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Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land Paperback – January 30, 2012
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More About the Author
A series of restaurant jobs both in the kitchen and dining room gave him the early hubris to open his own café at the age of twenty four. For eighteen years he ran a series of ever larger Café Septiemes while at the same time beginning his education in small scale farming. In 1991 he moved to Vashon Island, buying land that was to eventually become Kurtwood Farms.
The farm began as four acres of overgrown blackberry brambles with rusted-out cars and cast-off junk hidden beneath the canopy of weeds. Little by little the four acres was cleaned out and planted with fruit and nut trees, vegetables and herbs. Once more land was acquired, pastures were created and fenced and sheep, pigs and cows arrived. By 2004 with the restaurants behind him, Kurtwood Farms had become his full time job.
Soon a professional kitchen was built to begin processing the food grown on the farm and to create a space for friends to gather for dinners of ever greater quality and scope. Progress on the enterprise continued with a Grade 'A' dairy licensed in the newly built dairy buildings and a cow barn raised to house the bovine producers of that milk.
Kurtwood Farms is now home to a small herd of Jersey cows, a motley crew of sheep, happy free rooting pigs, an ever changing flock of chickens, geese and ducks, a guest room and sofa often filled with Seattle's best cooks and Kurt and his two dogs Byron and Daisy.
Kurt now produces fine, farmstead cheeses at the farm from the milk of the Jersey cows: Dinah's Cheese, a traditional Camembert-style, bloomy rind cheese and Francesca's Cheese, an Italian-style hard cheese aged in the newly-dug underground cheese cave. He is also the author of Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land, a memoir and how-to guide to creating and running a small farm, published by W.W. Norton in 2011.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
The book reads in parts like a monologue in a diary, and these I enjoyed. Other reviewers claim honesty and humor from the author. This is true because he is very honest about his naivete, ignorance and love for his favorite things. He laughs at his own idiocy as he learns.
At other times, the book is full of directives I would be afraid of attempting, due to their lack of detail and responsibility.
He claims to be as close to sustainable as possible, and argues that of the few things he doesn't make himself, he will never make his own salt. But he purchases new animals, trees and seeds every year.
He looks to traditional recipes from the old country, then excuses his own inability to duplicate them by claiming he is creating a new tradition that doesn't need to be like the old.
He dismisses others' criticism without thought or research. He knows nothing of guns, but because it still kills his pigs, he's happy with the .30-30 his friend lent him.
The biggest offense was his explanation on how things should be done. He gives the most basic direction, i.e. the ball joint where the leg bone meets the pelvis, but is so dismissive of anything extra because he doesn't understand it. In the chapter on slaughter, the author says the animal on the table is no longer an animal, but a slab of meat, because he lacks the ability to imagine the carcass whole as he butchers it.
His farm's success comes from his weekend dinners, and he has professional experience owning restaurants.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was so honest and inspiring. Also love his writing style.Published 3 days ago by sharon loomis
Bought as a christmas gift. Book in excellent quality . Husband loved this bookPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This was a good book, though a bit repetitive in spots. A bit more attention from an editor could easily remedy that issue.Published 2 months ago by AubreyD
Timmermeister doesn't share anything in this book that you couldn't learn from a thousand other books. Read morePublished 3 months ago by IlyannaE
Easy read, but still gets you thinking. Interesting to learn about life on a small farm (after living a life in the city). Relatable and informative.Published 6 months ago by Justin B. Sultzbach
I really enjoyed this book because it showed the transition of a city dweller to a farmer. I also enjoyed it because the narrator showed his willingness to shape his land... Read morePublished 11 months ago by christopher