This book wasn’t what I expected. But after I adjusted my expectations, I liked it well enough. It’s about the author’s experiences working on other’s people’s farms and planning her own. A lot of it is information she gathered weighing the pros and cons of keeping sheep and goats or cattle, of raising certain vegetables, or maybe even pigs and chickens (which she’s not partial to). She relates snippets of conversations she had visiting other farmers, asking them questions about their operations, and with her friends or husband, going over all the details of how her farm would work. I had read over fifty pages and finished a chapter all about the disconnect between farmers and end consumers, and the state of food production in America, when I started to wonder how much of this was going to be about agriculture in general instead of one farm in particular? I looked up a few reviews (there aren’t many) and discovered that she never has a farm. In the final pages she and her husband find the perfect farm they could purchase in Connecticut, only to accept a move overseas when her husband suddenly gets a better job offer. Well. So I continued reading, not at all sorry I had given myself a huge spoiler, just keeping in mind this was a book about planning for a farm that never became a reality. As such, it’s still a decent read, although at times the dialog felt a bit off (as if transcribed directly, then not reading well in text) or the descriptive language left me baffled. (There’s a few sentences I just could not make any sense of.) Sometimes her thought process or opinions were at a complete disconnect for me. For example, she didn’t like gardening or working with plants on a small scale- always nervous of mishaps with plants she thought were fragile- but was fine dealing with one crop at large- a field of cabbages or potatoes, no problem. I don’t quite get that, being a gardener myself . . .
However my favorite part of the book is when she relates one farmer’s words about his love of the work:
I found great peace in the raw chores. In farming, your aspirations have to be within the chores themselves. You have to want to work with and be interested by the earth, when it’s mud, when it’s ice, when it’s swamp, or when it’s wildflowers . . . It’s very humbling, farming is . . . A small farmer like me doesn’t grow tired of the basic miracles of seeds and newborn calves. Sure I get tired of waking up a three a.m. . . . but I don’t get bored with my work here. . . I’m never indifferent to the growth of plants, the way hay dries, the interactions of these animals. I’m not religious and I probably should use the word miracle– but farmers I know are just open to the wonderment of it all.
That’s how I feel about my garden. I’m always delighted, every spring, with the wonder of tiny plants growing from the seeds I pressed into the soil, how they unfold their green leaves capturing the sun, how they turn that into food growing right out of the dirt behind my house, fed by compost that recycled leftovers from my kitchen. It’s an endless sense of miracle I hope I never grow tired of.