Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Made from Scratch

I've read and enjoyed arm-chair adventures about going to Everest, or backpacking the AT -- but one about raising chickens and growing your own food? Yes, I can said I've read one of those too. Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich is half-memoir, half-howto guide for living a life where you create more of it with your bare hands. Whether it's growing your own food, making your own clothes, or even making your own music - Woginrich takes you on her adventures as she learned these and more skills.

I have to admit, part of me wanted to get a little snotty with the author - is keeping chickens really that easy? C'mon. And what about the fact that you're cooking your home made bread while listening to the radio, that's piping in tunes created by folks on the grid?

But of course, these thoughts completely miss the point. Woginrich isn't about going to extremes, she's about finding the joy in being self sufficient. It's not about absolutism, it's about finding what works for you and savoring it. Her stories are also packed with disappointment and failed attempts -- that's part of life whenever you try to learn a new skill. And she brings us along for the ride well.

The howto aspect of the book is pretty introductory. You won't want to use it as your only reference if you decide to raise Angora Rabbits to make your own clothes from. And Woginrich never implies her book is designed for that purpose. But, as introductions go, it's a solid one. She touches on the fact that if you've got a dream of being more self sufficient in an area - from food, clothing, to having your own dog sled team, there's a way to get there that's attainable for minimal cost - both in terms of money and space.

So, I'm not about to run out and start a bee hive. But I'm not about to run out and climb Everest either. For being a collection of fun stories filled with good ups, and powerful downs, and one that expanded my horizons - I'll give the book a 8/10.

Woginrich also has a blog she maintains. It's a bit eerie that I just finished reading a book about her life, and can now find out what she did at 2:07pm today. A quick scan of the text, and I've got to say, I like her writing there just as much as I liked it in the book. It's impossible to read it and not feel a little warmer inside.

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