Storey’s Basic Country Skills - A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Storey’s Basic Country Skills
A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance
by John & Martha Storey
Large format paperback 8.5inches x 11inches
576 Pages in two-color with illustrations throughout
ISBN: 978-1-58017-202-8
Published first in September 1999
Price: $ 24.95 US

While Storey's Basic Country Skills has no one specific author, as it is a compilation of the best of Storey's projects, plans, and sage advice, John and Martha's voice of experience rings loud and true throughout the book.

More than 150 of Storey's expert authors in gardening, building, animal raising, and homesteading share their specialized knowledge and experience in this ultimate guide to living a more independent, satisfying life.

John and Martha Storey founded Storey Communications, Inc. in 1983. They have three children and a number of grandchildren. They live in western Massachusetts and farm in Westport, New York.

This is the book for anyone who wants to become more self-reliant, from suburbanites with 1/4 of an acre to country homesteaders with several. The information is easily understood and readily applicable.

Rediscover the basic skills of country life! Whether it is making ice cream or sharpening an ax, cleaning a chimney or growing raspberries, you will learn how to do it in this treasury of time-honored country wisdom.

Illustrated step-by-step instructions will show you how to milk a cow, tap a maple tree, clean a fish, lead a horse, and build the best chicken coop.

You will find out how to heat your house with wood or by the sun and how to de-skunk a country dog. Hope that works on a dog that has rolled in fox mess too.

You will earn the proper way to put in a water system, rewire an old house, stack a cord of wood, and grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Readers will find step-by-step, illustrated instructions for every aspect of country living including:

  • Finding country land
  • Buying, building, and renovating a home
  • Developing water sources and systems
  • Understanding wiring, plumbing, and heating
  • Using alternative heating and energy sources
  • Vegetable, flower, and herb gardening
  • Traditional cooking skills such as baking bread and making maple syrup
  • Preparing and preserving meat, fruits, and vegetables
  • Building and maintaining barns, sheds, and outbuildings
  • Caring for common farm and ranch animals, and pets, and much, much more...
Edited by Deborah Burns, subtitled "A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance," this encyclopedia is big enough for the coffee table but better suited to the tool shed. In addition to providing bushels of advice on gardening, it's a manual for everyday survival in rural America and it could be adapted to other countries too and not just to completely rural settings either.

Basic Country Skills lives up to its title, but why "country" is chosen might be debated by any delighted city gardener who receives this almost 600-page tome as a gift. Over a third of the book concerns gardening, pure and simple, but the home maintenance and cooking sections are of value, also.

Since 1983 the publisher (Storey) has produced more than 500 titles about country living. Now, it has boiled down this vast library of knowledge and placed it in one giant 3 pound, 576 page book. Even if you are a city dweller, without chickens or sheep, you will find a wealth of information about maintaining a home and garden.

Martha also lent her party-planning advice to Keeping Entertaining Simple. She has mastered the art of relaxed hostessing, whether giving small dinner parties for close friends or large corporate picnics, and she shares her secrets and inspiring ideas with readers. Country-living publisher for more than 17 years, Martha also draws on her country roots to bring you the time-honored classics of the American country kitchen in her book, Treasured Country Recipes from Martha Storey and Friends.

This book is full of great information of the old skills and way and will be useful for anyone whether in deep in the country or even in suburbia and is today as valuable than it was on the eve of the much proclaimed non-event of Y2K.

Today, however, we have an event and that is that of a nigh on economic meltdown and while the powers that be try to tell us that we are over the worst of it and all is going to be roses very soon the signs are different and the more of those skills presented in the book one can make use of, methinks, the better.

© 2009