The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers

by Caleb Warnock

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Many people dream of becoming self-reliant during these times of fluctuating prices and uncertain job security. Using truly simple techniques, you can cultivate the pioneer's independence to provide safety against lost wages, harsh weather, economic recession, and commercial contamination and shortages. Strengthen your family's self-reliance as you discover anew the joy of homegrown food, thrift, and self-sufficient living.

About the Author

Caleb Warnock

Caleb Warnock was raised in the kitchens and gardens of the last generation to provide family meals without relying on the grocery store. He has won more than a dozen awards for journalism and literature. Caleb teaches "Forgotten Skills" classes that include winter gardening, pioneer jams and jellies, growing early and long-keeper vegetables, raising chickens, and much more.

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Average rating:

(based upon 2 reviews)

By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This book is a beautiful personal memoir written with the intent of
preserving a pioneer heritage of knowledge on living self-sufficiently and gardening year-round. Much of the information in the book was handed down to the author by his ancestors and he is preserving it in this book to be passed on to his own
descendents and other interested readers such as myself. I only wish
I had an acre of land to experiment with this information. I would
love to own chickens and raise a year-round garden. I feel that with
the information in this book and a little research on the internet I
could do it if I had the space. I did order the bread start and fully
intend to use that as much as I can in my baking. There are some
other things I can do, like raise some perennial vegetables and use
some of the interesting cellaring techniques.

I have two complaints about this book. The first is that
from the title I expected a much more technical book. The second is
that I found the sidebars confusing and unorganized. It is frustrating to stop mid-thought on a page and read the sidebar before
turning the page. I would prefer a layout that allows the thoughts to
be completed and the sidebars then easily read. The sidebar with the
disturbing description of a farmer who was sent to prison for burning
hybrid seed didn't fit with the rest of the book and I felt should
have been explained better and expounded on more if it was going to be

The topics covered in this book include weed control; box gardening; how to save seed; where one can acquire non-hybrid seed; extending a garden's harvest to last all year; a discussion of vegetable varieties that do well in the Mountain West climate (regular growing season from mid-May to mid-October); vegetable varieties that store well and are more hardy; different ways to cellar your vegetables so that they last longer; pioneer yeast; perrenial flowers; how to raise chickens and helpful information about fresh eggs.

I found this book informative and inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to raise chickens or in having a year-round garden, especially in the Mountain West region or in a place with a similar climate. Not a definitive book on the subject of living in a self-sufficient manner, but definitely one to add to the collection.


A Forgotten Way of LIfe
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Just two weeks ago, the residents of Utah celebrated Pioneer Day in honor of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. I appreciate the hard work and sacrifices these determined people showed throughout their lives. It seems such a shame that so much of their knowledge and work ethic has disappeared over the generations.

I was surprised to read that our ancestors harvested nearly all year long, including during the winter. I am several generations removed from my farming and pioneering ancestors, so I was unaware of several of the aspects of self-sufficiency that the author talks about.

Did you know carrots were originally yellow and purple? I didn’t.

Did you know it’s possible to grow and harvest salad greens in the snow? I can’t wait to try growing some.

In the age of supermarkets and fast food, it would do mankind good to return to a degree of self-sufficiency. In the timeline of history, grocery stores and processed “food products” are brand new concepts. We have become so accustomed to the appearance and taste of the items lining the shelves that it makes one wonder how people lived without Doritos, Oreos, and Diet Coke.

The first half of The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency covers heirloom plants and seeds, expanding the harvest, and storing the harvest. The author shows several examples of these concepts in his own garden and root cellar. He briefly covers pioneer yeast and bread making, then moves on to how to raise and care for your own chickens for the remainder of the book.

While covering several interesting topics, this book doesn’t get into a lot of specifics of how to do these things and does reference additional material. If you have been feeling the pull toward becoming more self-sufficient and are interested in getting a good overview and general direction, The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency is a good place to start.

Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review.

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