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Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land [Format Kindle]

Kurt Timmermeister

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

"Charming . . . . [Kurt Timmermeister] narrates his personal journey with an open, straightforward spirit." —Wall Street Journal

When he purchased four acres of land on Vashon Island, Kurt Timmermeister was only looking for an affordable home near the restaurants he ran in Seattle. But as he slowly settled into his new property, he became awakened to the connection between what he ate and where it came from: a hive of bees provided honey, a young cow could give fresh milk, an apple orchard allowed him to make vinegar. With refreshing honesty, Timmermeister details the initial stumbles and subsequent realities he faced as he established a profitable farm for himself. Personal yet practical, Growing a Farmer will entirely recast the way we think about our relationship to the food we consume.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 430 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 336 pages
  • Editeur : W. W. Norton & Company; Édition : Reprint (17 janvier 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  55 commentaires
57 internautes sur 61 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 I honestly had completely mixed feelings about this book 18 janvier 2012
Par Helen - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This book, and the author's attitude throughout the book, left me feeling very confused. On the one hand, I really agreed with some of the author's points and outlooks about farming. On the other hand, sometimes I thought the author seemed to have a pretty callous lack of responsibility as regarded his animals, which really rubbed me the wrong way.

To start off with the good points:

~ I liked how the book was broken down into discussions of the different eclectic aspects of the author's farm. All of the different animals (sheep and goats, bees, cows, pigs, and fowl) and the garden were each given their own chapters, and the author outlined his journey learning about and dealing with each of them.

~I liked how the author recognized and appreciated the importance of good clean food - and a lot of his discussion is about food. He said, "My wish for this book is to add a perspective on the food we eat: where it comes from, what goes into producing it and how it was traditionally prepared." In my opinion, he accomplishes this goal very well.

~I agree with and deeply respect the author's outlook on slaughtering animals, and his description of the process and the care that he takes with it was hands-down my favorite part of the book. As a small farmer myself, I am familiar with slaughtering animals and have a very particular way that I like to get things done - as efficiently and with as little pain and suffering to the animals as possible - which the author also made a big point of.

Now for the harsh part:

I do understand that this is a story about a journey, not a story about an immediately professional farmer, and I understand that it's not a how-to book on farming and/or animal care. I also appreciate a healthy "jump into thing with two feet" attitude.


I didn't at all like the way the author seemed to jump right into taking care of certain animals with an apparent lack of initial planning and research, and then in one case (with the bees) demonstrated a continued lack of knowledge and responsibility as regards the animals and their proper care. I really thought that his learning curve was steeper than it should have been, if all happened as it was told in the book. I wish that this was pointed out by the author, because he did say that a lot of things about farming can be learned from his book, and because a lot of small-farming-hopefuls read books like this to get a sense of what it should be like.

The section that bothered me the most was the section about beekeeping. I am a beekeeper myself, and when I read about how he installs four new packages of bees every year (before he explained why), I was very confused. He went on to say that his bees all seem to die off immediately at the first sign of frost, and he still doesn't know why and doesn't bother to find out, but he believes that "cold is the most likely explanation". He also mentioned that "experienced" beekeepers are able to keep bees alive year-round, but implied that this is not the norm; I personally have never heard of any climate (which is suitable for bees at any time) where keeping bees alive year-round wasn't the goal(!) Unless something like disease or unusually bad weather conditions interfere, bees aren't supposed to just drop dead normally. Furthermore, Vashon Island, where the author lives, is a pretty temperate climate, and bees can overwinter successfully in MUCH colder conditions than where he lives. He also mentions in The Farm Bookshelf in the back of the book that one book, First Lessons in Beekeeping, by C.P. Dadant, (published in 1917) "is the only bee book I use". Putting aside the fact that I have a problem with his only using ONE source for all of his beekeeping knowledge, the book that he referenced does in fact have a pretty detailed section on overwintering hives and the different methods that people have used to accomplish this successfully.

What really bothers me the most is that, bottom line, bees aren't just supposed to die off every fall, and the author showed absolutely zero interest in finding out what's going wrong with his bees and fixing the problem, because he has ample money to invest in four new packages of bees every year (by his estimate $300 a year) and because he enjoys installing new packages of bees. Don't get me wrong, what he spends his money on isn't my biggest issue, nor is his enjoyment of installing new bees - but to me, he's not being a caretaker of his bees, by just letting four packages of them die off every year. If "cold" winters are the problem, he could insulate his hives in some way or use hives that are insulated in the first place. He could either remedy the problem of disease/mites with medications (which, granted, I don't personally advocate) or he could invest in a genetically hardy breed of bees to begin with so that disease, mites, etc. are not problems for them. And if he enjoys handling the bees so much, he could always split up his hives into new ones around swarming season, thus fulfilling his urge to work with them and increasing his number of productive hives in the process. Furthermore, bees often don't produce to their full capacity in the first year that they are installed in a hive, because they start off with far fewer bees than a healthy, functioning hive eventually has, and because they have to work so hard to get themselves settled in. Getting new packages every year would yield far less honey than would normally come from an established, healthy hive, and it's simply not very efficient.

