Review: Barnheart by Jenna Woginrich

| 1/22/2012 6:31:12 PM

barnheart book coverI'll say up front that I am a huge fan of Jenna Woginrich's work. I read her blog, Cold Antler Farm, regularly, and her first book, "Made from Scratch" is well-worn and has a place of honor on my bookshelf.  

"Barnheart" takes the ideas Woginrich espoused in "Made from Scratch" (growing your own food, keeping animals, making your own clothes, etc.) to a whole new level. In it, Woginrich relates the story of her own journey from a homesteader farming on borrowed land to a full-fledged farmer with acreage in what she calls "Veryork." Her story is as harrowing (at least to this urban homesteader)  as any mystery novel: misunderstandings over livestock, eviction, time running out on finding a home for both farmer and livestock ---- these are things that would keep any of us up at night.  

Throughout the book, Jenna's yearning for a place of her own, a place to put down deep, strong roots, is palpable. She calls Barnheart an affliction, and describes it early on in the book:

"It's a sharp, targeted depression, a sudden overcast feeling that hits you while you're at work or standing in the grocery store checkout line. It's a dreamer's disease, a mix of hope, determination, and grit. It attacks those of us who wish to god that we were outside with our flocks, feed bags, or harnesses, instead of sitting in front of a computer screen." 

Later on, she says:

"The symptoms are mild at first. You start reading online homesteading forums and shopping at cheese-making supply sites on your lunch break. ....Somehow, somewhere along the way you realize that you're happiest when you're weeding the garden or collecting eggs from the henhouse. It's all downhill from there." 

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