The Enid Blyton Society
Down at the Farm with Enid Blyton
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Book Details...

First edition: 1951
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Cicely Steed
Category: One-off Character Books
Genre: Farm
Type: Short Story Books

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Review by Terry Gustafson

Brief Summary by Terry Gustafson: Doctor's recommendation is that Bobby needs a holiday in the country so, naturally, Enid Blyton takes this opportunity to describe the attractions that an old English farm would have for a young visitor. Children who read this story with its bright pictures could well end up telling their parents that the next family vacation must be taken in similar surroundings - and that's an "order!"

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
In a little valley with blossoming apple trees everywhere sits a lovely old English farmhouse made of red bricks and topped with a thatched roof.
This is where six year-old Bobby goes for a recuperative break after an illness and although it's his aunt's place, he's apprehensive. Cows and horses and other livestock are not to his taste because they might be dangerous; however, he doesn't really have a choice so Mother takes him on the bus to place him in her sister's care. Aunt Susan's rosy-faced children Peter (7) and Jenny (6) are to be his companions throughout the visit and we follow Bobby's activities for the duration of his stay while at the same time learning for ourselves all about the routines of farm life.
Bobby is introduced to lambs, chicks and ducklings and he absorbs various snippets of information imparted by Peter and his sister. The reason a hen is given duck eggs to sit on is trotted out again but I don't think anyone would be bored by a repeat performance because the presence of different characters makes everything sound fresh and interesting.
Bobby is initially scared that the hens will peck him and the cows might even toss him in the air with their horns but this proves to be false ... anyway, it's bulls that toss people. A few of the beasts have names such as Clover, Buttercup and Daisy, which will be familiar to many Blyton fans, and there are others although Bobby can't remember them all. Naturally there has to be an attempt at milking a cow and after a little prompting, the required courage is summoned up and Bobby turns out to be quite a competent little milkmaid (or male equivalent).
The chapters are short, simple, and to the point. They cover dogs and cats, as well as the enormous cart-horses, and there are plenty of illustrations so we can very easily follow the action. Bobby even rides ("drives" in his parlance) Clopper so he's learning real fast. There are calves to be fed and the way to teach them the art of drinking milk is described as it is in other books - in fact the story theme could be aligned to a potted version of the 'Willow Farm' series.
Sheep shearing is another exciting activity and as Apple-Tree Farm has the works, Bobby also meets up with turkeys, geese, and goats after overcoming his latent fear of these creatures. Is anything missed out? Yes, pigs. Bobby meets them at the end and his future plans are made there and then.
What are you going to be when you grow up?
Dothgothooelliothelin Farm (Bill's version), Cherry-Tree Farm, Billycock Farm, Maylins Farm, Raglett's Farm, Barker's 'Farm,' Buttercup Farm, Kirrin Farm, Mistletoe Farm, Tremannon Farm, Willow Farm (x2), Butterfly Farm, Blue Pond Farm, Finniston Farm, and Holly Farm (amongst others) all have their places in various Enid Blyton stories and one can be quite sure that in each establishment there's a white-washed dairy where butter is churned in the old fashioned way.
Clopper is one of the cart-horses.

The Apple-Tree Farm dogs are Captain (didn't EB also give this name to a horse?), Tinker, Punch, Sprig, and Jo. Another Tinker appears in 'Shadow the Sheepdog,' and Jo has been used for the names of at least three other EB characters.

The farm cats are Stripey, Patter, Tibs, and Blackie.

Mother doesn't appear to maintain a presence so she probably returned home after delivering Bobby to the farm.

Sam the shepherd, or the cowman, or any of the shearers might have been Aunt Susan's husband, but no - Bobby's Uncle Jack is mentioned in just one of the chapters.

He stroked its soft fur. "It's so soft and woolly. I do love it." This is Bobby describing the texture of a lamb's coat so presumably Enid Blyton also thought it felt 'furry.' Maybe lambs wool is sometimes described as such.

This book would suit a younger reader and it's actually entitled Down at the Farm with Enid Blyton.

The inside cover-papers depict illustrations that look a bit like the tiny models of farm animals and buildings we used to play with in the nursery.

In her Brockhampton Little Books, Enid Blyton presented a tale starring Jack and Mary who visited another 'Apple-Tree Farm.' They experienced country life in much the same way as Bobby did but there's no connection, although two of the character names in At Appletree Farm (notice spelling on the cover), are the same - Jack, and (Auntie) Jenny.

Cicely Steed has contributed to several Blyton books. On a scale from 1 to 10, she might stand at 6 or 7 - and that's taking in all of the artists including Tresilian, Soper, McGavin (Wishing Chair), Wheeler, Gee, Lodge, and Davie. In this particular book, Steed's pictures somewhat resemble those of another EB artist - Mary Kendal Lee, although they're more akin to the illustrations in Lee's colourful picture books rather than those she drew for the Blyton collection.