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Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  230 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Brian Brett’s farm on Salt Spring Island is affectionately known as Trauma Farm. There, he raises chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats, tends an extensive orchard and vegetable garden, concocts fabulous meals from the bounties of the farm, and has various misadventures. This funny and thought-provoking memoir traces one day on Trauma Farm. In it, Brett explores the natur ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Greystone Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 677)
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Theresa
A beautifully written book about the joys and sorrows of running a small farm with the occasional reflection on how governmental bureaucracy and decisions are sadly making small farm ownership an impossibility. So enjoy the poetry of the writing and support your local farmers' market.
Bark's Book Nonsense
4 1/2 but closer to a 5 than a 4 so I'm rounding it up.

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
...more
Mark
I want to recommend this book to anyone who's ever thought it would be cool to live on a farm and/or who's appalled (sometimes) by the urban life, its mechanized routines, the flavorless processed foods and addictive chemicals we consume here. Trauma Farm is part memoir, part history, part polemic, part poetry. Brett occupies the fairly unique position of being able to be both romantic about the joys of farming and quite cynical and critical about the near-impossibility of surviving while fighti ...more
Lorne Daniel
Lots of trauma but many funny, funny stories in Trauma Farm. It's a real insight into a life immersed in the natural world of a small farm. Those of us who live in cities should be paying attention to voices like Brian Brett's.
Rasma
There is much to recommend in Brian Brett's account of his small farm on an island off the coast of British Columbia. He is strongest when he just tells the story of his life and his farm, without all the pontificating about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, or in this case a breadbasket. The moralizing got tiresome, but that aside, I felt I learned a lot about food and farming from Brett. IMO, the book could use a good edit to tighten the language, but some of the passages and ane ...more
Martha☀
Eleven months after beginning this book, I am finally finished and it was no small effort. Essentially, Brett muses about life on his small farm and shares the trials, the accomplishments, the rewards and the mundane of his farming days. With just a short ferry ride between my island and his, I was looking forward to similarities in our lives. But no. There are definitely some gems of thought hidden in these pages, but you have to wade through his patronizing lectures to find them. Endlessly spe ...more
Leslie
In this informative and often humorous memoir Brett demonstrates that his love for the farm is what keeps him going day after day. Along with his wife, Sharon, who also works as a nurse, they operate the small 10-acre farm on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, BC.

There’s so much packed into this book about life on the farm I’m not sure where to begin. There’s the relationship with animals, the plants, the land and the history. And then there are the problems facing the modern-day small farm and
...more
Laura
When I read the synopsis of this book I thought it to be some sort of documentary about our Canadian farms and the meat-packaging industry, but instead it's a memoir of journalist and poet Brian Brett as he recounts the eighteen years he spent on his farm, which he refers to as Trauma Farm, situated in British Columbia on an island called Salt Spring Island which is nestled up against the east side of Vancouver Island. I looked it up and found it to be stunning.

Brett's writing is beautiful and h
...more
Lucca
Fanny Keefer 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. I have been quoting passages to anyone who would listen!

An odd, funny, poignant and concerned look at the demise of the small farm-holdings in rural Canada, and in BC in particu
...more
Matthec
I just finished this book and quite enjoyed it. Brian Brett's facility with eloquent language and fact sharing is an interesting combination in this farm memoir. His honesty is quite evident. He candidly expresses how devastatingly challenging farming is. I loved learning more about the west coast of Canada. His tales about animals were believable as I have experienced many of the same or similar incidents in my own life in rural Ontario both as an adult and as a small child living on my parents ...more
Gilesslade
Sometimes, I feel like I am the only person in Canada who knows about and loves Rick Bass' books which include:
The Deer Pasture, Oil Notes, Wild to the Heart, Winter: Notes from Montana, The Ninemile Wolves, The Lost Grizzlies, The Book of Yaak, Where the Sea Used to Be, Fiber,"The Hermit's Story", and Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had.

Brian Bett is a local B.C. poet -sort of, he lives beyond the mists on Saltspring Island. TRAUMA FARM is a bit like Bass's books although the pros
...more
Bonny
May 13, 2011 Bonny added it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: canada
I really enjoyed reading this book. The title refers to a farm near here on one of the Gulf Islands. The "trauma" refers to all the hard work that is never ending, not that anything bad is associated with the farm. It's an affectionate term used by the owner/author.

More than telling stories about farming and the community of landowners, the author explains the differences between commercially processed foods and organically grown. At one point, all our food was organically grown. That changed de
...more
Tamara Taylor
Brian Brett's book is an amazing mash of philosophy-poetry-science-naked-in-the-woods-anecdotes. This is an amazing journey encompassing an 18-year-long day on Brett's own farm, yet it spans the entire natural history of our earth, the growth of industrial agribusiness and his own resolve to keep "old school" farming even though he finds it a money losing proposition. I found it (for the most part) an inspiring and beautifully written love-letter to farm life. I did find it contained a surprisin ...more
Sylvester
Brian Brett has managed to mix the bad news with the good news - that is, our factory farms, our cruel and unhealthy methods of raising and slaughtering animals, and the 'botanical holocaust' we are perpetrating with genetically engineered produce - with the alternatives to all these, that is, the small farms, the locally grown vegetables, and the people who are "rebelling" against a short-sighted concept of progress.

