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Interview with Backyard Farming author Angela England – plus a Giveaway!

I had the opportunity to ask Angela England some questions about her new book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less). Angela is the Founder of Untrained Housewife, co-founder of the new Homestead Bloggers Network, and managing editor of Blissfully Domestic online magazine (One2One Network’s sister site in Blissful Media Group). Before writing Backyard Farming, Angela wrote and published ebooks. She lives in Oklahoma with husband and five children and yes, she has a backyard farm.

What is the most common excuse you hear from people on why they think they can’t garden/farm?

Space is a common concern but as I like to say – any area with at least 6 hours of sunlight can be used to grow food. And even if you can’t grow 100% of your food you can provide delicious, fresh food for your family more easily than you might think.

What is a common myth or uniformed belief you encounter about backyard farming?

It’s definitely the idea that producing your own food somehow “ties you down” while buying food from stores all the time is somehow more freeing. In fact both have their elements of being tied down – in one scenario you are tied to your own systems and food producing things. In the other you tied to price fluctuations, availability, recalls, and a trust that everyone who handled your food from the moment it was grown, shipped thousands of miles, stocked and sold, did so in a manner that was legal and safe.

How many hours a day do you put into your backyard farming?

That’s really hard to estimate because it’s such a routine part of our lives woven into every day being. What is the difference between playing with your kids in the playset or playing with your kids in the gaden harvesting fresh veggies for the day? The time is the same, and the sunshine and togetherness are the same but the focus of the activity is the only thing that changes. I would say we do most of our daily “chores” in about 30 minutes but often linger to watch a cool bug, beautiful bird, or the antics of the chickens scratching around their yard.

What is the key takeaway from your book? Or what do you hope people gain by reading it?

I really want people to become aware of the possibilities and doability of the backyard farming lifestyle. It’s less about where you live and how much land you have, and more about your mindset. If someone reads my book and thinks, “Hmmm….maybe I COULD do this” my job will have been accomplished.

On the same theme as the questions above…

What is the most common excuse you hear from people on why they think they can’t write a book?

Time. But really most of us waste so much time each week that when you make it a priority you will be able to carve out the time by reprioritizing. It’s true – I did miss a season of Once Upon a Time. Thankfully we have Hulu so I could catch up later, no problem.  It’s worth a short term sacrifice to produce a piece of work that is going to stand for such a long time.

What is a common myth or uniformed belief you encounter about writing or being an author?

There seems to be a mystique and sense of glamour around being an author. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very cool thing and huge way to build your platform for sure. I’ve been advocating the benefits of writing your own ebook for 3 years now, and a traditionally published book has a higher sense of credibility tied to it.

It definitely isn’t glamorous or simple though – there are a lot of hands that touch your book other than you, and while that has many benefits, it certainly gives you less control over some of the presentation elements than I was used to having. And I’m still not wealthy enough to retire so there’s that myth of fame and fortune debunked as well. But it was worthwhile for the opportunity to share my thoughts on a broader level.

How did blogging prepare you for the process of writing a book?

Blogging gave me the opportunity to develop my voice, my writing style, and hone my skills so the process of writing the book would be less frustrating. I also became more familiar with using social media tools as well, which helped me tremendously in developing a website and Facebook page before the book was even launched. And in my case, my book agent actually found and contacted me through my website, Untrained Housewife.

What is your best piece of advice for bloggers who want to turn their writing skills and passion into a traditionally published book?

I know I’m biased because of the success I’ve had with ebooks, but creating a larger piece of work will help you towards the goal of publishing in several ways. For one, it is very different to write a piece of work that is tens of thousands of words, compared to a blog post that’s just a few hundred words. The other thing you get to do when creating a book-length piece of work, whether a manifesto or topical ebook, is that you can hone your own skills and really narrow down on what it is you want to cover.

In a practical sense, find an agent or friend who’s been through this process and ask them questions once you’ve done as much of the work as you could do on your own. Let people around you know you’d love to write a book on a certain topic so they can keep that in the back of their mind. And don’t wait until you know exactly how everything is going to turn out to get started. In many ways it is like starting your backyard farming adventure – you have to plant the seeds and spend time watering before you ever know exactly how that harvest will bear fruit.

Are you intrigued by the thought of backyard farming? I know I am! Angela has graciously offered up a signed copy of her book to an O2O Blog reader! Tell us in the comments, “What do you hope to learn from Angela’s book?” We’ll choose a winner, via random draw, next Thursday (December 20th)! Entries close at Noon (central time). Winner will be notified by email.

***GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED***

 

And be sure to check out all the book release prizes available at BackyardFarmingGuide.com!

