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A Farm of Our Own


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publication details

  • title - a farm of our own: a spiritual journey running a smallholding
  • author - graham r irwin
  • publisher - cityscape books
  • isbn - 9780953333103 (isbn-10: 0953333108)
  • price - £9.95
  • publication date - 20 october 1998
  • other data - paperback ~ 160pp ~ 198x129mm ~ 1 illus.

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A Farm Of Our Own is available direct from the publisher.

The ebook version is available for the Kindle ebook reader.

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Read a sample chapter before you buy.

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For everyone, whether they realise it or not, life is a journey. It is often not until the end of a particular episode, when we look back, that we begin to see where that episode has taken us in our life’s journey. That, at least, is the premise of this book.

This book describes a ten-year adventure in the life of the author and his then partner - an account of running a small farm as a hobby in rural England. It is an honest, intimate, light-hearted and often amusing tale.

The work is about 43,000 words in length, and comprises 10 chapters - entitled: A Farm of Our Own, Village Gossip, Goats, Sheep, Poultry, Cattle, Bees, Produce, Trials & Tribulations and Round Up. It has a preface written by award-winning journalist, writing tutor and former mayor of Prestatyn, north Wales, Ken Ashton.

Although, by its nature, it is an autobiographical account of running a farm, the book is not strictly an autobiography. It is a story of the farm and its inhabitants - predominantly those of the non-human kind, but also the human inhabitants, neighbours and visitors. The story brings out the character of each of its participants, demonstrating that animals exude many of the characteristics we often consider the prerogative of humans.

It is a sharing of human experiences. It is about hopes and dreams - often realised, sometimes shattered. It is about joy and sadness. Above all it is a story about life - and death. The writing has a light-hearted and informal style with an infectious approach. It includes many anecdotes, with several humorous occasions, a number of sad occurrences, and some intriguing situations. The storyline is a complex tale based on a "real-life" adventure, set against a compelling backdrop.

Recognising that many people dream of "getting away from it all" or of living the "good life", the book is intended to appeal to both the country lover and city dweller alike. The book unravels some of the mysteries of farming and country life. It shows how the author came to terms with many unfamiliar circumstances in the country. For the country dweller there are several personalities they may recognise, and episodes to which they are likely to relate. Whatever the readership, hopefully they will feel involved and be able to laugh, sympathise, and be angry at - and with - the author.

In the final chapter it becomes apparent that the "good life," caring for animals, and learning from the varied and rich experiences gained during this ten-year episode was part of a life-journey for the author. This chapter relates some of the lessons learned during this episode. The author refers to these as spiritual realisations. Others may simply see it as a philosophy of life.

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"This is an exceptionally well written book which communicates some very important messages in a happy and humorous way." Permaculture Magazine

"There is a lot to enjoy in this book from the customs of country living to working with animals and caring for sheep and goats. It is a strange tale that brings together a deep felt spirituality with the real life experience of living life off the land, at the same time it shares with us the personal struggles of attempting to live in a new way. Irwin is a great writer who is not only able to tell a great story but communicates lessons about life in an easy to read, humorous and enjoyable manner." Living Traditions

"A quirky, anecdotal account of two ‘townies’ (meaning from London) trying to become smallhold farmers in the countryside. While not Herriot, Mr. Irwin captures the reader’s interest as he and his partner, Rosemarie, struggle through the various trials and tribulations of coping with livestock and the elements--sometimes with tragic outcomes, sometimes with comical ones. The subtle way he contrasts the behavior of country folk with city people adds another dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed his account and learned a few esoteric facts about goats and sheep as well... The author calls his true and well-told story a spiritual journey running a smallholding. It proves to be a fascinating account of the ups and downs of rural living and how deeply this affected the two people involved." Jane Toombs, Scribes World

"In the book, the animals of his smallholding become a cast of worthies in a special miracle play that reminds us how much we may be missing in a world of Internet connections, impersonal highways, fast food take-out, power lunches, and the daily quest for the dollar. A second important cast are the neighbors and friends who sometimes add--sometimes subtract--from the serenity of life, but they also prompt a memory of the days when being a good neighbor meant more than just minding your own business. I’d recommend this book to everyone, not just those who have contemplated chucking it all to live ‘the good life.’ The dual messages of coping with and learning from the crises and opportunities life presents are valuable for everyone, not just those who want to escape from the stresses of modern city life." Kendall Hanson, Murray, UT, USA

"Told with a literate and lyrical simplicity, A Farm Of Our Own is an insightful, deeply engaging, wonderfully entertaining, highly recommended revelation of what it was like to operate a small rural farmstead in the English countryside." Midwest Book Review

