Once upon a time there was a man called John Seymour who wrote a book about self-sufficiency. In other words, buy a small acreage of land, with a house, and grow or make everything yourself. A bit like going back to the stone age really. Even longer ago than 'Once upon a time... ', 3rd June 1953 to be precise, my father's dream of living in a thatched cottage on a couple of acres of ground from which he could produce all the family's needs came to fruition. The events that followed should have put anyone off this life style for, well ... life. Seeds didn't germinate, and when they did a herd of steers broke into the garden and trampled everything. When that didn't happen drought reduced the water level in the well so that there was no water. Rats seemed to have free access through the floor spaces into all areas of the house. They'd probably been doing that for a thousand years or more so why stop just because we moved in? And by golly they do smell when they die under your bedroom floor.
The woodworm didn't always hold hands to keep the floorboards together, and on one memorable morning, whilst we three children were having breakfast in the kitchen, mother's foot came through the ceiling and dangled in the corner. Complete with a pink furry slipper. We even had a kitten which came from town and was called Marmalade. We thought this was an odd name for a grey kitten, but there's no accounting for people. One morning mother had put an empty cat food tin on the draining board, and she found the kitten up there helping himself. Having shooed him down she removed the draining board which sat on top of the washing machine. She filled the machine with hot water, soap powder and clothes, and left it, to get on with other things. Marmalade wasn't daft and he thought he'd have another go at the cat food tin, so he jumped up and ... straight into the hot soapy water. And in short order straight out again. He now proceeded to wash himself, and there shortly appeared a light ginger tom, and you could see why he was called Mrmalade. No one ever wrote to Proctor and Gamble to tell them how effective their washing powder was on cats.
There was always a problem with the geese, the goat and the dog, which would follow you down the road if you went out, and to cap it all there were chickens. Father, when asked what he did for a living on one occasion said 'Poultry Advisor'. When we asked what he meant he told us he could advise anyone not to keep them. In those days you could inject a pill into the male birds to turn them into 'capons' basically I think a sort of chemical neutering, and we did quite few of these, by the hundred actually. Whether this chemical had any effect on the humans who consumed them I have no idea, but I do have three children, who have qualified me to become a 'Parent Advisor'. I'm sure you can work out what that entails!
.... There is more of this story ...