Trauma Farm by Brian Brett

Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life - Brian Brett, Michael Puttonen

This book first caught my eye when I spotted it over at Under My Apple Tree . I love these true life farm stories. It takes me back to those days when I wanted to live in the land of “The Little House On the Prairie” instead of the sometimes scary city where I grew up. 

As expected, I enjoyed this audiobook from the very beginning. It’s a little bit quirky and the author, who is also a poet, has a wondrous talent for description. He was born with a condition he calls “middlesex” (perhaps slang taken from this book that I never finished?). He was told he wouldn’t live to be forty but he proved them wrong because he’s well past that now. He needed hormone therapy and as a child clothing bothered his skin. At least this is what he uses as an excuse when he tells tales of himself wandering his property in only his nudie pants. I believe his childhood and health condition are the reason why even on his bad days he seems to embrace life and enjoy every moment. He is mindful of his surroundings and listening to him might make you long for a life lived closer to the soil. His love for his 10 acre farm and everyone near him really comes through in his memoir and before I knew it, I realized was nearly finished the 11 + hour audio and could’ve easily have listened to 11 hours more.

“Each of us holds within us the homeland of our dreams and this is mine.”

Though the author calls his farm “Trauma Farm” it’s more of an inside joke. I’m not going to lie, this book is filled with vignettes that might you wince or get teary but it’s not gratuitous and there are plenty of lighter moments to balance out the harder realities of life on a small farm. He recounts the 18 years he and his family have spent on his farm and tells his stories in no particular order. I’m glad I chose to listen to this on audio. I’m not sure it would’ve worked quite as well for me in book form.

My favorite parts were the animal stories, of course, which were so vividly written and often funny as well as heartbreakingly tragic but that’s how it goes when one shares their lives with pets and livestock. He tells of a hen, who after hatching twenty chicks, decides she’s tired of their endless demands and devises a devious plan to thin out her flock. These beasts are far more intelligent than we realize if we’d only pay attention . . .

Along with the animal stories he paints a picture of community, of desperation and exhaustion and goes into justified rants about the mess that big agriculture and government regulations have made of the food system and the difficulties that small farms face to produce good, honest organic food. It sounds like a difficult life but even through the endless days there is a sense of fulfillment that shines through his words.

I’d say if you’re interested in animals, small scale farming and the horrors of big agri-business and resulting madness of the current food system you’ll find this very readable (maybe you’ll even love it) but if you’re not interested in that stuff you might find bits of it a little boring. I have an undying fascination with these things and found it entertaining and informative and I loved the quirkiness and beautiful, poetic writing that brought it all to life.

Narration Notes: Michael Puttonen has a charming and inviting voice and I enjoyed listening to him narrate all 11 + hours of this memoir. He gets a serious tone when narrating the bleaker bits that fits the tone just right.

*The FTC makes me declare that I received a copy of this audiobook from the Publisher via Audio Jukebox in exchange for a review.