Little House in the Suburbs by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin
I picked this book up a couple of weeks ago and read through it. There are a lot of different books out there in the urban homesteading realm, each one sharing what one person or family has done with their homes. There are a lot of similar themes and overlapping info in these books, but ultimately each story is a little different.
First, I didn’t feel that Little House in the Suburbs is quite geared towards my demographic group (although they did give a brief shout-out to the ‘survivalists’ at one point in the book), but that’s just a matter of style and kind of trivial. As the name suggests, it does have a suburban mother aura to it, but still worthwhile for anyone interested in these subjects to read.
I think one of the strengths of this book was that most of it wasn’t very technical, but sounded more like the kinds of things you would hear from talking with people with experience face-to-face in these matters. I particularly liked the chapters about goats, bees and chickens, which were some of the best material on these subjects I’ve come across. In fact, after reading it I think I’m knocked off the fence on getting bees and egg laying hens here and will talk with a local beekeeper sometime this week about bees.
Another notable theme throughout the book is dealing with neighbors and homeowners associations. Your neighbors are probably going to think you’re eccentric for bringing in livestock to your backyard, but the authors give tips on how to win your neighbors over on these things. In many places the laws for keeping chickens and bees are up to the city’s discretion and a content neighbor isn’t going to be making calls to the city every day complaining about this or that. I forgot if this was brought up in the book or not, but it’s also a good way to build community by including your neighbors on these activities if you can – plus it could influence them to take similar actions as well. Maybe your neighbors would like to do something like keep chickens but thought that you would think they had lost their marbles? I don’t know… At any rate, this is an important subject that I think gets overlooked in most books from the genre.
There’s also chapters about preserving food, homemade foods, natural cleaning products, natural health and beauty products and homemade crafts as gifts. I’ll admit that I skimmed through some of the less-masculine material in these departments.
I also have to say that it’s a good looking book with a lot of good pictures. Very well done.
I think that the authors unimposing and personal approach to the world of urban homesteading would go over well with people who are new to urban homesteading or maybe just interested in making their life a little more “green”.
The authors have a blog that can be found here: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/