Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Visit Two (Very Different) Farms

What I Read Last Week

Last week was one of those fabulous reading weeks where you feel like a Higher Power is mysteriously and mischieviously guiding one's book choices.

First, this book arrived in the mail from the publisher for review:

It's Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy. Murphy and her husband move to New Zealand and gradually and oddly become farmers. I don't know if New Zealand animals are strangely more...well, let's call it "zestful" than American animals, but the goats, sheep, cows, llamas, and chickens that Murphy takes into her farm family are the most shockingly nasty animals I've ever seen. Some spit, in crude and barbarous ways, often right into the faces of their owners. All of them excrete, of course, and it always seems to occur in plain sight of their human farmer friends, occasionally on the carpets and couches of said friends, and in ways that are quite vile. And all of them reproduce, most of them in horrifying ways that, were they humans, would get them long prison sentences. It's all quite terrifying and shocking to this citified reader.

What do I read next? How is this for weird? I learn that my online reading group, 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, has Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder next on its slate. I obtain a copy from my library. 

Farmer Boy. You probably know of it. Farmer Boy is the true story of the husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder (she of Little House on the Prairie fame). Almonzo Wilder grows up on a farm in upstate New York in the 1800's. 

It's quite another world from the alarming animal world of Dirty Chick. Almonzo's family raises the same animals as the family in Dirty Chick. (Maybe I should say that again, with emphasis this time: Almonzo's family raises the same animals.) But these are not the manic, passion-filled wild things from Dirty Chick; oh no, these animals are calm, gentle creatures who willingly submit to sharing milk from their bodies and giving up their lives to their beloved human owners. If the animals of Farmer Boy defecate or reproduce, they must do so quietly and placidly, perhaps behind a discrete fence or in a remote pasture somewhere.  

This leaves me with many questions. Could it be that farm animals of the past were much more disciplined than our contemporary farm animals? Or are the farm animals of New Zealand somehow temperamentally more passionate than the staid farm animals of America? It's quite mysterious.

And, oddly, I loved loved loved both of these very different takes on farm life. 


A question, my friends:

I've got this week off.  :-)

I have four books ready to go: 
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Any thoughts about which book to take on first?

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The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

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  1. Fun! I wonder if Americans are somehow predisposed to wearing rose-colored glasses and indulging in nostalgia.

  2. Oh, Florence Gordon! I read it and LOVED it....and others have also praised it. Pick me, pick me, she says! LOL

    You had a great week...and what interesting farm perspectives. I grew up on a farm that was different from either of those.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. My dad grew up on a farm and hurried as fast as he could to the big city. I wonder if his experience was closer to Dirty Chick or Farmer Boy.

  4. What fun books! Maybe I should read Dirty Chick because I have aspirations of having a couple of hen laying chicks someday! Of course my Lithuanian grandparents were farmers, but I was shielded from the "dirty" side of it all and actually have a photograph of my grandmother selling her eggs in a fur coat. ;-)

    I think you should read Colorless Tsukuru because I'd like your take on it. I enjoy Murakami, but this book didn't grab me. It might just be that I'm not in the mood for it. AND I'm not giving up, just setting it aside for now.

    Have a great week!

    1. I started Colorless once myself, and gave up. I want to give it another chance...I think.

  5. I'd be interested to hear about this Florence Gordon book. Maybe start with that one! Have a good Thanksgiving week. Cheers.

    1. I did start it today. Florence Gordon is quite the character. More later....

  6. Replies
    1. Quite fun. I'm now, however, crossing Run a Farm off my bucket list.

  7. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki! Admittedly I biased because I'm a bit of a Murakami fan

  8. I love reading synchronicity. That those two books just collided in your life in the same week. I think the 19th century censor might be somewhat stronger than the current one- particularly as regards bodily functions. Did you notice that they didn't build (or it seemed) need a toilet in Swiss Family Robinson, either for the family or their massive menagerie. BTW I notice that you're reading Patrick Modiano, I'll be interested to hear what you think of it, and in another moment of synchronicity I just published a post on him today.

  9. That are a lot of animals!!
    I have not read any of the books on your list so hope you will enjoy the one you end up reading.

  10. Dirty Chick sounds great! Has it been published yet?

    1. The cover says it will be published in January of 2015.

  11. I have Dirty Chick... I am a bit afraid of

  12. I imagine those two were quite a contrast! While I loved the Wilder books as a child the edges are definitely softened which I guess is appropriate given they were originally geared for children. Dirty Chick sounds like quite the read! I've read a few of those types of books though none set in New Zealand and it has made me realize that I am definitely not a farm girl! Enjoy your next reads. I've heard great things about Florence Gordon.

  13. Well, the only one I've heard of is the Murakami so yeah, I'd go with that. ;) Oh, wait, scanning back through comments, looks like you already started with another one...dang ;) Oh, well, when you get to the Murakami, let me know what you thought of it. I haven't read yet, but might be interested.

    1. Halfway through it. It's the usual Murakami. Mysterious. Weird, really. But fascinating, too.


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