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The Weekend Homesteader Review

The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency by Anna Hess is an inexpensive guide to get you started with homesteading. Loaded with color photos, this book would make a good “coffee table” book, conversation starter or idea brewer.

How the Weekend Homesteader is Organized

The Weekend Homesteader is organized by month, starting with April and wrapping back around to March. (Alternate months are suggested for those living in Australia.)Β 

Each month includes four “projects' – one for each weekend – presenting you with activities that would be appropriate for that time of year. For instance, April projects include:

  • Find room to homestead
  • Survey your site
  • Plan you summer garden
  • Kill mulch

Many of the activities could be completed in an afternoon or weekend. Others will require an ongoing time investment.

For instance, you can roast a chicken in one afternoon (November), but Building a chicken coop or tractor and raising chickens (August-September) will be an ongoing task.

Things I Like About the Weekend Homesteader

Anna is obviously passionate about what she does, and is not afraid to share her mistakes. The photos and charts get you thinking and provide handy references.

Here's an excerpt from the Chicken Coop or Tractor Section:

The Weekend Homesteader

And here's another examples from the Survey Your Site section:

The Weekend Homesteader

The print is large and easy to read, the overall quality of the photos and book is very good.

One of most functional parts of the book was where she discussed diversifying your income, and broke down the real hourly wages that are likely to be earned from various common “homestead” options, such as selling eggs, selling honey, running a CSA, selling grapes and an online microbusiness.

When you run the numbers, according to her calculations (and I think she's spot on with this) – standard homestead activities for profit typically net a very low hourly wage.

You can save yourself a fair amount of money doing things for yourself, but most of us would be unable to pay the bills with only “standard” homestead income.

This is a critical concept to understand for those who dream about “living the simple life” – it doesn't pay very well (monetarily).

Set realistic goals, make steady progress, try new things – that's what the book is about.

Things I Didn't Like About the Weekend Homesteader

I was rather surprised to find out that the “Weekend Homesteader” book was written by a full time homesteader.

I was even more surprised when I read, “When you live on a farm, there is an endless array of chores and projects right at your fingertips, and it's tough to stop until you keel over from exhaustion. If my husband hadn't held firm by requiring weekends off and regular quitting times each day, I'm pretty sure I would have burnt out by now.”Β  Maybe another title would have been better?

In the canning section, she recommends boiling your canning lids – big no-no. If you want to can safely, check out the Ball Blue Book. I can't say I've ever seen a freezer with everything stacked in cylinders of deli tubs like she showed, either. I don't think this is realistic for most people.

As a northern gardener, many of the garden activities were not timed correctly for my location. I don't do anything in the garden in January and February – because it's frozen solid. Up here they don't generally recommend most tree planting in fall, either.

Her primary suggested crops don't really match too well with mine, either. I don't know anyone personally who would grow okra as one of their main crops, and most of my gardening friends grow cucumbers, which she seems to have problems with. Just a different climate and different preferences.

Overall, this was a good book to get ideas brewing and help set project timelines for more southern gardeners.

Check out other book reviews and suggestions in the Homestead Library, such as:

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  1. I have some chickens already but need to learn more about them. I’m wanting to make my own laundry detergent. And this spring I need to find a place/way to grow a few things we need such as potatoes & veggies.

  2. I would love to learn more projects and things to do in the winter… i really start to miss the garden, and being out with nature when its frozen solid.
    If I don’t win, can I borrow this from the library? I love reading homesteading books

  3. I would love to get better at gardening, and have a few chickens. Always looking for ways to plant a lot in a small space.

  4. Working on making a burn barrel & got a couple of water barrels I am going to use to collect rain as soon as I figure out how to set them up. I already have a couple gardens but I could do more with them.

  5. I am so looking forward to being able to have our own land and build a house on it. I’m loving my chickens. Hopefully I will have my first garden next spring. I’m sure I will need help with that and how to keep the girls out of it. LOL

  6. we eat tonns of dairy products and i would really enjoy trying to make some butter, cheese, cream myself…. also canning would be interesting… and we would love to have chicken… well there are a lot of things i would like to learn..

