F is for Farm

Most of us in Southern Idaho probably know a farmer or two – after all, we’re right in the heart of the state’s prime agricultural area (they don’t call it the Magic Valley for nothing…). And while I’d venture to say that a good number of us have actually been on a farm, that’s not true of a majority of Americans. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

In the last few years, there’s been a movement for urbanites to reconnect with the land – either to relax or to get their hands dirty by doing more than just gardening. And, of course, that’s sparked an interest in writing about the whole experience of going back to the country. The following books – some hilarious and some serious – show us what it’s like for some of the clueless (which may or may not include a few of us Idahoans!) to tackle the “farm life”.


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life – Barbara Kingsolver

  • Follows the author’s family’s efforts to live on locally- and home-grown foods, an endeavor through which they learned lighthearted truths about food production and the connection between health and diet.

And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road – Margaret Roach

  • Follows the journey of a woman who leaves her big city corporate life to find solitude and authenticity in nature.

Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own – Jenna Woginrich

  • Whether they’re about raising chickens or herding sheep, the tales of Jenna Woginrich have caught the imagination of thousands of young homesteaders. As she learns traditional farming skills by trial and error, Woginrich records her offbeat observations and poignant moments with honesty, humility, and humor.

Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl – Susan McCorkindale

  • In a hilarious memoir, a one-time New York career woman and mother describes her family’s move from the suburbs to a five-hundred-head beef farm in the South, whimsically chronicling the struggle of a city girl to love–or at least tolerate–country life while dealing with the culture shock of a world without Starbucks.

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting – Michael Perry

  • In over his head with two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a baby due any minute, Perry gives us a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country.

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love – Kristin Kimball

  • After interviewing Mark, a dynamic young farmer, 30-something Harvard-graduate Kristin Kimball goes from being an unmarried journalist in Manhattan to a farming partner in the Adirondacks. The two fall in love and embark on a huge adventure: creating a sustainable farm on a co-op model using draft horses instead of tractors.

Enslaved by Ducks – Bob Tarte

  • Describes the author’s move from the Michigan suburbs to the country and the unruly menagerie he and hs wife accumulated along the way.

Fifty Acres and a Poodle: Farm Lessons in Life, Love, and Livestock – Jeanne Marie Laskas

  • A columnist and urban refugee describes her odyssey from city life to rural bliss and from single to married in an account of her first year on a fifty-acre farm in western Pennsylvania.

Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live off the Land – Kurt Timmermeister

  • A former Seattle urbanite and restaurateur describes the realities of establishing a profitable farm on Vashon Island, his growing awareness of the relationship between food and its sources, and the specifics of making cheese, raising cows, and slaughtering pigs.

Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn – Catherine Friend

  • Describes how an urban bookworm and children’s book author, along with her partner, set out to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a working farm in Minnesota, offering a humorous take on their crash course in living off and living with the land.

Man Bites Log: The Unlikely Adventures of a City Guy in the Woods – Max Alexander

  • A former high-ranking editor with Variety and People and a long-time urban dweller describes his disenchantment with urban life and his and his family’s move to a farm in rural Maine, in a whimsical memoir of small-town New England life.

Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea– Catherine Goldhammer

  • In a poignant, often humorous memoir, the author recounts a year of transition in her life, as she starts over after her divorce by moving from an affluent New England suburb to a rustic house near the sea, and raises both her twelve-year-old daughter and six baby chicks.


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