Jenna Woginrich’s Made from Scratch: Homesteading Now, Not Later

By , April 8, 2010

In talking to people about our lifestyle, we commonly hear them say they’d like to do it when the time and conditions are right. If you’re one of those people, I have a book to recommend to you.

Jenna Woginrich decided to change her life, to become a homesteader, living as self-sufficient as possible. Rather than waiting until she’d found land suitable to her purpose, she got busy and moved to a rented house, where she began her journey toward becoming a producer rather than a consumer. The results are described in her memoir/how to, Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life (check your local bookstore).

Some have criticized this short, charming book for not including enough “how to” detail, but I disagree. True, you won’t learn how to create and operate your own homestead. What you will learn is how much one can do with what’s at hand, with the proper attitude and effort. Each chapter ends with a list of resources and general advice on the topic just covered. It’s not exhaustive, but puts the astute reader on the right track. She’s not going to do it all for one; one must, by the very nature of the enterprise, be prepared to do it for one’s self!

Jenna’s book offers examples of what to do, and some unflinching descriptions of what can go wrong. This is not a sugarcoated wish book, but a serious look (amusingly told, when possible) at what it means to take responsibility for one’s life, including raising, killing, and processing your own food.

She also espouses a wonderful philosophy that I also endorse, that of fully appreciating one’s belongings. We share with her love of the tools most of society has cast aside in favor of newer, higher powered (which usually means “not hand powered”) “improved” models. She and I have slightly different views on what makes perfect coffee, but I did try her method.

Since her book came out, Jenna seems to have moved to Vermont, changed her last name, and started a blog about life on Cold Antler Farm. It’s worth checking out, as is her book.

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