Handmade/Homemade: The Half Acre Homestead

When I start working on a book, it’s like setting out on an ocean voyage without a map. I get a theme, an idea, some kind of coherence on a subject,* then start.

When I built my first house in Mill Valley in the early ’60s, my friend Bob Whiteley and I laid out the foundation lines in chalk on the ground. “What do we do now, Bob,” I asked.

Bob said “This,” and took pick and shovel and started digging the foundation trench.

It’s been my M.O. all my life. When I don’t know what to do, I start. Things (usually) sort themselves out in the process. (I know, I know, I’ve said all this before…)

This book is about the tools and techniques Lesley and I have evolved in building a home and growing food (and creating a bunch of things) on a small piece of land over a 40+-year period.

I started by writing it in chapters: The House / The Kitchen / Kitchen Tools / The Garden / Garden Tools / Chickens / Food / Foraging/ /Fishing / The Shop / Shop / Shop Tools / Roadkill / Critters…What we’ve learned; what’s worked, what hasn’t…

Then I went through some 50,000 digital pictures and picked out 7-800 photos, printed them out contact sheets (12-up) and started organizing them under the above categories.

Next step: starting to put pages together; I am totally excited. I have (kind of unknowingly) been gathering material for this book for decades.

Now I gotta get out of here. Not only is it a gorgeous fresh spring day, but it’s my time of the year. Tauruses are feelin good…

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

10 Responses to Handmade/Homemade: The Half Acre Homestead

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds interesting. Also, as more and more folks are wanting to do/learn things on their own………..wanting to be independent….wanting to know what is in their buildings/their food…..I suspect there will be many who appreciate your work/time in putting together this book.

  2. These photos make me very happy indeed. That backyard is very exciting to see. Thanks once again for your lovely blog.

  3. Gary Roche says:

    Can't wait for you to finish so I can buy it!

  4. Laura says:

    I am super excited, Lloyd! I think I am the MOST excited about this book than I have been about your others, and that is saying a LOT, because I love them all! Can't wait!

  5. Rachel T. says:

    I also cannot wait for this book!!!! I have all your other ones and love each and every one!! But this one…is going to be special!

  6. Deva says:

    Love your homestead, your wife, your life and everything you do. When I grow up (I'm 66) I wanna be just like you!!! Go Lloyd!

  7. Unknown says:

    Lloyd,
    You are an example of the Japanese word ‘ ikigai ‘

  8. Chelsea says:

    Really excited to see this one! Keep us posted.

  9. Michael Allison says:

    This is going to be great! Just in time too, just bought 21 acres!

  10. Charles J.Swimmer says:

    I still have your book “Shelter” a masterpiece. I am on the verge of starting a way out cultural compound in the north woods called “Compound Double Ewe” with two conjoined female sheep as the main logo.I will grow winter resistant Cayenne pepper there good for 30 below ,as well as dental floss bushes and spaghetti trees.We will sustain ourselves completely from fish culture grown on living aqua-roofs…that’s a lot of overhead I know….there will also be lots of cheeses. Certain vowels and consonants and numbers will be banned at specific times during the year.I haven’t decided on uniforms yet. I will let you know. I haven’t thought this out very well ,Charles.

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