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Farmer in the dell: Book review of ‘Farm Anatomy’ by Julia Rothman

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Full title Farm Anatomy The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life, is penned by Julia Rothman who originates from New York City. I know what you are thinking; New York City? (If a Pace Picante commercial runs through your head for the rest of the day…you are welcome.)

Usually I don’t cotton to folks from NYC telling us who reside in the so-called “Fly Over States” how to grow crops or practice animal husbandry however I’m willing to make an exception with Rothman. In fact I think it is a good she surrendered her penthouse view for farm living and fresh air. (Yes, lyrics from Green Acres…and once again…you are welcome.) In situations such as this I think it is better to have an impartial take of what family farming consists of because the writer has more of an idea what the general public already knows versus what they should know but don’t.

Rothman’s connection to all things that moo and lay eggs began with her husband who grew up in Tabor, Iowa. My only annoyance with the book was the attempted quaintness of some of Rothman’s observational tidbits; the bringing of old wood from the barn to their Brooklyn apartment to make a “decorative shelf” sort of thing. This distracts from the sub/urban cognitive dissonance of where food originates to it being sold in your local market. I think it is this disconnect that tends to lead to a disrespect of the people responsible for growing and slaughtering foodstuffs (I make reference to a belief that certain regions of the country lack sophistication – see Fly Over States defined). Farming is hard work and the frivolous need not apply.

What I enjoyed Farm Anatomy is the straight forward information along with no thrills illustrations. It makes a great reference book for all things farm related. I recommend it for anyone interested in general farming terms as well as differences of everything from tomato varieties to breeds of goats.

Happy reading!


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