Escapist literature for a city girl from the south
June 13, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Remember when I was on a food book kick? Now I need farm books!

I recently read The Dirty Life and LOVED IT. (City girl falls in love with country boy and ends up milking cows at 4 am rather than taking cabs home at 4 am.) I picked up a few other "farm life" books, with mixed success. I though Growing A Farmer would be perfect, but it became clear early on that Kurt Timmermeister doesn't have the writerly skills of Kristen Kimball. The Bucolic Plague was entertaining if not informative, with a lot of Martha Stewart (literally). I'm probably going to dig out my copy of All Creatures Great and Small for a re-read as well.

What other books would fuel my agrarian fantasies?
posted by kidsleepy to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Farmer Boy.
posted by Melismata at 9:02 AM on June 13, 2011


A Day No Pigs Would Die.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:09 AM on June 13, 2011


When you say "agrarian fantasies," do you mean everything goes fairly well, or can it include tales that make you realize that the urban/modern world has it's perks?

Either way, I'll offer the Little house on the Prairie series of books (including Farmer Boy, about Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband, Almanzo Wilder). There are 9 original books in the Laura years, with a whole slew of books about earlier and later generations, written by others about those people. Partially fabricated, but a lot of fun. Lots of details about the farming life in various places at the end of the 19th century, from being the first settlers out in Indian Territory to living new newly formed towns and weathering the winters.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:09 AM on June 13, 2011


My aunt wrote this memoir about her life on a Montana cattle ranch. It's all about the grueling demands of farm labor, as first seen through the eyes of a child, and later through the eyes of a young woman coming to terms with gender inequality within that world. I'd love it even if she wasn't my favorite aunt.
posted by hermitosis at 9:21 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clabbered Dirt and Sweet Grass is a good read.
posted by OmieWise at 9:23 AM on June 13, 2011


Seconding hermotosis' recommendation of Breaking Clean (I'm a fan). Also, OMG that Judy Blunt is a member of the MeFite-extended-family plan.
posted by likeso at 9:35 AM on June 13, 2011


Shoot. hermitosis. And I previewed and everything.
posted by likeso at 9:36 AM on June 13, 2011


In trying to find an autobiographical book I've read about a woman who buys a farm, I found Any Fool Can Be a Dairy Farmer, wch might work. There are some related books listed on that page. If I can remember the book I'm thinking of I'll come back. If you're thinking novels there's the children's book Sarah, Plain and Tall, though as orange swan points out it may not be terribly realistic.
posted by paduasoy at 9:50 AM on June 13, 2011


Books About Stuff can be a decent resource--books about farming. Also a list here.

I also grew up on a cattle ranch, and while I greatly admire Breaking Clean, my own experience wasn't as bleak.

The Egg and I
is dated for sure, but very funny.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:55 AM on June 13, 2011


For starters:

"The Egg and I" by Betty Macdonald (has some uncomfortable descriptions of race, but the homesteading aspect of the book is delightful, funny, and true)

The Foxfire books

/dp/1594202214">"Farm City" by Novella Carpenter

"Five acres and independence: a practical guide to the selection and management of the small farm" by M.G. Kains

Finally, here's an earlier comment of mine about how reading made me go rural.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:56 AM on June 13, 2011


That should, of course, be "Farm City" by Novella Carpenter.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:58 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well what about Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, the Pioneer Woman's book about, well, being a city girl who fell in love with a cattle rancher?
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:58 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only if you want to read something about how a guy did just about everything wrong, read My Empire of Dirt.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2011


Independent People by Halldor Laxness
posted by clockwork at 10:42 AM on June 13, 2011


How about: Harvest: A year in the life of an organic farm.

Any of the "Good Life" books from Helen and Scott Nearing.

Of course, the One Straw Revolution.

And, surprised no one's mentioned his name so far, but seriously, Wendell Berry. A thousand times Wendell Berry, fiction and non.
posted by sk932 at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2011


Seconding MonkeyToes' rec of Farm City. I've lent and/or bought it to/for at least 5 people, and all of them have loved it.
posted by iceprincess324 at 2:02 PM on June 13, 2011




One Man's Meat by E.B. White
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
posted by Daily Alice at 4:01 PM on June 13, 2011


My Anotnia by Willa Cather (also consider O Pioneers)
posted by plinth at 5:05 PM on June 13, 2011


I've read a bunch of farming memoirs, The Dirty Life is exactly the kind of book I love. I just ordered it! (thanks for the tip) Here are some of my favorites.

Stronger Than Dirt: How One Urban Couple Grew a Business, a Family, and a New Way of Life from the Ground Up. One of my favorite memoirs, of any type.

Moving Up Country by Don Mitchell - Another book about an urban family taking up farming. Humorous in parts, but gives a good picture of farming life.
A Very Small Farm by William Paul Winchester
The Tree Farm: Replanting a Life by Robert Treuer
Trafficking in Sheep by Anne Barclay Priest
Sylvia's Farm: The journal of an improbable shepherd by Sylvia Jorrin
Garlic is Life by Chester Aaron - a memoir about small-scale garlic farming in Northern California
A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a small New Mexico farm by Stanley Crawford
Hit by a farm: How I learned to stop worrying and love the barn by Catherine Friend. A couple take up sheep farming. One is a natural to farming life, the other is not.
The $64 tomato by William Alexander - more about large-scale gardening but he's a great storyteller.
Still life with chickens: Starting over in a house by the sea by Catherine Goldhammer. Not exactly a farm, but a nice memoir about raising chickens.
posted by daikon at 5:48 PM on June 14, 2011


Thanks for all the suggestions! I usually prefer nonfiction over fiction, but I can probably make an exception for Laura Ingalls Wilder :) I'll come back and mark best answers once I've read through. Keep 'em coming if you have more ideas!
posted by kidsleepy at 6:38 AM on June 15, 2011


kidsleepy, do your tastes run more to farm memoir, or are you looking for more technical coverage of farm life?
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:47 PM on June 15, 2011


More farm memoir. I'm not doing research, I just want to be entertained.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2011


A Country Life Diary by Josh Pons is about life on a Maryland thoroughbred horse farm. A really engaging read.
posted by acorncup at 7:15 PM on June 19, 2011


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