Title: A Dorset Country Calendar
Author: Andy Case
Sale Price: £4.99
Publication date: 13 Jan 2012
Format: 234 x 156 mm
Number of pages: 80
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We came to Long Ash Farm in the parish of Milton Abbas just after the Second World War. In those days it was a mixed farm of 200 acres with cows, sheep, pigs and corn, along with poultry, a cart-horse called Prince and turkeys for Christmas. I left school at age 16 and came straight home to work on the farm. When I took over the running of it, I just grew cereals and kept beef cattle.
Forty-five years on, since we supposedly retired, my wife and I have drastically reduced our acreage, and we now specialise in the Oxford Sandy and Black breed of pig. With both sows and breeding gilts* we run 30 females and three adult boars. We bring on several young boars every year, one to keep and the rest to sell. We hope to sell all the progeny as 8-week-old weaners, usually one-third of them for breeding and two-thirds for buyers to finish to pork or bacon.
This book is based on the monthly columns I write for our village publication The Bulletin. It came about after several readers said to me they thought my articles would make a good book. These monthly offerings, collected over a 4-year period, are inspired by my observations of the wildlife, weather, local matters and farming around the parish of Milton Abbas, on our farm and those of our neighbours. My aim is to interest readers in the intimacy of the countryside and farming, so that they might appreciate a way of life that they may not have been brought up with.
I have been published before. Some years ago I was asked by a publisher to expand a booklet I had written which he had picked up from our stand at the Royal Agricultural Show. The subsequent how-to-do-it book Starting With Pigs went on to be a phenomenal success. On the strength of this, a much larger publisher sought me out to write the introductory chapters and pig descriptions to a sumptuous coffee-table book called Beautiful Pigs, which is distributed worldwide in four languages.
My wife Maureen and I enjoy all the facets of our farming life, with our deep love of the countryside and our animals and, more particularly, our pigs. We are privileged to live and work in the beautiful Dorset countryside, out in the fresh air. It has always been a great help and comfort to be able to call on the wisdom and common-sense imparted to me as a boy by the old men who used to work for father and on our neighbours’ farms. Their knowledge was freely given and willingly received. I thank them all.
‘It is a gentle insight into country life, based on the monthly column he writes for the village publication The Bulletin. And it is a straightforward slice, not artfully tipping a cap to the nostalgia industry, but naturally passing on some of the wisdom of the old men from whom Mr Case learned as a boy, as well as enjoying the comforts that 21st century life can bring.’
Tina Rowe, Western Daily Press
The Old Men - who taught and inspired Andy
Map - the Milton Abbas area
January to December - monthly observations in writing and sketches
Looking Back - a selection of old farming photos
Glossary - to explain the old Dorset terms
|The Author|| Andy is the author of Beautiful Pigs and the internationally published
Starting With Pigs. Though retired from full-time farming, he and his
wife Maureen still keep a herd of around 150 Oxford Sandy and Black pigs
(the largest breeding herd in the country) on their farm near Milton
Abbas and regularly win prizes with them at county shows. |
Andy and Maureen are both Dorset born and bred. They met at a Sturminster Newton Young Farmers Club meeting and 2 years later married, as many of their young farming friends did in the 1960s. They have always had so much in common: the love of trees, wild flowers, wild birds of the countryside, the ever-changing skies, all natural history and country matters. Pigs have always been a big interest and cattle too in their farming way of life, now and before when they were children. Andy’s father kept a herd of pedigree Large White sows and Maureen’s dad had Saddlebacks, which he crossed with a Large White boar. Both of them are extremely practical people, able to turn their hands to anything. Maureen is an expert gardener, whereas the author taught himself to thatch and consequently thatched all the Listed buildings on the farm twice over, and did a few private jobs as well. The author has never worked for anyone else, only his father for a while, and always at Long Ash Farm.
It was more than a fortnight that we had those still grey days – those murky mild days when you could hear for miles and walk outside in your slippers, the ground was so dry. I took the dogs for a walk to Gallows Corner and the long side of Brooklands towards Bagber Buildings. There was no wind, no sun. A buzzard mewed four fields away. I could hear its call plain as plain. The dogs trotted through the crisp dry leaves, two cock pheasants got up noisily and ran the hedge in front of us. Sky strained at her long leash, happy Henley at my heel. We went through the next gate, the two dogs eyeing the two old cocks as they ran the length of the next hedge. In the corner in a bit of rough grass a hen pheasant crouched, a maiden with such innocent eyes and brown-laced beige feathers. I could imagine how hard her heart thumped within her warm breast. The dogs did not spot her and although my booted foot was so close to her, she just lowered her head until I passed. Bagber Buildings had an eerie look as the mist rolled down the slope towards them.
The copse behind had the mist laced amongst leafless oaks. Pigeons sought sanctuary as they flap, flapped, stalled and glided to their roost. A weasel crossed the track in front of us, and a squirrel scampered bandy legged from where the pheasant feeder stood to the copse and up a craggy oak. That morning there was snow as I went with the milk can to get the milk. The hawthorns lining Birmingham Lane were crowded with 200 fieldfares. They needed their breakfasts and so did I.
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