"A touching tale... that deserves wider circulation than this book will probably achieve. It explodes the urban misconception of an easy, subsidised rural lifestyle more effectively and to a much wider audience, than long-established farmers trying to convince unbelieving townsfolk of their present plight." Farmers Weekly, UK

"A pleasant, unpretentious, quietly amusing read." Irish Farmers Journal

"The book is compulsive reading and sometimes I wanted to shout ‘grow up and don’t be so naive - stick with what you’ve been successful with!’ But they had so many animals they just couldn’t concentrate on success, and kept failing. Don’t let that put you off. Graham Irwin’s story is definitely worth reading." Scottish Home & Country

"The story is recounted in a light-hearted and often humorous manner... A dream fulfilled and well worthwhile." Bedfordshire Magazine

"The author does not skimp on honesty when he describes getting the farm ready and how different the work is from an office based environment... The book is filled with many amusing moments and a few home truths about the farm. I think the chapter about Fudgie developing BSE is one of the sadest. I feel this book is well worth reading. This is a book for all smallholders both would-be and those already ‘living their dreams’." Smallholder magazine

"A Farm of Our Own arrived on my doormat one dull rainy day during the Christmas break. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting and loved every minute. Graham’s enticing blend of candour and humour invites you to be a fly on the wall but the warmth with which it is written makes you feel more akin to a fly in a comfortable old armchair! His writing illustrates that The Good Life is not always the idyllic retreat that most of us imagine but, like any other experience, holds its fair share of joy and sadness, laughter and tears. Nonetheless, an experience I am sure he would not have missed and likewise A Farm of Our Own is unquestionably a read not to be missed." Joy Rogers, Cheltenham, England

"‘Stop and Consider! Life is but a day; A fragile dewdrop on its perilous way From a tree’s summit...’ Keats.
Graham Irwin’s ‘perilous way’ was to give up a high-tech job to take a rural ride in search of spirituality, tranquillity, to be at one with nature and to find that mysterious serendipity. Graham tells all in his charming book, ‘A farm of our own’. It’s one man’s dream come true. Each of us a dream, not all of us take the chance to chase that dream. It takes courage, it takes boldness, it takes faith and it takes humility. It takes a special kind of person - but at the end, that special kind of person becomes even more special if he finds the spirituality that puts him at one with the world God created. Graham Irwin did just that. Don’t just think about it - read the book. And do what Graham did... Seize the day!"
Ken Ashton, north Wales

"Graham Irwin captures the essence of first time farming: the joy, the pain, and the frustration inherent in trying to make a new farm work. His heart comes through in his story of the successes and failures he and his partner experienced after leaving the "city life" and giving it everything they had to make a go of it as farmers. Bottom line: farming isn’t for everyone." Tami Nystrom, Chicago, IL, USA

"I am really impressed with the level of self-disclosure. Graham’s human flaws and bravery lend the narrative a warmth and humanity that are rare in books that usually try to hide behind intellectual cleverness." Stuart Groom, London, UK

"Mr Irwin’s natural observations are detailed and wryly amusing. He has an ability to describe the often extreme personality traits of the locals in a way that is entertaining without being pretentious. Mr Irwin has a very natural manner of writing, that is relaxed and informal, and which makes his stories accessible and entertaining. The attempts to set up farm, complex as it is, results in a liberal supply of anecdotes which will amuse, especially to those who themselves have had to struggle against seemingly huge odds to tame nature." Reviewer, London

"Graham is an exceptional writer who manages to tell his story and communicate his important lessons and messages in a light, fun and humouristic manner." Sangeeta Patel, London, UK

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about the author

Graham Irwin confesses to being a born-and-bred townie. He was born and raised in the suburbs of north London, England, before moving with his parents to a more rural part of Hertfordshire. Having lived in several parts of London after graduating from City University, he eventually settled with his then partner, Rosemarie, in an east Bedfordshire village some 50 miles north of London. They felt drawn to buy a small farm in a remote part of north Bedfordshire, on the edge of what is colloquially known as the East Anglian Prairies. Although no longer farming, the experience has had a profound impact on his life.

Graham has a first class honours degree in computer science, and has worked for many years as a programmer and computer consultant before starting his own computer consultancy business. He also started and ran for a few years a successful computer software business, which was sold as a going concern. Graham now runs an IT, web design and promotional consultancy for charities and other organisations that make a contribution to society from his present home in rural Hertfordshire, where his lives with his Jack Russell bitch Lucy.

His friends describe Graham, amongst other things, as a gentle, spiritually aware, compassionate and gifted leader.