I have read lots of memoir/adventure books, and I have to say that Mud Season: How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another by Ellen Stimson is my most favorite! I don’t know if it’s because…one – I would love to move to Vermont and attempt the laid back lifestyle…two – we also made a very bad investment several years ago and watched our dreams crumble…or three – she is incredibly entertaining. I think it’s all three!
There are a lot of get back to the land, homesteading, simpler life books out there. It is the new thing. What I love about Mud Season, is the total honesty in it. The seemingly spur of the moment, not really thought out decision to move to Vermont. Not just to move to Vermont, but to buy a country store in Vermont. The total clueless way with which they pursued this dream. Some things happily fall their way, and some things not so much so.
What sets this book above the other memoir/adventure stories that I’ve read is that the author keeps it focused more on the adventure. So many times, I pick up one of these books thinking it’s going to be about hiking or farming and then discover it’s really some horrible private journey through someone’s psyche. This book however, is pure adventure. She manages to toss in just enough personal information to keep it interesting, but focuses mainly on the point of the story – what it’s like to give it all up and move to Vermont.
What also sets this book apart is the humor and talent of the author. She is excellent at both.
What lead up to getting chickens:
“After living the country for a while, you start wanting things. Really it’s no different from living in the city. You want things there, too – mostly new shoes, in my experience. Of course, what you want is shaped by what you see. If you walk down Fifth Avenue to work every day, then shoes and bags and sunglasses might make the list. If you live in the middle of the country where the winters are long, you might crave a better lip balm and snazzier long johns. You want what you see. John thinks he wants a pick up truck.
What I saw were chickens.”
On deciding to get chickens:
“Before very long, I was ordering catalogs from hatcheries and mooning over various breeds, as well as the clearly yuppie water warmers with the cute little chicken-track designs on their side. Before John could say “Absolutely not,” we had a dozen day-old chicks living in our screened porch. We ordered all girls, and planned on a flock of happy lady chicken that would all take a vow of abstinence. There would be no unruly roosters to stir our girls up. Absolutely not. These were going to be friendly family pets. We gave them names like Edith and Mabel, Louise and Mildred – all “old farm lady” names. We would resist giving them each little prairie bonnets and aprons. That would have just been silly.”
That is exactly how I would approach chicken farming – focusing on the fun parts and nothing on the reality of it.
Funny, entertaining and insightful. A great read.
AND, yes I know it’s Halloween and if I had been organized I would have reviewed a scary book today. Happy Halloween!