Monday, May 17, 2010

Hit By A Farm: Catherine Friend

Almost as an afterthought, at the very end of a book sale spree, I picked up Hit By A Farm by Catherine Friend. The back cover mentioned something about a modern woman and her partner deciding to become farmers, and the numerous boundaries she faced down while handling ram testicles and assisting in lambing. As a backyard farmer myself, I found immediate humor in Friend’s casual assumptions that farming would be fun and easy. I remember having those same thoughts!

Catherine is a self professed “guppy”—gay urban yuppie. She writes children’s books and teaches some writing classes. When she met and fell in love with Melissa, she had no idea that it would result in a Minnesota farm. It turns out that Melissa’s lifelong dream has been to be a farmer. When faced with this new fact, Catherine thinks it sounds like a good time! Living off the land and all that jazz. So they buy 50 acres of land in Minnesota and become farmers. Except it’s not quite that easy. There is a lot to learn about farming and shepherding. There are a lot of personal boundaries that have to be crossed. There are a whole lot of expectations that have to be considered and subsequently shattered. What starts out as a sweet, countrified dream soon becomes a rural nightmare.

There are so many wonderful, memorable tidbits in this book and I wish I could remember more of them to share with you. I particularly enjoyed any of the scenes involving the llama they purchase to protect the sheep. Because after all, who wouldn’t think to buy a llama to watch over a herd of sheep?! There are also some hilarious scenes involving the chickens—or more specifically, the roosters who compete for the role of top cock.

The beauty of Friend’s memoir is that it is realistic. Amidst the humor there is tragedy, and with every unexpected turn, her relationship with Melissa suffers a little more, causing her to question their future together. Their relationship is tested, as are Catherine's boundaries. Eventually, Catherine must decide what is important to her and what she needs to do for herself to make herself successful in life and love. I laughed out loud, I sighed with complete sympathy regarding farming boundaries (because you see, there are no boundaries on a farm), and my heart beamed for the obvious love Catherine and Melissa share. I think this book is totally enjoyable for everyone, even if you’re not a lesbian farmer in Minnesota.

Rating: $$$

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