As soon as I get one of my Great Ideas, I begin my research to determine if it is really feasible for the farm.  When I thought about keeping bees, these are two of the books I found.  Both have a wealth of information – one covering the basics of beekeeping, and the other taking it a step further.

Keeping Bees:  All You Need To Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More – by:  Ashley English

From honey bee anatomy to brewing a cold-fighting tea, Ms. English covers it all.  Written in a down-to-earth form, I read this from cover to cover, and still pull it off the shelf when I have a question.  I highly recommend this book for your bookshelf!


The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver – by James E. Tew

As a newbie, I know I will constantly have questions and will more often than not run into problems.  He starts at the beginning with how to start beekeeping and moves you through equipment, biology and behavior of a colony straight through to diseases and specialty issues.  I feel better knowing I have a handy reference book on my shelf for the times I run into problems.





Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify your Life – by: Susan Waggoner

This book is put out by Country Living of magazine fame.  I cannot tell you how many times I have read through this book.  If you are interested in some of the old ways of doing things, this book is a great place to start.  It covers so much – time management.  Cleaning.  Laundry.  Kitchen tips.  All this is mingled with ‘the traditional country philosophy…that…will help you nurture a happy, harmonious home’ (excerpt from the back of the book).  Personally, I also think this would be a good gift for any newlywed looking to begin her own home.






Let’s face it.  Part of farming is finding a way to bring in some supplemental income.  Most farmers long for the day when their farm will completely provide all of their financial needs.  These are three books I found very helpful where my garden produce and value added products are concerned.  The best part is that they apply to a backyard garden as well as a large truck farm.  All three have the same basic information, with enough differences to make all three a valuable research tool.

Pay Dirt:  How to Make $10,000 a Year from your Backyard Garden – by:  John Tulluck

I confess.   We haven’t made near that much from our garden, but Mr. Tulluck offers plenty of information and guidance on how to eventually do just that.  He includes sections on how to find the ideal product; marketing tips; specifics on individual plants; packaging, pricing and a lot more.  Definitely a book for the gardeners library.

Sell what you Sow! : The Grower’s Guide to Successful Produce Marketing – by Eric Gibson

In addition to  general information on the subject, this book offers charts, production tips and excerpts that has valuable information, such as the 10 Commandments for Customer Service, Branding, how to start a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – and how to have fun on a farm.  Excellent resource material!

Backyard Market Gardening:  The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Selling What you Grow – by Any Lee & Patricia Foreman

I love the extra step Lee & Foreman take in this book.  They cover things I had never thought of, like a CMC  – Clientele Membership Club (a cousin to a CSA) – legal aspects of selling produce and the corporate connection.  I also appreciated the ‘small farm’ section.  Here on Paradise, selling produce isn’t the all we do-only a small portion.  So this part really came in handy for me.  If you only have a backyard, it will be excellent reading for you, as well.





The Weekend Homesteader:  A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency – by:  Anna Hess

Not everyone lives on the farm, nor has the time to devote to multiple acres.  Ms.  Hess takes this into consideration and shows you how to do as much towards your self-sufficiency plan as possible in the evening hours after work or on the weekend.  Chock full of great information, she also breaks it down by month, showing you what needs to be done during each season.  For a beginner, this is an excellent resource.  If you are only an ‘arm chair’ farmer, it’s also a great book to just sit and peruse.




Fearless Farm Finances:  Farm Financial Management Demystified – Published by Midwest Organic And Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

When we first moved to the farm, I quickly discovered that my simple budget and balanced checkbook wasn’t going to do it any longer.  I was about to embark on a whole new financial adventure, and not in a good way.  There are very few books on the market that deal strictly with farm financial management, so when I found this one, I jumped at the chance to have it.  It helped me not only to develop a new budget, but also to understand it.  The excerpts from other farmers who understand the precarious balance between the black and red in money management are truly invaluable.




If you have animals, it is always helpful to know a bit about them so you can keep them healthy and happy.  We usually leave the big things to our vets, but every once in a while, we aren’t sure if a problem warrants a call to our vet.  That’s when we reach for one of our general, or animal specific reference books.  These are two of the first we pull off the shelf.

Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners – by:  C.E. Spaulding, D.V.M. & Jackie Clay

This book covers most farm animals, including cats and dogs.  If offers general care and management as well as diseases and other problems.  If you pull this book out of my library, you will find a number of sticky notes where I have marked pages for quick reference.  Now, if I can just convince the Country Boy to let me have sheep, I will be able to utilize another section in this book!

