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Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life [Hardcover]

by Angela Miller, Ralph Gardner Jr.
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 12, 2010 0470398337 978-0470398333 1
The compelling, funny story of a high-powered professional’s life-changing journey from Manhattan big cheese to Vermont goat cheesemaker

In the tradition of food memoirs like Under the Tuscan Sun and A Year in Provence, Hay Fever tells the story of New York City literary agent Angela Miller and how looking for tranquility on a Vermont farm turned into an eye-opening, life-changing experience. Seeking solace in the midst of midlife strife brought on by family stress and a high-stakes career, Miller and her husband bought a farm in rural Vermont.

But what started as a part time “project” turned into a full-blown obsession and culinary passion that not only changed their lives forever, but also resulted in some of America’s best cheeses, prestigious awards, and media fame. Today, cheeses from Consider Bardwell Farm are featured at some of the country’s best restaurants, including Jean Georges, Daniel, and The French Laundry.

•    For cheese lovers and would-be farmers, it’s an inside look at the everyday operation of a successful and growing dairy farm
•    Author Angela Miller, literary agent in New York City, has won prestigious awards for her cheeses and has been featured in such publications as the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Travel & Leisure, and Martha Stewart Living
•    More than a memoir—the book includes recipes from the author and top food personalities like Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Hay Fever is an inspiring and entertaining memoir that will whet the appetite of food lovers and would-be farmers from coast to coast.

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Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life + Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl
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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

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: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! May 28, 2010
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Not many fancy city slickers would spend the night in their car between night shifts during kidding season! I met Angela many years ago in my little lampshade shop in Pawlet Village. She mentioned that she had just bought a farm on the other side of town and thought she would like to try making goats cheese. I had just meet Angela, but my gut instinct was that she would follow through with her dream. Miller and Glover have accomplished miracles with a big old dairy barn and lots of hard, hard work; you just wouldn't believe what they started with and how far they have come.

I was amazed to learn how many variables there are to making world class cheese; I will appreciate their delicious cheeses even more. Those of us that live here are thrilled to have The Consider Bardwell Farm so close by and proud of their deserved success. Miller is a lady farmer in a place that is usually reserved for men, but life in the publishing world most likely prepared her for just about anything. A love of the land, appreciation of the past, and challenges ahead; hats off to Hay Fever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Nearby Goat Farm
I have no interest whatsoever in cheese-making. I don't eat gourmet cheese, and I can't stand the smell of the process. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jiffy
5.0 out of 5 stars Farming Future
This past month I turned the ripe "old" age of 35 and was pleased to receive from my boyfriend, Simon, the book Hay Fever. Read more
Published on September 12, 2011 by juanywood
4.0 out of 5 stars Hay Fever
A new homesteader, I pick up anything I can find on other people's accounts of homesteading. Not only are they informative, but they give me an idea of what I"m in for. Read more
Published on July 16, 2011 by M. Reynard
5.0 out of 5 stars Hay Fever is a good read
This is a good book, I can relate. Raised as a suburban midwest girl, no animals allowed. Became obsessed with alpacas in my late 20's, so I bought some. Read more
Published on July 14, 2011 by highwayloosie
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting, very disappointed!
I was very much looking forward to this book arriving and after finishing it today am disappointed in this book. I felt the author was overly negative in this book. Read more
Published on September 25, 2010 by G
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much about irritations
I'm afraid the author spends way too much time on her employee-hiring problems and how hard she has to work balancing her publishing job in New York and her farm work in Vermont. Read more
Published on July 27, 2010 by W. Parrow
4.0 out of 5 stars Revelation
Hay Fever is, on one hand, an interesting first-hand account of making artisanal cheese. The author and her co-writer reveal the long path from milking goats, buying cow's milk,... Read more
Published on June 27, 2010 by Baker Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Hay Fever - Cheesy Success
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... Read more
Published on June 14, 2010 by G. M. Taylor
1.0 out of 5 stars socialite's dream
Angela Miller said at the onset of her book that one of her goals was to flee the high society of New York when she and her husband bought their farm in Vermont. Read more
Published on May 26, 2010 by I.L.G.
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