Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Pastures New

After reading these pages many of you will sense that I have a certain vendetta against the ubiquitous "How to..." books designed to "help" the smallholder in the daily battle against life, the universe and everything, as you try to maintain life and limb of your charges. My argument against these volumes with their grainy black and white photos illustrating all manner of interesting things like how to get honey from bees, tend goats and tether ponies is that they are all done in ideal conditions.
They don't show "How not to..." I suppose the authors assume that no one would try to burgle a beehive dressed in shorts and t shirt, aided and abetted by their daughter who helpfully screamed "Run" a millisecond before disappearing leaving yours truly to negotiate an end of hostilities with the angry swarm as I carefully tried to put the lid back on the hive. Neither does the "How to.." book on goats have chapters on how to coax them down off roofs without resorting to using half a brick, how to stop them sleeping on cars or stalking anything of the male gender.
Similarly the books use terms of reference that the real smallholder will fail to recognise, so Shitland ponies are termed "wilful" whereas a more useful description would read "mental", or "bloody minded" or most apt "borderline psychotic". The book singularly failed to inform the hapless owner as to the best way to approach the willful little beast and catch it in the pouring rain in the dark whilst wearing ill fitting boots and only having one useful arm.
However once you get past the deficiencies of these slim volumes they do make interesting reading while you are sat by the fireside nursing a medicinal malt whiskey recovering from your latest injury.
A useful source of these books can be found in the links section on the margin, The First Pasture Bookshop is where the wanna be, the dreamer or the expert can find all manner of useful books containing new ideas on how they can hurt themselves. If you follow the link you will also see one of our old neighbours, Monty Don, he of course probably won't remember this particular claim he has to fame, being neighbour to TFTR but he might remember a lazy sunny summers afternoon in his garden interrupted by me and my canoe. Well I was lost and it looked a nice place to get out and stretch my legs.
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