A pig called Helga finds her place in for­mer city slicker’s heart

Dubbo Photo News - - Dubbo Works - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

SUC­CESS­FUL au­thor and vine­yard and bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion owner, Todd Alexan­der, was in Dubbo last week to pro­mote his lat­est ti­tle, “Thirty Thou­sand Bot­tles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga.”

The mem­oir tells of his tree change ex­pe­ri­ences mov­ing from a cor­po­rate job at ebay to farm 100 acres in the Hunter Val­ley.

“We ar­rived on 100 acres with a pair of gar­den shears and an Aldi elec­tric mower and thought we would go great guns,” he told

“Se­ri­ously, how hard could farm­ing pos­si­bly be. It wasn’t part of the plan but there were twelve­and-a-half thou­sand grapevines on the prop­erty and a thou­sand olive trees, but we fell in love with the prop­erty be­cause it re­minded us of Mag­gie Beer’s. We just thought ‘we could do farm­ing’,” Mr Alexan­der said.

The idea of a coun­try life­style struck a chord with him and his part­ner when vis­it­ing Mag­gie Beer’s Farm Shop in South Aus­tralia.

“Imag­ine if I could have sat down with her for about an hour or so, it would have scared the day­lights out of me, and I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have done it.”

If he hadn’t, how­ever, Mr Alexan­der would never have dis­cov­ered his fond­ness for pigs which led to his meet­ing Helga.

“Helga’s now two and I’d es­ti­mate she’s about 120 ki­los. She’s re­ally ten­der and sweet. She was the first farm an­i­mal I raised by hand. They’re re­ally smart and when you look into a pig’s eyes you can see that.

“She came into our life and this is where this book came from. I’d writ­ten nov­els be­fore and I started post­ing pho­tos of Helga on so­cial me­dia, and a cou­ple of peo­ple in pub­lish­ing said ‘she’s amaz­ing’. Com­plete strangers were ask­ing for more videos and it grew from there.

“When they re­alised Helga was one small part of a much big­ger tree change story and all of our stupid mis­takes, it snow­balled from there.”

Cur­rently on tour in re­gional ar­eas to pro­mote his new book, he’s find­ing it res­onates with coun­try read­ers.

“It’s been re­ally re­ward­ing. What’s in­ter­est­ing about talk­ing to a coun­try au­di­ence ver­sus a city au­di­ence about this book, is there’s a lot of in jokes that coun­try peo­ple re­ally get,” Mr Alexan­der said.

“They’ve ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple com­ing from the city think­ing they know ev­ery­thing. It’s al­ways that steep learn­ing curve. ‘How hard can it be?’ Those fa­mous last words!

‘Thirty Thou­sand Bot­tles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga’ has spent 14 weeks in the Top 10 best­selling bi­ogra­phies chart and is avail­able from The Book Con­nec­tion on Mac­quarie Street.

Mr Alexan­der is also the au­thor of nov­els “Tom Houghton: A Novel” and “Pic­tures of Us”, plus seven non-fic­tion ti­tles about on­line sell­ing in­spired by his past life work­ing for ebay.

Au­thor Todd Alexan­der was in Dubbo last week pro­mot­ing his tenth book, “Thirty Thou­sand Bot­tles of Wine and a Pig called Helga”. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS

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