Updated: Apr 7, 2020
To give you an idea of where I am coming from, I grew up in a suburbia like atmosphere in the Deep South and my wife grew up in a semi suburbia / farm country area of Southern Illinois. After spending seven years in Europe together after getting married, my wife and I moved out to live in the Ozarks in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri in 2009. We did not have much in the way of knowledge of farming other than having grandfathers who were farmers. However, we knew we wanted to have land and horses. We quickly learned that we really needed to learn a lot to make a go of living in the country. There was always something that needed to be repaired or built, wiring that needed to be run, ditches to be dug, etc. Without a background in country living it can be rather scary to just do things. When I was growing up, if something broke we called a repairman, carpenter, plumber, or any number of specialist. We learned very quickly that simply doesn’t work when you live out in the hinterlands. If you could find anyone who would come out at all, it was expensive. In many cases your run of the mill city technician did not have the ingenuity that is bred into country folk.
During this time we learned a lot of life lessons including how to pretty much build or rebuild houses and sheds from the ground up. During this time I had a couple of constant book companions that helped guide my journey to being more self-sufficient. The first is a book called Storey's Basic Country Skills by John and Martha Storey. This guide was published in 1999 and can easily be one of the best references to anyone new to living in the country. It has everything from finding the right place to live and selecting a good home to raising livestock. My copy is stained and dog-eared from a great bit of use. I have used it as a reference when wiring power in outbuildings and in my home to basic home repairs and running fencing for my own animals. This book does have quite a few helpful illustrations and is very detailed in explanations where needed. A companion to this book is John Seymour's Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It. This is a DK book so it's illustrations are amazing and it is well laid out. This book provides a more in depth guide to some areas left out of the Storey's guide.
Seymour provides the reader many illustrated guides that show the step by step process for tasks such as butchering a hog and helping a sheep give birth to her lambs. Each of these guides have earned a spot on my shelf of quick references and are joys to read through. While no single book can make anyone an expert, they can certainly help out when a new situation on the hobby farm comes up. If you are new to the hobby farming life, or if you are thinking about trying out the country boy lifestyle these two books are good friends to have on the journey. In many cases you can find both of these books used for 10 bucks or less. They are certainly well worth that and more.
Good luck and God Bless.
Tommy Davis, Retired Army