Thursday, December 1, 2011

currently reading, and loving

A few weeks ago my copy of Folks, This Aint Normal arrived in the mail. It's the newest book by Joel Salatin, and the first (I think) that wasn't self published. However, it's the same Joel and I think this may be his quintessential work. I urge you to read it, listen to it, and pay attention to this man. This book will change people.

For those of you unfamiliar, Joel Salatin is the founder of Polyface Farms in Swoope Virginia, a bucolic and insanely productive 500 acre farm in the Shenandoah Valley. His farm is the model and inspiratoin behind Cold Antler, and his book YOU CAN FARM was integrel in giving me the gusto to start making a go of this life. I owe him a lot, and when I shook his hand at the Mother Earth News Fair this past September, it was an honor in the truest sense.

This new book is about how this blip in history, this time of cheap energy in the last hundred years is not normal, nor is all of it progress. Men between the ages of 25-35 playing 20+ hours of video games a week, is not normal. Getting a meal on an airplane that contains more packaging and trash then food, is not normal. High Schools being treated like prison yards, is not normal. Stocking your family's larder at the grocery store, isn't normal. And so on. The more I read it, the more I find myself nodding my head and wanting to hug this man. He sees a reality most people have become too comfortable with to step away from and shake their heads. The rise of physciatric medications, allergies, diabettes, heart disease, boredom, violence, and other social and phsyical ills can be attributed to losing the values, skills, and work that once defined this county and the human race in general. Read it.

Now, as much as I advocate buying the book and supporting that farm, I almost have to suggest the audiobook version over it. Because Joel himself reads the entire thing to you, in his own special style and humor. I got a free download from (I'm a subscriber since I listen to an insane amount of audiobooks in the kitchen, driving, and while doing chores) and was so happy he was the reader, I cranked it up and went back to baking my roast chicken. And I smiled the whole time I did dishes as it crackled in the oven...

photo from


Blogger Brittany Aukett said...

have this on my list to read!!! :)

December 1, 2011 at 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same here Brittany! I really am looking forward to reading this book... although I might try the Audiobook instead!


December 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

We are reading this book now and it is great! I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in homesteading and the like. We don't have cable, so our evenings are spent just reading. I think once I finish it, I will have to go back and listen to the audiobook. I'm glad to hear that he was the reader as well. That will make it all the better.

December 1, 2011 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Jen Chandler said...

I haven't been by in sooo long! Glad I stopped by this chilly December 01. I LOVE Joel's work! I stumbled across an article of his while doing a research paper last year. He has been an integral part in my war on fast living and all the abnormals our society considers normal.

Thank you for suggesting this book!


December 1, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Andi and Kurt said...

Great thought provoking read! We had the opportunity to be in a workshop that Joel led about 4 years ago. I can hear him in my head when I read the book -not quite the same as audio but still great!

December 1, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I'm in the middle of this book right now myself, and also loving it! His speaking style is so distinctive that I have to confess every time I read one of his books, I hear it in his voice in my head!

Great stuff.

December 1, 2011 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I read it back in September and absolutely LOVED it!! One of Joel's best... :)

December 1, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I've been a Joel fan for years, and yes, this latest work is the linchpin. I also got it on audio because I've finally figured out that's my learning style and the only way I'm going to be able to actually digest big works like this. His no-nonsense-yet-engaging style is amazingly inspirational and he's constantly helping me see my little fiber/egg operation in new ways. Thanks, Jenna and thanks, JOEL!!!

December 1, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

I'm about half way through it. Had to put it down to read Barnheart. If any of you are close to Battenkill Books, there is a copy there or at least there was last Wednesday.

December 1, 2011 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

I am reading this book right now as well. I have read all of his books and love them all!!

December 1, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I just finished the audiobook (isn't Audible wonderful?) and agreed with a lot of it, although he's a little too libertarian for me. Not too crazy about his sometimes primitive views on women, either. But on food production, governmental idiocy, self-reliance and livestock management, he's right on.

December 1, 2011 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

I saw this at Barnes and Nobles the other week. Looks like a great one! Glad to hear your take on it! I agree with alot of his thoughts on what's going on with society since we left our routes.

December 1, 2011 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Stephanie G. said...

I'm about half way through it. So far, so good.

December 1, 2011 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Stephanie G. said...

Oh! And please oh please have your publisher make Barnheart into a Kindle version! Please and thank you :)

December 1, 2011 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Anna Banana said...

