Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Winter Reading: Made by Hand

This is not a step-by-step guide to living a more sustainable life, a la Possum Living  or Surviving the Apocalypse in the SuburbsInstead, it’s the story of Mark Frauenfelder’s  journey into a more do-it-yourself (DIY) lifestyle. The book starts off with Mark and his wife deciding to move to a remote tropical island to escape the money and stress of their lives in California. I liked where this was going…

However, Mark and his family realize that the island life isn’t for them. They move back to California and Mark finds himself on a new path after collaborating to create and edit the DIY magazine, Make. With inspiration and motivation from other DIYers in his life and online, Mark starts a garden, converts a shack into a chicken coop (and sets up an automatic door to let the chickens out every morning!), collects and keeps a native bee population, and even creates his own musical instruments. Throughout the book he describes the processes he follows, sharing his accomplishments and defeats with grace and humor.

Sallie gave us this book not knowing if it would apply to us or if we’d like it- she was right on the money! Now we’ll have to figure out how to make our own automatic door for the chicken coop!

P.S. While we’re talking about “made by hand,” Eric got me a fantastic novel last year called World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler. It’s a post-apocalyptic story that describes a town learning to live off the land and off each other in the face of violent gangs and corrupt politicians. Definitely worth a read.

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