Just to clarify, I've lived in the country before; in fact, I grew up in the country - not on a farm or ranch, but just in a sparsely-populated area. It was fun as a kid, but as a teenager, I hated it, and I left for the city as soon as I could. Why I'm looking forward to living in the country again can be explained in another post. For now, I just want to post about some of the books I'm reading to study up on country life.
I started out with Storey's Basic Country Skills. This one is awesome. It's huge. It covers every single topic that I could possibly want to read about - solar energy, growing from seeds, preserving food. There are so many things that I would have no idea who to ask, and it's all here. It does have some information on water supply, but we're specifically interested in greywater systems, so I also got Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig. Very nice. Has expected costs, do-it-yourself instructions, and common errors made while constructing a system.
Then my mom gave me a pile of books and pamphlets that she's been saving forever. The one of which I am most proud is a copy of Mother Earth News from 1977. The most interesting thing that I've found so far in this issue was an advertisement stressing that people should become energy self-sufficient. Imagine how much better the world would be now if everyone had taken that advice back then? The ad says "...if you're wondering what you'll do when gasoline goes to $.75 or $.85 a gallon as it will..." Of course I know that they were talking about 1970's money...but they are so right about the rising prices and the need for self-sufficiency.
My mom also gave me The Homesteader's Handbook to Raising Small Livestock by Jerome Belanger, from 1974, a 1979 issue of Countryside, and a bunch of pamphlets with dates ranging from 1972 to 1988. It's so funny how the information in all of these publications is still so relevant and useful today. I know that nothing is going to compare to experience when it comes to learning how to raise chickens, harvest vegetables, and so on, but it's great to have good resources to turn to. Plus, it's just plain fun to see the similarities and differences between life then and now, and I'm finding that there are a lot more similarities than there are differences.
Does anyone recommend any more books? If you have a small farm, how did you get started? What resources did you use to learn how to do all this stuff?