As I've mentioned before, I have this fantasy of chucking it all and moving to a farm and living off the land. To this end, I added several books to my list about people who have done just that. Unfortunately, so far, none of these books has helped to firm my resolve and the people who wrote them had some kind of edge to help them succeed. For example, Kristin Kimball, the author of The Dirty Life, (which I wrote about last year) was married to an experienced farmer. And Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of The Bucolic Plague, had money, a high-powered job in advertising, and a partner who worked for MARTHA FREAKING STEWART, and didn't even need to know much about farming because they hired a farmer to keep the farm going while they spent their weekdays in Manhattan. And that's not the worst part. The worst part is that despite having tons of money and their own hired farmer, it was still really, really difficult to make a success of their bucolic life. So how in the world is a nurse/analyst, who has never lived outside of a city and who's afraid of her own chickens, supposed to succeed as a farmer? (Okay, okay, they're not exactly my chickens, they're the communal chickens. And I'm not exactly afraid of them, I just think they're icky and I don't like the twitchy one who pecks my ankles.)
So, Josh and Brent are this high-powered Manhattan couple, and one day, on their annual apple-picking excursion upstate, they stumble across an impeccable 200-year old mansion that just happens to be for sale. It's expensive, but they buy it anyway, intending to use it as a weekend residence. They're not planning to farm it, but then a local farmer asks if he can please stay on as caretaker, and oh-by-the-way, he has a whole bunch of goats who need a place to stay too. Then Josh decides to put in a garden and bam! they're farmers. Sort of. They continue to commute to the city, but gradually, the pressure of owning the Beekman Mansion starts to get to them. First of all, Martha Stewart threatens to come up for a visit, which creates an enormous amount of pressure to keep the house and garden perfect at all times. They start a blog, and a goat milk soap business, but these also add pressure to live a perfectly crafted life. Then come the financial difficulties and relationship problems.
I don't want to give it all away, but ultimately they manage to keep the Beekman Mansion through the financial crash of 2009 and start a mercantile, Beekman 1802. The Bucolic Plague is funny, mostly, but sometimes a bit horrifying. The reader is also given an inside glimpse of Martha Stewart. I know this may come as a shock, but Martha is kind of a bitch. It just goes to show, just because you're a doctor and an MBA, and you work for Martha Stewart, and own one of the most gorgeous historic houses in upstate New York, life still isn't exactly a bed of roses.