Here's a gift idea for that homesteader, backyard farmer, or farm animal lover on your list: Chickens in the Road: An Adventure in Ordinary Splendor by Suzanne McMinn, which I recently discovered in the Oprah magazine (November 2013 issue). It's a delightful memoir about a romance author and single mom of three who embarks on a new life by starting a country farm. Living among her extended family, she shares her rural adventures, taking on not only chickens, goats, cows and sheep, but learning lots of old-time country skills like making lard, cheese, and milking her animals by hand.
The book also includes 46 pages of recipes--I made her cornbread recipe (page 237) the other day, and it was delicious. (I substituted whole what pastry flour for the white flour, and since I used stone-ground cornmeal, I soaked it first in the milk. Worked great.) Next on my list is trying her sweet potato pie recipe (page 263), which looks amazing. Suzanne has a generous hand with the butter and sugar, but hey...the holidays are a great time to splurge!
For DIY fans, the author also includes loads of crafts too: she provides detailed instructions for making practical items like soap, candles, and household cleaners. Her recipe for beeswax moisturizing cream (page 285) is similar to my own, but I use a mix of almond and olive oil, and I use strong green tea instead of the water. Chickens in the Road is so entertaining and useful, you might want to buy a copy for yourself!
If' you're looking for a Christmas story to give as a gift, I highly recommend The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween by Ruth Sawyer, a picture book for readers of all ages. Despite its rather mournful theme, the Christmas Cabin is a tender, mystical tale that will stay with you long after you close the cover. You'll find this book and more on my list of Irish books and movies at my website at susancolleenbrowne.com. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful holiday!