Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) – A Homestead Doesn’t Have to Be Huge!

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) - A Homestead Doesn't have to be Huge!

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) by Angela England is a homesteading guide written with the enthusiasm of a beginner and the experience of several years of homesteading with limited space.  It’s a great pep talk for those new to the idea of self-sufficiency who are wondering if they can raise more of their own food without moving to the country.

How Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) is Organized

Backyard Farming on an Acre is divided into five parts:

  1. Living Large on a Small Scale
  2. Gardening on a Backyard Farm
  3. Animals for a Backyard Farm
  4. Enjoying the Bounty
  5. Crafting from the Backyard Farm

Each of these parts is divided into subsections.

Living Large on a Small Scale includes:  the Backyard Farm Adventure; Finding Land; and Building on Land Your Already Own

Gardening on a Backyard Farm includes:  What and How Much do You Want to Grow?; Tools and Skills for the Backyard Gardener; Gardening Smart from the Start; Get the Most from Your Garden; Vegetables for the Backyard Farm, Kitchen Herb Gardens; Fruits, Berries and More; Heirloom Plants and Saving Seeds

Animals for a Backyard Farm includes:  Keeping Chickens on a Small Scale; Rabbits on a Backyard Farm; Sheep and Goats:  Backyard Multi-taskers; and Beekeeping in the Backyard

Enjoying the Bounty includes:  A Seasonal Guide to Managing Your Harvest; Canning and Freezing Produce and Meat; Dehydrating and Smoking; Root Cellars and Basements; and Preserving Garden Herbs

Crafting from the Backyard Farm includes:  Making Butter, Yogurt and Cheese; Fibers:  From Sheep to Sweater; Home Brewing Cider and Wine; Goat’s Milk Soap Making and Other Ways to Use Your Harvest

There are also appendices featuring Simple Plans for the Backyard Farm, Gardening Journal Pages and Resources.

Things I Like About Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)

Angela features a taste of a *lot* of different topics, so there’s something in this book for nearly every interest level.  She’s got some nice drawings in the beginning of the book to give the reader ideas about how much can be worked into a typical suburban back yard.

backyard-farm-garden

Diagram of suburban yard transformed into a suburban homestead

With a supportive spouse, Angela tackles fence building, gardening, food preservation and many other tasks that can help you provide your family with fresh food no matter how small your space is.  There are a few seasonal recipes to get your thinking about eating from your garden instead of from the grocery store.

She moves beyond the basic chickens discussed in many small scale homesteading books to an assortment of backyard animals. There’s a nice tutorial included from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds on how to properly save tomato seeds. (They need fermenting to remove the outer seed covering.)  She defines basic terms in many of the sections so that those unfamiliar with the topic will be better able to understand the discussion.  I was glad to see that she included medicinal herbs as well as culinary herbs, as these are also left out of many garden planning books.

Things I Didn’t Like About Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)

Even though the book contained a lot of information, there were many areas that could have used deeper explanations, recipes or at the very least relevant online links.  For instance, there were multiple photos of how to make a lavender wand, and only one photo of how to butcher a chicken.  Granted, most of us would find the wand far more pleasant, but if you need to butcher a chicken, you’d better have a different book or some other source of information.

I would have loved to see some color photos, and more photos in general, or more line drawings.  In the tool section, for instance, a side by side  shot of the different tools would have been a great addition to the descriptions.  There were so many garden photos that simply didn’t capture how beautiful I know these plants should be with only a gray image.

backyard-farm-photo

I know this cilantro should be a popping bright green instead of gray.

I’m also pretty sure my old neighbors in the suburbs would have had kittens if I had tried to transform my yard as she suggests.  Some of them had panic attacks just because we had a garden and an assortment of fruiting plants.  Critters would have sent them off the deep end.  Hopefully your neighbors will be more understanding.

A Homestead Doesn’t Have to Be Huge

No matter how much or how little land you have, this book will help inspire you to look at your space in new ways. You don’t have to do everything – you can pick and choose what fits for you and your family. I think Angela did a nice job creating a beautiful book to help inspire a new generation of homesteaders.