 

28 Comments

  1. I hope to learn how to farm in my backyard even better. We live in a smaller town, and our garden has expanded every year for the past five years. We really need to move to the country with about 5 or 10 acres, but that’s not financially possible right now. So we do what we can in town, including adding chickens to the mix just this summer!! So I’m trying to be content in town, with our ever-growing garden and chickens. But I know there is so much we haven’t learned, or thought of.

  2. Love this idea. I grew up on my grandparent’s farm and now continue to garden. I hope to expand.

  3. Leslie Gray says:

    I hope to become better at small-space gardening. I live in a city neighborhood and have carved a small space out of my yard for a few chickens and what little produce I can grow in my front yard. I have several dogs, so, the the backyard goes to them..LOL! I have re-discovered canning and want to take food preservation to a new level, becoming more self-reliant. We hope to move to the country when we retire.. but for now, i’m trying to make the most of what i have..

  4. richard ladner says:

    I hope to learn what I should have learned growing up on a farm, but was too “busy, smart, or never gonna be a farmer”. The idea of becomming self-reliant is growing with me and my wife. Hopefully we’re not too ;ate

  5. Sandra Kozero says:

    I’d love to learn how I can both garden and raise animals successfully on a small piece of land. I’m confident I could do each alone, but not sure how to put the two together.

  6. Tara Jewell Case says:

    I hope to learn how to utilize the land to produce it to the fullest. With me being able to can, freeze and dry. Enabling me to reduce my food bill and eat wholesome foods. Also to be able to use my garden scraps for my chickens and ducks cutting their food bill. I want to be self-reliant will also be raising bees, goats, turkeys, and maybe pheasants and quail.

  7. Britton Hailar says:

    I hope to learn how to utilize the small space I have even better. Right now my soil sucks (clay) and so the focus has been on containers and vertical gardening.

  8. Tina Lemke says:

    I grew up on a farm and moved to the big city. I’ve since returned to my home region but in town now. I would like to get back to working with nature and living with the seasons. Technology is great for the sake of progress and for medical emergencies, but I am desperately in need of getting back to the basics. Hard work, but simpler living….and I’m homesick for dirt…!

  9. I would hope to learn how to transform my suburban yard into a functional garden and chicken space to save money on food and eggs to provide for our family of 6. This whole topic has fascinated me for years. This book makes me giddy!!!

  10. Lisa Sedtal says:

    I hope to learn how to start a garden of my own in my backyard.

  11. I hope to learn what we can do on my moms 5 acres that is frugal and helpful.

  12. I hope to learn how to keep my plants alive, the best times to plant, and how best to utilize the land I have available.

  13. I hope to expand my knowledge of homesteading especially in the realm of keeping animals.

  14. I am clueless about gardening/farming and need to learn everything. This looks great!

  15. I too hope to learn about everything from chickens to gardening and everything else.

  16. Would love to learn more as we just started farming this past year..The animals are doing fine. Goats, sheep, Chicken, pigs, rabbits, Turkeys and Guinea hens.But the gardening needs a lot to be desired..The soil here is awful..But Im hoping next year for it to be better I’ve already laid down 400 lbs, of lime in a 2-3 acre area. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  17. I hope to learn how to set up my backyard garden, right now its just one big mud puddle!

  18. We have 2 acres, and we have a garden but that’s all. I would like to know how to use our land more fully, especially in this economy where food is becoming more expensive.

  19. I hope to learn how to grow all the things we love to eat and to learn about things I would have never thought to try.

  20. I have this book on my wish list…sounds great!

  21. I need to find out what I need to make sure my soil is good to go in the Spring.

  22. Tara hassler says:

    I have been into the organic and sustainable movement for the past 3 years and love everything about if. This year I would love to grow mushrooms!!! This book looks GREAT and I can’t wait to read it!!!

  23. I’ve been wanting chickens and have gotten very close to getting DH interested in them too. He is actually showing our children videos about chickens and how to care for them. I think we are close. I would like your book so we can learn to maximize our space.

  24. I have chicken and 1/4 acre where we TRY to garden too. I would love to read this book. I believe it will help me better use the very little space we have.

  25. I’d love to learn how to better use the land we have and how to do more with animals. 🙂

  26. Crystal @ Surviving a Teacher's Salary says:

    I’d like to see what her ideas are. We have less than an acre and we have a pig, will be getting some chickens, and doing a veggie garden in the spring.

  27. Kyla Johnson says:

    There are a lot of things I would like to learn from this book. We have 2 acres that I am looking to put in “service”!

  28. How to maximize the space I have