Kurt Timmermeister: Growing a Farmer

What makes Kurt Timmermeister‘s Growing a Farmer: How I learned to Live Off the Land (Norton 2010) so good is his sense of humor, his self deprecation, and his ability to wax lyrical about cows:

I love cows. Large, solid, beautifully color-toned, gentle, the symbol of a dairy, a farm. I think it is their size, their bulk, that gives them their cultural value, their heft. Pigs, certainly lovely, chickens, certainly tasty, but cows, they command our attention. They are larger than we, yet we control them, rule over them. I feel important and valid standing next to my cows. I am strong. I am powerful. (p. 211)

That feeling doesn’t last long.

And then they knock into me, refusing to go where I want them to go, and I swing back to reality: they are in charge. (pp. 110-11)

Kurt writes about how he started as a Seattle café owner and baker and slowly became a full time dairy farmer. It is a dream many people share – after a successful summer season of growing tomatoes in a backyard patch – what would it be like to grow things full time? How would you buy a tractor? When do you pick vegetables for the Saturday farmers market? Kurt learns that everything is picked the day before, cooled, cleaned and packaged. What do you do if your cow starts to blow up like a balloon and you fear that in hours you may have to dispatch a 800-pound dead cow before your party guests arrive. Kurt learns to shove butter down the cow’s throat, which will help break up the bubbles from fermenting grass and cure the cow. It turns out that vegetable oil works better, even though he thinks the cows deserve the butter.

Growing a Farmer is a fun read, and will either cure you of any desire to become a farmer, or it will help you follow in Kurt’s footsteps and join the band of dedicated small farmers. In either case, you will gain a deep respect for their work and marvel at the food they produce.

About Juliette Rossant

Juliette Rossant is an American author, journalist, and poet. Following publication of her book Super Chef (2004), she began an online magazine... (more)