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Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  286 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
An irreverent and illuminating journey through a day in the life of writer and poet Brian brett, as he tends a small island farm on Salt Spring Island, affectionately named Trauma Farm, with numerous side trips into the natural history of farming.

Brian Brett moves from the tending of livestock, poultry, orchards, gardens, machinery, and fields to the social intricacies of
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 4th 2009 by Greystone Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 17, 2014 Theresa rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 24, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recentlyread
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
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
Lorne Daniel
May 12, 2012 Lorne Daniel rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 20, 2009 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
A fascinating and meditative and poetic look at farming and farming life from one of Canada's underrated writers. I'm going to review this book for my Ink column, so I won't write more about it. I really enjoyed it.
Apr 02, 2015 Rasma rated it liked it
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
Jun 16, 2016 Martha☀ rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, 2015-bingo, farming
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
May 23, 2013 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memior, audiobook
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
May 26, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2010 Lucca rated it really liked it
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
Jul 04, 2013 Matthec rated it really liked it
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
Aug 16, 2009 Gilesslade rated it it was amazing
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
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
Tamara Taylor
May 06, 2015 Tamara Taylor rated it really liked it
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
Sep 20, 2010 Sylvester rated it really liked it
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
Cathryn Wellner
Apr 12, 2016 Cathryn Wellner rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Having spent several years farming on Vancouver Island and more years in Cariboo, I nodded my head vigorously reading Brett's descriptions of the gritty aspects of small-scale farming. Having worked in food security many years, I also knew firsthand what he was referring to when he took on bureaucrats for making it nearly impossible to run a small farm.

We're in sure hands with this talented poet and writer. He beautifully captures both the beauty of living in tune with natural cycles and the ha
Oct 13, 2015 Luann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, farm-living
Living on a small farm is an adventure and not for the faint-hearted. The author's stories of animal life hit home, and his tales of living off the land were insightful. The book was worth the read, but I didn't agree with the author that life evolved rather than being created. However, I strongly agreed with him concerning the demise of this planet to big agribusiness. The earth is being poisoned in the name of progress.
Debbie Bateman
Mar 04, 2016 Debbie Bateman rated it it was amazing
Brian Brett has captured the mystery and awe inspiring beauty of Salt Spring with great skill. He also takes us inside the feeling of the community. It is rare for me to laugh out loud while reading. With Trauma Farm, the laughter was prolonged. Just when my eyes stopped watering, I'd be at it again. I admire his vulnerable honesty and I love his prose. This is a book I will read again.
Jun 29, 2011 Justine rated it it was amazing
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, sum it up like this really doesn't do it justice. I loved the wonderful bits of trivia about plants and animals ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Patty rated it liked it
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
Jul 25, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
Kathleen McRae
Jul 03, 2016 Kathleen McRae rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was humorous and filled with information about a healthy eco environment and the practices that are making our world so unhealthy.Trauma Farm is his property on an island off the BC coax and he told many antidotes of his farm and its inhabitants.
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.
Mar 04, 2014 Debs rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2016 Enid rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this- well written tales that are both funny and poignant. Also a well argued indictment of factory farming and the wrongful destruction of the planet.
Kay McCracken
Jan 09, 2010 Kay McCracken rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 29, 2012 Roderick Mcgillis rated it really liked it
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
Nov 29, 2010 Cathy rated it it was amazing
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
Linda Boyd
Jun 19, 2016 Linda Boyd rated it really liked it
Lyrical, troubling, funny, fascinating and educational all in 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
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