Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Living on one acre or less - review

This is a guest post from my sister who lives in Wales. I asked her to review this one as she has personal experience of the topic. 

Living on One Acre or Less, by Sally Morgan, from Green Books

I am a smallholder just starting our third year in a new life and so I’ve read a few books like this prior to starting out and many more detailed books since.  I can honestly say that this is probably the best book of its type that I’ve read.

It doesn’t pretend to be a book on growing vegetables & fruit, rearing poultry, pigs & lambs although it does all of this pretty well plus sections on goats, bees and aquaponics on which I can’t comment. Instead it considers the basics for all of these. For instance in the section on growing produce it looks at looking after the soil (composting, green manures, rotations of crops plus rotations with livestock), how to make the most of your ground including companion planting and intercropping, as well as the obvious things like weed control and the use of a poly-tunnel. When considering sheep it looks at grass management as well as routine care of the sheep. It even considers orphan lambs although not in as much detail as I would like as I’ve struggled to find advice on this anywhere. Under pigs it considers quantity of land, housing, fencing as well as health issues including sunburn where it points out that you can use sun cream (which I needed to do last year on our pigs ears). It even gives you the formula for calculating the approximate weight of the pig. It also discusses chickens and other poultry and their needs and it talks about using them on the vegetable patch and in the orchard for pest control as well as making fuller use of underused land. It even mentions the nuisance of a broody hen and what to do about it - not many poultry books do that. It talks about rearing poultry for eggs but also for meat.

This won’t be the only book you need but it will be great to help you make plans - what you’d like to do and what is possible. Clearly if you do decide to take on animals and poultry you will need more specialized books for them or you could take a course but this book will help you make that decision. If you are starting out with a smallholding, or thinking of doing so - whether it is as small as 1 acre or bigger, this book has lots to offer. If you have more land it means you’ll be able to have a go at more things from the book.

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