  7. I would like to learn more about gardening with regards to starting plants from seeds, transplanting and harvesting of seeds. I usually have a garden every year, but my seedlings never seem to make it and I end up buying plants from a local nursery.

  8. I’m working on raising chickens for eggs and doing quite well at it getting lots of eggs chicken and duck i would like to raise some meat chickens in the spring what breed do you recomend?

  9. We’ve had chickens for almost a year now and I’ve found there is more and more to learn! I’d also like to learn about building a cold frame and saving seed and making mulch and putting by food and just becoming more self sufficient!

  10. I’m recently retired and have several acres available. I’d like to grow grapes, blueberries, raspberries, apples and peaches. I’d like to expand my garden and grow more types of veggies plus sunflowers for the seeds. I freeze now but have minimal space so would like to do canning. Need to learn more about optimal harvest times for herbs, etc. Need better garden planning skills. I’d like to have a couple chickens for eggs and wonder if I need to have a rooster. Also interested in non-toxic cleaning and like the recipes for make it yourself food, medicines and cleaning products. Thanks.

  11. I would love to learn more about composting & gardening. Natural ways to protect against pests etc. Also saving rain water for garden use irrigation. Once a month Bulk cooking and freezing.

  12. I want to learn more about raising chickens and planting a variety of vegetables and fruits. Also I would like to learn how to successfully save seeds to use.

  13. I’d like to make a little money off the homestead, other then the cattle we raise & sell. I’d like to raise berries or something along that line to sell.

  14. Wait? You’re not supposed to boil canning lids? I thought my canning book said I should…must go back and re-read.

    1. Lisa – canning lids should be heated, not boiled. From the Ball Blue Book:

      “Home canning lids with sealing compound must be heated for 10 minutes before using to help lids achieve a vacuum seal. Place lids in water to cover and bring water to a simmer (180F), keeping lids in simmering water until ready for use. Reomve lids one at a time as they are needed for canning. Lids can be heated in a saucepan on a cook-top. Or, in a slow cooker that has a temperature control that can maintain 180F. Note: Overheating lids by boiling can result in seal failure.”

      (Emphasis mine)

  15. Well…. it’s a toss up between beekeeping and home butchering. I have both on my “to learn next” list!

  16. I would like to know more about growing your own mushrooms and things that grow well in the coolest months in NJ. I’d like to garden year round! And organic, nitrogen rich soil amendments… grass clippings and compost don’t seem to be enough for me.

  17. I’m not a “homesteader” yet, but working a little bit at a time to get there…
    to Casey VB… we found just put the stuff in, turn it, and the compost decomposition does it’s thing. The one thing we discovered is when you go to use your compost, leave some behind to start the next batch! It’s amazing how good it smells and feels when it’s all done :o)

  18. I am interested in all of it. I’ve started planting a few small gardens so far, but have a lot to learn. We have been considering raising chickens & the worm bin sounds great.

  19. Yeah homesteading! We have a few homesteading projects started but I need help organizing new ones! I’ve never canned – so that would be fun to learn about.

  20. Food preservation is my biggie that I need to learn. And I can’t get a compost going to save my life – it’s so dry and hot where I live that it just can’t get started.

  21. I have been gardening and composting for quite a few years and just started teaching myself canning. I would love to learn how to keep chickens, but unfortunately where I live, it’s not allowed. πŸ™ In general, I want to learn how to be more self-sufficient, even in a city setting.

  22. I’d like to learn about preserving food, and I’m interested in cutting firewood. And, composting in the company of bears is something I’d like to be better at…

  23. I love to see the ideas of others and then figure out how I can apply them to my family. I would like to know a little more about worm raising, but just like the fresh perspective of others in all aspects.

  24. I would love to win this book! I understand your statement, As a northern gardener, many of the garden activities were not timed correctly for my location. I live in Florida and a lot of homesteading books and magazines are written for up north or out west, but they are still filled with plenty of good ideas, you just adjust for your area!

