After leaving his family’s farm for college and a career, author Arlo Crawford returns in what becomes a year of hard work and a turning of the seasons for himself, his parents and for the farm. For one summer, Crawford, turning 31, would work again in the daily rhythm of a large commercial farming operation, and appreciate the skill of his parents who still run the business.
Located in rural Appalachia, Crawford takes us along as he drives back to the farm, knowing one year soon it will be time for his parents to sell the business and the land.
This is a beautifully told story, as Crawford takes us along on the routine activities of the farm and his thoughts on its past, present and future. It reads as a travel adventure, a family story, a new start on life, reflections on the past, and is delivered with a sense of respect for the land and the people who grow our food through hard labor, great investment, and a fragile trust in nature. Crawford reminds us: “A farm though is always a temporary arrangement, and it only lasts as long as someone cares to make a living there.”
Before summer ends, Crawford’s girlfriend Sarah joins him at the farm, and learns more about hard work and true love than she ever thought possible. These passages introduce a fresh and somewhat light storyline, as we wonder if she will yearn for a life of crops and grubs, or will pack her bags and leave. This relationship contains the sweetest elements of the book, and doesn’t disappoint. More troubling are the passages about past events and crop failures fraught with financial setbacks. These dramatic passages about the realities of farming will have you reading faster, hoping things will turn out alright.
A Farm Dies Once A Year is not a personal, selfish memoir. Instead Crawford delivers an honest appraisal of life’s choices, respects the hard work of those who toil in farming, and clearly honors his parents for their skill, patience, fortitude and quiet strength.
In this one season of life, Crawford’s writing about the work, people, nature and his family legacy reveals much about a simple life, and reminds us all to appreciate life’s riches. Read A Farm Dies Once A Year slowly, and then maybe remember to thank a farmer.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=080509816X]