I absolutely loved this book. It took me a month to read it because I interspersed reading it with other books so I could extend the enjoyment I received from this book. I bought my copy of My Small Country Living (published in 1984) by Jeanine McMullen at a university book sale for $1. One of the best $1 I’ve ever spent!
The book is what I like to call farm porn. Meaning, it’s a farm memoir that makes folks like me, who can only covet a farm at this point in our lives instead of owning one, salivate and get a little hot and bothered. My other favorite “dirt lit” books are Barnheart by Jenna Woginrich and The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. If you enjoy James Herriot, you’ll certainly like Jeanine McMullen.
McMullen was a BBC radio journalist who owned a small farm in Wales and did broadcasts about the farm and other farmers. My Small Country Living is a book about the joy of owning a little piece of earth, but the trials of it too. It’s honest and upfront: McMullen is not perfect, and frankly her method of caring for animals at the beginning of owning the farm is downright bumbling. But she had to learn somehow, and learn she did.
She learned to spot illness in animals, and to help all sorts of critters give birth. She spent her days with her beloved whippets, cats, goats and swallows. She beautifully describes her farm in Wales, and what the farm means to her. It’s a story of hope in rebirth and rejuvenation of livestock and of the soul.
I loved this book, and was so sad when it did come to an end. Then I figured out there are two sequels, hooray! The sequels are Wind in the Ash Tree and A Small Country Living Goes On. I’m so excited to track down copies of those books and gobble/very slowly read them up!
If you’re looking for some happy reading while the snow covers the garden, My Small Country Living is the book for you!