Faber & Faber, 2018

ISBN: 978-0571336777 

Reviewed by Ian Mowll


When I was young, I was told that because I lived in an urban environment away from farms, I did not understand farming life and therefore how animals should be treated. I always felt this was untrue and now, on reading this book, I know the exact opposite is true. Due to (largely) unfettered capitalism, farming practices have slowly drifted towards more and more harsher factory farming processes. The author explains the horrors of factory farming and talks about individual animals on her farm. By the end of the book I felt I knew the animals so well I could not imagine how I can be part of a society that treats them so badly.

The author works on an organic farm and she knows the animals under her care intimately. Not only does she talk about cows, she also talks about the pigs, hens and sheep on the farm. The book is full of anecdotes and short stories about the many animals, how their characters are often quite different, how they communicate with humans, and how they exhibit a whole range of emotions such as friendships, being upset with humans even holding grudges.

The author claims that taking all costs into account, such as the effect on the environment, then organic farming is cheaper than factory farming. And it is interesting to hear that people have much fewer allergic reactions to the milk they produce than to milk produced by factory farms. The farmer has also used homoeopathic remedies to good effect.

For anyone wanting to understand farm animals, this book is a great read.