  25. I love to learn more about gardening and canning, possibly how to keep the critters out of the garden, I have a now very well fed groundhog family living under the shed!

  26. I’m so glad to see the Weekend Homesteader series come together as a book! I’ve had one installment of it as an e-book. Personally, I much prefer the real book form. Perfect for pulling out and dreaming over on a dreary winter day.

    I can’t pick just one project. Going through books like this really helps us to make future plans. Hmmm….wonder if she has anything on raising a pig? That’s on my list for next year.


  27. Gardening! Last year was my first garden…and there were definitely some big fails in it. So this coming year, I want to learn how to grow things better, care for them, pest control, and what plants go well together.

  28. Hmm. We live in Texas. We can garden in January and February. And okra seems to be one of the few things producing in the very hot summer garden. I’d love to see the schedule for getting everything done!

  29. I’d like to make a goat milk mozzarella that doesn’t look/act like a softball….;) I have feta mastered, but this ‘simple’ cheese has me baffled.

  30. I have chickens but they are not laying eggs. I want to learn what I am doing! I also have clay based ground and could use help in how to make it workable

  31. I would love to learn how to can. I’m adding more square foot garden beds next year, and hope to have an excess of veggies. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.

  32. I would like to learn more about raising animals. I have chickens and turkeys, but would like to add more small animals. The larger animals are too expensive right now.

  33. I am so excited about your giveaway and love your site! Thank for your wonderful idea. I am loving learning about becoming more self sufficient. I have just started canning and preserving. I love new ideas on natural remedies and cures! I also live in N Idaho & would love ideas on gardening in the North…there are lots of things we cannot grow, but I would love more ideas on what we can grow!

  34. I have always wanted to raise chickens. I would love to have them running around and get the fresh eggs. I need to just jump inot that project one day but I want to make sure I’m prepared for the committment πŸ™‚

  35. Would love to build a chicken coop, grow my own mushrooms, make my own butter and cheeses. The list is endless.

  36. I would like to study up on how to make myself a cute urban garden area that will fill my pantries all year long!!!

  37. I’d like to learn how to garden my “entire” back yard in the city. I have a fairly large lot. The front yard would look normal and the back would be my oasis!

  38. Hi, I found your blog through Moving on to the past…this looks like a great tutorial for a beginner. Thank you for having the giveaway. I’d like an overall on the how to get starting point, setting up a farm homestead, raising some chickens…thank you

  39. I would really like to learn more about keeping animals. I was raised in a garden but sadley there was no barn present!

  40. I am doing more learning on food preservation and gardening….. Love to learn all I can… Great little giveaway…..

  41. I’ve been gardening, and canning for a long time, but I always enjoy reading up on what others are doing. Never to old to learn something new from someone else πŸ™‚

  42. I grew up around my grandparents farm every weekend and half of most of the school holidays so to me “homesteading” became so ingrained in me that despite living in an urban setting I have always ensured that where I lived was capable of allowing me to enjoy this lifestyle. Even when purchasing a home I have always looked for homes that are already fairly self sufficient by having wood heat, some fruit trees, room to garden, and maybe even a bit more. My current home was built in 1925, is wood heated, has a few fruit trees, a green house, 3000 square feet for gardening or whatever, and even a root cellar! I love urban homesteading! Then in 2007 I was run down by a hit and run driver, leaving me disabled for life. I thought the lifestyle I loved had been taken away. Thankfully my family and friends would not allow that and went about restructuring my home and yard to make it so I could still be fairly self sufficient, regardless of my new limitations. Garden beds raised to 3 ft. off the ground, green house shelves lowered, and even a chute from the wood pile that runs all the way to a box next to the wood stove! Their creativity inspired me to return to my passion! Just before my accident I had wanted to try my hand at raising chickens as I am allowed up to eight where I live. This coming spring I am hoping that with the help of my support people a coop can be built that will make the chickens happy, and yet still functional for me to manage. So hopefully, this coming year one of my latest challenges to overcome will be learning how to successfully raise some chickens, along with preserving what I grow now that the number of raised beds has become more than I need just for feeding my family on a seasonal basis… it grows double that, so it is also time to figure out preserving in my “new” life. Any and all info on chickens though would be great as I have never raised them before. Plus, I am sure there will be many other ideas that can assist me as I continue to adapt to my ways of gardening to my body’s way of doing things quite differently than I used to… πŸ™‚

  43. I think the top thing we want to learn more about is starting seeds and green house growing. We have not done anything other than an outdoor garden, so extending the growing season in WI is of a huge interest.

