The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Book review: In bed with a bug, John Seymour and three min pins

Quito, John Seymour and IncaWhen I don’t fancy a glass of wine with supper, I know that I’m coming down with a bug. I creep into bed well before midnight, aching all over. Bugs are bad news for the self employed. Happily they’re a rare event with me.

Danny pops on his nurse’s outfit and whisks about with hot water bottles and honey sweetened tea. He also prepares for the possibility that I might get better by locating John Seymour’s The New Complete Book of Self -Sufficiency – The classic guide for realists and dreamers. This quite a hefty tome so lies beside the bed. A handy surface for some asprin and a cup of tea. When the book is opened it’s a sign that health is returning.

This is a wonderful book. If you want to kick start your life get a copy. After all, it’s aimed at dreamers as well as realists. A great reference book and a good steady companion for anyone looking for self sufficiency inspiration and a vast swathe of practical, hands-on advice. Seymour updated this book when he was 88 so you will find methods and ideas developed from years of experience. He clearly thrived on country life and sharing skills.

Curling up with this book in front of a roaring fire is one of my greatest pleasures. Lying in bed, sharing my hottie with three bickering min pins and exploring this book comes a close second. It’s so well written and beautifully illustrated that I quickly lose myself in plans for building sturdy housing for pigs, or how tell a cow’s age from her teeth. I’ve also learnt to use a scythe, bake my own bread and make the best use of five acres. At a push, I could butcher a pig armed only with a large knife, a saw and a copy of this remarkable book.

Seymour also covers projects that could be carried out in the small kitchen of a city flat. The book has sections on making your own wine, cider, beer and vinegar. His preserves work and his poor man’s cheese is excellent. He gives recipes for making paint from sour milk and lime, and a good homemade scented soap to wash your hands with before sampling his cakes and pastries. if you do run away to the country, there are instructions on how to make your own paper so you can write home without reaching for the Basildon Bond.

If you haven’t a clue what you want for Christmas or your birthday, this would be a good addition to any library and will keep you entertained through the Christmas break and for many years to come.

Dorling Kindersley has published The Concise Guide to Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour which is cheaper and not quite such a hefty tome. The gardening sections (growing, storing and preserving your own produce) have been published in an attractive book – The New Self-Sufficient Gardener by John Seymour.


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