I haven't read this book yet, and while I love Salatin's many common sense and natural approaches to farming, I find some of his political and social beliefs hard to swallow. And maybe some of the descriptions I've read of this book are overly simplistic about what he's saying, but I think humans have created new "normals" for themselves over and over again throughout the ages. It may not be natural or normal to sit around playing video games, but our longer life expectancy isn't normal then either. We certainly have some major health problems facing us, but we've also eliminated many others that have plagued humans throughout history. Is that normal? Is our level of crime and violence or boredom really any worse than the Middle Ages, the 1930's or 1492? I think throughout the ages, communities, nations or whatever bonded groups of people together, have made determinations about what they wanted their society, their lives to be like, and either pursue certain goals or make a correction if they didn't like where the future was leading them. I think the US is at one of those points right now.

December 1, 2011 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

Gosh - Amen to that. Wonder if his book is available this side of the pond?

December 1, 2011 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger The Finicky Farmer said...

Wow, Jenna. Thanks for the tip about the audiobook. I'm excited to listen to him while getting my knit on this weekend!

December 1, 2011 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

I haven't read this book yet. But I do have to agree a bit with Anna Banana. I recently heard Joel Salatin speak and I have to say that I think he is a full fledged, no doubt about it true genius - in all aspects, denotations and connotations of the word. However, when you believe something as strongly as he does and have so many people (and the corporate machine) believing as strongly in the opposite direction you are bound to rub some the wrong way. As a 22 year vegetarian who has no problem with others eating meat, would raise a child to eat meat, and who feeds meat to my carnivorous and omnivorous animals, I cringe at some of the things he says about being vegetarian. Many, many peoples have been vegetarian for many, many years longer than industrial agriculture has been around and these cultures have thrived. There's nothing wrong with being a vegetarian; it is a choice many make after careful thought and consideration. Yes, perhaps there’s not enough arable land for everyone to be vegetarian (or devout meat eaters either) but that’s never going to happen anyway so move on.
I'm also an animal lover and true believer in animal rights. So I also cringe at Mr. Salatin's blanket statements about animal rights activists. I'm all for small, local farms raising local meat and slaughtering the animals on site, etc. and agree that the government has their hands in too many issues about “food safety”, but I also think Mr. Salatin simplifies the intentions of many animal rights activists. If we have the ability to treat animals with respect and give them the space and good food they were meant to have then we have the obligation to do so. In fact, from what I know of Polyface Farm, I think they are doing this, treating animals well, so I’m not sure what the animal rights activists are troubled by (unless it’s simply that these animals are being raised for food, which is just silly and they need to move on to other areas of significantly greater concern) and the fact that Polyface Farm is being confronted by these groups worries me – there are SO MANY other companies, agencies, and governing bodies that are causing more duress and serious harm and pain to animals and that’s what they should be spending their time on. I also think there are some kooky animal rights activists out there who wouldn't know a species’ natural environment and behavior for the life of them. This is one big, complex issue and all sides simplify it to meet their own needs.
Never-the-less, again, I repeat – Joel Salatin = genius. He’s one amazing man who more people should listen to. BUT, there are some other amazing people that HE should listen to. Moderation and common ground are so important if we are ever going to get anywhere. I look forward to reading this book.
Thanks, Jenna, for this post. Sorry for hogging the comments section.

December 1, 2011 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He did a lengthy interview on NPR's On Point this fall. All of their shows can be streamed through the On Point website or downloaded from there. The same show also did an episode on foraging recently that was quite interesting.

December 1, 2011 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Maery Rose said...

I use audible too and this will be my next download. By the way, I just bought your book "Made From Scratch" at a local independent bookstore. I love that you start out saying that you don't have to be living the country dream to do some level of farming or homesteading.

December 2, 2011 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thanks for the info! I have read all his other books and think they are absolutely essential reading. By the way, I'm half-way through "Barnheart" and think it is in the category, too. Love it! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with all of us.

December 2, 2011 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

I used my remaining credit @ Audible to download the book yesterday. I listen to audiobooks during my commute. Thanks for the recommendation.

December 2, 2011 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

This looks like a good read, thanks for the review.

The problem actually goes back a bit further, to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. That was when things shifted from an economy in which work and life were integrated to an economy in which work was separate. I've been reading Barbara Ehrenreich's book "For Her Own Good" which talks about this. Also Chris Martenson has a great video called "Crash Course" which talks about resource depletion...he mentions that before we switched to petroleum it was coal that provided the power.

December 2, 2011 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Living on Soil and Sunshine said...

Sounds like a great book. I will order a copy this weekend.

December 4, 2011 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Poppy said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I've been thinking of attending the Liberty Forum in NH this winter, Joel Salatin is the keynote.

December 5, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

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