The Backyard Homestead

Backyard homestead book Anyone who knows me just a little should know that a book titled “The Backyard Homestead
” is guaranteed to make me swoon!

Add in a subtitle of: “Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!” and be still. my. heart.

At the conference we attended last weekend, my darling hubby saw me practically drooling over this book, and proceeded to sneakily buy it for me and surprise me with it during one of our lunch picnics. I’ve been devouring it every since. :)

On the back of the book, it tells you that on a 1/4 acre, you can harvest:

  • 1400 eggs
  • 50 lbs of wheat (seriously? I love that!)
  • 60 lbs of fruit
  • 2000 lbs of vegetables
  • 280 lbs of pork
  • 75 lbs of nuts

It also happens to mention that you can make dandelion wine, and inside there are a whole host of other ideas for using the wild dandelions in your yard. My husband was quick to point out that in light of this, I should be viewing spring as a season of bountiful harvest, rather than being irritated by the vast sea of yellow-ness that has spread across both my front and backyard and is about to go to great lengths to further propagate itself. Thanks honey. I’ll try.

Not every idea in the book is practical for us, because although our city lot is technically pretty close to a 1/4 acre (though the house is quite large), it is a rental and therefore I can’t start going nuts (hee, hee, no pun intended), tearing out shrubs to replace them with berry bushes, or adding a small orchard along the side of the house.

Here are a few ideas that have me seriously thinking right now, though:

  • Chickens are still technically a no-no, but due to the city of Vancouver’s possible bylaw change, my days gathering fresh eggs may not be quite as far off anymore
  • I’ve been reading up on dwarf fruit trees in barrels or large pots, and especially the fact that you can get some wonderful varieties that are self-pollinating (which means you only need one, not two, trees). Cox’s Orange Pippin apples, here I come! I need to research more and see what trees I can find locally. But it’s promising! Turns out there are actually a host of dwarf trees that you can grow in containers!
  • Starting a nut tree in a pot may also be a possibility. Perhaps something that we could replant when we buy a house.
  • Crazy as it sounds, I’m tossing around the idea of raising rabbits for meat. Now, consider the fact that I don’t think I have ever eaten rabbit meat in my life. I only know that it’s edible, that she talks about it in the book, and that it’s both legal and feasible to raise lots of rabbits in our yard. I’d rather have a sheep or a goat, but I think a goat’s out on account of too little space, and a sheep most likely on account of silly old bylaws :)
  • Expanding my herb gardening, to provide for more of my cooking herbs, and well as for making teas and medicines. This is something I’ve been interested in for awhile, and am slowly adding to my repertoire.

Has anyone else read this fantastic book?  What types of ideas have you gleaned from it and have you put any of it into action yet? And what goes through your mind when you hear the word “Backyard Homestead”?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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  1. My hubby got me this last year for Christmas and I love it! While we’re renters still, as well, I love soaking in all the facts and tips and am just waiting for the day I can plant more things than a few containers!

    My husband particularly likes the sections on how to make your own beer and wine!
    .-= Kait Palmer´s last blog ..My Seatmate, Ethel. =-.

  2. Heather says:

    So cool! I just added this book to my growing wish list. lol

  3. I love this book. I just recently borrowed it from a friend and have been scheming through it. It’s not so much the gardening (that seems to be my husband’s suit) but the animal raising that I am intrigued by. We also have under a little quarter of an acre with a tiny house on it. We have three goats coming whom will have plenty of room. What she doesn’t really cover in the book are the miniature breeds like the Nigerian Dwarf. They are now a certified American Dairy Goat which, I don’t think they were when she published this book. We used to have two and we had PLENTY of room for them. They have super rich milk (highest in butter fat of all the breeds) and put out a lot of milk surprisingly for their size. They are also really clean and don’t smell nearly as bad as chickens or even rabbits. Anyway, just thought I would let you all know that goats are completely feasible in a quarter of an acre. They also have the new “mini-breeds” now where they breed a Nigerian buck to a standard sized breed like a Nubian or Saneen. This gives the connivence of the small goat but, the milk out put of little less than the standard size which can be a lot!

  4. I have this book too~
    I just love it~


  5. My brother gave me this book for Christmas. And although it has been too cold (we live in Michigan) to put anything into action, my husband and I have been reading it and making some big plans for spring. I also have to say that I am so happy that looking into this book brought me to your blog. I am soooo excited to see that this sort of thinking is becoming so popular.

