It may not qualify as a necessity, but one of the things Jack and I most enjoy related to homestead interests is homesteading magazines themselves.
It’s hard to believe there was a time I was not even aware there were such, and I had to content myself with Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern living…all greats in their field, but still leaving me wanting…something. Jack will always have his favorites…Popular Mechanics, and scientific magazines. We both love National Geographic. But where were the magazines telling us how to do the not-so-mainstream projects, sharing collections of anecdotal advice, not vilifying the process of raising/slaughtering/cooking a home-grown chicken? I was probably the last person on earth who didn’t know about Mother Earth Magazine…
Some years back, as I tried to trim budgetary extras, I pretty much left behind reading things that encouraged me to seasonally redecorate the entire house, buy fancy imported foods, or make continual crafts projects. I love decorating, but couldn’t spend much time reading about it without wanting to spend…and that went for a lot of other subjects, too. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy them…I really did, but I didn’t NEED them. I bypassed magazine reading for many years simply because I had a problem being content with what I had, and reading certain things regularly didn’t help with that.
That’s before I discovered homesteading magazines. They don’t show up in the stores around here very often, but for some reason I seem to have H-mag radar. I can pick a cover featuring pygmy goats out of a wall of fashion, auto, and fitness magazines, pronto! Same thing for anything with a cow, horse, chicken, goose, or sheep on it…or solar panel, cordwood house, period clothing, loom, cast iron kettle or cookstove, or piles of fresh produce. Zing! Somehow I can justify buying THAT sometimes because I will reread the thing till it’s worn out, and even then it’ll be saved in a stack of other mags to be returned to later. Spotting the word “compost,” or “artisanal,” or “pastured” on a front cover kicks my adrenaline up to a really happy place moreso than seeing any youthful Hollywood star or airbrushed abs ever will.
After marrying Jack and having many of the same interests in common as well as more ability to access the internet, we began looking for great homesteading magazines, and I feel we hit the Mother Lode. Maybe there are simply more of them out here now. Maybe more folks are interested in homesteading, or we’re only now just aware of these great mags that’ve been out there all along, I don’t know…
It helps that Jack loves them as much as I do. They are in our vehicles, my handbag, bedside tables, bathroom, bookcases. We discuss a lot of things we find in them, and the articles or readers’ letters spark an interest in something we can go look up further on the internet. Whoever gets first dibs on a new one found in the mailbox has a limited time before they have to relinquish it for a read by the other…ha! It may not seem practical, but when the necessary is also something you love, as are so many areas of what we consider a homesteading lifestyle, magazines that touch on a wide range of these are simply a delight to relax with.
This article is not to promote a particular publication, and any specific ones mentioned herein are ones we’re familiar with…but no, I don’t get any money for endorsing them.
Some of the topics that better-known publications only skirt, homesteading and ag magazines indulge thoroughly. How do you make a really good butter? Can I clean a cast-iron skillet with oven cleaner? (the answer is No) What do you do for certain chicken diseases? Is the avian flu publicity accurate? What are fermented foods and what are some easy ones to make? How to utilize that jumbo crop of zucchini? How do you build a homemade chicken coop, nesting box, meat smoker, chicken plucker, water storage system? What are the pros and cons of the different solar products out there? 10 tried and true recipes for (fill in the blank with the featured veggie of that month). How do I extend my growing season? What’s an heirloom plant, a heritage animal? There are articles on tiny houses, planted roofs, wildflower meadows, lowline and heritage cattle, companion planting, herbal tinctures, quilting, necessary and unnecessary tools. Want to raise llamas? miniature animals? meat animals? dairy animals? Which chickens lay those fabulous deep chocolate-colored eggs, or the pastel ones? How can I control poisonous snakes, ticks, mosquitos? How high does a fence need to be to be deer-proof? What plants are deer-resistant?
There are magazines specific to pasture-raising livestock. Others are general and comprehensive, covering many homestead subjects and interspersing the featured articles with favorites such as recipes, how-to sections, letters from readers, Q&A, and photos, not to mention the great ads and upcoming events. Love poultry? There are poultry mags. Hobby farms? Ditto. The same thing can be said for Organic gardening, Herbals and herb gardening, specific types of livestock, farm equipment, homeschooling, homemaking, alternative energy, construction, homebuilding, and so on.
If I’d read this list to the man on the street, most likely I’d get a concerned stare…heehee! But it’s questions like these I’m HUNGRY to read more about…both in magazines and here online. Magazines are simply easier to get comfy with when we’re unplugged, which we try to stay most of the time. They can be dog-eared, highlighted, flagged with sticky notes, and passed from person to person. Homesteading magazines are one of our ways of satisfying some of that enthusiasm to see what others are doing and learn so many things.
This is the sort of enjoyment that is so much fun, we don’t even realize how much we’re learning. Someday, we’ll have an opportunity to put more of those things into practice, but we can’t underestimate the impact they’ve had on us now. Along with the voices of blog friends documenting their own homestead particulars, these magazines have rounded out our enjoyment and learning in practical ways.
Our only potential problem is addiction. Now we have so many favorites, we simply can’t afford subscriptions to more than one or two at a time, so we rotate a bit. Some of the ones we’ve enjoyed in the past include Mother Earth News, Countryside & Small Stock Journal, Back Home, Grit, The Stockman Farmer, Acres U.S.A., Backyard Poultry, Down to the Roots, Backwoods Home, Farm Show (a favorite of Jack’s).
The enjoyment of these is right up there with the happiness of hours spent poring over stockpiled seed catalogs, another favorite seratonin boost…
Do you enjoy a favorite ‘Steading or farm magazine? I’d love to know what’s on your coffee table along those lines…you know, so I can feed the addiction!
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