Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Mr and Mrs Self Sufficient.

Continuing with my rather 'interesting' fictional characters (I sent this to one of those specialist niche magazines in England and they emailed me back saying: "It's not our kind of thing.") that help to make the world go round.  I give you the following creature:  Mr and Mrs Self Sufficient.

You're middle aged and totally fed up living in suburbia, the rat race and having so called relatively ordinary things like:  a corner shop (those were the days), pub, milkman, FRIENDS, libraries, kebab houses, DIY shops, restaurants, public transport ("here we go again"), newsagents who deliver your newspapers, football teams, footpaths, mains water and mains sewers, street lights, telephone boxes, green grocers ("grow your own"), off licences, JOBS....?  Shall I go on?

You decide to take the plunge and buy or rent your very own little smallholding in the countryside.  You think you've done the right thing moving to the sticks and hear yourself say:

"Wouldn't it be great to have goats and sheep and a Shetland pony and a cow and your own vegetables and brew your own wine and ale and...?"

You know that you have all the necessary knowledge to 'downsize'.  After all you have read John Seymour's: New book of self sufficiency, The natural ways of farming: Masanobu Fukuoka (try saying that when you have had a few pint of home brew) and Enid Blyton's: Famous Five.

"Where's Timmy the dog?"

Well what more is there to know?

To be continued!


  1. Yes, John Seymour has a lot to answer for.
    He must have been responsible for many such Mr & Mrs Self Sufficients.
    (Not so sure about Enid Blyton)

    Grow and harvest your own veg, rear and kill your own meat, keep your own chickens for eggs, keep a cow or couple of goats for milk and dairy products, grow grain to bake with and brew beer, make country wines from hedgerow foraging, trout from the babbling brook.

    Lovely life in the scenic countryside, cattle grazing contentedly, hens scratching about the yard, pigs dozing in the orchard, crops growing happily, people leaning on gates chewing straws, aroma of fresh-baked bread coming from the kitchen, jolly evenings in the pub with its low beams, open fire and friendly knowledgable locals including pipe-smoking old men with lots of interesting yarns to tell.

    No work to dash off to, no boss to answer to, no traffic jams, no pollution, no queues for the bus, no dry sandwiches with machine coffeefor lunch, no stress, no worries.

    What more could a middle-aged self-sufficient couple ask for?

    I'll save reality till later, don't want to disillusion them too much.

    If at first you don't succeed, avoid skydiving.

    Sun's shining but it's cold, raggy cat still sleeping.

  2. If Heaven exists I want to meet George Best and John Seymour.

    George Best because? Well what is his surname? He was called Best and he was the best.

    John Seymour because he was the self supporting (don't like self sufficency) guru who made so many of us (Tom and Barbara)eat and devour his books and want to live in the countryside.

    "Lovely life in the scenic countryside, cattle grazing contendly, hens scratching about the yard, pigs dozing in the orchard, crops growing happily, people leaning on gates chewing straws, aroma of fresh-baked bread coming from the kitchen, jolly evenings in the pub..."

    I'll take it Mr Cumbrian. Do I just sign on the dotted line? You should write for one of those posh country magazines. It's sounds like Heaven on Earth.

    If you ever find that place don't tell anybody. I'll let you into a secret. Herefordshire is Britain's best kept one. Have you see the film Shadowlands? I have watched it 18 times and I blub like a baby everytime. They go the Golden Valley (Symonds Yat area) and it's very similar to your brilliant description of a rural idyll!

    Raggy Cat's probably been working hard all night keeping Cumbria mouse fee!


  3. Think I'd have liked to meet John Seymour as well, his writing has an inimitable quality about it, I bet the man was just as inimitable?

    Yes mate, just sign here..............

    Disillusionment starts with the first misconception as to how easy it all is.

    Grow your own mention of the competition by all the weeds, who really belong there and see your nice veg as interlopers to be smothered.

    Rear and kill your own meat...lots of lovely diagrams of how to cut up a side of beef, nobody mentions the weight of the carcase, the huge amount of messy inedible intestines, the joys of cutting the head off, the tenacity with which the hide sticks to the body, the amount of time that it takes even a skilled butcher to dismember a full-size stirk, the smell or the blood. Or the size of freezer needed to keep such a mountain of meat.
    But rabbits are pretty easy.

