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Posts tagged: gardening

Armchair Farming with Vintage Books

    Some people read thrillers. They like high-flying espionage and doomsday scenarios or murder mysteries with gory homicide cases solved by little old ladies or wise-cracking private detectives. This is the polar opposite of their ordinary life, but then that’s what makes the plots so exciting.

 Others read biographies of fascinating people, they want to know the most intimate details of the lives of celebrities or historical figures. Some women are never without a romance novel, stories of love and lust. Some men go for stories of fly-fishing or tomes on the Civil War.

     The point is that what we read is as individual as our thumbprint.  It doesn’t necessarily reflect who we are, just what we find fascinating.

     I have this weakness for books about farming. Not modern stories, but old books. I pick them up occasionally and then spend an evening reading about how to dig a well and where to put a greenhouse. The best way to operate a farm stand and how to raise geese. Mind you, I don’t want, at this particular time, to dig a well. I can’t see myself selling produce by the side of the road and I think geese are mean. But, that doesn’t stop me from reading about people who chose that life.

     I have four favorites in the bookcase. Occasionally, when they catch my eye, I’ll lift one out and sit down for a good read about onion growing for market. Or, how to keep your freeloading friends and family from showing up each Sunday for a home-cooked meal of fresh produce and grain-fed chicken.

   The oldest book, the beautifully bound “Garden and Farm Topics,” was written in 1884. It’s a complete “how to” manual for gardeners.      Another, “Winged Seeds,” is the story of a doctor and his wife who bought a run-down farm house and built a life in the country. It was written in 1923 and is signed “To the ‘Scavenger.’  

     “Five Acres and Independence,” published in 1935, is a “practical guide to the selection and management of a small farm.” It is more than a manual. It is also filled with quotes from other books on farming and animal husbandry. I especially liked this quote from Donald G. Mitchell : “If a man would enter upon country life in earnest and test thoroughly its aptitudes and royalties, he must not toy with it at a town distance; he must brush the dews away with his own feet. He must bring the front of his head to the business, and not the back of it.”

     And the 5th book in the stack is “How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method.” It is a classic 1961 “Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine” staff compilation and it’s still very relevant.

    My kids tease me about my farming books. But my youngest is determined to move us out to the country. She spends hours pouring over ads for farms and land. So, who knows, all that reading might come in handy one day.
  

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement, and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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