Monday, April 28, 2014

Which Joel Salatin book should I read?

So you've heard about the amazing work of Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm and you want to know more, but you don't know which of his books to read....

(Or you haven't heard of Joel Salatin and have no idea what I'm talking about?? What??  Catch up here)



Since we went to a seminar with Joel Salatin a couple of years ago, we've bought and read four of his books, and his dvd, so while I can't advise you on all the books, I can at least give you a preview of the ones that we own and that might help you to make a decision.


You Can Farm
You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise

If you are thinking about farming or already own a property and want to get more out of it, this book is a good place to start.  It is not about how to farm, as in how to raise animals or how to plough a field, its about how to set up a farming business and be succesful.  Pete and I often talk over the ideas in this book, its clear to us that the mono-culture farming model is not working, we don't know any rich farmers, most are doing it pretty tough, but they just keep doing the same thing and losing money.  In You Can Farm Joel suggests a different way of thinking about farming, he discusses finding a niche, adding value, diversifying products, not getting sucked into buying horses and fancy farming stuff.  He suggests several primary enterprises that can bring in money right away and are cheap to set up, and then secondary enterprises that can build diversity.  He makes us think about our property and the opportunities that are open to us.

Salad Bar Beef and Pastured Poultry Profit$
Salad Bar Beef
Pastured Poultry Profit$

If you are looking for advice on the practical day-to-day management of beed and poultry, these are the books you need.  Considering that most beef and chicken books that I have read do not discuss moving the animals over pasture, natural management of animal health, and even marketing of the meat, these books are unique.  For the Australian reader, there are many aspects that do not directly apply to our climate, Joel is also dealing with different pests and diseases and we can't get all of the products that he suggests, we are also working under different food safety legislation, however the general principles are useful and certainly get us thinking about a different way to farm.

Everything I Want to do is Illegal
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front

This is another book that won't tell you HOW to farm, but I enjoyed reading it all the same.  Even though Joel is writing from an American perspective, many of the issues he discusses are happening here in Australia too.  Things like being illegal to sell raw milk, homekill meat, the difficulties with organic certification, building your own house, national animal identification systems, I did an awful lot of nodding (and laughing at the way Joel describes the ridiculousness!).  If you are passionate about producing, eating and having free access to real food, you will enjoy this book.


The Polyface Farm DVD

If you don't like reading, then the Polyface Farm DVD is a good option.  We watch it regularly to get a dose of Joel.  It is a little dated, made in 2001, and doesn't go into heaps of detail, but does give a good overview of the Polyface method.  I do think it spends rather too much time discussing rabbits though!

Have you read these or any of the others?  Any recommendations?

6 comments:

  1. Thank you Liz, three of these have now been added to my wishlist at the bookstore.

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  2. Polyface farm is not far up the valley from me but I have never been there but I have followed what he is doing. A guy near me tried to run a farm based on his methods but failed as there just isn't enough money around here to keep it going. He had chickens following several days behind the cattle herd, it was neat to see. I hope your government doesn't have things rigged against you like our government. Our leaders are bought and paid for by the chemical and GMO manufacturers.

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  3. I love reading Joel's books! One of his books I did enjoy was "Folks, this ain't normal". I haven't read Salad Bar Beef as yet.

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  4. I really like Joel Salatin's books. I haven't seen the DVD but his farm was in Food Inc. which was good to watch. I also liked reading Michael Pollan's book which devoted a section to his time spent at Polyface Farm. It's always good to keep an open mind and take bits and pieces from the many great sources out there to enhance out own farms.

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  5. I have heard of him, but have not read his books.
    Everything You Want to do Is Illegal, sounds interesting. T
    Thanks for the reviews!

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  6. From observation the people who seem to make it work are also earning part of their income from education, running courses, pdcs etc from or in conjunction with the farm or have one partner working off the farm.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, if you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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