Animal Farm, more like Make-Believe Farm.

The following book review first appeared on Goodreads, a social media platform for voracious–and novice–readers alike.

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

TheMisfitFarmer rated this book three out of five stars.

Shelves: agriculture

After an slightly embarrassing incident of misidentifying a sheered sheep for a goat, I took my neighboring farmer’s advice to heart and began a thorough study of animal husbandry, starting with old and forgotten books (#freeonKindle) to gain a solid foundation of practical farm know-how. That’s how I ran across this slim volume with such a direct and promising title.

I had high hopes for this work, but recommend it only for the most novice of farmers as it imparts merely basic farming advice–and relies on a distracting (and silly if you ask me) depiction of talking farm animals to do so. For instance, in the first few pages, the pigs get together and decree, “No animal must ever live in a house, or sleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touch money, or engage in trade.” As you can see, that’s pretty much stating the obvious when it comes to farming advice, though I imagine some oddballs might be tempted to dress chickens in baby clothes when no one’s around. 

The major flaw in Mr. Orwell’s farming guide is obvious, namely that it lacks any instruction on fence building, which is a strange oversight for a book focused entirely on raising livestock.

Still, a few gems of animal husbandry are found scattered in this work, which I might as well tell you so you don’t waste time reading all the extraneous bits: 1) Never let animals hold secret meetings in the barn 2) Never let pigs attain positions of leadership 3) Names of farm animals can be self-fulling, so it’s best to stick to names like Bacon and Porkchop and avoid those of dictators like Napoleon. 

For a more in-depth and nuanced look at livestock management, I highly recommend E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

(If you’re on Goodreads, friend me to follow my agricultural reading progress.)

15 thoughts on “Animal Farm, more like Make-Believe Farm.

  1. I’ve never been fond of Orwell. Not only is Animal Farm just about useless for farmers, his book about his big brother, 1984, wasn’t very helpful either when looking for advice on dealing with family problems either.

    Never trust cows, especially heifers. I learned that the hard way. If you see two or three of them standing together, they’re either planning a mass escape, or laughing behind your back about your lack of fashion sense. Mine used to regularly get together to chortle with glee when my mucking out boots didn’t match my shirt.

    1. Once my cows gathered along the fenceline to watch me back the tractor into the barn–little structural damaged occurred, mostly snapped 2 x 6s–but the cows were going wild, bucking and kicking with glee.

    1. when an alpaca came into the sale ring, once heard a little boy in the row below us ask his mom if it was an alien horse. me and him were on the same wavelength.

  2. Can’t say pigs have had much impact on my life, but I do remember being forced to read this book at school. Was NOT my favorite. But I’d read it again if it was that or being forced to watch The Bee Movie again. “Pollen jocks?” Seriously? Giving boys all the credit in a female-run insect society? Sheesh!
    Made me so annoyed I had to write a post about the darn thing just to clear my head.

    1. Yeah, females rule the honeycomb and are pretty brutal to poor drones. You know, now that I think of it, Orwell could have easily written a dystopian satire using talking bees as a premise. But I guess he thought talking pigs were better.

  3. Quite the comical relief of the real meaning behind the book. Personally, I did not like the book much either, but it offers an interesting perspective on George Orwell’s interpretations of Marxism and Marxism followers (representation by the pigs).

    Good read.

    1. Thanks. No doubt about it, Orwell was a brilliant writer and his political commentary using farm animals is more understandable to me than most political treatises (not that I read that many).

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