You may also enjoy other book reviews featured in our Homestead Library.

Preserving the Bounty Giveaway

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Comments

  1. Kathryn Slater says

    I would like to learn more about how to garden with little space. I live in a city and have a small backyard that has a large tree in the middle. We’ve done a few gardens and it’s hard to get the type of produce I would like to grow in the amount of space we have. Thanks for your blog and all the wonderful advice!

  2. Kristie C says

    I need to get better at composting! My soil is absolute crap and my plants don’t grow because there are no nutrients!

  3. Lea says

    Thank you for this great review. The giveaway is a bonus :) I appreciate that you also put some negative things about the book. Too many people only praise.

  4. Paula Haller says

    Grew up with my depression era mother teaching me how to organic garden. Finally have a nice sunny backyard (my former one was too shady) and have been gardening and composting the last 6 years. Am wondering if your book has a chapter on how to convince spouses to agree to backyard chickens. ;-)
    Actually I am very interested in chickens and beekeeping.

  5. Teresa Etheridge says

    I currently have a backyard garden and am teaching my 3 children where good healthy food comes from. I would love to learn how to harvest my own seeds, How to enhance my compost by keeping animals, how to can and store the foods I grow, and how to elimanate unwanted pests organically, rather than by using chemicals. I can’t wait to read the great things you have come up with to help my small garden space more fruitful and productive.

  6. says

    I would like to learn more ideas about efficiently using my space, especially in integrating animals like goats (beyond the chickens I’ve already had). I *am* microfarming on one acre…but at least mine is rural and the neighbors won’t complain about the critters.

  7. says

    I live on a rocky ridge top but have managed two gardens by building up soil and raising chickens. I love the idea of a 1 acre homestead but when you don’t have flat land, good soil or a water source it’s difficult. I would love to know if there are books similar to this that discuss how to manage on hilly, rocky terrain where nothing is level, no pastureland, etc. If you come across anything like this, please call it out in a post or Facebook. Thanks!

  8. Kelly says

    I would love to add more variety of vegetables/fruits to my very small garden, as well as adding a few animals. Thank you!

  9. Pami Sparks says

    This is a great giveaway. Could not come at a better time. From your review I know that I would dive right into this book. I have been looking for land for the purpose of homesteading as we can no longer rely on the government to take care of us, it is time to stand on my own two feet. As a result of that, I think that a book like this would be a great addition to a library whose purpose is bring agriculture and self sustaining living back to the forefront of the game.

  10. dev giguere says

    ” Hi there!
    I’m the proud owner of handmedown copy of Richard M Bacons “An Acre and Security”, and I think that this would be the obvious, perfect pairing as far as my situation is concerned. He is very through, covering everything from goats to compost to chicken coops and treating bugs in your garden, but from my perspective (greeeeen, green, greenhorn), I can’t have too much help) working around three kiddos (all old enough to ‘help’ a little) and very limited resources, I am always excited to investigate new methods.
    Would love to enter. How to?

    • says

      dev – can you see the rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the post? You just click on the different tabs in the widget and enter your contact information so we know how to reach you if you win, then do each of the optional activities to get additional entries. Your information will never be sold.

  11. says

    What I need to learn is to how about going changing your town ordinances so that you can raise chickens in your backyard. I would so love to have my own eggs.

  12. Beth B says

    I’d really love to learn more on herbal and homeopathic remedies…homemade soaps and cleaners (working on some now)…root cellaring. Pretty much all of it :) Thanks for doing a giveaway like this :)

  13. Amy M says

    I’m interested in learning more about doing some gardening in pots (in addition to our regular garden plot). We don’t have a lot of sunny land so I think I need to try more in pots in our sunny spaces.

  14. Shannon says

    I have a small piece of land and have been working to use every inch of it for gargens, fruit trees and this spring Chickens and some bee hives. I am currently trying to talk my husband into tearing up the front lawn to put in a blueberry patch. I would love to add this book to my collection, for some fresh ideas.

  15. JoAnne says

    We grow a huge garden and are planning to enlarge even more. Also want to raise chickens the most efficient way.

