Bear with me for a minute...I'm going to digress.
I have any number of crazy fantasies that will probably never happen in my lifetime, and they are not based on anything even close to reality, but on fluff and sunshine. One of them is to live on a farm and make sheep and goat cheese (I've seen this life in situ in Poland, and having visited this woman twice, I am hopelessly wooed by the idea). Never mind that I USED to live on a farm when I was young, and could have probably tried this if I had asked my dad, but didn't. I was too busy worrying about how to get off the farm.
So anyway, I was discussing this fantasy with a rep from Storey Publishing at SIBA last fall. I have no idea how we got on the topic. And the rep excitedly shoved this book in my hands and said I had to read it. That it would totally feed my fantasy, and maybe even expand my dreams to raising chickens, bees and rabbits.
Synopsis: Jenna Woginrich seems to have always had a little Mother Earth in her. She grew up in Tennessee, and at a young age had an interest in spinning fabric into yarn, and playing old musical instruments. But after college, when she got a computer design job in northern Idaho, she decided she wanted to try homesteading. She found a mentor, rented a place with some land, and dove in head first.
Jenna is fearless. She got chickens first, then bees (STINGING ANGRY INSECTS!), then rabbits. She explains patiently, as a person who has started from square zero, how to approach these projects. She planted a garden. She uses her huskies as work dogs and also takes them sledding. She taught herself to play the banjo, the fiddle, and the dulcimer, and has jam sessions with other old time music lovers. She buys her kitchen gadgets at antique stores. She knits and sews her own clothes, sometimes from the sheared fur from her angora rabbits. She bakes bread, makes her own pasta, and cans her garden produce.
Her new lifestyle hasn't been without strife, and she is very forthright about it. Her dogs got into her baby chicks and killed them. She accidentally killed her bee queen. One of her rabbits injured itself and had to be put down:
"How simple was the simple life? Clearly, it's complex enough to make a Buddhist vegetarian kill a rabbit at point-blank range, then go buy a gun. Your lifestyle preferences are not considered when it comes to caring for the lives of others on a farm. Not everything can be as simple as we'd like."
At the back of the book, Jenna provides simple sewing projects, recipes, and resources for all of her endeavors. She makes even the most overwhelming projects achievable, whether you live in New York City or on 200 acres in Montana.
My thoughts: This book was a whole lot of fun to read, and it absolutely did expand my fantasies to chickens, rabbits and gardens (not bees). Realistically, with the pace of my life right now, and the nasty, scavenging varmints that think it is their right to eat anything on my property and poop in my pool, I probably won't be adopting vulnerable animals or planting greens anytime soon. But the seed has been planted (pun intended).
My ultimate goal, once my kids move away to college, is to move into a condo on the beach. So maybe the idea will stay a seedling forever, but you never know. And as Jenna states in her book, you can grow herbs on your windowsill, you can train your dog carry food home from the farmer's market, and you can bake your own bread and make your own pasta. I am completely open to this, and actually have been known to make my food from scratch. See! I can be green!
Throughout the book, several thoughts kept swirling in my mind, besides visions of my own fresh eggs. One was "there is nobody in my life that even comes close to being a personality like Jenna". As somebody who often makes her own tomato sauce with slow-roasted tomatoes and makes her own ricotta, I am already a lonely minority amongst my friends. Another thought was "this is definitely one lady I'd love to have dinner with. Just to see what makes her tick and listen to her stories". And actually you can listen to her stories, because she has a blog called Cold Antler Farm.
Hey, she now has sheep, and she loves goat cheese. On those topics alone, I could talk for hours.
4 out of 5 stars