Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: Making Hay, by Verlyn Klinkenborg

I picked up this book at a local thrift store, and found that I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a narrative view of a bunch of farmers, through the eyes of a relative who went back to the city.

What really strikes me about this book is that it is set in a period where the factory farms that are prevalent today were just starting. Here's a quote:

"...in 1961 the farm was organized in concentric circles. Crops grew in the outermost ring. Then came a band of livestock and their barns, houses and coops, then a yard of machines, and a nucleus of humans at the core. "

The farmers documented grew up during a different era of farming, and they talk about the things that have changed in their lifetime - sometimes with fondness, sometimes with regret.

"...Cattle finishing is a risky operation, a gamble that many farmers will not take. Cattle also keep farmers home year-round, unlike cash crops. Dairy barns stand until they blow over in a high wind. Their foundations serve as dry platforms in the muddy season. Regulations have made it too costly to milk..."

The book was originally published in 1986, and it's an interesting read for me because you can see so many of the modern trends just starting. You can understand the rationale behind the choices made by the farmers in this extended family.

I enjoyed the glimpse into a lifestyle that has largely dissapeared. I'd reccomend this book.

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