How many of you enjoy farm novels? Usually they are a good read, especially as the stories have been written by those who have had first-hand experiences. Some you will be aware of, like the hilarious encounters penned by James Herriot, a farm vet in Herefordshire. Others you may not know. Below is a list of such books for you to seek out when you are in your local bookshop or looking through second-hand books at your local fete.
Here are some other classic books of true stories that relate to country life and farm life:
'In a Pickle: A Family Farm Story'
Set in 1955, this warmhearted novel tells the story of 25-year-old Andy Meyer, a veteran of the Korean War, who has returned home to Link Lake, where he works on his father's farm and, during the summer cucumber season, manages the H. H. Harlow Pickle Company's factory. Life in Link Lake has gone on pretty much the same for generations, but big changes are afoot: Harlow is encouraging local cucumber farmers to plant bigger fields, to use more modern equipment, and to enter into exclusive contracts with the company. When spot-rot hits a local cucumber farm and spreads to other, smaller patches, farmers are suddenly unable to sell their cukes; families whose heads are barely above water are in danger of sinking; and Andy finds not only his livelihood, but also his very way of life in jeopardy. This is one of those slice-of-life novels that utterly wins us over with rich characters, homespun dialogue, and a story that, although it takes place half a century ago, involves a subject that's still current: the elimination of small farms by big agribusiness.
'Home and Away: More Tales of a Heritage Farm' (Anny Scoones, 2006)
Anny has owned Glamorgan Farm since 2000. Located in North Saanich, B.C., it’s one of the original farms and homesteads on Vancouver Island, established in 1870 by Richard John. She is restoring the historic structures and raising heritage breeds of livestock. The front meadows are gardened by an herb gardener and a group of mentally challenged adults who grow organic, heirloom varieties of flowers and produce.
Anny writes candidly and colourfully about real things, from visits with her family—she is the daughter of internationally acclaimed artists Molly Lamb Bobak and Bruno Bobak—to simple pleasures like arranging bowls of pears and hearing the owls in the woods at dusk. She writes about making bonfires, sitting with a dying horse, playing with a 700-pound sow and visiting the SPCA. Some of her tales are told with humour, some in sadness, but all tell the truth about living, observing and creating, whether at home or away.
'Every Farm Tells a Story' (Jerry Apps, March 2005)
Running a Wisconsin dairy farm in the days before electricity or indoor plumbing, Jerry’s family used kerosene lanterns, gasoline engines, a team of draft horses, and a homemade tractor converted from a truck. During Jerry’s growing-up years, he witnessed the second great revolution in farming—the arrival of electric lines to rural areas, running water in barns, and new farm machines like tractors, balers, and combines.
Illustrated with 50 vintage advertisements from catalogs and farm journals, "Every Farm Tells a Story" traces that revolution by way of costs for everything from the family’s first Sears, Roebuck and Co. milking machine to the used telephone pole that supported their first electric yard light.
'Farm Kid' (Justin Isherwood, 2005)
Tales of growing up in rural America." From hay legs to farm cats, Isherwood, one of Wisconsin's most accomplished rural writers, captures the romance, spirit and humor of growing up on a farm.
'Country Ways and Country Days: From Windvanes and Tractors to Auctions and Outhouses: Remembering Rural Life' (Jerry Apps, July 2005)
Tales of a Heritage Farm (Anny Scoones, 2004)
Glamorgan Farm in North Saanich, B.C., Canada is one of the oldest farms on Vancouver Island. Author and owner Anny Scoones rescued the original farm buildings from near-destruction and has carefully restored them. The barns now house rare breeds of livestock, while the gardens and orchards flourish with heirloom plants and vegetables. In a collection of stories, told with clear-eyed observation and gentle humour, Scoones conveys some of the challenges, joys and griefs involved in preserving the farm for future generations to enjoy. She also explains how a period of solitary imprisonment in Russia led to her purchase of the farm and to the philosophy that underlies her way of life there.
'Humor from the Country' (Jerry Apps; 2001)
This is a collection of anecdotes and stories looking at the lighter side of country living. With stories based upon childhood memories, Apps reveals that country folk always knew how to have fun between their chores. Blending nostalgia with his own special brand of storytelling, Jerry Apps's Humor From The Country is a "must" for anyone who enjoys a trip down memory lane with a truly gifted guide.
'When Chores Were Done' (Jerry Apps; January 1999)
This is a collection of stories about rural life in the 1940s and 1950s as seen through the eyes of a child. From working with draft horses to doing chores, from reminiscences of outhouses to learning cusswords, Apps reveals how warm, loving, and supremely educational growing up on a farm could be.
OTHER FARM NOVELS:
'The Land Remembers' (Ben Logan; 25th Anniversary edition; 1999)
'All Things Wise and Wonderful' (James Herriot; 1998)
'All Creatures Great and Small' (James Herriot; 1998)
'The Lord God Made Them All' (James Herriot; 1998)
'Cheese: The Making of a Wisconsin Tradition' (Jerry Apps; April 1998)
'Rural Wisdom: Time-Honored Values of the Midwest' (Jerry Apps; 1997)