Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life
Both a memoir and a natural history of the small mixed farm, this eighteen-year-long day travels forward and backward in time, taking us all the way from Babylon to globalization and demonstrating the importance of both tall tales and rigorous science as Brett contemplates the perfection of the egg and the nature of soil or offers a scathing critique of agribusiness and the modern slaughterhouse. Whether discussing the uses and misuses of gates, examining the energy of seeds, or bantering with his family and neighbors, Brett remains aware of the miracles of life, birth, and death and the ecological paradoxes that confront the rural world every day.
Threaded with a deep knowledge of biology and botany, Trauma Farm is an erudite, poetic, passionate, and frequently hilarious portrait of rural life and a rich and thought-provoking meditation on the modern world.
around leftover rice congee or noodles. I love rice slightly burnt brown in the pot, soaked overnight in a weak chicken broth and eaten, warmed up, with soy sauce in the morning. The same for the gooey noodles. The Japanese sometimes top their breakfast rice with green onions, salmon, ginger-pickled fruit, or roe, flavouring it with chicken stock or miso, as I do. They call this okayu. Soybean milk-soup. Turnip cakes. Century eggs. Parma ham. Injera (a flatbread). Steamed buns stuffed with sweet
the top pasture and the ponds. AT THE WEEPING WILLOWS beside the main pond the world is all rhythm, the breeze-rocked branches like jellyfish tentacles in a current. The mallards and the pintails are muttering, circling in the water. Under the largest willow is a clutter of stones marking the lost animal heroes of the farm, the dead we’ve accumulated over the years. It’s a good place to go to ground. The willows make a soothing swoosh above the graves. Willow is a proto-Germanic word, derived
doing. Otherwise, the quack grass will drive you insane. After a while you learn to go into the “zone” and just work. Beautiful work. You work until your mind runs free. There’s a Ch’an (Zen) story about the monk who was hoeing all day. The dinner gong sounded suddenly, and the monk threw down his hoe, laughed, and happily strode off to the temple. “That’s it!” exclaimed his ancient master. Enlightenment. The glorious complexity of rural life soon teaches us how to think simply—when you listen to
bladder and needed to relieve herself. Sharon unthinkingly let her out and started making some popcorn. By the time she opened the door again Jen was long gone. We searched for an hour and then just as I returned out of the rainy night I heard a squeak like a newborn puppy might make. Only it was under my feet. Jen had slithered into the crawl space beneath the mud room. The entrance at the other side of the house was so tight I was forced to dig it out so I could crawl inside. Wearing my
it get to you, but it’s merely a symptom of traditional farming: “When’s the best time to weed?” “When you have the time,” says Mike. He has the same advice for pruning, chopping firewood, seeding, and most any other farm task. Weeding is not a duty; it’s a way of life—a practice, like meditation. If you have a goal in a garden, you’re doomed. I WAS HAULING SOME bags of apples into Mike and Bev’s cooler one autumn evening when I noticed a humongous wasp nest in the rafters of his covered