I really liked this book. It’s about the author’s forays into farming, with her female partner. A big concern they had starting their farm, was how people in the small town would react to a lesbian couple as neighbors. Nobody batted an eye. Much harder was learning the skills- they’d had grandparents that farmed, but didn’t have any direct experience themselves. The author was a writer, her partner wanted to start a farm and she was supportive, so they dived in together. One of them a bit reluctant to get her hands dirty, prone to anxiety and a tendency to be controlling. The other enthusiastic and brave (lots of dangerous equipment and situations!) about all things farming, but easily angry- at immediate problems, at her partner, at the world in general. The story is just as much about the difficulties their relationship suffers through, and how they work through that, as it is about farming. First they raise chickens, then try their hands at sheep and wine grapes. Trying to do it all with the least negative impact to the land, few pesticides and chemicals, etc (but not strictly organic). With lots of pitfalls and a steep learning curve. And the author’s personal struggles realizing how much the farm work takes away from her writing, and figuring out how to balance that without leaving her partner all the heavy work. I loved how brisk and down-to-earth this book was. Grimacing and laughing at the mishaps, delighting in the new lambs and other joys, the satisfaction of good work done. Very honest about how hard it all is. I could relate far better to this book than Dirty Chick– they have a lot in common, but the mindset and personality varies widely.
And then there’s all the animals! In addition to chickens and sheep, they had goats, llamas, ducks and geese. I was a bit baffled and disappointed not to hear more about the dogs. Several dogs from the start that were just pets, but then they got a young border collie. Reported feeling encouraged when he showed “eye” towards the sheep- but then no mention of the dog being used to move sheep, or getting trained- however lots of pages about the difficulties in herding sheep or catching them. I suppose they never found time to train the dog? or it didn’t work out? but there’s no explanation of that at all. I just found that a tad frustrating as a reader, because every time I read about how hard it was to catch an individual sheep or move them, I’d think: where’s that border collie? why isn’t he helping with this job. Would have liked to know.
Other similar books: The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball, Shepherds of Coyote Rocks by Cat Urbigkit, Thoughts While Tending Sheep by W. G. Ilefeldt. I know I’ve read others about keeping sheep, and being new to farming, but these are the ones that came immediately to mind.
Borrowed from the public library.