The first incarnation of Carla Emery’s book was a cookbook called An Old Fashioned Recipe Book. First published as a mimeographed newsletter, it grew until The Guinness Book of World Records noted the manuscript as the “largest mimeographed volume in general circulation.”
Bantam Press, her first commercial publisher, published her 7th edition, and Sasquatch Books, Seattle Washington, currently publishes her 10th Edition and 40th Anniversary Edition. Sasquatch has also published several variations of this book, an illustrated version for example.
Carla has written a wonderful introduction, describing the history of the book and her motives for writing it. She began compiling her manuscript just as people became interested in organic gardening and as the back-to-the-land movement reemerged in the sixties. She took advantage of these movements to teach urban refugees long forgotten farming skills, while she tapped the local country brain trust for advanced lessons in the same.
Her book is about growing food and the things involved in growing food. She covers cultivation and processing plants foods and raising and processing harvestable animals. Her instructions are concise and detailed, but she doesn’t deliver the information on a bed of roses. Instead, she tells of the hardships and hard work. In her introduction, she complains, tongue-in-cheek, how productive, marketable animals seem to die off at the drop of a hat despite constant care while unproductive animals, cats and dogs, flourish unsupervised. She writes, “…don’t move to the country in search of a notion of freedom that pictures you lying on the grass all of a fine summer day, chewing on a secession of hay straws. True freedom doesn’t mean a vacuum. In the kind of freedom I’m talking about, you work 12-hour days in the summer. Finding freedom is a strange kind of paradox,” like giving to receive and conquering through the simplicity of love and faith.
This is not the book for yuppies interested in Wall Street but for hearty souls interested in homesteading and or doing for themselves.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living 10th edition has eleven segments: 1. Oddments (buying land, homesteading, information sources, wind generated electricity, etc) / 2. Introduction to Plants / 3. Grasses, Grains, and Canes / 4. Garden Vegetables / 5 Herbs and Flavorings / 6. Tree, Vine, Bush, and Bramble / 7. Food Preservation / 8. Introduction to Animals / 9. Poultry / 10. Goats, Cows, and Home Dairying / 11. Bee, Rabbit, Sheep, and Pig.
Over eight hundred pages thick, this book covers a lot of ground. Carla says she wrote the book for everyone, but she probably never dreamed her work would become one of the best survival books on the market. It contains no information on “bugging out” or fighting off hungry hordes to protect your stash of personal rations. Nonetheless, everyone recognizes the necessity to start again after a societal changing upheaval, and Carla’s book has everything a post-apocalyptic survivalist needs to know to begin again.