If Alys Fowler is my go to girl for all things pretty and idyllic (pretty flowers, pretty vegetables, pretty salads, pretty chickens etc) then Mr and Mr Strawbridge are my no fuss, no nonsense guide to living the dream.
Where The Edible Garden features charming pictures of chickens snaffling up salads, Practical Self Sufficiency offers no nonsense sketches on how to kill a turkey using only a traffic cone and your bare manly hands. Nifty.
What I really love about this book is that it’s almost an activity book- “things for the Boyf to do on a rainy day”. There’s nothing that excites that boy more than a how-to/ build-your-own diagram. As I fawn over the chickens and devise their training regime, the Boyf fantasises about building solar dryers or chicken arks or thermo sealing the house- this is good, very good. My bestest recently commented that the Boyf only appears in my blog as manual labour- this is mainly down to his love of Practical Self Sufficiency and not that I am a mithery old nag bag who forces him to build things when he would rather be skateboarding (this is only partially true..)
Back to the book... whatever your situation the Strawbridges (often clad in a tight vest and shorts- James that is not Dick) have suggestions to make your life that little bit more self sufficient. Whether you have a smallholding and a burning desire to build a compost loo or an extension out of hay bales or a small urban back yard and fancy building a bee house there is something for everyone.
The best bit of the book as far as I’m concerned is the section on cooking and storing your harvest. Featuring some very practical and useful growing and harvesting charts and diagrams Dick provides recipes for pickling, juicing, drying and storing he even has advice on the shelves you should store your produce on! Wowza- what a man!
Let's make our own clay oven...(might be easier if you took your shirt off there James...)
I'm interested in his hoe-ing technique, obviously...