640: Pigs in Clover by Simon Dawson

by Gerard


640.92: Dawson, Simon. Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life. London: Watkins Publishing, 2013. 329 pp. ISBN 978-1-78028-501-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 640: Home economics and family living
  • +.092: Biography

One drunken New Year’s Eve, Simon Dawson was tricked into an agreement. He didn’t know what it was until his morning hangover. He had agreed with his wife to sell everything they owned in London, move to Exmoor (in Devonshire) and start a farm. He was not amused, but decided to go along with it because his wife was very unhappy with her job as a city solicitor. As a real estate agent, Simon was pretty well set and happy in London. But away they went—just to try it out for a while. That was 11 years ago, and Dawson’s Pigs in Clover is a wonderful book about the journey.

They have to learn everything about farming, from raising chickens, pigs, sheep, and horses to fixing enclosures to clearing land to selling their goods at market. Along the way, they deal with the lives and deaths of their livestock, the almost monthly near-death experiences around the farm (including a rather cringe-inducing testicular electrocution incident), and the ebb and flow (mostly ebb) of money while living away from the big city and their family. Dawson’s observations are sweet, tender, nerve-racking, hilarious, and all the other adjectives you can think of. He deals with puckish piglets, headstrong horses, and darling ducklings. There’s almost too much going in this one to do it justice in a review.

Sufficed to say, their adventures are thoroughly readable and often very touching. Through most of this book, I had a big grin on my face as he encounters just about all the possible pitfalls of trying to become truly self-sufficient. You will, though, have to be a little versed in your Britishisms to read this one. After a couple of chapters, however, Dawson becomes like an old friend walking you through his life. If you’re a bit squeamish about just how the sausage is made, then you can just glaze over the bits about his moral back-and-forth on dispatching animals for food. Although, from his description, I can almost believe that home-raised meat tastes that much better. All in all, a delightful and cheery book.