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Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese Hardcover – June 23, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Novelist (Birds in Fall; Lick Creek) Kessler's account of tending a small herd of milking goats in Vermont captures both the lush, poetic paradise of rural life and the raw, unrelenting drama of dairying. Kessler, a Saab-driving ex-Manhattanite, purchases two Nubian goats, breeds them and helps his wife, Dona, a trained doula, attend to the birth of four goat kids the following spring. The amusing zoomorphic and anthropomorphic descriptions, where goats forage as if they were at a sample sale and milk-fed kids stagger œlike street junkies, dissipate as Kessler endures a season of goat wrangling, haying and hunting coyotes. Kessler gives the legal aspects of unpasteurized cheese a cursory inspection; his devotion centers on a budding relationship with animals, the earth and goat cheese. He's a back-to-the-land naturalist, who supports his detailed personal observations with extensive research as he explores the cultural, historical and biological aspects of pastoralism. While the tome's lengthy poetic journal entries on animal husbandry and cheese making hardly qualify as a comprehensive manual, the observant, unsanctimonious read is bound to inspire hobby farmers and consummate cheese lovers. (June)
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“A wonderous little miracle of a book.”--Tom Ashbrook, National Public Radio
"Goat Song offers a meditation on the pastoral life…that will make an urbanite regret having missed the experience.”— The Wall Street Journal
"The writing is so beautiful you want to reread sentences to savor it."--San Francisco Chronicle
"A multi-layered, smart, erudite, and incredibly well written book."--Christian Science Monitor
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Top customer reviews
Mr. Kessler perfectly blends anecdotes of his goats' daily lives with a history of goat-herding, all with a sacred reverence for the animal that has sustained humanity for centuries.
Kessler describes the behavior, nuances, and personalities of his goats so thoroughly that by the end of the story you'll know them better than you know the author himself. You'll want to meet the goats. And you'll be introduced to the alluring mystery that Kessler uncovers by being a goat-herd -- as he learns and anticipates his animals' needs as closely as if they were his friends while enjoying their quiet companionship on walks through his land, he becomes increasingly more in touch with his own inner person.
You'll laugh admiring the goats' playful silliness, turn away in disgust at their sexual habits, watch in awe as a mother births her kid, bite your fingernails as coyotes menacingly threaten the herd, and cry through a goat's illness.
Yet after you're through, you'll emerge with a newfound respect for the animal, a longing for days long past when goats were more fully integrated into our ancestors' lives, and -- as I said in the title -- will likely want a herd of goats all your own.
You'll want to taste fresh goat's milk, gain a palate for the nuances of fresh goat cheese (the flavor changes based on a goat's diet and the season during which the milk was produced), and run to the store to purchase every variety of goat cheese your local market carries.
This book is perfect for the gentleman farmer, the weekend gardener longing for a hobby farm, the naturalist, the raw milk advocate, a gourmet foodie, or even just a lover of memoirs.
The storytelling is superb (Kessler typically writes fiction), but what makes this book even more difficult to put down is the nuggets of goat-related facts, history, and trivia that he intersperses throughout the book that will both impress and amuse you.
I cannot recommend this book enough, and even my lengthy review of what has now become one of my top five books cannot do it justice. Simply do yourself a favor, and order a copy of Brad Kessler's masterpiece today.
This fella offers historic details, emotional connection and really fun stories that move very quickly. I was eager to learn more about this farm. The only negative thing I can say is that I wish there were a sequel.
While I rarely read a book twice, I probably will go through this one again.
Yes it's a story of escaping the confusion of daily life, yes it's a story of the wonder of the goats, yes it's the story of a changed life, but it's so much more. A lesson, or several to be learned here. My new FAVORITE book and my choice for all my gift giving this holiday season. I am back to buy more copies to share with my more enlightened friends.