The Chicken Encyclopedia – by: Gail Damerow

From the abdomen to a zygote, this book has an entry for everything chicken.  Most references are simply a definition, but some take it a little further with advice or instructions.  There is also a list of chicken breeds with information that covers uses, size, eggs, and temperament, just to name a few categories.  You will also find an entry on how and why to hypnotize a chicken.  Bet you didn’t know you could do that, did you?




I am one of those who love cookbooks, and can read them like I do a novel. It’s rare though, these days, I find one with either recipes that are worth trying, or aren’t centered on ingredients that are rare or hard-to-find. Around here, we like just ‘plain food’ that includes the fruits, vegetables and meats that we grow on the farm. Imagine my delight when I found not one, but THREE great cookbooks! I hope y’all enjoy them as much I have.


southern plate by: Christy Jordan

In this cookbook, Ms. Jordan truly ‘gets’ comfort food.   The categories are broken down by seasons, and include the foods that fit with the weather. I am not a big fan of gravy, but have always wanted to learn how to make a good milk gravy. Imagine my delight when I found an easy recipe for it on page 211. Even better, there was a photograph on the opposite page that showed a plate of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and green beans – a truly classic Southern meal. Yep. Those are my drool marks right smack dab in the middle.

Another great feature in this book are some personal thoughts and tips, such as Welcome to the South: friendliness strictly enforced, Why I don’t Need Diamonds, and Did You Know you can Freeze Apples? Reading these stories tells me that this is a true Southern Woman, not someone who just wishes she could be from the South. Next up for me is Lela’s Fried Pies – something I have wanted to learn to do and do well for quite some time. And this recipe makes it look as easy as, well, pie!




the Southern Bite by: Stacey Little

To a Southerner, History isn’t just something we learn in school – it’s also a family member.  We take our history seriously, and never more so than in the kitchen.  Stacey Little takes four generations of her family’s recipes and shares them with others.  Recipes for Chicken and Dumplin’s, Fried Okra and Kentucky Pecan Pie are interspersed with stories such as Wisdom from the Peanut Man and Why Christmas Trees Don’t Have to be Green.  While reading all the great stories and recipes, I almost felt as if though he was pulling out a chair and saying, “Have a seat.  Dinner will be ready in a minute.”  The few recipes I’ve tried in this book hit the Southern nail on the head, and when taking them to the gathering, I’ve been asked for the recipe.  Now, that’s a true sign of a great dish!


A Year with Six Sisters’ STUFF

Although most of the recipes in here are a twist on familiar dishes, they include ingredients that are either already in your refrigerator and pantry, or are easy to find in the grocery store aisle.  The first one I made at home was a big hit – Cheesy Ranch Potatoes, and I can’t even believe how quick and easy they were to prepare.  This cookbook is formatted into Menus, which includes everything from a main dish to dessert, making it easy to plan your own meals for a day or week.  One thing I really enjoy is the different tips given throughout the book, from 52 weeks of Food Storage and the Crazy Dinner Tradition, to How to Make a Menu Board.  I can’t wait to try more of these recipes, and this is a book I’ll refer back to for some great ideas for family get-togethers!


natural homestead

Natural Homestead – 40+ Recipes for Natural Critters and Crops by Jill Winger is a must read for those who are wanting to be a bit more self-sufficient. Although a large portion is geared towards farm animals, there are some great tips for mosquito repellant, a healthier garden and weed repellant. I can’t wait to try them all!



Excerpt from the back of the book: “In this short story collection, author Crow Johnson Evans displays a deep concern and understanding of humanity, a lively spirit of adventure, and a lyrical writing talent.” This is truly one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and hope she is planning on writing more!


Apron Book

This is a must have book for any creative Farm Wives who wouldn’t be caught without their apron. Ms. Geisel paints a beautiful portrait with this history of aprons, has pictures of aprons I would just about trade my husband for, shows how to make several of them, and then tops it all off with an actual pattern in the back! If you ever thought that aprons weren’t your style, one look at this book should change your mind completely!




Hobby Farms

Hobby Farm is a great magazine for farmers – whether they have a balcony, a backyard or multiple acres.  It’s even fun to read for those who have no desire to farm, but love to read about it anyway.  I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve gotten from this magazine, and how many times it’s helped me to find the answers I’ve needed to start or complete a project.  Definitely a must-have subscription!




Backyard Homestead Building

This is the newest book in the Farm Wife’s library, and I love it.  For all you DIYers, this book has great plans from Flower Pot Smokers to Gardening Sheds.  Even Randy found a couple of things he’s interested in building.  Which will be fine, right after he builds me the Rain Barrel, the Garden Stool, the Firewood Storage Rack, the……….