This is one book everyone should have in hard copy, because the illustrations are works of art in themselves: John Seymour, The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, (2009). The text of the book was first written in the 1970s going through various permutations until its present form. There is a foreword to the 1976 edition by the Small is Beautiful author, E. F. Schumacher, putting the book in that context as an alternative to the industrial way of living and its unsustainability. Seymour in the main body of the text says the same. Self-sufficiency is about turning away from that dying world. It requires a small holding for the transition to be complete, but as he details, a lot can be done with just a few acres. But even in urban areas, a backyard can be rid of largely useless lawn, and transformed into an edible landscape, using what he depicted as traditional growing practices, but which can be supplemented with permaculture today.
Covered in this book are chapters on growing food, considering all aspects such as natural weed control, keeping animals especially convenient packages of meat such as meat-line chickens and rabbits, kitchen science and skills, including basking and brewing beer and other drinks, sustainable energy, crafts and skills including those that are being loss such as blacksmithing. As an example, Seymour suggests using a scythe over mechanical cutters, being exercise in use, no fumes to breathe in and efficient. That may seem surprising, but today there are European contests on YouTube, where the guy with the scythe cuts faster than the guy with the hand-held whipper snipper. These things also seem to endlessly break down and get clogged up. As well, on hillsides, especially with lots of rocks in the grass, the mechanical cutters can be dangerous. The scythe’s blade could be damaged too, but the trusty low-tech machete comes to the rescue, not that I ever used one, but my father did all the time.