  16. Kristina Johnson says

    I would like to know how to feed my chickens so they get the best non-GMO nutrition possible so we can get the best quality eggs from them.

  17. Sarah says

    I would love to win this book. We live on a small city lot and try to grow as much of our own food as possible :)

  18. Erin B says

    Animals aren’t allowed where I live so I’d like to learn more about bigger gardens, fruit & nut trees and how to harvest and preserve the food.

  19. says

    I’d love to know more about fitting more food-growing plants into less space. We live on 4 acres, but much of it is wooded and very few parts of the yard get truly “full sun,” so I have to be creative about how I plant things to maximize my harvest potential.

  20. laurie says

    I would LOVE to learn more about making the most use of my space. I have noticed positive health changes with trying to eat mostly organic, but it’s expensive…. would love to learn how to “stuff in a bunch” in a small space. I truly enjoy learning homesteading tricks, crafts and more to help us live more independantly !!

  21. Barb says

    This looks like a very informative source for those of us just really starting out in homesteading. I have a few more than one but only about one acre to actually ‘farm’ on! Thanks for the review!

  22. says

    We have a nice size garden in the back yard, but we would like to expand it with corn, potatoes and onions. We also have a big bank that we would like to grow things on and any info on this would be very helpful (veggies, berries, etc.). Right now there is a lot of weeds and unwanted shrubs on the bank that need removed without hurting the soil. Also we want to build a grape arbor. And I could go on and on with a little livestock.

  23. meganT says

    Would love to learn about all the different things i can do my our land. We got a spare acre I can convince the hubby to let me use.

  24. says

    Ooh, I just found your website yesterday and I love it. Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom and insight into homesteading! Such a great resource for those of us just getting started.

  25. deborah says

    Living in a subdivision on a 1/3rd of an acre, and earning all I can to plant a garden this year and for it to thrive :)

  26. Kathleen Chattic says

    Each year we learn more about growing and raising our own food, and I become more and more convinced that it will be better for my family. I would like to learn about growing fruits and raising bees and small animals, as well as how to get more from our garden. Thank you!

  27. Q T Prepper says

    I would so love to learn how to fit all of that on an acre, plus I would love to learn more about raising and taking care of animals.

  28. Dawn says

    This book had piqued my interest and have been thinking about getting it. Thanks so much for the review.

    Very interested in learning more about medicinal herbals and soaking grains. :)

  29. Penny says

    What an awesome giveaway! I cannot say there is any one area I want to learn more about above others. I need to learn it all! I have a 2.5 acre homestead that is just waiting for me to start on come spring and I need to learn all I can before it gets here!

  30. Valita says

    I want to learn more about sheep vs. goats on a small acreage (2 acres), maybe meat breeds that are good milkers as well.

  31. Brandi says

    There are so many things that I want to learn about homesteading…maybe one of the things I would like to learn the most about is keeping chickens. That is a big goal of ours although it is one that most likely won’t be accomplished until 2014. :)

  32. Kat says

    I have 1/3 acre and would love more info on converting my entire home and yards to a ‘farm’. On my way, but n\more info is always better!

  33. Emily says

    I’d like to learn more about seed starting and caring for chickens! Both things I’m currently researching, as I hope to start my garden from seed (not seedlings from other people), this year, and we hope to start with a couple chickens as well…

  34. Beac says

    I want to learn how to organize our acre. I want bees and chickens. I want advice on managing all this and the garden. :) thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  35. Stephen says

    Growing in the harsh Southwest desert is my big challenge. My “frost zone” is 11. Charts don’t even go up that far!

  36. says

    We’ve just purchased our own acre and a half and I can’t wait to get started! And chickens are on the list! Also picking the best spot for each thing we want to do….garden, herb garden, chickens, orchard, etc. Thanks for another great giveaway!

    And I am in the process of doling out the cough syrup I made from the herbs I won…THANK YOU for that from me and my kiddos!

  37. Winni says

    I have been eyeing this book for a while. It would be great to reference as we just moved into a new house with a huge back yard!

