Meg speaks with deep feeling of the importance of a community that works together, each member helping and sustaining the others. Here is her home, and here are the people she loves. The death of her brother has made this place and all the lives around her even more precious. The farm has helped to fill the emptiness created by his death, “My heart is here,” she said, “Rob’s job allowed me to listen to my heart. If you’re willing to work hard, and you love what you do, it will all come to you.” – from Drawn to the Land, page 33 –
Drawn to the Land is a beautiful book to hold in your hands and read. It is a feast for the eyes with beautiful landscape drawings which capture the essence of country life. Between its sparse pages, are the stories of families interwoven with a region’s history of farming. The Upper Hudson River Valley is rich in culture, history, rolling hills, and the farms which dot its countryside…and the husband and wife team of Barton and Elizabeth Cockey have captured the region well in their latest book.
Organized into sections by the seasons of the year, the book briefly explores the farming traditions and sense of community found in the families of upstate New York who continue to work hard to sustain their farms while battling federal regulations and economic challenges.
With the quiet competence and brilliant modesty of the successful farmer, Alan explained that his family has held on because they all help with the work. His mother milks the cows every morning at four, and his father gets an early start too. A thin man with a twinkle in his eye, ninety-year-old Taylor Henderson has more energy than most men half his age. Shifting from one foot to another as if he were hearing music and looking for a dance partner, Taylor explained that his job on the farm is to get into trouble. Well, somebody’s got to do it. He also drives the tractor, sowing and harvesting corn, wheat, and soybeans. – from Drawn to the Land, page 4 –
The book provides the reader with a basic understanding of the history of farming, touching on interesting facts about such things as the invention of the silo and its slide into obscurity in just over a century. On their travels around the region, the Cockeys visited dairy farms, sugarhouses, beekeepers, chicken farms, orchards and wineries. They succinctly provide information about the danger of antimicrobials used in large farming industries, and how important the small organic farms are to our nation and its health. There is a wealth of information about the variety of products produced including beef, chicken, maple syrup, honey, potatoes, and corn.
I read this book in less than an hour, pausing to admire the artwork and reading the captions beneath the pictures which add a homey feel to the text. This is a simple book that serves to capture the essence of a region, rather than to inundate the reader with too many facts. Parents who want to share the idea of sustainable farming with their children would find this a useful and educational book; but anyone who desires to understand and connect to the small farms of the Northeast will enjoy a stroll through the pages of Drawn to the Land. This is a quiet, folksy book about the culture of farming in the United States…and one which I was happy to read.
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*FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review on my blog.