Trauma Farm

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Trauma Farm by Brian Brett. I picked it up to take away and I wasn’t sure it would be suitable and keep my attention while I was visiting friends. But I was engrossed in it from the get-go til the last page. This is the story of Brett’s farm on Vancouver Island, his 18 years of hard work and experience written into a single day from morning to night.  He’s a wonderful writer and there’s more humour, insight, and meaningful though in this book than I’ve read in a long time. Who knew eggs and pea hens could be so fascinating! The description of his 24 year old pet parrot Tuco yelling “It’s partytime!” when he spots a car coming up the road sent me into fits of giggles. So did “I’d be the first to admit that humping through the forest on a recently installed artificial knee, using a bad flashlight to search for a blind, black, deaf dog is not intelligent behaviour.” I read whole paragraphs out loud to anyone who would listen, and ended up with oodles of post-it notes stuck to pages for reference and reminders. Every farm is centered around life and death and his is no exception. Lambs are born and horses die and it’s all written with exceptional beauty. And his attitude towards weeding certainly made me happy. He said weeding is an activity, not a result, so a good gardener learns not to fret about finishing a job. He talks about the “community” of small farms, how hard it is for small farms to make a profit, the problems with government regulations, and the threat of disease and issues relating to the massive factory farms that now supply us with most of our food. It’s a wonderful book, even if you’re not prone to reading about animals or nature or food (he even ponders the origin of soup). And he ends the book with the most meaningful sentence… “I’m embarrassed by how much we’ve taken, and when I witness the sense of entitlement of people around me I can only feel ashamed of the angry members of my First World Culture.” It won the Writers’ Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize, the B.C. Booksellers’ Choice Award, and it was the bronze medal winner of the IPPY Awards in the Environment category. All well deserved for this fantastic book. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s one I would definitely reread, and I hardly ever reread anything.

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