Seeking to leave behind their fast-paced lifestyle in New York City, novelist Brad Kessler and his wife fall in love with a remote Vermont farmhouse and set out to raise goats on their seventy-five acres. What follows is not only an account of the everyday challenges of caring for goats, but also a tribute to the history of herding and to the practice of crafting cheese from start to finish. Kessler begins with a few goats, readying a home for them and becoming versed in their habits and physiology. He quickly learns that keeping goats healthy and happy is much more complicated. From the threat of ravenous coyotes to a parasitic illness that almost takes one of their herd from them, the couple works tirelessly to maintain their way of life. They are rewarded with a recognition of each animal's unique personality and the final satisfaction of producing their very own artisanal cheese, which would go on to win accolades from distinguished chefs and restaurants.
Peppered with interesting observations about pastoral culture, etymology, and the spiritual associations of herding, Kessler has crafted a lovely and quiet book about the importance of valuing our surroundings. Although he includes some of the less appealing details involved with raising animals, the author presents these scenes in such a truthful but lyrical manner that they come off as simply part of the natural process of life. Whether you've considered raising farm animals or just have an interest in cheesemaking, this short journal offers readers a beautifully-written glimpse of pastoral life in the modern age.
Reviewed by cs, 11/14. Other reviews by cs.