    Keep your own chickens for eggs...the hens will lay to order and never go off lay, and the time and effort to hand-pluck half a dozen chickens is not mentioned.

    A cow or a couple of goats for dairy products...fine if you like hand-milking twice a day, and they never dry up do they? And all dairy products are very easy to make. Aren't they? Cows don't take up much room, and goats will eat everything, but not your nice organic veggies.

    Grow grain...don't worry, it harvests itself.

    Make country'll never have a failure, there's tons of hedgerow berries etc to forage for, the wild birds and animals won't take any of them, and you'll have all the time in the world to gather them, their season is totally different from your busy harvest times.

    Trout from the babbling brook...if there's any left, nobody will have any fishing rights on the brook, there won't be any poachers, and the trout are dead easy to tickle.

    If you think nobody cares whether you're dead or alive, try missing a couple of mortgage payments

    Yeah, seems to be a good mouser, often fetches me a present of one, sometimes alive, looking very proud of itself.

  4. Inimitable. Great word. Perfectly sums up John Seymour. Don't think he ever made any money from self supporting? He was also (like you and me) full of opinions and didn't give a tuppence what people thought.

    His books also took away the rose tinted spectacles and climbing rose, thatched cottage image of the rural iydll. If you want to read a brilliant book about Mr Seymour, get yourself: A Good Life - Paul Peacock. It really is excellent. Think I will read it again this week!

    Smallholding farming is full of pitfalls and problems round every corner. It's also very isolated and not good for one's spirit toiling away on your own. It's better than working down a pit or on a building site or in a factory though!

    Still think if you lived in nice village or town with an allotment, chippy, real ale pub, car-boot sale, community (that's a good one!, church, sports club, library, off licence, pie shop..., you don't need to have a smallholding!

    There are no sign of mouse droppings next door in the farmhouse. Alan (Sugar the cat) is earning his cat food and saucers of milk.

    Great thoughts Mr Cumbrian.

  5. Yes, I can see the similarities, like you say he was full of opinions, straightforward and very self-reliant, and I must confess I tend to have definite opinions on most things.

    Disillusuionment continues.

    Scenic countryside... but you can't eat it.
    Cattle grazing contentedly...but only in summer.
    Hens scratching around the yard...a magnet for foxes.
    Pigs dozing in the long as you don't mind it being rooted over, a quagmire in the wet.
    Crops growing happily...if you can beat the weeds.
    People leaning on the gate chewing straws...They've run out of fags.
    Aroma of fresh-baked bread...if the Aga's working.
    Jolly evenings in the pub with its low beams and open fire... ripped out and improved with plastic beams and imitation log gas fire. That's if the pub's still open.
    Friendly & knowledgable locals...replaced by strangers with differend accents discussing share prices.
    Old men smoking pipes...pipes now banned so they don't come in any more, even if they could afford the inflated beer prices on a pension.

    I'll have a look for that book, think I'll enjoy reading it.

    And I agree a life struggling on a small-holding must be better than the slavery down the pits, but also like you say it would be nice to have somebody to share the trials and tribulations. A difficult one, since employing a hand is not often economically viable, and patnerships never work.

    Have you ever lent someone £20 and never seen that person again? It was probably worth it.

    Raggy's been out and come back, asleep on its chair again. Must have a busy night.

  6. I am told that I should be a little person in the corner of the television giving my opinions. Especially if (trying to stop again) I am watching the news. Gosh I can not stand politicians. Have you seen West World World with Yul Bryner and everybody is (are) robots. Think I will write a parody called: Westminster world?

    Where did that rant come from?

    Scenic countryside...nice smell of slurry and view of the electricity-windmills-slatted house.

    Cattle grazing contentedly- heifer sees neighbours bull and decides to become a tart and jump over 'stock-proof fence'. It's not stock-proof.

    Aga working.... until we get the storm and it blows back and we have run out of coal.

    Beer is really good in here... "We'll put it up 10p a pint to keep the riff-raff."

    We bought our cat (Alan) Sugar a new red collar today. He's sat in the window washing his paws. What a smart cat.

    People in towns are envious of their neighbours cars. In the countryside they are envious of their tractors, farm payments, fields and farm equipment.

    You certainly get sick of struggling on your own, getting into debt and working in all weathers.

    I agree that employing a hand is not economically viable and partnerships never seem to work - especially with relatives!


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