Backyard Fruits and Berries by Diane E. Bilderback and Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Books are great but hands on experience is the only way to learn certain things. Reading and studying can only get you so far when your dealing with living breathing creatures or plants. So even though I think these books should be on every homesteaders bookshelf having a person of experience is perhaps the best teacher. If you want chickens you should join 4-H chickens so that you can become friends with those who have priceless knowledge. If you want to grow a big garden do the same thing. If you want to can food contact the local extension office and they can refer you to those in the community who are master canners.
To highlight my point on the need for establishing community for your skills I'll tell you a funny story.
When we first moved to Wyoming I immediately wanted to get chickens. For years I had been reading and studying about how to raise them, the cost effectiveness of keeping them, etc. So finally my dream came true when we moved out on 5 acres in the country. We got a dozen hens from someone at our church. They weren't the prettiest chickens you ever saw, kind of ragged and mixed bred. But they were hardy (having survived Wyoming winters without a coop) and layed just fine. I loved watching them from the back fence busily scratching for grubs and worms out in our garden.
We had also recently joined 4-H for rabbits and chickens with my eldest daughter and were heartily welcomed into the group. The group had amazing leaders that were fun and friendly to us newcomers.
Well one day I went out to collect eggs and noticed that one of the chickens was behaving strangely. She seemed uncomfortable and kept making this strange squeaking noise. Alarmed I separated her from the flock. This was during the height of the Asian bird flu scare and many of my family members had expressed their concern with me owning chickens on the off chance that the flu would reach my flock.
As she kept squeaking I finally called the leader of our rabbit/chicken club and told him the problem. This mans name was Marvin and he was the kind of no nonsense man that you often see in farming. He was a bit gruff but the kids loved him and he loved teaching the kids. He had been raising rabbits chickens ducks and turkeys for more than 20 years and had a wealth of skills.
After listening to my story he bluntly said that he had seen chickens do that before and it was most likely due to my hen having eaten a mouse. Chickens cant tear things apart so when they get ahold of a mouse or snake they swallow it whole. Well I almost couldn't believe it! I just had a hard time envisioning the chicken eating a whole mouse. I mean how could she get her beak open wide enough?
He told me not to worry, within a few days the mouse would be digested and the squeaking would go away. He of course turned out to be right and the hen went on to live a long life, but it proves that the best reference you can possibly have is an experienced person. Because I can tell you no chicken raising book I ever read had information on squeaking chickens!