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.

2 Responses to “Jenna Woginrich’s Made from Scratch: Homesteading Now, Not Later”

  1. Chris says:

    Check out the site: coldantlershamtoo.blogspot.com for a different impression of Jenna Woginrich. She’s a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Wow, Chris, this is scary, on so many levels!

    First off, I don’t follow Ms Woginrich’s blog. I’ve looked at it in the past, and read a whole lot more today after you commented. So, I don’t know what would inspire this much backlash to her blog! I still stand by what I said in this post: as a stand alone piece, Made from Scratch has a lot of value, IMO.

    But, holy cow! I looked all over the blog you mentioned, trying to find some “mission statement” or other introduction that would explain this person’s apparent obsession with Woginrich’s blog. He (she?) is dedicated, that’s for sure. While the blog posts are super short (I try to keep my posts brief, this guy’s inspiring!) it’s been going on for almost a year. You say she’s a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I didn’t find a whole lot of information to back up the opinions being asserted there. I’d love to know more.

    This all hits way too close to home for me. I blogged elsewhere for a while before starting this blog, and unaccountably attracted a troll. I hate to mention it, because that gives the guy exposure where none is due, but he said some pretty awful things about my family and me on a platform where I couldn’t counter his comments at all. For all I know this person could be reading this blog now, but I’ve never seen any comments from him, so I assume his mother finally kicked him out of her basement, or blocked his computer from accessing her Internet account.

    Reading this makes me feel that old “there but for grace go I”–as you must see on my blog, I do my share of trying to monetize the effort–that only makes sense. Luckily, I haven’t generated much, if any, backlash, either for selling books, or uneven quality of writing, or insincerity, or lame topics, or whatever it is that seems to piss the blogger and his followers off so much about Ms Woginrich’s site. It’s odd that they all “talk” to each other on the blog, through the short thesis/long string of comments format in ways that make it clear they all assume everyone participating knows exactly what the issue is. And, they’re all very well versed in the nuances of her blog! Love or hate her, they’re reading everything carefully, from all appearances.

    Embarrassingly, I’m almost jealous. Perhaps I wish I had readers talking about this blog in another format–they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Here’s a whole, separate, independent blog that tempts people to go check out Woginrich’s blog to see why they all hate it so much. That’s got to bring her hits to the site, and possibly new customers. I doubt I’d want to deal with that sort of grief, but I do feel a bit of envy that her work is high enough profile to generate this amount of backlash.

    Because the blog is so obviously written for a special group (i.e. those who hate her) and because almost every single comment is from anonymous contributors, I’d have to discount the whole thing in general. But, just like a well told first hand ghost story, even if one doesn’t believe it, one may still feel a shiver down one’s back!

    Dang! Speaking of word counts. Maybe I ought to work up a separate blog post that links to this screed?

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