Ah November, you are not the most beloved of months. Although we in Toronto have been blessed with unusually mild weather so far, there's no deny that winter is coming and soon! The brilliant colours of autumn have faded, the days are growing shorter and bleaker. It's dark when I wake in morning, and again by 5 pm. And let's not even mention that dreaded 's' word, which thankfully has yet to make an appearance! But November has some blessings just the same. Now that the gardens are done and local produce is all but gone, the frantic efforts to preserve everything is over for another year. Which means more time for indoor pursuits and there's nothing more inviting this time of year than curling up with a good book!
If you've ever secretly dreamed of owning a farm, then there no better book to curl up with than Jenna Woginrich' s latest offering Barnheart! Fans of her blog Cold Antler Farm will be familiar with Jenna's quest for a farm of her own but for the uninitiated Jenna is a determined young woman who has accomplished and lived more in 30 years than most of us do in a lifetime, and still finds time to write about it. Under most circumstances that would probably make me want to dislike her, but her frank yet often poetic portrayal of life as a start up (upstart?) farmer is a joy to read and gives me barnheart symptoms of my own.
Barnheart picks up Jenna's story where her previous book left off but unlike Made From Scratch which mixed practical homesteading advice with her adventures entwined, this one's a straight narrative. That doesn't mean there isn't a lot to learn from this book as well. Barnheart takes you from her arrival in Vermont to her current life as a farmer and shepherd in training in Washington County, NY and all the steps it took to get her there. Like all true loves, the path does not run smooth and straight. In Barnheart you'll read about digging gardens and build pens, and about the sheep that were the beginnings of her farm and the sheepdog that wasn't. Some days she'll makes you laugh, sometimes you'll want to weep, but you can't help but cheer for her, every step (and misstep) of the way.
Through out it all Jenna perseveres and this book is the story of her transition from dreaming about farming to actually becoming a farmer. She doesn't make farming look glamorous but she does make it look fulfilling, and that's the best cure for Barnheart.
Photo courtesy of Cold Antler Farm
Advanced copy of Barnheart provided by Thomas Allen and Son but I received no financial consideration for this review and it is entirely my own opinion!