Top Book on “The Good Life”

Book Review
‘Life on Fodder Farm – A journey to Self Sufficiency” by Rebecca Stewart, published by Upstart Press. Price $39.99
Reviewed by Tony Orman
Fishing and hunting people are into harvesting fish and game and even given to gathering. Often there is the dream of a few acres in the country, running a few stock for meat and hunting and fishing providing venison or fish perhaps and just enjoying the learning and the achievement in being self sufficient. In short, “The Good Life”. “Life on Fodder Farm” is likely be just the book for you.
Rebecca and David Stewart made a deliberate move to a secluded corner of the King Country aimed at settling into a self sufficiency style of living. This book is about the move and the adaptions towards the lifestyle strongly based on self sufficiency.
She writes that “the hardest step — letting go of what its expected from life or what you feel is required of you and embracing what is needed for you and your family.”
They wished to embrace another way to live, a simpler life “away from the consumerism of the world.”
“Modern living puts everything at our fingertips, anything we want is there if we just earn enough to buy it. But often we spend more time working to pay for this life than actually living it.”
The author explains “We needed to change the way we ate——to make health a priority and truly learn what food was our medicine – only to find out, if we ate the right foods, we didn’t need medicine. These changes all took time and are still happening because we never stop learning.”
The couple chose to “homestead” – an American concept, but applicable to New Zealand in looking back towards pioneering days. Back then, while some staples such as flour, salt, tea and coffee were bought in bulk, much of vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy were produced from the surrounding land.  The homestead was the heart of the property, says Rebecca Stewart, where these foods were turned into cheese and butter, preserved in jars and bottles as jams, syrups, chutneys and bottled fruit. The meat was hung and often bacon, ham, sausages and salamis were made or meat was stored in lard, tallow oil salt to extend its shelf life.
The author recommends easing in steps towards towards this lifestyle. “Start with with stopping buying something and making it yourself instead, foregoing the preprepared meals and learning how to create tasty meals from simple ingredients.”
It is immensely satisfying and says “There is profound satisfaction in knowing that the meal before you is all homegrown, a sense of achievement that keeps many people bound to this life.”
More Self Sufficiency – Good Move
But you don’t need several hectares or so in the backcountry to move towards greater self-sufficiency. Learning to shop seasonally, cooking with simple ingredients and a small vegetable garden can be done anywhere – in the country or town suburb. Rebecca and David aim for a natural, “low cost to no cost” garden—returning nutrients back to the soil. The recounting of their lifestyle gives valuable advice along the way.
This book will be of strong interest and providing valuable information for anyone, and especially so, given the rising cost of living that currently is being strongly politically debated. It’s odds on it will become even more importan for everyone.
If the choice is made to head for the country, there are economic and family considerations. The more remote the block of land, the lower the land price but also the more expensive it is to get to and that includes moving and bringing in resources. Having school age children can limit options unless you take on home schooling where you have the freedom to choose how and what your children are taught. 
All in all “Life on Fodder Farm” is an excellent book, nicely produced and full of great advice on a more natural healthy lifestyle. Strongly recommended.
Fodder Farm.jpeg
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7 Responses to Top Book on “The Good Life”

  1. "Country Kid" says:

    The book sounds excellent. I have been there with a few acres in the country, a small flock of sheep, fattening weaner pigs supplemented by venison in deep freeze and trout and snapper every now and again, It was a great life.

  2. Jack Tuhawaiki says:

    The review brings out a good point that greater independence and a conscious move to more self sufficiency will be needed with rising cost of living. Politicians – this government anyhow – seem incapable of doing things logically. The move to remove GST from fruit and vegetables in practice will not ease things for lower incomes. But it seemed a sincere – if not well thought out – effort. But then government undoes any good by pushing up fuel tax which will worsen the cost of living (increased cost of fruit and vegetables) and increased fuel will make it more expensive for low to middle class commuters.
    So increased self sufficiency will be of increasing benefit to all – townie or country bumpkin.
    For example grow your own vegetables.

  3. "Parsnip Pete" says:

    Well spoken Jack.
    Too many have lost the art of the traditional backyard vegetable plot. Young Kiwis have to rediscover it. This book seems a very good primer for that and also older Kiwis who have let things slip. In anycase, why not try “the good life” of a few acres?

  4. David says:

    In the 1970s I taught in a primary school in England. One of my extra activities was running a vegetable gardening club in the lunch hour. The children loved it then and I’m sure there would be interest if they had the opportunity today. But with the mindset of today’s politicians I can’t see the idea being widely taken up for today’s primary schools. They are too busy dreaming up weird agendas for the education sector.

  5. Dave says:

    This was how I lived for years till I got married and then there was a change but this also changed to growing our food once the kids had gone. It is how we should live. In a hurry to make another buck to buy the next toy is no way to live and I think this book is a must-read for many of us. To learn from their experience would be a great start.

  6. Gun Shy says:

    There are many who grow their own vegetables and those who are fortunate enough to have a bit of dirt grow a bit of mutton and pork a few eggs and top that up with a bit of hunting and fishing then there are those who do nothing to help themselves just stand there with their hands out squealing for more handouts.

  7. Yep very Interesting ! My best advice right now , is make a point of saving Vegie Seed from the Garden & create a Seed Bank of your own ? & don’t rely on buying Seed all the time ? in future some common varieties may not be available , the way It’s going with GM & the tragic massive overuse of Weedicide & Pesticide curbing Insect Pollination .

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