Step back to the 1940s in Devon

SWEETSTONE IS a Devon livestock farm where, amazingly, the farming skills of 50-60 years ago have not been forgotten; a traditional mixed farm in a changing countryside.

A family of two brothers, a sister and their elderly mother maintained skills like butter-making in an open butter-tub in the Devonshire way and, each autumn, made a mangold cave to feed their Devon longwool sheep. Over the last 12 years, photographer Jacqueline Sarsby has photographed the family at home and in the wider community, and talked to them about their experience of farming over a much longer period.

The result is over 80 beautiful and atmospheric black and white photographs documenting their lives over more than a decade, and an account of the changes which have happened to the family, the farm and its livestock during a century of change.

This is a “must-have” book for anyone who remembers the mixed farm with affection, or who is interested in its survival in the Devon countryside. As you turn the pages, some people will see it simply as a vanishing way of life, while others may ask, “Is this a kind of real farming that we have lost? Do we have something to learn from this stubborn independence, this refusal to toe the line?”

The photographer was a consultant to the Channel 4 series Green and Pleasant Land about the history of the countryside and was, herself, brought up in Devon.

Sweetstone, Life on a Devon Farm by Jacqueline Sarsby is published in hardback by Green Books, Foxhole, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EB, price 14.95. Available from bookshops or tel 01803 863 260.