeemaker)!

There is enough information in each chapter to really get you started in an area of homesteading if it's something you'd like to try. Not enough to be your only source of info, but definitely enough to give you a good sense of what is involved and where to go from there. I have kept chickens for just over a year, and I felt like the chapter on chickens was quite complete. I don't think I'm ready to get bees or rabbits or sled dogs, but I definitely enjoyed reading about them, and who knows - you might be ready for that challenge!

There is a very complete list in the back of sources - books, websites and catlogs, for more information about a lot of the topics she discusses. I will definitely note some of them before this book goes back to the library. Woginrich also has a blog, Cold Antler Farm where you can keep up with all of her homesteading adventures.

I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, for all levels of green readers. Dark green readers will enjoy reading about her exploits, and will probably find an area to think about even if they're already doing a lot of the things Woginrich does. Light green readers will be inspired to pick something like gardening, sewing or shopping at antique, thrift or junk shops, and medium green readers will probably want to try something a notch up from what they're doing already. Even if you don't have the time or desire to do these things yourself, you will certainly enjoy reading about Woginrich's efforst - this was one of the most enjoyable books I've read lately. I look forward to reading a sequel, now that they author has moved to Vermont and has sheep, geese, ducks, and turkeys along with her chickens, rabbits and dogs!


Donna said...

I just saw this book last week in a local bookstore and I passed it up because I have no room for chickens (or anything else that grows...) It sounds like the book would still be fun to read. Thanks for a great review!

Green Bean said...

So happy to have you on board, JAM!! What a nice fresh choice of books we've had lately. This one sounds great. I'm off to reserve it at my local library. I do want to have chickens. Donna's seen my yard, though, so she can attest that it will be a squeeze.

JAM said...

Thanks - I'm happy to be here - had to post a comment to see if my new profile picture shows up ok!

Kale for Sale said...

I do have an old coffee percolater that belonged to my Grandmother. You've inspired me to pull it out of the cupboard and give it a go. And you can jump into my week any time. This book sounds great. Thanks.

Green Bean said...

Just picked the book up from the library today. Thanks for the rec.

Anonymous said...

Is the book worth buying in print? I buy most of my books as e-books these days (thanks or blame to Kindle & Amazon). But for books that are more than stories, more than memoirs, nothing is so convenient as print. So, is Made from Scratch, e-book or print book fare?

JAM said...

My personal opinion is library or e-book. I enjoyed it, but didn't feel it was something I'd want to have forever.