Pigs in Clover – An Honest, Hilarious Take on Smallholding Life

I know, I know – another week, another book review. But I’ve wanted to discuss both these books for a while and as not a huge amount is happening in the garden, now’s the time to do so. Last week’s The Market Gardener gives you the bones for veggie success. This week, Pigs in Clover offers a hilarious and sometimes bleak look at life as a smallholder.

I’ve ‘chatted‘ with author, Simon Dawson, several times on Twitter, but it wasn’t until I saw him featured on Ben Fogle’s ‘New Lives in the Wild UK‘, that I really took notice. As many of you will know, I crave smallholding life on our family land in Suffolk. Here, Simon had done exactly that; left the thrills of London to land in a muddy, remote smallholding in Devon. Well, that’s the impression the television show gave…when you read the book you’ll realise Simon actually (much like my other half) dug his heels into the paved streets of the capital and bemoaned his wife’s decision as much as possible.

IMG_8113But back to the book…I don’t read a lot, and when I do, I normally fall asleep these days. So it’s rare that I’m sat in bed with a book at 1am trying to keep my chuckling as quiet as possible so I don’t wake the bear next to me. With Pigs in Clover I was doing that most nights…until I got about halfway through of course. At that point I had the horrible realisation you get with only the best books; ‘Oh no! It’s nearly over.’ (Luckily there’s a second book to move onto).

Why did I feel this way? Because it’s brilliant.

One of the things Simon Dawson manages to do is capture the real essence and stark reality of life on a smallholding, especially a start-up enterprise – and all with a good sense of humour. He doesn’t shy away from how grim it was at times, or just how incredibly broke they were, or the fact it seemed, at some times, even after all their efforts, they’d have to move back to London. I’m like Debbie (Simon’s wife) – always pushing for more, wanting to tiptoe my way towards challenging the husband’s boundaries – just a few more hens, maybe a goose, could we get goats? I definitely recognised that pattern of events. It gave me hope too, because Simon comes around!

You mustn’t get put off by the fact it’s a funny take on smallholding life because there’s practical advice hidden on the pages too. This isn’t in the form of  ‘how to fence your chickens in‘, or ‘what to feed pigs‘, but more about the realism of having a smallholding. That you need to make money somehow. That you have to be organised, and pro-active and take every opportunity. So even though it’s not a practical book per se, I came away feeling I’d actually gained a lot of advice from experienced hands.

So, if you’re looking for a new read, I highly recommend grabbing a copy. It’s on Amazon so you can get it from both the US and UK stores. If you get it, let me know what you thought!

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I'm Geoff, and I'm a plant hoarder.

Like magpies collect bright shiny things, I can't resist plants. An exquisite flower, soft ferny foliage or a beautiful majestic tree - I love them all!

Here, I'll indulge in all things flora and share my passion. Join me as I develop my garden and hoard more plants without apology.