In 1972, I gave my father a first edition of The Foxfire Book as a Christmas present.  It came from the local bookstore on Court Street in downtown Florence, where now the Billy Reid store serves as a fashion anchor for our little town.  It was common in those days for us kids to be dropped off “downtown” and picked up hours later after we had eaten Trowbridge’s ice cream and spent our hard saved allowances on all sorts of treasures.

I remember that holiday season clearly. Perhaps it was the first year I was allowed to shop by on my own? I would have just turned 11 – laughing, whispering, and scheming with my best friend Wendy. Standing in the old Anderson’s Bookland that afternoon, The Foxfire Book leapt out at me and seemed the perfect gift for my father who loved country life, all things Native American, and working with wood.

That first volume was followed by The Foxfire Book 2 in 1973, and The Foxfire Book 3 in 1975. While I did read a lot as a child, there weren’t that many books in our home. My reading material came from frequent trips to the library. But The Foxfire Books were always there on the shelf.

I love seeing the re-packaging of this series for a new generation. The material inside seems more precious now, 40 years later. It seems that I read more and more about moving back to the land and homesteading these days. Mother Earth News is still reporting from the front.  And I am considering backyard chickens in the city (if I can keep a 75 pound Poodle from eating them).

Although I don’t live in Seale, Butch, Maggie’s dad, has built one of the most beautiful (homesteaded) compounds I have ever seen. Here in North Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, we are surrounded by new and old versions of homesteading. About an hour from our studio is Grey Bear Lodge, a stunning two story log structure that hearkens back to world that existed in The Foxfire Books. In its contemporary form, it acts as a yoga retreat center for people from all over the world. The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee, has served as a stellar example of communal living and homesteading since The Foxfire Books were released.

Although I love the home I share with Maggie, I feel myself more and more drawn to farm life each day.  So, over the next two weeks, we take a look at modern homesteading. Share your stories with us.


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Click to read 3 comments
  1. Jess

    The Foxfire books lived like old friends on the shelves in the “library” at my parent’s home. They were children of the DIY movement in the 70’s before being swallowed up by the roar of the 80’s. Now as an adult in my early 30s my husband and I have accidentally found ourselves as part of a new DIY movement while just being as we are. I grew up learning how to plant and grow much of our own food via my grandparents while maintaining the family business to keep the coffers full. Now we balance our commercial farm with our home farm and I have given myself over to canning/preserving/sewing/designing/younameit that comes with domestic life. Rarely is any of it photo worthy and my hair may resemble a Foxfire lady’s by the end of the day. But I love it. I love that I can clothe my children and have control over the ingredients in my dishes. My husband can build, grow, shoot and for that I am very thankful.

  2. Claudia

    I have three volumes of the Foxfire series, and they’re great. I’m glad they’re repackaging them, and I think that a lot of what I call the “noveau retro housewives*” will be into it. The more the merrier!

    (*Note: I’ve been at this too long to be part of that group – I had to settle for Betty Crocker with a nosering).