Skip to main content

Book Review (The Year of the Goat:40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese by Margaret Hathaway)

Over dinner with friends last month it came up in conversation that I have been considering dwarf goats for our urban homestead. The next day my friend Loretta dropped off the book The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese by Margaret Hathaway/Karl Schatz for me to read.

This 204 page book by Lyons Press seemed to gain momentum as I read it. It was difficult not to applaud Hathaway and her eventual husband/photographer Karl Schatz for their life altering dedication to researching goat farming across the continental U.S.. As someone who honestly knows very little about goats I learned a lot. Though it is difficult after reading this book to imagine goats in my immediate future I would like to eventually get to the point where I have enough property to add them to my homestead. It made me hesitant but it did little to scare me away.

In regards to the book the aspect that I found most fascinating was the authors willingness to expose and share her own weaknesses. I was impressed by her desire to question her own values and preconceived notions as she made her way through rural America. It was very interesting to see Hathaway and Schatz grow as people and as a couple. As someone who has traveled across the U.S. a number of times I felt that I was right along side her for the ride as she made her way through both uncomfortable situations and unexpected moments of tranquility.

If you enjoy  Slow Food you will enjoy this book. If you like agricultural and all things farming you will certainly be entertained. If you are a fan of travel literature this book will fill that niche as well. It reads like a journal, swift and honest. The Year of the Goat is a book well worth reading.  

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


Popular posts from this blog

Swedish Flower Hen

The rare Swedish Flower Hen has a unique story. Called Skånsk blommehöna(Bloom Hen) in their native country of Sweden this landrace breed was thought to be extinct in the 1970's. (The term landrace refers to the fact that S.F.H.'s were free to develop for nearly five hundreds years without interference from man, so to speak). But in the late 1980's the Swedish Poultry Country Club located isolated flocks in the villages of Esarp, Tofta and Vomb. The gene bank that was eventually created by the S.P.C.C. was successful and there are approximately 1,300 Swedish Flower Hens currently in Sweden.

While enthusiast of rare breeds continue to work hard to increase the numbers it is painfully obvious why they slowly fell out of favor nearly 100 years ago. Though rare and visually stunning they cannot equal the number of eggs some of the top laying hens produce in a peak yearly cycle. Swedish Flower Hens average around 150 eggs over the course of 12 months. Compare that with the nea…

In Winter

I enjoy winter when it arrives at the homestead. Though the gardens are long since dormant there is still plenty to do.The rabbits and the chickens need constant care. A couple of times a day I have to break ice from the animals water and make sure they have enough warm bedding.

I don't mind though. No matter how cold it gets. There is poetry in the garden during summer. Birds sing with triumphant melody. Soft summer rains baptize new growth. But the winter features a more solitary form of art. For the most part there is a resonating silence that is a canvas for the occasional temperamental gust of wind and snow. These same squalls force the breathe from my lungs and scatter the frozen mist before my eyes. Then, once again, there is silence. As any good steward I try not to disturb this peace. If anything, I try to move unnoticed among it.

When it is cold enough the trees will produce an individual moan as they threaten to splinter in the darkness of the woods. They all have their…

The Land of Plenty

The idea that I am about to present to you is certainly nothing new. Wonderful organizations such as Ample HarvestPlant a Row for the Hungry and countless food banks and pantries across the country have been confronting the issue of hunger in our communities head on for some time.

Food insecurity is a cornerstone of the human condition. A little research will lead you to discover a long history of charity in opposition. For example, the seventh century Irish Benedictine monk St. Fiacre who was a master herbalist eventually settled in France and practiced a reverse tithe by keeping 10% of his harvest while giving away 90% to those less fortunate.

Life is complicated, as we all know. There are no easy answers to any of the problems that plague our society but there are some very simple issues that could be addressed that could in turn have a ripple effect on a number of other dilemmas such as poverty, health and even violence.

According to the USDA 40% of the $161 billion dollars’ (yo…