The book Possum Living by Dolly Freed has a very interesting concept. However it was written in the 1970’s by a teenage girl so it has limitations. It is a quick and easy read about “how to live well with out a job and with (almost) no money”, and was a wonderful resource for someone looking to live this lifestyle in the 1970’s. In 2012 the book is outdate and the author herself retracts portions of the book chalking it up to youthful arrogance. Chapters I found most helpful include: Gardening; Housing; and We Rassle with Our Consciences. That last chapter being most important. The author describes the necessity to let go of other people’s opinions of you in order to be free to live the life style that you choose. She goes on to describe why she lives this way; she says she is very lazy. Anyone who grows and preserves their own food, does their own home repairs and runs 3 miles a day is not lazy at all. I get a since that she should have described her self as a freedom lover extreme, she wants the freedom to do what she wants when she wants it and that means living on as little money as possible so she can choose to have a job out side the home or not to.
In the chapter on gardening she describes having the largest garden her property could support. She also plans her gardens so that she can get 2 to 3 crops out of each space per year. She goes on to describe why she chooses not to grow some crops such a squash, because it is so abundant that the neighbors are always trying to give it away so why take up the space to grow your own when you can get all you want from the neighborhood. She also describes foraging for wild food or unwanted food like fruit or nuts from the neighbor’s tree that will just rot if someone doesn’t pick it. It these cases you should always get permission first. She also utilizes wild meat whenever possible eating a lot of fish and turtles from local bodies of water and raising her own chickens and rabbits in the cellar. Meat being one of if not the biggest expense in most people grocery budgets I understand the need to cut that expense. Learning to preserve your crop is vitally important to someone who wants to live on as little money as possible, so canning, smoking, dehydrating, root cellaring are all topics touch on in this book. However the book does not go into depth on any of these subjects. The author forces you to look else where when learning the how to’s.
The last chapter worth looking at is the one on housing. She describes the need to own the building and property that you live on. Because other than property tax you have no monthly bill to pay in order to keep a roof over your head. She talks about saving up money until you can buy something outright and not take a loan. She describes sheriffs sales and forecloses, as well as buying rundown property and doing the work yourself to make it livable. (in her opinion livable does not mean nice, no frills no large open space just enough room to do what needs to be done) She describes going to the local library and checking out books on subject she is not familiar with and just jumping in. She also describes using found or recycled materials to do home repairs with. Again descriptions but not how to’s so you’re on your own to figure that out.
The other tips she gives in this book are all things if you are considering this lifestyle you would have thought of. Like buying everything you can used to save the money, find free ways to entertain yourself, utilize community resources, etc.
Some thing she talks about I just flat out disagree with such as not getting proper permits for fishing and hunting, dropping out of school in the 7th grade, using the home remedy of moonshine to cure just about anything that ails you, and hunting pigeons as a good meat source.
She talks a lot about numbers such as how much she pays for electricity per month but it is all for the 1970’s and is very hard to understand what that would be today. For this information I would suggest you turn to the internet.