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Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life Hardcover – April 12, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0470398333 ISBN-10: 0470398337 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (April 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470398337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470398333
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,450,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Do you dream of escaping the big city for a bucolic farm in the country? To grow vegetables, raise a few animals, and maybe even learn to make cheese? It would be a relaxing, simple life . . . wouldn’t it? Hay Fever tells the story of one prominent Manhattan professional who gave it a shot—and discovered that the “simple life” is often anything but. Seeking escape and diversion from family pressures, a demanding career, and an unfulfilling social life, Angela Miller and her husband set their sites on a charming nineteenth-century farm in Vermont. They got much more than they bargained for. What began as an innocent project to restore their new country home became a full-blown obsession that led to a successful artisanal cheese-making business—all while Miller kept her job in New York City. Starting with a small herd of goats (the “girls”), Consider Bardwell Farm has grown to become one of the country’s best artisanal cheese producers—but with plenty of hard work and minor disasters along the way. Today, Miller’s cheeses are served in many of the finest restaurants, including Daniel and The French Laundry. This inspiring and funny tale reveals the inner workings of a growing, award-winning dairy farm and the painstaking effort and attention to detail that goes into every bite of cheese. For the cheese cravings the book is bound to stir up, Miller includes a handful of her own delicious recipes and those of food celebrities like Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Miller is constantly asked: How do you sustain both a challenging career in the city and life in the country while ultimately making such great cheese? Hay Fever is her personal, entertaining story—perhaps a cautionary tale for some, but for many others just the motivation needed to explore a new culinary adventure, form a closer connection to food, and ultimately pursue a second or third “act” in life that is more fulfilling than simple “work.”

From the Back Cover

"Angela is both a Vermont neighbor and long-time friend, and her conversion from city girl to cheesemaker extraordinaire is one of the great success stories of our part of the world. Besides, the pleasure I get from driving by her old farm, which has been lovingly restored and put back into operation, is a pleasure beyond words."
Christopher Kimball, America's Test Kitchen Founder

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Customer Reviews

Don't know... and it doesn't really matter.
A. Gift For You
I wish there had been more about the farm itself, and I would have welcomed maps and pictures.
Very very self-serving idea, on the author's part.
ronald a strapason

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A. Gift For You on April 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First and foremost this review won't be popular because I've noticed a lot of time a bad review for a book tends to get "unhelpful" votes when I think a lot of those people just disagree with the reviewer and so the review is unpopular.

That said: For someone who is a fan of Mother Earth News, or MORE Countryside Magazine I don't think they would like this book. I think if you live in a big city and enjoy name dropping and the hobby farming idea then you may enjoy this book.

This is a typical story of a Manhattanite that wants to get away on weekends and isn't this DIFFERENT from what all my friends have. She name drops in almost EVERY paragraph. And you will find some sort of name dropping certainly on every page. Again that may play well in the big cities but us dumb country folk just don't care about the people you know or things you own and the names mean NOTHING to us. It just seems she BUYS everything that she needs. I don't see her ever working things out on her own. Also I get the feeling she may have written this (well, had someone write it for her) because being a literary agent she probably HATED seeing all the new books coming out lately from writers who went to the country and she's been doing for 8 years. She might even of had friends talk her into writing it. Don't know... and it doesn't really matter. But instead of learning to make fantastic goat cheese she goes an hires someone who already does and now he's using her goat milk instead of someone elses. And she points out as much as she can that it is award winning goat cheese. Again, that's all great and everything but anyone can win an award if they pay enough to get there.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By George Bailey on May 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I have to say that two of the previous reviewers appear to have a personal grudge of some sort against the author of the book. Their comments about her being unappreciative of the farm help are completely unfounded. She has many good things to say about all of them and the idea that she takes the credit for Peter Dixon's cheese making skills is absurd. "I started looking upon Peter Dixon as a star. Over the last two years, he had envisioned, planned, and crafted the winning cheeses. And he'd trained a cadre of cheese makers who could follow his lead." (pg. 102) This doesn't sound like someone who gives no credit to the hired help.

Secondly, whatever one might think of Angela Miller's farming credentials or unfair advantages as an upper class Manhattan-ite, she and her husband deserve loads of credit for having enough vision, passion and energy to take a crumbling, overgrown farmstead and, rather than split it up into housing lots for a quick and easy return on their investment, do as much as they could to retain its historic and local value by not only making sure it stays a farm, but by restoring it to its original purpose.
Farms all over this country have been dying in droves for the past 30 years and it certainly isn't the fault of people like Angela Miller. Rather, you can blame it directly on the agricultural policies of the good old USA, which reward and subsidize corporate owned farms and agribusinesses and punish small, family owned farmers. If anything, by providing a better market for cow's milk to local farmers like Lisa Kaiman than they would get if they just shipped their milk to the local milk cooperative, she is supporting local sustainable agriculture.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By PSL on May 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Although I don't know much about goats or making cheese, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the journey that this author takes. I have a new appreciation for the work necessary to start this type of a business and found it interesting to read about all of the different aspects that I had never considered. I have to disagree with two other reviewers, as I found the book to be very well written. The thing that I found most interesting is Angela Miller's ability to juggle the responsiblities of two such very different occupations at the same time. If you ever dream about taking a chance and trying something completely new - this book will be an inspiration!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. M. Taylor on June 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I totally agree with George. There is obviously a personal agenda with regard to the two people who belittled Angela Miller & her Husband's efforts to introduce and renovate a farm which had not been working for sometime, and bring jobs to the area. She certainly pays credit to those on her team, and sets out the reasons for having to let people go, or why they can no longer do business with her. I thought the book was interesting, and she allowed the reader to see not only her great business accumine, but also her weaker moments when dealing with her goats, who she obviously loves. I would like to compliment angela, her Husband, and her great team of workers for making this not only an informative book, but an insight into the workings of a small, but successful venture.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eulalia B. Cobb on May 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to love Vermont, or even goats--though you should care about cheese--to enjoy this book. The authors pull you into the complex inner workings of a small goat farm, and into Angela Miller's one-of-a-kind life as Vermont goat farmer and New York City book editor and agent. She comes through not as a visionary or miracle worker, but as a capable and vulnerable woman who is trying to bring to fruition one of today's favorite urban fantasies.

She confronts the thorny issues of goat birth and goat death and goat sorrow. She writes about getting a frantic call--in the middle of lunch with an important client in a posh NYC restaurant--from one of her farm workers. Sobbing, the girl says she forgot to close the hen house door, and something got in during the night. Now all the hens are dead, and what should she do?

As den mother to a flock of local teenage goat milkers and cheese makers, Miller writes candidly about personnel troubles, while communicating warmth and affection towards the people who work at the farm. Best of all, she turns her goat husbandry and award-winning cheese-making into a way of fostering community in the microscopic village where it all happens.
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