1. Planting seeds and watching plants grow, even if it’s in a pot on the windowsill, gives great pleasure. Making raised beds and growing greater quantities starts you on the path to self-sufficiency.
2. Harvesting, storing or sharing your produce with neighbours and friends is the reward for the effort.
3. Later, as you eat the produce, and everyone remarks on the difference in taste that home-grown veg and salads brings to the table a new conversation about food and cooking is realised.
4. With a bit more space, you could keep some chickens. A half a dozen hens will give you more eggs than a family will eat.
5. You will soon realise that if you introduce a cockerel to your hens the eggs will become fertilised and when one of the hens becomes broody extra eggs can be placed under her to hatch. N.B. Neighbours don’t always appreciate being woken up each day by the cockerel greeting the dawn.
6. If you really get the bug you may have to move to the country. Now you can consider sheep or pigs. A simple growing tunnel will not only give you more than enough veg and salads to feed the family but there will be plenty left over to fatten a couple of weaner pigs for Christmas.
7. Speaking of Christmas, if you are going to raise a couple of turkeys for the festive season you might as well raise a few more as they make great Christmas presents or produce a bit more income to spend in the silly season.
8. You need to be a bit more ambitious to raise a few sheep. The ram (male) should be brought to the ewe (female) on Guy Fawkes’ day (5th November) and lambing will begin around the 1st April the next year. The local vets will usually run courses to show you how to assist the ewe as she gives birth.
9. Allowing your children to grow up and experience the wonders of growing their food and tending their animals brings a reverence for all life and the joy of living close to nature through every season.
10. My debut novel tells the story of half a dozen families who leave London to set up a self-sufficient community in the Highlands of Scotland. It is a thriller that moves swiftly from Scotland to Afghanistan and Syria and comes full circle when a terrorist plot to devastate London. Lessons learnt whilst working together in their community becomes the roadmap that will guide the people through difficult times.