I'm having a bit of brain lock on the old blog here. I have several half-written things that just aren't quite working for me.
But I'm reading a lot. We (and by we, I mean Lori and our son) hit the library almost weekly. Libraries are great anyway, and the city of Columbus has one of the top library systems in the country.
[Can you imagine the uproar from publishers if somebody proposed a new concept called a "public library" where people could borrow books, for free, as much as they want? If libraries didn't exist already, they sure wouldn't come into existance today.]
Since it doesn't cost anything, I usually give Lori a list of books each week, and she picks up any she can find, along with others that look interesting. Since they're free, I like to read a few pages here, a few pages there, and figure out what grabs me. Then I go back and delve deeper into the ones that look really good. Sometimes I never get around to some of the books at all.
I used to read one book, start to finish, and then move on to another book. But between the library, my new interests, my ignorance in many of the things we're trying to do, and my disjointed free time, I'm usually into quite a few books at a time any more.
So here's what I've delved into lately:
Small Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon.
The book is out of print, but you can download it for free [voluntary donation] here. Some of the information is slightly dated, but most of it is timeless. It's all about how to raise things like wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, and soybeans as garden crops. He starts the book by bragging about his "pancake patch" to a neighbor. Grains always seemed a bit mysterious to me, but now I want to grow some next year. He's even got recipes...
Building Your Own Greenhouse by Mark Freeman
This one has a lot of good examples and variations, from cold frames all the way up to sunrooms. After reading this, I'm tempted to build a small greenhouse with bent cattle panels, dry-stacked cinder blocks. (Cattle panels are so freaking versatile! We saw them used to make pretty good portable chicken pens too!) I'm a little worried about any structure that has thin plastic film as a major component though, since it's so windy here, but it might be worth trying. I hope someday to have a small greenhouse that's a little more durable, but the simple one would at least let me get my feet wet.
Plan B 2.0 by Lester Brown
This one looks really good, but for some unknown reason, a momma earwig decided to raise her brood inside this book. I'm interested in getting back to it, but it's not very good bedtime reading when tiny, creepy bugs are dropping from between the pages.
The Permaculture Way by Graham Bell
Pretty good so far, though I always cringe a little at gardening books that start talking about the gravitational effects of the moon on things like harvest size and seed germination. But hey, what do I know? Permaculture has so many great ideas that one kooky-sounding one isn't enough to ruin it for me.
The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian (audio book, narrated by Patrick Tull)
One in a series of historical fiction known as the Aubrey/Maturin Series. One of the books (not the first in the series) was made into a movie - Master and Commander with Russell Crowe. I listen to this in the car, and narrator Patrick Tull is one of the best narrators I've heard. Set in the early 1800's, the series follows the lives of Captain Jack Aubrey of the British Navy, and his friend Stephen Maturin, the ship's surgeon. Dr. Maturin is also a famed naturalist, an intelligence agent, and a comically un-seamanlike person, even after a decade at sea. If you can get used to the nautical lingo (don't worry about what a "mizzen t'gallant stays'l" is), it's really fascinating. I've learned more history from this series than I did in all of high school. How can you go wrong with a book that ranges from officers trying to learn the music of "young Bach" to ship's boys attempting a mangled version of Hamlet, to the ward room singing, "Bugger old Hart! Bugger old Hart! The red-faced son of a blue French fart!"
Good Spirits - A New Look at Ol' Demon Alcohol by Gene Logsdon
I wondered how hard (and how legal) it would be to brew my own ethanol for use in the family tractor. While looking for information, I came across this book, which happens to be by one of my favorite authors. It seems that in the US, you can make your own beer and wine, but it's quite illegal to distill your own spirits. Luckily, it's not illegal to read about it. It's also not illegal to make your own ethanol for fuel purposes (with a permit). I'm not a big fan of ethanol as a replacement for gasoline on a large scale, but a little homebrew for the tractor might be just the thing. Besides, I'm getting an extensive and fascinating education on the history behind prohibition and moonshine, as well as recipes for making beer, bourbon, cider, apple jack, and both wine and vinegar from grapes, apples, peaches, elderberries, raspberries, etc. And if distilling beverages ever becomes legal, I'll know just what to do (which is weird, because if I have one alcoholic beverage a week, it's unusual).
There are a few others that are calling my name, but those are all the ones that I've answered.
So what about you? Read any good books lately?