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on 23 April 2010
I have always had an interest and desire to become self sufficent and have my own small holding. Although i have not managed to have my own land just yet this book as certainly helped me become more self sufficent and has given me more understanding of what this life style is really about. Its full of useful information but laid out and wrote in such a simple and explanatory way that there really is no excuse not to give it a ago. There are some brilliant recipes that anyone can try regardless of where they live plus some great money saving ideas. I urge anyone who has an interest or an ambition to do this sort of thing to buy this book. Its interesting, useful and full of all the information any budding small holder would want. A cracking read.
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on 4 January 2012
This book was way to brief on most of the topic and the draings were helpful but you need photographs, like the foraging section you can't go mushroom picking with just a written description, that kind of thing, I wish I'd got a most in depth guide.
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on 14 April 2011
I loved it! Apart from the helpful tips (there must be something for just about every reader with farm or garden interests) it's so well and entertainingly written that I found myself reading about things I really don't need to know. This is far from a dry manual - for example "Leeks should be treated like a younger brother; be gentle, caring and understanding with them" or "A single pig is about as destructive as a medium-sized nuclear bomb". It's a valued addition to my reference bookshelf - and makes me smile.
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on 23 April 2010
I have read Simon Dawson's column in the North Devon Journal, and enjoyed his style for a long time now, so it has been with great anticipation that I have been looking forward to reading his first book.
I have not been disappointed. Simon has taken a new slant, on a popular and current subject, and rekindled my interest in numerous topics.

The book is split into 12 sections or chapters, taking on diverse topics such as gardening, baking, dairying and brewing. Meat, livestock and butchery. Arts and crafts, natural preparations, recycling and re-newables.

Each chapter gives an overview of the subject and a basic idea of what is needed and involved. On Simon's admission these will not be the definitive guide but should spark the interest and inspire you to see how easy it is to try something new.

The book is not just for smallholders or hobby farmers. It is just as relevant to someone with no garden in a bed-sit. You can take as much or as little from it and adapt it to your own lifestyle and needs.

As well as the basic "how to" Simon has included some excellent recipes which include family favourites, as well as the complete no waste, "nose to tail" eating, which his wife is famous for, producing many delicacies on their farmers market stall, utilising this philosophy.

Simon has obviously been helped and inspired by his lovely wife, Debbie, and his wonderful friends. He has taken their help and ideas, as well as all the practical things already a part of his lifestyle, and then presents them all in an attractive format, which is easy to read and refer to in his own very readable, chatty style.

I can heartily recommend this book. You won't be disappointed.
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on 15 May 2010
I haven't yet come across such a comprehensive book. The author covers just about everything you could think of - and quite a few that you didn't. Yes, keeping livestock, growing your own greens and so on is all in there - but so is dyeing, knitting and sewing your own stuff, even making your own jam, wine, cleaning and health and beauty products - including deodorant! Basic butchery is also in there, as is smoking, tanning, preserving and so on.
The book is an easy read, and the advice simple to understand. Buy it - but not my copy - I'm keeping it!
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on 3 June 2010
This isn't normally the type of book I rave over, but I bought it on a Sunday afternoon when it seemed like a good idea, and now I can't put it down! I think it clicked with me because it's so comfortable and chatty to read, and I don't feel like I'm about to embark on some epic self sufficient journey, which is the last thing I want - I have kids and the thought of giving it all up is just ludicrous. But I would like to to do a little more than I am, and I like the ideas in this book much more than I thought I would. I even got excited over the gardening section, which is a first, and if I can be inspired to get my hands dirty, then it really must be good.
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on 18 February 2012
As an owner of numerous books on self-sufficiency I was very pleased to stumble on this book because it is really different. What attracted me to the book was that it didn't have any glossy photos and seemed to be written by someone who has some real experience of self sufficiency. Rather than reading just sections of the book one can read it almost like a novel as one moves from one chapter to the next discovering new ideas all the time.

Another very pleasant of the book is that it has a real dustcover and a hardcover that reminds me of books of an age that has passed.

This book is warmly recommended for those who are really interested in drifting towards self sufficiency. For those that want a glossy coffee table book filled with pretty photographs I recommend they look somewhere else.

Congratulations to Simon Dawson who took the risk to live differently but also to publish differently.
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on 23 October 2012
Having just got a smallholding in Dorset - I need all the help I can get. This book offers a bit of information about lots of things - enough info on each to decide if you are interested and to get you going. Some things I wouldn't do but there are lots of things which I will! Pigs due in March.
Great book for those with or without lots of land.
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on 12 May 2010
A great book with something for everyone.

Simon Dawson has made a really good job of bringing together both existing ideas we've seen before with a fresh look at them, as well as lots fresh approaches, recipes and presents the information to encourage you to try these either as small changes or big changes depending on your needs.

He describes the ideas in a simple straightforward "non scray" way ideal for the self sufficiency newbie as well as experienced people looking to take their current lifestyle and find new things to do.

This is a read that brings lots of different ideas together in one "bible" without spending too much time focusing or harping back to previous chapters as some much less well written books on the market.

I have already recommended this book to friends and had them tell me how much they enjoyed it. The joy of this book is that you can either dip into it whenever you have a few minutes, or sit and read it cover to cover.

It's a great clear well written starting point for ideas and projects that you can then go off and research your area of interest to your heart's content rather than trying to be an in depth authority on everything but achieving nothing.

Highly recommended. The list of suppliers, forums etc at the back of the book is also a great resource.
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on 13 February 2011
I purchased this book based on others reviews, but I must have received a different book! I'm not particularly a gardener but fancied planting a few veggies and getting some chickens in my garden and thought this looked like an ideal purchase.

I have found this book really difficult to access as it assumes every reader has been doing this stuff for years and you already have a wealth of green fingered knowledge, I don't. As such this book is of little use to me; it just seems a little vague and does not give you the basics.

For an accomplished gardener I'm sure its a good book, but if your previous experience relates to tomato grow bags and herb window boxes I suggest something a little more elementary!
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