Books: The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It

When we first got the itch to start growing food for ourselves and become a little more self sufficient, this was the book that got us going. I signed it out from the local library and couldn’t put it down. After maxing out the times I could renew the book, I had to return it and couldn’t take it out again because someone else had requested it. So I requested it for Christmas.

Well before this current back-to-the-land movement, John Seymour wrote The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency in 1976, which over the years evolved into the current edition of The Self-Sufficient Life.

The book is a glimpse into living off of the land. A labour-intensive, low-consumption life, where money and consumerism take a back seat to simply taking care of yourself and your family.

The book doesn’t just show you how to milk a cow (your cow of course), it gives you an ideal layout of a home dairy, and all the basic recipes for what to do with the milk. Directions are there for how to grow your own grain for either bread, or even brewing, including the steps of how to malt and brew with barley.

Though not the biggest in the book, I find the one-acre farm inspiring. It shows how much you can do with a relatively small piece of land.

The book starts with a bird’s eye view of an urban garden, and on the following pages gets up to the ultimate 5-acre self-sustaining farm.

It’s essentially a how-to book for living like John Seymour. And the reader has the benefit of his years of wisdom. It’s a great head-start.

Whether you’re moving out to the wilderness, or just want to take small steps toward being able to take care of yourself, The Self Sufficient Life will give you the advice you need to make the most of what you have.

You can even learn how to get rid of bungees. They only exist because people don’t know how to use rope anymore. And we also fantasize about when we’ll have a cow.

Add the The Self Sufficient Life and How To Live It to your bookshelf by visiting the publisher’s site here. Or find it through your local bookstore.


  • I might just skip over the library trip to get this and just order it-sounds perfect. thanks for the review.

  • I'm going to be checking to see if my library has this book. It sounds AWESOME.

  • It's a great read. What it has over Back to Basics is that it isn't simply a collection of skills, it's a collection of skills that one man used in his own life. Pretty awesome. It's also fun to piece together the stories of his odd living arrangements with other people. DRAMA. No, not really.

  • I tried to leave you a comment earlier but it went to some internet black hole. But I wanted to say thanks for your inspiring and beautiful blog. My roots are firmly in small scale family agricultural things and I love what you're doing.

  • My husband and I recently read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Self-Sufficient Living. It's a great primer and the author has a lot of experience.

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