Thursday 14 November 2013

At home in Dogwood Mudhole-review

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At Home in Dogwood Mudhole by Franklin Sanders is the first part of a set of three. The book is comprised of newsletters that Franklin wrote for his monthly newsletter, The moneychanger, dating from 1995 to 2002.

 If I had to describe my perception of a stereotypical Southerner, I would probably manage to describe someone like Franklin. He is right wing, pro small government, a trader in precious metals as an investment, thinks that the Confederate army should have won the Civil War and loves re-enacting this period in history. He took the risk of Y2K seriously and decided for that he and his family should get back to the land. Usually, I might find this a bit irritating but it isn't because Franklin doesn't take himself too seriously. This book is a compelling and an amusing read.

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Franklin, his wife, the "beloved heroine" Susan, children, spouses, grandchildren and assorted animals move from life in town to living off the land but this is no "happy ever after" tale. This book is the story of the ups and downs: the beautiful and the terrible smells, the day the horse and dog both died; when the fire in the field got out of hand; the dogs who ate the poultry and the animals who escaped. This is all told with wit and humility, not sparing himself.

The Sanders family had wanted to go live on the land and the potential threat of computer systems failing as the new millennium arrived precipitated a move to a farm in rural Tennessee. Initially, the parents and unmarried children moved back along with a married son and his small family but as time went by more of the family moved into the farm. The generations work alongside one another. A reflection of modern day farming is that most of the family seem to retain their day jobs and with the losses of various animals it is difficult to see how they could have possibly made a profit on the farm, initially-probably a reflection of reality when townies start farming.

This book is an advert for Tennessee. Franklin gives details of favourite sites, especially battlefields and businesses that he recommends. Wanting to visit Tennessee hadn't been on my radar before but this has piqued my curiosity and, yes, I would see if I could find Dogwood Mudhole.

Does the book make me want to acquire a homestead? Not really, and the bad parts fit with my perception of the difficulties of returning to life on the land but it is a jolly and easy read, ideal for the Christmas period.

This book would make a Christmas present particularly suitable for any adult who does wish to return to a life on the land.

At home in Dogwood Mudhole is available at $22.95 (about £14.31) in paperback and for $16.95 (about £10.57)in Kindle/ePUB/PDF. A second volume, The best thing we ever did is due to start shipping on 15th November although the PDF version is already available. This will retail at the same prices.

To read other reviews of At home in Dogwood Mudhole visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew site.

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