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Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn Paperback – March 28, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Farming had never been children's book writer Friend's dream; her fantasies ran more along the lines of nurturing her writing career. But when her partner, Melissa, talks her into buying a farm--and reality hits in the form of 53 worn-out acres in Minnesota--she learns how to test a ram's testicles and select a flock of 50 ewe lambs by the scientific criteria of who had the cutest face and could be caught, and she is now in the sheep business. The couple soon adds a border collie, 2 pet goats, 150 chickens, 200 grapevines, an old pickup, and an even older tractor and begin to acquire the skills needed to make a go of it. This honest look at collaboration and compromise, the pain and the joy of partnership, and the hands-on of farming will find a ready audience. Nancy Bent
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From the Publisher

"Farms have fences. People have boundaries. Mine began crumbling the day I knelt behind a male sheep, reached between his legs, and squeezed his testicles....Janet, the instructor of this course on raising sheep, had indicated it was my turn. 'Grab his testicles here, around the widest part.' Right, no problem. At that very moment all my friends were attending a writing conference. They were warm, clean, and not feeling up a ram with sixteen-inch testicles....Wincing, I reached between the ram's back legs with my thumb and forefinger. 'Don't pinch him,' Janet cried."

Hit by a Farm is a hilarious recounting of Catherine's attempt to become a farmer; it is also a coming-of(middle)-age story of a woman trying to close the divide between who she wants to be, and who she really is. After helping Melissa fulfill her dream, Catherine eventually finds a way to recapture her own. By turns funny and moving, Hit by a Farm is a crash course in both living off and living with the land that will appeal to anyone hungering for a connection to rural life.

Praise for Hit by a Farm:

"A sweet and funny book in the classic Hardy Girls Go Farming genre, elegantly told, from the first two pages, which are particularly riveting for the male reader, through the astonishing revelation that chickens have belly-buttons and on to the end, which comes much too soon. It has dogs, sheep, a pickup truck, women's underwear, electric fences, the works."--Garrison Keillor

"What a funny, touching delightful, human story! Catherine is not only a farmer; she is most certainly a writer too."--Marion Dane Bauer, Newbery Honor Book author

"If you ever thought farming could be a fabulous back-to-basics adventure, if you ever wondered about the difference in raising, say, a sheep or a peacock, if you ever wanted an honest -- but jaundiced -- peek at farm living, read Catherine Friend's Hit by a Farm. You'll be hit by her candor and humor, and your thoughts about farming will never be the same."--Cindy Rogers, author, Word Magic for Writers, childhood farmer

"Tractor mommas, this is the book for you!"--Rita Mae Brown

"I simply could not put the book down. Catherine Friend is a luscious writer. She packs this memoir of two women starting a farm together in Southern Minnesota with hilarity, tenderness, grim reality and suspense. This memoir is, hands down, the best story I've read in ages."--Ellen Hart, author of 21 mystery novels, five-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569242984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569242988
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As an aspiring hobby farmer, I wanted to read this book to get an idea of the transition one makes when starting a life in agriculture. While I was expecting this memoir to cover the fish-out-of-water aspect of an author not raised in farming delving into cultivation and animal husbandry, I was surprised to find that it became in the second half a saga of loss and repair.

Starting a country homestead was Catherine's partner's dream and not her own. She was supportive of Melissa through the years, but when the reality of farming duties hit her she found her ambitions as a writer sinking to the bottom of the heap. Friend is more candid than most memoirists about the anxieties and temptations to give up that she felt through the early years in the country. Many people would throw in the towel, but Catherine hung on until finding a balance between her partner's career choice and her own.

I recommend this book not only to those wishing to farm, but to anyone in a relationship where one person's ambitions take up more space than what's comfortable (for example, a career in medicine or international diplomacy). Additionally, for farmers, this is unlike any other book about agriculture out there. Friend has been able to fill a void both in literature on relationships and books on farming. I hope she publishes more of her humorous and enlightening insight.
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Format: Paperback
No one was more surprised than Catherine Friend when her long-time partner informed her that she'd always dreamed of being a farmer. Early on in this hilarious memoir, the author writes, "Farming had never been my dream. My dream was to grow my writing career into something I could call 'successful,' whatever that was. I'd already sold two children's books and a handful of magazine stories. I was hungry for more" (p. 6).