  38. Hilary Simcox says

    Everything, I want to learn everything about self sustaining on our little 1.3 acres! Fingers crossed.

  39. Ashley Springer says

    I want to learn it all!! We just moved in to a new home with a great big backyard and I want our own kitchen garden, chickens, the works!

  40. Bethany says

    Seeing as I only have a space of .75, I would love to figure out to better use it!! Also, I liked the fact that in your review, you named both the pros and cons of the book.

  41. Lori Lindgren says

    We have a large family so having a garden, growing our own food, would be very helpful. I would love to learn more about this!

  42. says

    I would love to learn more about raising chickens, we are building a coop right now… Also starting a herb garden and garden this spring.. This will my first time raising chickens and starting a garden this large.. Might need some help… Please…. :)

  43. heather says

    i would like to learn all different aspects of raising/growing my own food & different food preservation methods including canning, recipes, etc. i want to have a farm on the property i live on.. we have almost 3 acres so it would help greatly to have a book to cover different things :)

  44. Heather says

    We have a garden and raise chickens for eggs, but I am always looking for ways to maximize the amount of food we can produce ourselves.

  45. Brenda says

    I would love to learn more in every area of homesteading! I LOVE books!!
    I absorb whatever I can find about homesteading, farming, animal husbandry, caring for orchards (pruning, organic pest controls, etc.), just anything and everything about it.
    My greatest dream is to have a farm and live a much more healthy and self-sustained life. To live off the land and learn more about how to give life back to the land.
    For now, I’ll start in my own backyard, and keep my hopes alive about someday moving on to something bigger!
    Cheers!

  46. Prepper Pat says

    Looks like a great book to own, thank you for the review on the book, and giving me a chance to win my own copy.

  47. Donika says

    I would love to learn more about livestock processing. I remember watching my grandfather kill his chickens, and my grandma cleaning and cooking them, but it would be great to know how to handle pigs, goats, etc to make the very most of what we have raised to eat.

  48. Kelsey2784 says

    my husband and I are have been trying for a couple of years to be more self sufficient, We don’t have a lot of room and hope that something like this book could help.

  49. jessie chester says

    Great site always excited to see what youll come out with next. My reccomendation is for information about medicinal herb, edible flower/weed and organic growing inexpensively. Tjamks and keep up the great work! :-)

  50. Lisa says

    Though I wish I could raise chickens here in our rural village it is forbidden.
    Since Plan B is to learn more about raising rabbits in our back yard the book would be a helpful resource.

  51. Tracy says

    I love learning more about the garden – especially how to best use all the things I grow. Thanks for offering this great looking book!

  52. Karen says

    I can always use more gardening knowledge. Especially crop rotation and seed starting. I work with container gardening as well as a plot at a community garden. I am experimenting with drip lines and more efficient water systems, I really want to incorporate more rain water catchment, I have a very rough system right now. Really a little bit of everything, food preservation, use of solar and wind more…so much to learn

  53. Lacy says

    I would like to learn more about permaculture, rotational year round gardening and gardening in shady areas of the yard.

  54. Cher Kilgore says

    I’d like to learn more on planning things out.. Personally I tend to get everything needing to be done at once and overwhelmed.. spacing things out would be nice..

  55. Janae says

    I would love to learn more about providing for our family on a budget, growing our own food & herbs, raising chickens for eggs, etc.

  56. Jesse M says

    While I hope someday to have a larger area to “homestead” the reality is that I don’t know if that day will ever come so I would love to learn more about homesteading on a small scale!

  57. crystal Brown says

    I am devoted to growing food, not lawns and spreading the word. It is important to lead by successful example.

  58. Dulcinea says

    What an interesting book. I don’t think out neighbors would appreciate it if we added chickens, but they have been great about our garden space. One neighbor’s granddaughter likes to come over and help pick (read as: eat every other one) beans with our kids.

  59. Lori Reed says

    This is the first year I will be able to have a garden. I am very excited but nervous as well. I need help in all areas; herbs, fruits and veggies, composting, organic practices, etc. This book looks amazing!!

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