Yesterday I finished reading a book I purchased some time ago on Amazon, the “Five Acres and Independence” by M. G. Kains. This article will start a new series of reviews of various books and articles to read. So here’s my review.
The description of this book on Amazon is very short, and consists of only one sentence, saying:
Classic of the back-to-the-land movement is packed with solid, timeless information and will teach new converts how to make their land self-sufficient.
Inspired by the title I thought that it might be a good guide to achieving independence and self-reliance with a small amount of arable land available. Five acres is not much, but I forgot that converted to the units we use in Europe it’s over 2 hectares (1 hectare is the area of a square 100×100 meters, or roughly 100×100 yards). And the land I own is less then 3/4 of a hectare. So this title is not very relevant to my case, later I found a better one that might suit my needs: Living on An Acre: A Practical Guide to the Self-Reliant Life… I own a little more than one acre, so I will probably buy this book on the next order I make at Amazon.
This book was written in 1940-s, so some information published there might be a bit obsolete. Nevertheless, information on using low-tech ways to plant and harvest vegetables and fruits, farm animals etc, might be very useful after the Peak Oil or when you want to use as little energy as possible.
The book covers many different topics. I didn’t find any table of contents of this book, so I thought it’d be of a nice value to you for me to post it here.
- city vs. country life,
- tried and true ways to fail,
- who is likely to succeed?,
- figures don’t lie,
- the farm to choose,
- where to locate,
- lay and lay-out of land,
- wind-breaks, pro and con,
- essential factors of production,
- renting vs. buying,
- farm finance,
- farm accounts,
- water suply,
- sewage disposal,
- functions of water,
- frost damage prevention,
- live stock,
- coldframes and hotbeds,
- soils and their care,
- commercial fertilizers,
- green manures and cover crops,
- cropping systems,
- soil surface management,
- re-making a neglected orchard,
- fruit tree pruning,
- grafting fruit trees,
- how to avoid nursery stock losses,
- vegetable crops to avoid and to choose,
- seeds and seeding,
- plants for sale,
- something to sell every day,
- bush and cane fruits,
- small farm fruit gardens,
- selection of tree fruits,
- storage of fruits and vegetables,
- essentials of spraying and dusting.
As you can see, the book is a good guide to city → farming transition. It explains everything from how to choose a right farm (or land), and how to use it to make a living.
Much of the information in this book is really interesting. I found the most useful the chapters on bees, poultry, grafting and pruning fruit trees. But that’s probably only because I have a small orchard and want to farm bees and chicken. 😉
As I mentioned, some information is probably very outdated, so keep that in mind, especially when reading about pesticides and fungicides! I am not an expert, but I guess some of the substances mentioned in the book are now not only forbidden, but also were identified as poisonous and toxic! I found this suggestion in one of the comments posted under another review of this book, written in another blog about off-grid living. 😉
One of the readers at Amazon posted a great review of the book, headlined
Good guide if the date of writing is taken into consideration
and I might sign that statement with my both hands.
You can get this book for $8.95 at Amazon: Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management