Tag Archives: Books

2020 Reading Challenge: Nature

2020 Reading Challenge: NatureLooking for something good to read this year, or maybe just through those cold winter months? How about a reading challenge?

The theme of this year’s reading challenge at Homestead on the Range is nature. One of the key tenets of sustainable agriculture is to work in sync with nature. Another, closely related rule of thumb is to mimic nature’s systems. A good way to start is to read up on the subject.

To complete the reading challenge, you must read 12 books by the end of the year, or an average of one book every month. Each book will be in a different category. This year’s categories are as follows:

  1. A book about plants.
  2. A book about animals.
  3. A nature-themed photo book.
  4. A book about a specific ecosystem.
  5. A book about weather or the atmosphere.
  6. A book about water.
  7. A book about habitat restoration or conservation.
  8. A book about how to observe nature.
  9. A book about agricultural practices that benefit nature.
  10. A book about outdoor recreation or skills.
  11. A book about an endangered species.
  12. A book about an extinct species.

A few rules:

  • Books in electronic formats count.
  • Both fiction and nonfiction books count.
  • You can work through the categories in any order.
  • Books cannot be counted twice, even if they fit into more than one category.

Need some help finding the books? Check out The Homestead Bookshelf to browse our favorite titles. Then sign up for On the Range, your free weekly country living update (learn more here). At the end of every month, we’ll suggest a book for one of the categories.

Let us know what you decide to read! We’d love to hear from you!

Top 10 Reader-Favorite Books

Vegetable Garden Planting Guide

We love curating helpful reading material for country living enthusiasts!

If you are looking for a variety of useful books on everything from starting a farming enterprise to planting crops to drawing horses, we highly recommend the Homestead Bookshelf as the place to find what you’re looking for. We have collected public domain classics, modern paperbacks, free extension service PDFs, and even a few books published by Homestead on the Range to help you learn important facts and skills.

New to our site? Allow us to recommend some of the books our readers purchase or download after visiting.

Continue reading Top 10 Reader-Favorite Books

Fields of Farmers

Fields of FarmersThere are two attitudes toward farm internships prevalent in America today. The first is that of stubborn individualism, the rugged “gonna do it my way” philosophy commonly associated with farmers. The second is best described as, “What I need is some interns to get this place in shape!”

In Fields of Farmers: Interning, Mentoring, Partnering, Germinating, Joel Salatin tackles both mistaken viewpoints head-on. Salatin views internships as a ministry, an investment in the next generation—not an opportunity for cheap labor.

This book was clearly written for both the mentor and the mentored. After an overview of education and how it works, particularly in a real-world context, Salatin proceeds to urge both groups of people to give and to serve. Experienced farmers are counseled to put time and effort into guiding young people, even when it isn’t easy, while aspiring land stewards are admonished to put their best into their work and forego the “I’m owed” mentality.

But Fields of Farmers is about far more than the philosophy that should go into an internship program, as foundational as that is. It is also about the mechanics necessary for making things work—the process of selecting, housing, training, and setting mutually respectful boundaries for interns. It seeks to find equitable answers to prickly questions about whether interns should be paid and what to do when a new intern is doing the farm more harm than good.

Rounding out the book is a fascinating look at the history of apprenticeship written by a Polyface apprentice.

If you are casually considering adding an internship program to your farm, Fields of Farmers may very well scare you off. But for those who are determined to play a role in training the next generation of farmers, it is an essential manual to navigating some dangerous waters in a way that enables both parties involved to succeed.

Western Swing Guitar Style

Western Swing Guitar StyleHave you ever wanted to learn Western swing? Here’s a superb introduction to the unique chord progressions of this toe-tapping sound, geared toward the rhythm guitarist.

Western Swing Guitar Style by Joe Carr offers an excellent step-by-step approach, taking the time to teach you the principles and music theory you need to be able to create your own arrangements. Right from the start, you will see how to build a great Western swing chord progression by learning how to take “Sally Goodin'” from a basic A-D-A-E-A progression to a full-fledged arrangement with a bass line and some beautiful diminished chords.

But that’s just the beginning! All types of embellishments and chord substitutions are taught, along with general guidelines for how to achieve that perfect Western swing sound every time. Along the way, you will mostly be working with real chord progressions rather than exercises, bringing life to your practice time.

A purchase of Western Swing Guitar Style will also give you access to free audio downloads of the chord progressions, with and without a full band, so that you can listen and play along for a well-rounded understanding. (Check the first page of the book for download instructions.)

For the absolute beginner to Western swing, this book is a must!

Now on Kindle Unlimited: The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)Looking for some fun reading for the whole family? The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!): 101 Funny Bone Ticklers for Jokesters of All Ages is once again available for free through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program for a limited time.

Finding clean jokes that children of all ages can enjoy doesn’t have to be difficult!

B. Patrick Lincoln has supplied the need by collecting 101 family-friendly puns and riddles! Old jokes receive a new spin (Why is it inadvisable to read the contents of this book to an egg?), while original wordplay delights and entertains:

“I must here apologize for having organized such a book of horrid jokes. The problem is, I couldn’t help it. I’ve always been a joker—a card, you might say.”

Children will love sharing these jokes with their parents, grandparents, friends, and pun pals, while quirky illustrations add to the fun. Not only will the gift of clean humor connect generations, children will sharpen their logic and vocabulary skills as they practice their delivery. (And readers will finally have an answer to that nagging question of why the chicken really crossed the road.)

Share a laugh!

The Worst Jokes I Know is also available for purchase as a paperback. Find more information and free sample pages here.

The Beginner’s Guide to Microphones

The Beginner's Guide to MicrophonesAre you a musician shopping for that first microphone to get your home studio off to a good start? Before you spend any money on a mic, spend just a couple of dollars on some great information—The Beginner’s Guide to Microphones by Brendan Krueger.

This book is exactly what it claims to be. It is not an encyclopedia, nor is it geared toward seasoned professionals. It is a handbook for the absolute beginner. But, considering the valuable information you receive for the price, The Beginner’s Guide to Microphones is truly impressive!

The Beginner’s Guide to Microphones starts right at the beginning with a lesson in vocabulary. You will learn the parts of a microphone, the meaning of acronyms such as DAW, and all about frequency response, among other topcis.

After a discussion of microphone shape, the guide gets down into the characteristics and uses of four common mic types:

  • Dynamic.
  • Condenser.
  • Shotgun.
  • Ribbon.

But different microphones can also have different polar patterns, and these patterns all get due treatment in this guide. Once you have finished reading the book you will understand polar patterns from unidirectional to cardioid and everything in between.

The Beginner’s Guide to Microphones wraps up with a discussion on microphone placement, which should give you some ideas to experiment with once you have made your microphone purchase.

Again, this is not a comprehensive reference, but a beginner’s guide. You could probably find most of this information online for free. However, given the price of the book, the experience backing up the research, and the quality of the presentation, The Beginner’s Guide to Microphones is an excellent value and a great way to sift through the options in a short amount of time.

Highly recommended for all beginning home producers!