Fanny Kiefer of ‘Studio 4’ in Vancouver recently interviewed the author, Brian Brett. His unusual take on life, and his sadness and outrage at the present state of agribusiness, factory farming and livestock breeding, caught my attention. I immediately requested his book from my local library. It was well worth the read and I have been quoting passages to anyone who would listen ever since!
An odd, funny, poignant and concerned look at the demise of the small farm-holdings in rural Canada, and in BC in particular, the book takes the reader through an imaginary day on his farm that spans the 18 years that he and his wife have farmed on Salt Spring Island off the east coast of Vancouver Island.
He wanders from battery chickens, to cheeky horses, to poetry, to natural ‘human’ nitrate fertilization (peeing)of the woods, to government agricultural inspectors and ‘educators’, to the frustrations and vagaries of farm machinery. He is irreverent and opinionated and funny. I often found myself close to tears and other times wanted to write to my local MP.
Through it all, I was learning about farm life, about looking after our planet, about the history of where our food comes from, about poetry, and the many quirky and lovable people of the area. I love a book that makes me laugh and cry and learn, all in the space of one reading. Being a suburban child, I was never exposed to farm life. Although there is no substitute for direct experience, as Brian points out, his book is so delicious that I almost felt that I had helped with the weeding and then sat down to dinner with them.