Monday, October 17, 2011

'How not to make millions' ... and still enjoy a good book!

Every once in a while I feel the internet is one of the best things that happened to me. From being a raw newbie who had a PC forced on me some years ago by my brother (he felt I was sinking into the world of plants and birds and butterflies too much and forgetting all about the modern one) to discovering a whole new world filled with like-minded people with similar interests, has been one of the most amazing journeys of my life.
Best of all, I also discovered that I was not the only one who enjoyed that world of plants and birds and butterflies!

Which is why I'm really excited about this new e-book I'm getting,
'HOW NOT TO MAKE MILLIONS - but still enjoy a rich rural life' .
Is that a great title, or what? It made me go "huh? what was that again?" the first time I read it. I wish I had thought of it first!
With a zinger of a title like that can't you just taste what's in store? I 'met' the author, Alan McDonald, on an online forum a couple of years ago and I don't know if I love his tongue-in-cheek sense of humour more or the very practical solutions he always has to offer. When one has been farming and gardening for around 60 years in places as diverse as Scotland, Portugal and Australia, one does pack a great store of garden wisdom !

'How not to make millions ... ' began as a series of notes when Alan started jotting down his experiences as a gardener and farmer, recording what and what not to do in the future. His intention, partly, was to create a record which his son could access anytime he wanted to, adding some notes too about their personal history which he thought future generations might find interesting.

Started in 1951, the notes took on a new life when Alan decided to transfer them to a computer. Very soon, he was persuaded on popular request, to convert them to e-book form (a big "thank you" to whoever was responsible for this feat!).

"My original aim had been to show my son that through his own efforts and on minimal income, he could make a farm out of any land irrespective of where it might be or its condition when purchased, and then enjoy a lifestyle that many people think would require a considerable income to support."

I love that, especially the last bit.
But, it didn't end there. Alan realised that what was good advice for his son was just as good for a wider reading public.

"As I moved around the world the book came to have a second aim, and that is to have all landholders think long and hard about how successive generations of future farmers can do the same thing by leaving their land in a more fertile state than when it was acquired."

Which makes the book such a perfect read. I love the whole "leave the earth a better place" angle.

"Even if your dream is to undertake some other pursuit rather than things agricultural, it is still necessary to produce as much of your own food as possible if you want to eat really well at minimum cost, so you must have a vegetable garden, preferably some fruit and nuts too, and space for some meat production if you eat meat."

You see what I mean? No-nonsense, practical to the core.
I'm not looking for new-fangled notions and concepts in this book. I'm going to devour it instead for the author's wholesome attitude to farming and gardening, practical advice on growing food and what a new landowner (or even a seasoned one) should look out for, especially, which pitfalls to avoid. And, 6 decades of hands-on experience and knowledge. I'm looking forward, especially, to re-discovering gardening and farming practices which may have become forgotten today but which deserve a second look. I'm looking forward, most of all, to a good read.

I for one, thoroughly treasure Alan's advice and recommendations. Even if he claims that a city-dweller may not possibly appreciate his book.
Well, you're so mistaken, Alan McDonald! I can think of a million reasons why I'm just itching to read it, and guess what ? I feel millions richer already!

Post-script : Take a look at Alan's blog here
(excerpts are quoted from the Preface, accessed from Smashwords )


  1. Seems the book would be an interesting read. Liked these lines especially "he could make a farm out of any land irrespective of where it might be or its condition when purchased"

    Gardening in today's world is on the way out & it feels good to find people enthusiastic about it. Would appreciate if you could share a copy of the book, (e-book). The article was a nice read.



  2. hi Sunita, i felt i've heard that name Alan McDonald, just forgot where! I will look at it too. But i just remembered my experience, seemingly analogous to it. My minor field is Environmental Science and had to take comprehensive exam 'one-on-one' with the Minor Adviser. As a way of answering his question, i told him an example by telling him how our farm looks like in relation to its adjacent areas. It was related to soil conservation, sustainability, etc. And our property saved me, because actually i don't know how to reply directly to his questions. The title of the book is just catchy but simply means Don't Get Rich in terms of money! Does that make sense? or be rich in other things except money?

  3. Aragorn, thanks for writing in. I think gardening is more relevant today than ever, only in a slightly different way. Just as important as its aesthetic value, is its value as a food producing unit.
    And yeah, I love that line too :)

  4. Andrea, your little story brought a huge smile to my face! I bet you were so thankful for your farm :)
    You're right, the title is a real attention-grabber, isn't it? One is so used to seeing "How to make millions" in every other article or book that this particular title saying "How NOT to make millions... " does make one pause. And then, one reads the rest of the title and everything clicks into place.

  5. This looks excellent! As someone who, at age 17 left the farm with no more career goal than "anything but farming" I'm now finding myself wanting to return to a more self-sufficient rural lifestyle. Since we're not really positioned now to make that transition, I've been reading a lot on the subject. Will definitely check this book out. I may eventually be able to apply its wisdom.

  6. I'm sure you'll enjoy it, Shady C!
    Funny how things move in circles, isn't it? Looks like you're already taking baby-steps by growing so much of your food. I'm sure the book will inspire you to make the big move soon.

  7. He's absolutely right about the food production. It was on the radio this morning.

  8. Catharine, I totally agree with that opinion too. It would be fantastic if everyone could / would grow at least part of their daily food.

  9. Sunita, As much as I'm impressed with the book, I'm much more impressed with your writing. Your review was engaging and enthusiastic. Great job!!

  10. That's such a nice thing to say, Grace. Thank you so much! :)

  11. Love the title! We have a saying in our house, "We are working on making our second million as we gave up on the first million" LOL. We do not have a million dollars but we are so blessed that we feel rich! Life is good...

  12. LOL! I think the same holds true for my house too, Skeeter.

  13. Hi Sunita! I enjoyed this post very much. Alan's book sounds like it would ring a bell with many farmers in my area. Practical tell it like it is advice is priceless!

  14. Absolutely, Tina! That's the best kind of read that I look for when I browse for books on farming / gardening / ... oh, just about everything, I guess :)

  15. Loved this. Oh,you're right - you cant underestimate the importance of growing plants - it is so important.

  16. Exactly, Gowri! I think that's the foundation on which we rest, or should. Grow your own food and so much else falls into place. Respect for the earth, inculcating a waste-not attitude, generosity in sharing your bounty... just about all the good qualities we like to teach our kids.

  17. Lovely post Sunita cant wait to read the book

  18. Thanks, Astrid :)
    After you read it, do let me know how you liked it.


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