  6. Have you ever heard of dwarf goats? I live on 2 acres of land, most of which is woods, and don’t have room for a large goat enclosure, but dwarf or pygmy goats are about a third of the size of regular goats. The does can provide close to a half gallon of milk a day each, and they are very lovable and friendly as pets. The initial cost can be pretty high ($200-300 for registered, maybe around $50-150 for unregistered) but if you plan to breed them (ADORABLE kids!!) then you’ll quickly make up that deficit. I’m seriously looking into buying some. :) Love your site, and God bless!

  7. I am going to have my wife look into buying this book for her mom. It seems to be “right up her alley.’

    We’ve started a homesteading lifestyle centered forum and would love to have all who share in these ideals visit and consider becoming a member and share your wisdom and thoughts with others. Our goal is to make this “your” forum.


    Doug and Sheila

  8. Have you ever read The Good Life by Scott Nearing & Helen Nearing? It’s all about homesteading and living off the land in New England, USA. The book is extremely detailed in its approach to teaching one how to accomplish this. Check it out!

  9. Amaya Fernandez-Menicucci says:

    Hi! I’m Spanish and rabbit is part of our diet almost on a weekly basis. It’s a delicious, lean, practically colesterol-free type of meat, whose nutritional properties are close to those of chicken meat. I definetely encourage you to give it a try. Plus, my parents raise rabbits in their backyard and, apparently, it’s quite an easy process: again, it’s similar to raising chickens.
    God bless you,

  10. I bought this book for a friend’s birthday a few weeks ago. We looked through it together and In had to go buy a copy for myself. I have been devouring it and feeling very inspired to put our vastly under-utilized 10 acres to use. We already have chickens and LOVE them! One thing I’d really like to get going is honey bees, so if anyone has any advice on them I’d love to hear it. Thoughts on this are…harvesting the dandelions would be collecting a much needed and common source of pollen for the bees in the early spring. Also, I want to put in a few fruit trees, but again I’d love to hear how people keep bugs off of the fruit trees without killing the bees??

  11. That looks great! I’ll have to check it out. I actually just posted about eating dandelions on my blog last week. ;)

  12. Cottage Comtesse, I love that you’re going to go for a bee hive! How great! It’s not so much the size of our lot that deters me (and yes, I’ve seen the Dervaes in video- amazing!), it’s more the fact that we’re renting. I’m just trying to do as much as I can with what I’m permitted to do in a yard that isn’t my own and isn’t long term.

    Faith, thanks for the book recommendations. I’ve read “A Slice of Organic Life” and it was great! I prayed for your uncle… hope everything’s ok!

    Julie, I just bought something really fun today that I think you’ll like… I’ll post about it this week! :)

  13. I just put this on my amazon wishlist!!! Thanks for posting it!

    I want to raise my own chickens for eggs, but I don’t think my husband will go for it (he works in a chicken plant). :)

  14. Now I am drooling over this book! DH and I are currently looking into getting chickens for our backyard, we (meaning DH) are in the midst of working our veggie garden and I’m enjoying reading “Nourishing Traditions”. We are also excited at the prospect of fresh, raw milk in our future as our state has just passed a law to make it legal for purchase.

    Now I want some dwarf fruit trees!

  15. That’s sooo ironic that you posted about this book. We had a date night two weeks ago, and I was looking at it longingly as well, but had to pass it up. On the way out of the library on Wednesday after checking out some books I saw it in the new section, but had to pass it by again…my hubby and daughter were already waiting for me. (which I’d recommend by the way…clean and green by Berthold-Bond, Healthy Child, Healthy World by Gavigan and Slice of organic life by goldsmith which is similar to ideas in organic homestead but more of an overview and not so indepth) Hope that last sentence made sense, but I’m trying ot finish this quick b/c I just got a call to head to the hospital. Pray for my uncle.

  16. We’ve talked about raising rabbits – we live in the suburbs, and chickens etc. are OUT for us. There is a series of videos on YouTube that show how to kill and clean the rabbit meat.

    This book looks great! I got “How to Live on an Acre” by the ag dept. from the library, and it was a big disappointment.

  17. Oh my goodness!! I WANT this book!!! Seriously, I am going to go check the library database right now!

  18. Wow! Look at all the responses on this topic, Stephanie! You certainly have struck a chord that many of us are feeling is important. I am very excited to read this book that you found and I’ve already ordered it from my public library per your recommendation. I was able to attend a beekeeping class last Saturday and I’ve ordered a hive, so soon we will be adding bees along with our chickens. Next spring we plan to add a couple of goats.

    I know that your property is on the smaller side, but do not let that deter you. The Dervaes family has been homesteading on one tenth of an acre with amazing results. Do a search and you’ll find some videos that show they’re home and yard.


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