Sunday, March 8, 2015

The nourishing homestead - Ben Hewitt

A while ago, whilst browsing the internet, I came across the blog of a person called Ben Hewitt. I do not know how, but ever since I keep following it.
Ben's a writer and he and his family have a homestead in Vermont, USA, where they are pretty much capable of taking care of themselves. They grow their own food, both plant and animal. Their kids don't go to school but are being homeschooled and I must admit that I am in awe of what they do, they way they do and above all why. They started from scratch about 17 years ago and have come a long way. To me practically all the way.
Not long after I started following Ben's blog, I scraped together some cash and bought one of his books, called Saved.
Through coïncedence (in which I do not believe) I came across Andrea's blog, since she is a follower of Ben's as well and through both blogs a small group developed that got into contact with one another. One of those people is Kristina, going by the name of Bee happee now and through her I was to receive Ben's latest book; the nourishing homestead, which I already regard as one of the more valuable and valued gifts I ever did receive. I read many a book on self sufficiency, homesteading, old crafts, bushcraft, nature living and what not. You get the idea. However Ben's book has become a landmark in my bookshelf. It made that much impact. Not necessarily because of it's contents, although these are of great value, but more because it marked the final push onto the path to homesteading we ourselves are about to follow.
I find it hard to describe the book.... It is basic, no nonsense, glad, appreciative, educational, thought provoking, humoristic, civilised, to the point, full of tips, anecdotes and above all love, well thought out and through, easily read, even for those whose native tongue is not English and, forgive me if I say it like this..... but for me so un-American!
I swept through it. Read it within a week. All 320 pages....
And will read it again.... and probably a third time too.... because I know I will see and learn new things every time.

A quick run down of the contents/chapters

1 The evolution of our homestead
2 Practice and philosophy
3 Homestead design and layout
4 Real food and deep nutrition
5 Soil and gardens
6 The nourished animal
7 Animal slaughter and processing
8 Infrastructure, skills & tools
9 Money and "stuff"
10 Children on the homestead
11 What the day holds

Basic story;
Ben Hewitt and his wife Penny, build up their home and homestead, literally starting from scratch in Vermont, USA and over the past 17 years have reached a point where they can feed themselves for up to 90%. They created a place where they grow their own food, keep livestock, cut their wood and do this with the utmost respect and love land and animal alike. They have 2 boys which they homeschool, meaning they do not attend a regular school but get taught by their parents and, apparently, by themselves too.

The great thing about this book is that it not only focuses on their own "little" world, but see this world as part of the bigger picture and he frequently addresses issues in that bigger picture that affect us all; pollution, depletion of resources, stupid and shortsighted policies, equally shortsighted, shortterm profitgoals, GMO's, greedy companies and their political minions, you name it... And in ways that make sense. Not the pompous academic way of sense, but the basic peasant wisdom way of sense. He knows what he is talking about, because he sees, does and feels it every single day.

All the while he adds his own experiences, anecdotes. little glimpses of their world, which prevents the whole thing from being too heavy, if his very palatable way of writing even would have made that possible. The man has wisdom far beyond his years....

The homeschooling thing; at first when I started reading Ben's blog I was kind of sceptical about the concept, but having read the book I have come to see that the boys have reached a level of knowledge and development that is wayyy beyond their years. Or should I say beyond the years we have come to allow kids to have these days? They drive truck and tractor, hunt, kill and prepare game, know the land and its riches and how to use and respect them etc. And still can read and write, do match and all the other things "normal" children do to, but without the imprisonment of school.

One thing that is missing in this book though is the hardships they must have endured at many points. I can not tell if this is deliberate or if these hardships simply have been pushed to the background, forgotten, erased from the memory by the positiveness that permeates every aspect of their lives Ben describes.

He is a strong advocate not of self sufficiency, but of interdependency, of community. Meaning we need each other to thrive. Small communities with folks that help each other, complete each other.

And as icing on the cake he provides you with loads of references you can use to dig deeper as he calls it.

If I had to chose one picture in the book that describes it, it'd be this one:

If you have any interest in homesteading, taking care of yourself or this world we live in and on.... Get this book! If ever I can recommend a book regarding the subjects mentioned....

Won't take my word for it?? Well, here are some of the reviews/comments on Amazon on the book; check it out...

Thank you Ben and those that assisted you for making this book!
And thank you Kristina for giving it to me!

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