Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dispatch From The Field: TC Alumn Joe Still Has The Farm Dream
"Four years ago, I moved from Denver to just outside the small, college town of Charleston, IL, onto a farm. I moved with dreams of an idyllic little farm, with a productive garden, and maybe even goats, chickens, and pigs. That first year, I gardened, and sold at the local farmers market, and broke even. Which is honestly, a pretty big feat. Four years later, that idyllic farm does not exist. No animals other than our dogs. I now work at the university in town, and garden on the weekends. It is still a very productive garden (for both vegetables and sadly, weeds). But that farm dream still lives… and that is why I love reading books about people who’ve made similar dreams happen.

The latest one I’ve read is Chickens in the Road, by blogger and former romance writer, Suzanne McMinn. In it, she chronicles her move from romance writing in the city to being a full-time farmer in the land her family heralds from, rural West Virginia. As you can imagine, the process becoming a farmer does not go smoothly for our author.

Readers of her blog followed her adventures in real time, but the book gives those of us who missed it a chance to catch up. She struggles against the weather, against the animals, against the expectations of her children, and at times, against her partner. As her children begin to leave home and her relationship unravels, McMinn finds the strength and courage to make her dream life on a farm come true.

Reading it, I could feel the frustration and success. Her stories of her animals are touching and funny, and as someone who still wants to raise animals for dairy, meat, and the pleasure (and work) of them, her no nonsense approach toward the ethics of eating animals you’ve raised. I found this book inspirational, entertaining, and educational; a trifecta I’m looking for in non-fiction about farm life. Plus the recipes at the back (especially for something I’ve never heard of, but makes my mouth water: corn cob jelly!) are going to keep me thumbing through this book for years to come… perhaps until I’m on a working farm of my own!"


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