Monday, January 9, 2012

A Lesson in Self-Sufficiency, Backwoods Style

A friend of mine recently told me about the Foxfire books. He knows me so well! I read the description of the first book in the series and I figured it was definitely something I was interested in.

I immediately queued it up on my library's reserve list and patiently waited for it to become available for me to pick up. I've hardly been able to put it down since.

The book is written in such a way that you can almost taste Appalachia while sitting comfy in your living room. Not only are there really good tips on living off the land, but there's a certain culture that's depicted in these books that feels like it's completely lost in America today. There's a timeless toughness about the folks highlighted in these books, and I feel like these people would survive anything if you gave them a chance.

There's some genuine ingenuity and cleverness in the simple solutions to the things they crafted and how they lived. I was inspired reading just the first chapter, which I should mention chronicles how to rip the eyeballs out of a pig's head in order to make "souse meat," which is apparently "the best stuff ever." That'd be head cheese for the rest of us. There was use of a dull knife by a woman who'd had a stroke and was paralyzed on half of her body. She was about to break out the hacksaw to get the eyeballs out of the pig head until one of the kids helped her out. Imagine that!

You want to talk about real pioneers? Real tough, enduring people? You have to talk about those backwoods folks in Appalachia that so many of us (including myself) sometimes scoff at for being... well, so backwoods. I have a new perspective on these people and their culture.

The first book alone explains so many things that anyone who considers themselves a "homemade enthusiast" should know... which trees are good for what purposes, how to make old woven chairs, how to construct a log cabin... and there are more than a dozen of these books!

I imagine anyone who cares about self-sufficiency could sit and have a good, educated read with these fantastic books. Now if only that friend of mine would read them himself!


Nicole said...

I am so tempted to see if my library has these books. Granted, I don't really want to make (or read) about head cheese, but I do like to read about how others live. Besides, I think it is a good thing to know about making do without having everything at our fingertips. Kids today have no idea what it is like to not have everything right at hand. I remember having only a few tv channels and having to get up to change them!
I have the Little House on the Prairie books that I plan to start reading to my kids. I think I need to read the Firefox book for myself.

Danielle McCauley said...

Oooooh, Little House on the Prairie!! I'm such a sucker for those books! I bet your kids would love them!

If you have the time and you can find them in your library, they're totally worth it!

And I totally agree about kids having everything at their fingertips today. It reminds me of a bit that Louis C.K. does here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itn8TwFCO4M