PIG farmer Joe Jacobs has an interesting and unlikely second job – he writes books.

Nothing fancy and definitely not a novelist, Joe has made himself a name as a garden and farm DIY expert.

However, neither pig farming or writing were natural choices for this former Navy commando helicopter pilot. After leaving the forces some years ago, he started with four chickens and went on from there, now farming a 1,000 pigs for a contract firm near Rillington.

Joe puts the writing down to genetics, a branch of his family holds the name Strevens, a regional corruption of Scrivens meaning a scribe.

“The first few magazine articles I wrote were about my smallholding, I then got some published on aviation and the writing sort of took off,” he said.

“To date I’ve done three project books for different publishers and am currently working on a fourth title.”

Joe based his basic idea of farm projects on an out of print American book – the format must have been a winner because the books are selling well in the US.

His first title Build It! DIY Projects for Farmers Smallholders and Gardeners was first published in 2008. This was followed by a project book on making things out of scrap pallets.

Joe is adamant that this was not his idea and that he got roped into it by the publisher. Nevertheless, the book has gained a following among the frugally minded.

His most recent offering has just been published by the Crowood Press and is entitled Small Livestock Housing – a construction guide.

Joe is currently working on his next offering which is to be a collection of beekeeping projects.

“At the moment there is an increase in the numbers of beekeepers in the UK but some of the gear is horrendously expensive,” Joe said.

“In times of austerity, people may well be encouraged to make their own equipment.”

From an academic viewpoint, Joe enjoys the time spent in the workshop as he finds it good exercise for the brain and gets him away from the constant whiff of pigs.

“The problem with writing DIY books is that in order for them to be credible, the author actually has to make the stuff,” said Joe.

“This can be time consuming, costly and problematic.”

Plenty of invention and innovation with design issues are not new to Joe, he built a large wind turbine for a GSCE project when he was 15, but he muses that perhaps this was 20 years too early.

“The biggest problem with writing marginal books is that you have to be sure that they will sell or else you are wasting your time” added Joe.

“Amazon has more or less cornered the bookselling market in the UK which as well as putting bookshops and publishers out of business means that local publishers are unlikely to stock such titles for fear that they don’t sell.”

In fact, Joe’s books have sold very well in the UK and abroad. He was even made book of the week in Foyles of London with his title on recycling pallet wood.

While people may be drawn to electronic media systems Joe feels that there is something tangible about having a book in one’s hand rather than staring at a small screen.

“Nobody is going to try building a chicken house with an e-reader in one hand. It will probably get covered in dust and creosote and pack up,”

he said.

“There will always be a market for special interest subjects provided that they are well written and interesting.

“We may well have the internet but it’s getting increasingly difficult to obtain relevant accurate information from an ever- increasing sea of chaff.”