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Are you thinking of moving to the Country? When I started considering uprooting my family from our London life and moving to the country I read as many books as I could on the subject. I read books on rural living, gardening, chicken and bee keeping, wildlife and running a small holding. Some were better than others, so I thought I’d write about those books that I found the most useful, interesting and informative. Some of these are very comprehensive such as John Seymour’s book and others are more of a starting point such as the book on bee keeping. Hopefully these books will inform and inspire you in your move towards rural living and help you make more informed decisions.
Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidently Fell in Love with the Good Life – Simon Dawson
I’ve listed this book first because it was the best general book on making the big shift from city life to country life. Simon and his wife did just that with no experience. This chronicles their steep learning curve, how they made things work from a practical and financial viewpoint and the reactions of friends and family. There are a few books written by people that have made the move and this one is by far the best. It’s funny, well written and brutally honest. This book gives you the truth about living sustainably and keeping livestock, including the positives and the heartbreak when things go wrong. Simon also has a follow up book The Sty’s the Limit. Read both, enjoy, and plot your own escape.
Window-box Allotment – Penelope Bennett
I bought this book whilst still living in London. I wanted to have a go at growing my own vegetables before I committed myself to a big garden in case the dream did not match reality. Penelope Bennett’s beautiful book has clear and supportive instructions for beginners who are starting out with a tiny space. There is a month by month guide on container gardening with advice on everything from holding seedlings to making compost. It also includes photographs and recipes to inspire you.
Rewild Yourself: 23 spellbinding ways to make nature more visible – Simon Barnes
This book is aimed at those who want to reconnect with nature but don’t know where to start. The ideas are simple and easy to follow but will have a big impact. I have already tried some of his ‘spells’ and now have butterflies flocking to my garden. It’s a charming, easy read which will help you to make the most of the countryside if you’ve lost your way over the years.
The New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers – John Seymour
If you start looking into self sufficiency and smallholding, John Seymour’s name will crop up early on. He is acknowledged as one of the pioneers in modern times of self-sufficiency, whether that means growing food, preserving it or chopping wood for the fire. There is something for everyone in this book whether you want to bake your own bread and raise a few chickens or whether you are a more hard-core small holder who aims for complete self-sufficiency. This new version has a forward by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall.
Choosing and keeping chickens – Chris Graham
I bought a few books on chickens before I got my little flock, but I found this the most enjoyable. It’s aimed at those who want to keep chickens as pets and egg layers rather than rearing birds for meat so no slaughtering instructions if that’s what you are after. However, if you want lots of colour photographs on the different breeds with information on size, personality and egg laying abilities, this book is ideal. There is also lots of information on housing, husbandry and how to deal with pests and diseases.
Living on One Acre or Less: How to Produce All the Fruit, Veg, Meat, Fish and Eggs Your Family Needs – Sally morgan
This book is for those who would like a large smallholding but discover that unless they move somewhere very remote, they can’t actually afford one. If you want the smallholding lifestyle but can’t afford the smallholding, this book shows you how to make the most of a large (or very large) garden. Everything from planning your plot to how to keep pigs. Brilliant comprehensive guide.
Do/Bee-Keeping: The secret to happy honeybees – Orren Fox
Bees were certainly not on my initial ‘must have’ list when we moved but they are very much growing on me. I initially bought this book for my twelve-year-old who showed an interest in bee keeping and I have subsequently read it myself. It gives a great overview of bee keeping including equipment and even recipes without being too overwhelming. There are colour photographs and a list of useful resources at the back. It’s a great starting point and our next step is a bee keeping course. The series of ‘Do’ books also includes one on vegetables Do Grow (Do Books) which was another of my initial starter books alongside Penelope Bennett’s book.