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Author: Shawn Dougherty, Beth Dougherty


336 pages

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When Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased the land they would come to name the Sow’s Ear, the state of Ohio designated it “not suitable for agriculture.” Today, some 20 years later, their family raises and grows 90 percent of their own food. Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture management. Pioneered by such luminaries as Allan Savory, Greg Judy, and Joel Salatin, the tenets of holistic grazing (employed mostly by larger-scale commercial operations) have been adapted by the Doughertys to fit their family’s needs. In The Independent Farmstead, they present their model for regenerating the land and growing food for others to use and build upon.

In witty and welcoming style, The Independent Farmstead covers everything from choosing a species of ruminant and incorporating it into a grass-based system to innovative electric fencing and watering systems. The Doughertys cover what to do with all of the milk, meat, and, yes, manure that the self-sustaining farm produces.

Within these pages, they discuss how to:

  • Find and improve poor, waste, or abused land and develop its natural water resources
  • Select and purchase the appropriate ruminant for regenerating your farmstead
  • Apply fencing strategies and pasture management basics
  • Implement basic, uncomplicated food processing, including large and small animal butchering and cheesemaking
  • Integrate grass, gardens, and livestock to minimize or eliminate the need for off-farm inputs

The Independent Farmstead is a must-have resource for those who desire clean, affordable food that’s unmodified, unprocessed, and unmedicated, and for those who long for the security of local food sourcing for themselves and their children. It’s a book for both new and prospective farmers and homesteaders, and for those who are interested in switching to grass-based systems. Best of all, it’s the kind of rare how-to book that the authors themselves view not as a compendium of one-size-fits-all instructions but as “the beginning of a conversation,” one that is utterly informative, sincere, and inspiring.