Have you ever followed a dream, and found yourself in way over your head? Kristen was an ordinary city dweller, making a living as a freelance writer. Her assignment was to interview Mark, a farmer in the process of starting a coop that would grow vegetables and animals the old-fashioned way: no powered tractors, pesticides or herbicides, just horses and a lot of manual labor. He also wanted to raise cows and chickens. The goal was to become a community farm where families could directly buy their milk, veggies, and meat. As Mark talked about his dream, Kristin became caught up in it as well. She gave up her job in the city, and moved to the country. They leased a run-down old farm, and started building their dream.
It was no simple feat. Everything was difficult – fixing a house for themselves, figuring out how to till the soil, dealing with runaway animals, milking the cows by hand, and keeping their plants from freezing. I was astounded that they were able to do the back-breaking, never-ending work. Through it all, they followed their dream and were successful.
The flavor of the book reminded me a bit of “All Creatures Great And Small”, about the life of a just-graduated vet who got his first job as a country vet. The settings were often the same – rugged farmers, sick animals, smelly barns, and lots of mud. Both memoirs gave me a picture of people who followed their dreams, and loved their life and work.
Excerpt from pages 14-15 of part one:
“I looked at all the food that was there for the picking. New potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, herbs, peas, beets, and blackberries. There was a cow grazing with her calf, a flock of hens pecking away at some compost, another pig rooting through a pile of leaf litter. Everywhere I looked, there was plenty. I felt some ideas moving around in my head, big and slow, like tectonic plates. This was only a six-acre plot, the size of a large playground, but there were vegetables here for two hundred families. It all seemed so much simpler than I’d imagined. Dirt plus water plus sun plus sweat equaled food. No factories required, not a lot of machinery, no poisons or chemical fertilizers. How was it possible that this abundance had always existed, and I had not known it? I felt, of all damn things, safe. Anything could happen in the world. Planes could crash into buildings, jobs could disappear, people could be thrown out of their apartments, oil could run dry, but here, at least, we would eat. I filled my basket with tomatoes and kale and onions and basil, calculating in my head the hefty sum all those vegetables would have cost at the farmers’ market in New York City, and went back inside hoping to do them justice.”