Saturday, November 20, 2010

Prodigal Summer (Review) and Butter

I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, and although I'm not disappointed in it, I am surprised by how didactic it is. I had high hopes of a book that would be full of details of rural life in Virginia, especially after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In the opening chapters, we're introduced to a woman who is struggling to shape herself to the "family farm" she's married into. Lusa's husband Cole is out on his Kabota, and she is smarting over an argument from breakfast. This tugged at my heart, as Steve also drives a Kabota and, although we don't argue over breakfast, he usually bears the brunt of my ongoing adjustments to life in this house and on this piece of land.

I was looking forward to where that storyline would go, but it didn't go far-- Lusa becomes a widow by chapter two. And she begins to raise goats.

I was also looking forward to the goat-raising stories. After AVM, I realize I'm looking most of all for stories of simple things people do-- reassurances that none of it is very difficult. It all just takes time. My head is full of goats and chickens and cows. I just need some more instruction-- a picture I can begin to incorporate to see how this thing goes.

Unfortunately, Prodigal Summer kind of devolves into a series of lectures on pesticides, herbicides and coyote poaching, as well as a more poetic treatise on fertility. It's a fine, accomplished book, but it has a little too much of an agenda to be truly successful.

Meanwhile, much more to my liking was a set of videos I found through the e-newsletter. Each month, cheese guru Ricki Carroll shares a blog or some other information on people out there making cheese. This woman in Texas has made a number of really charming YouTube videos about life with her cow. It makes me happy to see them, and I've decided now to start laying in equipment, and looking for a raw milk source nearby. I'm going to begin with a piece of equipment I've always wanted: a KitchenAid mixer, a splurge with the advance from the Saint John's Bible book. Next stop: wood butter molds.

Enjoy this video on making butter from the woman in Texas!

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