Years after meeting him, I saw an ad for a self-sufficiency course with John Seymour at his home and "smallholding" in Ireland. Much to my daughter's and husband's chagrin, I signed us up. It wasn't quite their idea of a vacation--she was 15 at the time. However, we now all consider it one of the best weeks of our lives. We milked cows, learned how to use a scythe, made butter and cheese and bread and jam, and then ate it while it was all still warm and fresh. We made baskets! We killed the mean old rooster (although they saved it to eat until we were gone) and fed the pigs called Ham and Bacon. We ate delicious beef and lamb from the farm's own animals, with whatever vegetables and fruits we picked that day. I remember John talking angrily about the rise of genetically modified organisms and how he and his friends had protested with pitchforks and shovels at sites in Britain where they were being planted. It was the first time I heard of GMOs. I didn't quite understand then what he was so upset about. Now I do (as you will read in my upcoming book, Organic Manifesto). Britain has banned growing GMOs.
And I can't help but think this success had something to do with John and his willingness to take up "tools" to fight for what is right (and against what is wrong). John passed away at the age of 90--he had long joked that he would live to a ripe old age since he was pickled from drinking homemade beer. Today, his companion Angela and her husband, Will Sutherland, are carrying on Seymour's work at their house, Killowen, down a beautiful lane in County Cork, Ireland. If you get a chance, go and take a course--it could change your life. Details of the John Seymour School for Self-Sufficiency are at self-sufficiency.net, but much of what you need to know is in Dorling Kindersley's new edition of his book.
Look for Maria's blog at MariasFarmCountryKitchen.com