Living Off The Land by Lorraine Turnbull
It is a joy to be part of the blog tour arranged by Love Book Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours for the new book, Living Off The Land by Lorraine Turnbull @LorraineAuthor. Enjoy the tour.
To make her dream come true Lorraine Turnbull dragged her new husband and reluctant children away from Glasgow to live the ‘Good Life’ on a smallholding in Cornwall. Sheep wrestling, making cider, dealing with maggots and a demented mother and all under the pressure of the dreaded Agricultural Occupancy Condition. Lorraine shares the story of the delights and disasters of living off the land in Cornwall and how she finally triumphed over adversity.
A Desperate Thirst
In my head I’ve been a farmer since I was five years old. I started with a vast amount of Britain’s toy farm animals on a large painted board with green fields and blue ponds. I had flocks of sheep, a small herd of cows (these were more expensive to buy with my very meagre weekly pocket money), some poultry and a few ‘human’ helpers; a plastic girl with outstretched arm and a farmer who got a bit chewed up by my careless mother’s vacuum cleaner.
I would spend hours and hours daily, moving the animals around on a green painted board, projecting my personality into the small plastic figure of the girl with the ponytail and outstretched arm feeding all the animals in turn. The fact that I can still vividly remember all the pieces even now will tell you how much I cherished them and my little childish farming fantasy.
Because we lived in a run-down suburb near Paisley where social deprivation was the ‘norm’ and school-age pregnancy becoming more and more common, my parents, having a car, took us on endless trips to the countryside. Strawberry picking, fishing, watching pheasants whilst collecting brambles (blackberries) and walking ensured we never made friends with the wrong sort of people. When I look back, I only have vague recollection of people from that time in my life. I can only vaguely remember the 1960’s; not because of drugs but because my mother controlled every single thing in life. So, we went to church and Sunday School because my mother was living in a Doris Day fantasy life.
Determined to raise our socio-economic status, she forced my dad to accept a job working abroad in the oil industry and secured a crippling mortgage on a newly built semi-detached house in a fashionable south-side suburb of Glasgow. We inherited a large rectangular bare earth plot from the builders; which by no stretch of the imagination could you call a garden, and my mother had no idea what to do with it. However, I was delighted; packed away my farm animals and discovered gardening.
Trips to the local library ensured I had enough reference books on design and plants and my subsequent success creating a large lawn encouraged her to allow me to begin propagating plants and shrubs. My mother had no interest in gardening. She merely wanted it to look pretty and be somewhere to sit out on a nice day. A builder was found to construct a small patio area joining the house to the garden, edged with small narrow beds soon filled with flowers and shrubs that I had been busy propagating. I dug and planted a vegetable patch at the rear of the garden which produced beans, peas, raspberries and blackcurrants and a few leeks. An apple tree rescued from the local garden centre’s Cemetery Corner survived and once planted out was so grateful for the rescue that it went on to produce apples every autumn. My pocket money was meagre but I managed to save a little for the odd horticultural treat, when I wasn’t rescuing animals.
Lorraine Turnbull was born in Glasgow where she lived until 2015 when she and her family moved to a tired bungalow and an acre of land with an Agricultural Occupancy Condition on it in Cornwall. She started a smallholding from scratch, retrained as a horticultural tutor and also worked as a Skills Co-ordinator for The Rural Business School. She began commercial cider making in 2011 and until recently ran a profitable small craft cider business.
In 2014 she was recognised for her contribution to sustainable living by winning the Cornwall Sustainability Awards Best Individual category.
After removing the Agricultural Occupancy Condition on her home she relocated to a smallholding in France.