  44. I would love a book like that. I just recently started learning about permaculture and living off the land and it has become somewhat of an obsession. I currently rent an apartment, but have started to put away money towards buying my own piece of land in 2013 where I can grow organic fruits and veg and keep a few chickens and goats. I still have a lot to learn, but have already started educating myself in saving seeds and planting crops!

  45. I’m in my second year of preserving (and gardening) and I’m ready to take on more ambitious projects, which is why this book appeals to me so much. Rainwater, composting, better planning. I need help and guidance with it all, for sure.

  46. I would like to learn absolutely everything I possibly can about how to become self-sufficient. I deplore relying on anyone for anything, especially if any government is keeping tabs on me πŸ˜›

  47. I just started Homesteading myself. I have a little garden and a Rooster and I had 19 chickens but 2 died. I want to start incubating them but don’t know how. I also just bought a pressure canner/cooker and just started canning. I want to buy rabbits for meat and some chickens and turkeys for meat. There’s so much I need to learn!

  48. Short term I’d love to learn more about homesteading w/o land as I currently live in an apartment. My 2-5 year plan is for a big move, home paid for, lots of land, chickens, and a massive garden for self-sufficiency, so there’s still a lot to learn!

  49. I’m going to have chickens this spring so I really need all the help I can get! We also have a small greenhouse but it’s not used to its fullest potential, so help with that would be awesome!

  50. I really want to learn about canning and raising chickens, but all homesteading tasks are great to know!

  51. We continually try new methods we learn via blogs and facebook sites in order to improve things around the ol farmstead.

    We do as much as we can literally afford and as time allows we hope to be more self sufficient and of course to continue to learn as we go along. thanks for the chance to win your book.

  52. I would like to find out more about everything honestly. I want chickens but where I live we are not allowed to have chickens. Thanks for this opportunity.

  53. I would love to learn more about to make steady progress towards homesteading. I grow a garden, but am not sure what else I could start doing (especially in the winter months)…. Thank you for this chance to win the book!

  54. I would like to know more about herbs and medicinal plants, as well as putting up food. I am also interested in learning more about common sense methods of self sufficiency, the kind that used to be more commonplace in rural areas, but have been somewhat ‘forgotten’.

  55. I am at the very beginning of starting my journey to becoming self reliant, so I really need to know more about everything, but right now I think the most important thing for me is gardening to provide a sustainable food source for my family.

  56. I want to learn more about gardening year round and I’ve always wanted to try growing mushrooms. We have chickens, rabbits, and dairy goats. We launched all these in the same year so we started off running, but there are still so many things to learn. I want to try out beekeeping too!

  57. Need to recreate my sustainable garden for winter. A good good garden this summer but now I need to either coverit for winter or begin to grow winter crops? Like to know your thoughts.

  58. I’d love to learn about gardening! I dream about turning our front yard into a vegetable garden, but my husband thinks it’s weird.

  59. I’m just starting out and am really excited. I really want to learn, but unfortunately, I have to learn everything via book and/or internet. To do it this way, is kind of scary, haha. But there’s no one around here to learn from… Let’s hope this book can really help.

  60. I clearly need to learn more about preserving my harvest. And since I am fairly new to gardening…there’s always more to learn…saving seeds too…and tearing myself away from a full-time job…

  61. Well, I am always open to new ideas and new ways of approaching things. There is so much more we could all be doing to take advantage of our individual situations. I will try to find this book at the library.

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