Wednesday, March 14, 2012

{reading} Barnheart


I recently finished reading Barnheart:The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own, by Jenna Woginrich. The title alone sold the book to me, and this memoir was a delight to read.

Woginrich moved to Vermont for a new job and was certain that she was going to start homesteading on her tiny rented acreage in the Vermont mountains. Her experience was small, other than gardening, raising chickens and rabbits in northern Idaho, she was a rookie at the farming adventure. But Woginrich was determined, and having recently published a book, , she documented her first few years in Vermont as a newbie sheepherder and farmer.
The section that I enjoyed the most occurred towards the end of the memoir, as Woginrich reflected on her vegetarian past and how that contrasted with her delight in raising a turkey for the sole and set purpose of sitting on her Thanksgiving Dinner table.

Woginrich writes:

"Raising food myself had changed my ideas about humans and animals, but not in that macho way, in which people think that other living things are theirs to exploit. No, this was not a question of possession. It was a question of equality... Treating animals as equals doesn't mean treating them like people; it means seeing humans as animals. We are all pieces of one big puzzle. Before I became so aware of the life and death involved with everything we eat, I saw us as separate. Us and Them. But as I evolved from a consumer to a producer, I began to see humans as the animals we truly are. We're all food, organic matter that will either feed the soil or another animal. Eating meat is what predators do, and human beings are nothing if not predators. I had no problem with a wolf eating me or my eating a deer. We were all in this together" (pg 138-39).

I love how she reached this conclusion, and watching how her connection with the land, growing food, and raising animals for meat, changed her perspective on her vegetarian lifestyle choices. I won't tell you what happened to the turkey, (it's an unexpected twist!) but she did ultimately start eating meat again.

Great memoir, and a great read! I heartily recommend it, and I can't wait to read her earlier memoir, Made from Scratch.

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