Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Found Treasure

The previous owners of my home were kind to leave behind reference samples of the material they used to renovate the house. There were samples of the different tiles with their labels, extra rolls of wallpaper, and one can of each paint color used to paint the interior. I recently came across the box of these samples forgotten long ago in the basement. While looking through one box, I found this book, Living on a Few Acres published by the US Department of Agriculture 1978:

It appears to be a "how to" book for city folks moving to the country. The foreword by Bob Bergland, Secretary of Agriculture is intriguing:
Americans keep going back to the land. It is a pilgrimage that makes more sense to a lot of people than living in cities, enticing us with the promise of escape from freeways, assembly lines, and crowds.

The land offers freedom, a chance to test your mettle against nature's challenges.

The pilgrimages began with our agriculturally-minded, freedom-loving forebears of the 17th and 18th centuries. In waves since then—from the founding of community utopias in the first half of the 19th century, to the homesteads of the later 1800's, to the flight of the unemployed from a collapsing economy of the 1930's—Americans have returned to the land.

Now the tide of Americans that swept to the cities after World War II has ebbed. The flow has reversed. People are populating the countryside faster than they are cities.

I know their motives. I am a farmer.

So I know that country life can push some people beyond their endurance, can shatter illusions with a heavy and indifferent hand, and can press poverty upon the backs of the unlucky and the unprepared.

This book, Living on a Few Acres, is intended as a practical guide for those who make the journey back to the countryside and for some of you who are already there. It is mainly for those who intend not to gain their principal income from the land, but rather to have a job in town or live on a pension or some other source of income.

U.S. Department of Agriculture programs offer valuable assistance at the local level. In addition, this Department has a major responsibility for all Federal efforts in rural areas.

Living on a Few Acres describes both the pitfalls and the satisfactions of country life. There are plenty of both. And there is nothing quite like country living.

While flipping through this book, I saw a lot of practical advice that it still relevant today to those who are attempting to be self-sufficient on their own few acres. It should be a fun read on a rainy afternoon. This publication is also public domain, and is published online at the Library for Farming website.


  1. That seems to be a very popular time for gardening. My Crockett's Victory Garden, the one and only gardening book I'm never without, was published in 1977, and I remember that TV show being very popular at that same time. I wish they would bring it back to PBS! There seems to be renewed interest in backyard gardens and small farms now, but not as apparent as it was back in the late 70s. Glancing at the index of this book, it certainly looks like it would have a lot of good advice for those with small acreages.

    1. I grew up in the 70s tagging along as my grandparents and great aunt tended to the two large vegetable gardens on our property. "Getting the garden in" was a family affair with everyone helping out. They weren't involved in a gardening or farming movement and I believe always gardened to produce fresh food for their family. This book is interesting both for its historical aspect and the basic information it contains.

      With gardening and homesteading so popular right now, it is a shame that there isn't a "Victory Garden" type TV program. I used to love that show on PBS.

  2. What thoughtful owners. I wish I were as kind to myself! It is a good time to grow, methinks. Both seasonally and culturally. I wonder if people "know" on some level that things like global warming are going to bring some bad changes, and are hustling to up their skills.

    1. I agree. I think global warming, food contamination and illness, GMOs and other chemicals in foods are some big reasons to prompt a "city dweller" to move to a few acres and attempt to grow their own.