And the stories of his farm, his trees, animals, the people, of Salt Spring Isl
...more
Justine
I was absolutely fascinated by this book. The scope of it went far beyond what I had been expecting. I thought there would be some anecdotes about farm life and living in a close rural community and Trauma Farm is so much more than that. The author also discusses biology and ecology, the history of agriculture, the current state of agribusiness, human nature, politics, philosophy...to sum it up like this really doesn't do it justice. I loved the wonderful bits of trivia about plants and animals ...more
Patty
This meditation on rural, farm life on Salt Spring island did stagger a bit towards the end but Brett's poetic descriptions of the land and, especially, the animals who live and die on his farm really drew me into his world. His observations of his healthy but hand to mouth existence in comparison to the factory farms that feed most of us did grow a bit repetitive but also made you wonder about the providence of your grocery meat. His talent shone when describing the personalities of the chicken ...more
Sarah
Very much appreciated reading this... as a new Vancouverite it's really great to read such a beautiful elegy to this area of the world.

The whole "18 year long day" thing is a bit contrived but I can understand why the author wanted to frame his book within the motif of a 24-hour time period. Actually I recently read Saturday by Ian McEwan that followed the same motif... both seemed a bit forced.

Nonetheless, the pace is leisurely and the anecdotes are excellently written and I can even sympathiz
...more
Leslie Seaton
Technically, I left last three chapters unread but the book is so repetitive I feel like it's legitimate to say I essentially finished it. Read only if you are tolerant to wading through Modern Life Handwringing to get to the interesting and engaging parts about the farm.
Debs
Mar 04, 2014 Debs rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Debs by: Dana Larose
Dana gifted me with this memoir after reading it and really, really loving it. A few months later, he asked me if I was liking it because he saw it had been sitting on my "Currently Reading" shelf for quite some time. This is truly a book to be savored and read very, very slowly over a lazy breakfast with sunlight streaming in. Brian is a very lyrical and charming writer. The book made me wistful for the time I spent on farms this summer and there were several "HAH! I remember when I had to do t ...more
Kay McCracken
This is a fascinating read. Brian Brett, poet, author, and rebel farmer, lives on Salt Spring Island, a haven of sorts, where organic farmers, artists, writers, and musicians mingle in relative harmony. Brett helps us to see the world and its interconnectedness up close and personal, and from many different angles, like looking through a prism.

Brett explores the history of food production and the role of agribusiness today. He writes about the intricacies of rural life with a tremendous knowled
...more
Deanna
May 06, 2013 Deanna added it
Lovely book about small farm life on Salt Spring Island. Structured as an 18 year long day, Brett takes us on a trip through the life of his farm from morning to night, as he walks the fences with the dogs, raises, and buries many animals and grows food in a luscious climate. Along the way he talks about the impact of humans on the earth, posits that all human interaction with nature is destructive and mourns the mass extinctions we're living through. Sounds sad? Yes, and beautiful and hopeful, ...more
Roderick Mcgillis
A lyrical account of an eighteen year day on a small farm on Saltspring Island. You will not look at supermarket vegetables or meat and meat products the same way you might do now after reading this book. Funny and compelling, this is the story of a love affair between one intensely engaged human and the earth upon which he lives. His interaction with animals and plants is the stuff of great storytelling. His sense of impending disaster is documented and described soberingly, but with an infecti ...more
Cathy
Another CBC interview. The farm is on Salt Spring Island. Excellent book. I grew up on a farm so I could relate. Sometimes I felt there was a bit too much about the agri-business, maybe I just din't want to hear about some of the horrors. Small scale farming is much better. Quite a bit of humour in the book which I liked. He also had a nice way of describing things - different than I read before. I'd highly recommend this to anyone whether they grew up on a farm or in the country. A very good, f ...more
Beth J
Moving, quirky, contrarian - Brian Brett is a prophet in the sense that he rails against the illnesses of our factory-farm world and makes us uncomfortable with his truths. The book is by turns poetic, polemic, maddening, and inspiring. Trauma Farm follows an 18 year day in the life of a small, diversified family farm on Salt Spring Island. If you read it, be prepared to sometimes moved, and sometimes moved to chuck it across the room. It is worth reading.
Dana Larose
Really wonderful memoir on being a small farmer on Salt Spring Island in BC, as well as a rumination on the history of civilization and modern culture. Brett is quite cynical and pessimistic but also very funny.

And he spins a good sentence, too. He's a poet by trade, at one point mentioning the absurdity of their farm being kept afloat financially in part by his poet's income.
April
Laugh out loud funny at times, this is truly a "rebel history." I read it over 4 years, but that doesn't mean that it was any less enjoyable. It offers an appreciation of nature and the natural order, a reconsideration of how we get our food, and an interesting step into a community. All of that and poetry, besides--it is a unique read.
Paul
This Canadian poet-farmer has written an angry, lyrical, at times profound, book about his farm, its place in the world, and how it defines his place in the world. Writing this (apparently) simple and clear is the product of an enormous talent working ceaselessly to 'get it right.' For fans of Wendell Berry and Ed Abbey.
Fvandrog
One of the better books I've read this year (and it's December ;) ). An interesting mixture between romanticism and realism, it describes the live of poet Brett on his farm with a mixed in history of farming in general.

The frequent rants against factory farming and large scale agriculture doesn't distract from the whole.
Sara Stagg
This book on love and farming was written from a poet's perspective, a radical's perspective, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking sage advice on growing food, caring for pets, or building a relationship with a loved one.
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Brian Brett, former chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada and a journalist for four decades, is best known as a poet, memoir writer, and fictionist. He is the author of twelve books including the poetry collection, “The Colour Of Bones In A Stream,” and the novel, “Coyote: A Mystery.” His memoir, “Uproar’s Your Only Music,” was a Globe and Mail’s Book Of The Year selection by Ronald Wright: “The m ...more
More about Brian Brett...
Uproar's Your Only Music: New Poems/Memoir Coyote The Fungus Garden The Wind River Variations Tuco: The Parrot, the Others, and A Scattershot World

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