Andi Cumbo - Writer, Editor, Online Writing Courses, Classes & Lessons

Farm Books – My Top Ten

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I feel like you folks should have known this was coming.  It was kind of inevitable, right?  So today, I bring you – from God’s Whisper Farm – my ten favorite farm books – for farmers, memoir-readers, and dreamers alike.

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1. Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese by Brad Kessler – I’ve known Kessler’s novels ever since I had the opportunity to take a seminar with him in grad school, and his prose is exquisite. So when he wrote about farming – particularly goat farming – I had to read the book. It doesn’t disappoint – from his deep love of his animals to his honesty about the work it takes . . . a beautiful book.

2. Our Farm of Four Acres and the Money we Made by it by Miss Coulter – Last year, Ed Cyzewski pointed out that I might like this book and also that it was free for Kindle. I scooped it up and came to love the practicality and long-stayed common sense in its pages.  Also, it’s still free on Kindle.

3. Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich – I’ve loved Woginrich’s writing – not to mention her life – since I read her book Made from Scratch a few years back. She’s a single woman who farms her own place with livestock, crops, sled dogs, and even some falconry now. She is my hero. . . seriously.

4. Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry – Wendell Berry is the ambassador of the agragrian life and well he should be. His insight into the importance of agriculture and farm lifestyles spans into the importance of farming to our national culture and health but also to our lives as individuals. He’s a challenging read – both in terms of style and content – but he’s amazing. Just amazing.

5. The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball – Part love story, part quest, part farm memoir, Kimball’s book speaks to the longing that drives some of us back to the land and to the challenges of that choice both physically and psychologically.

6. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot – I grew up watching All Creatures Great and Small with my parents on PBS, and I loved it.  But the book, the book, the book.  Honest, lovely, sweet, and hard.  Like farming.

7. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver – This, this life . . . that’s what I’m aiming for without the slaughter of our own animals. (I honor that, but I just can’t do it.) To eat locally, raise much of our own food. . . yep, that’s it.

8. See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America by Logan Ward – To chop your own wood, use a horse to plow, grow all your own food . . . and do it to save your family, well, Ward just inspires me.

9. Beekman 1802 – Okay, I’m cheating with this one just a bit because this is really the Beekman Boys’ website.  They do have a great cookbook about cooking with heirloom varieties, but their website as a whole is just great – gorgeous, helpful, and inspiring.

10. 150 Years of International Harvester by C.H. Wendel – Here at God’s Whisper, we have an International Harvester Farmall M named Lee (in homage to my dad Elwood Lee and the General Lee in P’s favorite, childhood show. . . can you name it?) Lee is bright red with a wide front end that makes him perfect for these Virginia mountains. You should come meet him sometime.

I’d be a terrible marketer if I didn’t also mention that I have a little book from our farm, God’s Whisper. It lays out the 10 principles we want to live by here . . . principles inspired by many of these books.  I’d be honored if you read it. . . or stop by our blog for God’s Whisper Farm and see what we’re up to at the moment.

What other farm books do you recommend?  Have you read any of these? 

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Author: Andi

I am a writer, editor, and writing teacher whose most recent book, The Slaves Have Names, tells the story of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised. When I'm not working, my husband and I are working to make our small farm - God's Whisper Farm - a retreat here at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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