232 pages, b/w illustrations
A Little Piece of England is an amusing account of how John Jackson, with his wife and three children, built up a smallholding in a sliver of countryside in rural Kent, and by trial and much error, came to make themselves self-sufficient in meat, milk, eggs, vegetables and some fruit, while learning various country crafts 'in their spare time.'
John grew up near Lyme Regis in Devon where he was born in 1929. The family were 'flat broke' and lived on what they could grow or forage and 'if the tide was right, what we could get out of the sea. By the time I was four,' he said 'I knew about the land. I knew how to use it. We had had an early lesson in how to look after ourselves.' Later John wanted some of the experience of his own early years to be passed on to his children. In 1965, at the height of his corporate career in the City, the family moved from London to Underriver, south east of Sevenoaks, where they started out innocently enough with a few chickens. Before long they had assembled a cast of memorable characters – bullocks, cows, horses, sheep, goats, and geese – as well as a few four-legged freeloaders, largely kept on land borrowed from neighbours on a 'barter' basis.
This entertaining tale is brought to life by John's vivid voice and by Val Biro's charming pen and ink illustrations of the farm and animals done in the great tradition of English wood engravers like Bewick and Bickham. A Little Piece of England was originally published as A Bucket of Nuts and a Herring Net: The Birth of a Spare Time Farm by the Collins-Harvill Press in 1979.
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