Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills (Back to Basics Guides)


Anyone who wants to learn basic living skills—the kind employed by our forefathers—and adapt them for a better life in the twenty-first century need look no further than this eminently useful, full-color guide.

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Over 200,000 copies sold—fully updated! Dye your own wool, raise chickens, make your own cheddar cheese, build a log cabin, and much much more.

Countless readers have turned to Back to Basics for inspiration and instruction, escaping to an era before power saws and fast-food restaurants and rediscovering the pleasures and challenges of a healthier, greener, and more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Now newly updated, the hundreds of projects, step-by-step sequences, photographs, charts, and illustrations in Back to Basics will help you dye your own wool with plant pigments, graft trees, raise chickens, craft a hutch table with hand tools, and make treats such as blueberry peach jam and cheddar cheese. The truly ambitious will find instructions on how to build a log cabin or an adobe brick homestead.

More than just practical advice, this is also a book for dreamers—even if you live in a city apartment, you will find your imagination sparked, and there’s no reason why you can’t, for example, make a loom and weave a rag rug. Complete with tips for old-fashioned fun (square dancing calls, homemade toys, and kayaking tips), this may be the most thorough book on voluntary simplicity available.


“When they said complete, they meant it. This book includes everything from how to choose a suitable piece of property for a homestead, to cutting down trees to make your own log cabin, to gardening and preserving the harvest.”

“I was looking for a good reference book on how to do things we’ve forgotten in this digital look-it-up age. This is perfect. It has everything in it! From installing solar panels to how to skin a rabbit. It doesn’t matter what page you flip to, there’s something interesting to read/learn. Highly recommend.”

“This book is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a book with a wide range of information that a pioneer person would find very useful. This book is loaded with pictures and diagrams. It is better and more complete than I anticipated.”

“I am on overload with all the information contained in this book. It’s a wonderful reference guide for everything from building a house to making crafts and planning and growing a garden.”

“Amazing book for any homesteader or anyone who’s just interested in learning new skills!”

“This is the classic book on traditional skills, crafts, and homesteading. An hour with this book will have you making plans to find your own country plot to build your farm.”

About the Author

Abigail R. Gehring is the author of more than a dozen books, including
The Homesteading Handbook and
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living. She lives in New York City and Windham, Vermont.