As I said, I had the most problems with the bee section, but I also didn't like several other things about his acquiring of animals:

Sheep - When the author first got sheep, he did no research on them or on what kind of care they needed. To quote - "I really didn't want them...I put little thought into it. I had no idea what sheep ate or what I would have to do to keep them alive". The only reason he found out that his pasture was poor was because a friend informed him of it (after the author pretended to know something about the grass in the pasture and was told that it was in fact nearly worthless, nutritionally speaking). Another quote - "Surprisingly, the sheep lived. Poor-quality food, little or no shelter from the sun except the shade provided by the odd tree on the edge of the property and intermittent ignorant attention by myself, all led to a surprisingly good outcome." The author might now realize that he was very lucky that such foolish neglect on his part didn't end in tragedy for the sheep, but it's never anything he specifically mentions or seems to recognize. I would really have liked to have seen him warn people not to follow in his footsteps, because this kind of nonchalance that periodically pops up in the book mostly seems to end up pretty okay for the author, but most of the time it's a recipe for disaster that the animals shouldn't be put through(!)

Chickens - Apparently (unless this story was anecdotal), the author lost nearly 36 chickens, one a night for several weeks, to a sneaky and persistent raccoon. Now, I also keep chickens, and I'm well aware that raccoons are very smart and very resourceful. But letting the same raccoon kill nearly 36 chickens, one after another??? There seriously must have been something that the author could have done to prevent that happening to such an extreme extent. He mentioned that he now keeps his chickens in chicken tractors, which are safe from raccoons and other predators, one of several raccoon-proof solutions that are available - aren't several weeks plenty of time to figure out SOME kind of a solution to protect the chickens? Again, these were animals that were in his care - I know that losses occur, accidents happen, and the best-laid plans can go awry, but to let a raccoon systematically decimate your flock is beyond comprehension to me.

These were the biggest problems I had with the book (apart from some smaller things about the animals, but this review is long enough as it is). On the one hand, it's good that these mistakes were outlined for other people to hopefully recognize and steer clear of - I just wished for more of a recognition from the author that these WERE mistakes and should be avoided by other people if at all possible (and it SHOULD be if you do ample research at a library or online beforehand...). It's possible that I simply misinterpreted the tone the author was going for, but overall his seemingly nonchalant attitude about these things just rubbed me the wrong way, and as I said confused me, because other times the author seemed to really respect the animals.

Lastly, although I really enjoyed some parts of the book, I found that in some places the author started to jump around from place to place in his discussions, and some of his later chapters weren't nearly as cohesive and easy to follow as his previous chapters. While I appreciated the overall attempt of the author, the end result just didn't click with me.
30 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 engaging, entertaining 20 janvier 2011
Par Jules - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Growing a Farmer is a great read. It draws the reader into the farmer's world. Kurt is honest and humble, selfdepricating and rightfully proud. The prose is easy to read and still artfully paints a clear picture of the landscape, animals, tasks, and the experience and results of his farm life. I was so engaged and entertained that I will be reading this again and maybe again and again. It has inspired me to make more use of my 1.5 acres. My husband and I will be taking beekeeping and cheesemaking classes this winter. We are also planning to expand our vegetable garden. Thanks Kurt!!
16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Look Before You Leap into the Bucolic Life 7 février 2011
Par Dee Long - Publié sur
For anyone who has dreamed of running away from the the big city and corporate life to enjoy life on a farm, Kurt Timmermeister's "Growing a Farmer" is a realistic wake-up call.

It is a fascinating look at his transition from restaurateur to dairy farmer, complete with sobering descriptions of whole animal butchery. You will never look the same again at a glass of milk, a breakfast plate filled with bacon and eggs or a roast leg of lamb after reading Timmermeister's journey to becoming more connected to the land as an organic farmer. His descriptions are poetic without being overly sentimental and the chapter on beekeeping is one of the book's highlights.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Passionate & Practical 6 février 2011
Par D. Rigelman - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Soulful mix of memoir and farming how-tos, charmingly written with encouragement and functional insight. It's not all pretty. Crops fall short , deer destroy plants, flies lay maggots in precious meat, bees die in the cold in first attempts of bee keeping. Dreams are challenged on the way to living the good farm life. Yet through it all, Kurt Timmermeister lives his philosophy, finding beauty in the disciplined work and mystery that is farming. Whether you have a green thumb or are all thumbs - if you've thought about starting your own farm, this book has wisdom to share. . . and helps you believe you can do it!
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wonderful Book! 1 avril 2011
Par KitsuneA - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
As someone who grew up in the country and ended up in the city, I have often found myself longing for a bit of land and a large garden, and maybe a few animals. In short, I dream of self-sufficiency. This was a great book because it gave an honest account of the ups and downs that is farm life. I cried when he described having to slaughter his cow. I laughed at his accounts of bee-keeping and honest assessment of his skills as a farmer.

However, as a fellow pastry chef, I found that his adoration and appreciation for food to be immediately apparent and I liked him for it. Describing the simple joys of boiling down apple juice for redux, making his own butter, and collecting honey made me remember why I went to culinary school and why I still cook whenever I have a chance.

It's important to know what goes in to growing our food and to stop settling on over-processed, chemically-enhanced junk. I would suggest this book to anyone interested in the Slow Food movement, farm living, or cuisine.
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