Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer by Joel Salatin

I LOVED this book. In another life I would be a lunatic farmer too - one who respects the land, respects animals and handles both with knowledge and the understanding that we cannot abuse the system and expect to get away with it forever. In conversation-like fashion Joel Salatin tells of his family business raising cows, chickens, and eggs on a sustainable farm in Virginia. Joel travels widely helping to make people aware that it is possible to feed our country without resorting to chemicals, feedlots and monocrop, mega-acre farms. In this book he includes his philosophy, research and resources as well as practical how-tos. Each chapter concludes with takeaway points. For example, chapter one is titled "Growing Soil". The takeaway points were: 1. Herbivores and perennials are the most efficacious way to build soil. 2. Tillage and annuals account for the lion's share of erosion. 3. Depleted soil can be rebuilt and regenerated. 4. Carbon is the key to soil health.
You don't have to be a regular farmer to appropriate the wisdom in this book. Taking it to heart will help you better care for any size urban yard you have and give you an appreciation of the process behind organic farming and encourage you to support local suppliers of this type of produce and meat.

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

(audio book) Suspense. Conspiracies. Murder. Chases. This book has it all. There's even some biblical history as a running theme, although it has been much elaborated on and is very speculative. Just what was the weapon that Cain used to kill Abel? Does it matter and is it worth getting killed over? Some people seem to think so. Alongside the standard thriller theme is a subplot of a father/son relationship. Just enough to make you want to go and hug your dad and tell him you love him.
I was kept on the edge of my seat with this one. A few rough words and descriptive violence scenes keep it in the adult category.

and I shall have some peace there by Margaret Roach

The cover of this book requires that you pick it up it's so beautiful and peaceful. The subtitle "trading in the fast lane for my own dirt road" was intriguing enough to cause me to toss it into my library bag and take it home. I love to read about people who have changed course dramatically in their lives, based on changing life values or re-evaluation of their lives or perhaps just finally getting to what they've always wanted to do in the first place.
This is a non-fiction book. So Margaret's introspective journey to finally leaving a well-paying, prestigious career working under Martha Stewart is particularly meaningful. And Margaret is touchingly honest. We hear the good and the bad. Warts and all, she doesn't hold anything back. It's like she took her journal and fleshed it out.
I enjoyed being alongside as she made the important decisions; I enjoyed her descriptions of the plant and animal life in her new habitat. I'm encouraged that she made this big step and is being successful at it. In fact, you can read an ongoing discussion at her blog "A way to garden".
A favourite quote from the book is Martha Stewart's motto "learn something new every day". Easy to do when you read a lot. :)

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

(audio version) This was a perfect night-time, knitting, listening-to novel. The main character is a middle-aged gentleman and the narrator had a voice that fit well with the age. Part of the fascination of this book was that Liam was 61 and considered himself old and ready for the rocking chair on the veranda. He's only 5 years older than me! Seeing the world through his eyes was a hoot.
Liam is a once widowed, once divorced father of three girls who has just lost his job. His dilemma now is to either get a new job (he was a teacher) or consider himself retired and spend the rest of his days reading his beloved philosophy books. Along the way he has conflicts with his children, a summer romance with a younger woman and much reflecting on what he has done with his life.
Another wonder-factor for me was his disconnect with his children. He seemed content to live his own life and let them live theirs and rarely the twain meet. This is so different to my way of dealing with family that I was left pondering the question of "am I too involved with my children's lives?"
Liam seemed to be looking for purpose in his life. I wish he didn't have the stereotypical religious evangelical Christian for a daughter. Rather than spouting cliches, she may have been able to lead him to a Jesus that could resolve the worry state his current life situation was causing .