But Melissa's dream had merit, and Catherine believed she could help the dream come true. And so, "The classic face of farming in Grant Wood's American Gothic was about to get a facelift: two thirty-something women in bib overalls holding pitchforks" (p. 6).

Devoting a great deal of time, energy, and work to their project, the two women researched farming, bought land in southern Minnesota, built a house, and settled in to raise sheep, chickens, and grapes for wine. Apparently that was the easy part. From auspicious beginnings, the road they embark upon is filled with a learning curve so steep that shoveling manure and mucking horse stalls might have been easier. While Melissa's dream ascended, the livestock, crops, and natural disasters seem to conspire to make Catherine's life miserable. Living off the land wasn't at all the romantic idyll so often put forth.

By turns hilarious and sobering, touching and surprising, Catherine Friend's memoir tells the tale of two thirty-somethings who not only have to learn to love the barn, but also to find their way back to one another after such a huge life-change nearly sideswipes them for good. It's a terrific story, very well-told, and is cram-packed full of humor, insight, and a zest for life that can't be vanquished. If you only read one memoir this year, make this be the one. I give it my highest recommendation.
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Format: Paperback
Two women, partners in life, start a farm--one somewhat ignorant--going along with the other's dream.

Together, these 30-something city women raise sheep, chickens, goats, grapes, etc. etc.,--whatever Melissa bought next. But before they buy the first animal, they read everything they can and even attend workshops on shepherding.

Catherine Friend, published children's author, writes this memoir about her life with Melissa-and their successful juggling of the farm, their relationship and Catherine's writing.

Funny, poignant, sad--and educational. Much of the story took me back to my days as a child on a farm that raised dairy cattle, pigs, chickens and sheep. I remember the joy of spring lambs, especially the bottle lambs where human kids got to take over when the sheep mom refused to acknowledge that lamb. My sister and I named them April, May and even March (for the earliest births). When these lambs were hungry, they sought us out--such fun and responsibility for a young farm girls.

Of course, as children we didn't have to do the very hard, demanding and never-ending work Friends details as a farmer's life. But I remember the births deaths by both natural causes and by nature.

If you live on a farm, or are interested in farming, or if you love good, descriptive writing that takes you to that place, Hit by a Farm is the book. I laughed out loud numerous times, and shook my head in disbelief at some of what they experienced.

Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame wrote that it's, "A sweet and funny book in the classic 'Hardy Girls Go Farming' genre....

You'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about sheep/goat chicken sex; birthing of lambs and goat kids; darling baby chicks that grow up become someone's meat.
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Format: Paperback
I gave this memoir a full complement of stars because it is such a pleasure to read. It also deserves a handful of stars for its serious side. This author is an excellent writer. Her timing with a punch line will cause any entertainer some envy; and there are plenty of punch lines. I have read the chapter titled "Even my Bra was More Supportive," and also "Chicken Sex," aloud to a number of people and it always causes much laughter. On the other hand, the book is the very real story of someone without any farming background taking on the challenge of helping start a farm from scratch. I was born on a Montana ranch and know that this is a supreme challenge that a person can't even visualize before the fact. This book is also a touching story of a woman struggling to balance two sincere loves; her love of a person and her love for her writing career. It is obvious that the success of both the relationship and the farm hung in the balance at various times. The reader cheers each time a chapter of struggle is followed by a chapter of success and fun. I fully understand why Garrison Keillor said in the New York Times that he never wanted this book to end.

After talking to a couple of people who belong to book clubs that read "Hit by a Farm," I re-read it. It was better than ever. There is a rumor that there will be a sequel. That would be great.
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