Recently, I stumbled across a book called Hit By A Farm by Catherine Friend while searching around on Amazon. I impulsively downloaded it, which is known as The Curse of the Kindle, also known as immediate gratification disease, but it’s the first book that has made my addictive reading list since the Little House book a while back. I stayed up a little too late on a number of nights inhaling it.
Hit By A Farm is Friend’s memoir of her experiences after she’s talked into buying a 53-acre farm in Minnesota with her partner, Melissa. Neither of the women know much about farming going in. They take a very organized approach to their preparations, yet find over the course of their adventures what everyone who buys a farm finds out: You can’t prepare for a farm!
Still, their preparations are admirable. They start out by settling in a small town, getting their country bearings. They research different breeds of animals and find land. They build a house on their new farm and buy books about farming. They go to fairs and meetings and field days. They take a hands-on class about raising sheep.
They take a hands-on class about raising sheep. BEFORE THEY GET THE SHEEP!
Such awesome planning is beyond my ken.
Then they buy 50 ewes and begin a sheep operation as well as establish a small vineyard. Eventually, their farm expands to include chickens, ducks, geese, llamas, and goats. I found it fascinating how they graft any motherless lambs to the goats (which is the reason they keep the goats). I was also really impressed with the stories about their guard llamas. If llamas weren’t so expensive, I’d run right out and get one.
Without even taking a class about llama-raising!
Because you know me!
It’s a good thing I don’t have enough money for a llama!
Farming had never been Friend’s dream, by the way. It was her partner’s dream. Friend is a writer, and the distraction a farm presents to her writing goals is a familiar one to me. The demands of a farm will suck you in, and Friend often feels as if she’s drowning as the farm takes over her life. At some points in the book, particularly at the beginning of their farm journey, they take some high-maintenance approaches. Whether it’s hauling chicken tractors every day, constantly moving electric net fencing for rotational grazing, or obsessing over every pregnant ewe, I sometimes had the urge to tell them to calm down, but balance is something they have to learn on their own. No matter how meticulously they plan, sometimes they can’t stop a sheep from getting sick and dying. And all the instructions in the world can’t stop them from planting 200 vines upside down. I think most of all, they learn that they’re human, and there is nothing more forceful on a farm than that truth. They struggle with the farm, with their relationship, and with themselves, in the end coming to the acceptance that none of it will ever be perfect and that that’s okay.
If you’re thinking about buying a farm in the future, I recommend this book for the methodical approach Friend and her partner take to starting a farm. If you have no plans whatsoever for buying a farm, I recommend this book for the humorous and heartbreaking adventure of their story. One of the things I loved about the book was Friend’s honesty. There is no sugar-coating of the hardships entailed, both physical and emotional. Toward the end of the book, which covers the first 10 years of their farm, she notes, “The things that went right just weren’t funny enough or traumatic enough to remember.”
I enjoyed the book so much, I found Catherine Friend’s website and wrote her an email to ask her if she would be willing to provide a giveaway of signed copies of Hit By A Farm and her follow-up book, Sheepish. Luckily for us, she said yes!
For a chance to win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want in the draw! One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive Hit By A Farm and Sheepish. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight (August 11). This post will be updated with the winner by 9 a.m. Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow (August 12). Return to this post to claim the prize if your name is drawn.
UPDATE 08/12/11: The winning comment number for the signed set of books, drawn by random.org, is comment #30, KristinaMTT. Email me at [email protected] with your full name and address for shipping!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED TO ENTRY.