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The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  247 ratings  ·  66 reviews
From Maine to Arizona, and back again, Margaret and Karl and their dog, Godfrey, travel across America in search of green pastures, simple tradition, and the perfect goat cheese.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Lyons Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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I really wanted to like this book. I like cheese and I LOOOOOVE goat cheese. I really thought the focus would be on the quest for the perfect cheese, as the title indicated. Instead, I found it to be loaded with personal tidbits that had nothing to do with (what I thought) was the purpose of the book. I'm sure that Margaret and Karl are really great people, and I admire (and envy a bit) what they have decided to do. I would recommend this book to others, but the her "voice" through the book, and ...more
Got this book because I too am fixated on goats, and I loved the idea of city-folk journeying about the country for a year to figure out their own transition to a countryside goat-tending life. Wrestled the whole time with slight irritation at the slightly saccharine voice of self-discovery (oh, how droll! look how we save money by sleeping in our Hyundai Santa Fe, but can as easily fly off to Milan for a goat cheese festival to restore our spirits! look at this wonderful journey of partnership ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Tara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of travel, food and cheese!
I found this to be an immensely interesting read - but then again, I'm a wannabe farmer and have actually been interested in getting a pair of goats. (And I have a small obsession with goat cheese.)
Certainly it's much more than that though... the book focuses a great deal on small-farm agriculture, food and travel. It provides insight into the American farm culture as well as sustainable agriculture practices. The story centers around the author, Margaret Hathaway and her (now) husband, photogr
Okay, I admit that I have a weakness for goats. When I read this book about a couple who leave their lives in Manhattan to travel the U.S. in search of knowledge about "all things goat," I kept saying to my husband, "They're living the dream!" (To which he would respond, "Whose dream??") But beyond my goat fixation, I liked this book because of Hathaway's passion for terroir--the idea that food is rooted in the land, and of connecting the palate to the place. She and her partner definitely take ...more
Less about cheese, more about farming goats - but still a cute, quick read.
Colie Touzel
This was an enjoyable book to read while I sat on the toilet doin' my business. At first I was pretty interested in it cos I thought it would be more informative but really it is simply a memoir of a couples' journey in search of a new way of life. If everyone who ever wanted to start a farm could embark on a journey like this, there would probably not be as many people just DOING it and be a bunch of people window shopping, basically. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book and it was well wr ...more
I read a similar book a year ago called "Goat Song" and have been captivated by goats and cheese making ever since! As other reviewers noted, this book is more about the travels of this couple contemplating becoming goat farmers than it is about the goats or cheese making, and anyone interested in those topics would definitely prefer "Goat Song."

This couple was quite rigorous in traveling the whole country, and talking to a variety of people in every aspect of the goat business. At first, I fou
Aug 23, 2008 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: budding goat farmers
This was a cute book, but it reads like a textbook at times, going into every tedious detail about the raising of goats, making of cheese, and preparing of goat meat. Also, there is a lot of extraneous name-dropping of goat celebrities in the book. I felt like I was going to be tested after every chapter to remember who owned such and such farm and brined their goat cheese with citrus.
She is constantly having epiphanies in the book. Epiphanies lose their potency after the fifth or sixth time.
Jan 08, 2010 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: lia (who knows my love of goats and read about it in the wesleyan alumni mag)
Shelves: yay-trade-school
a bedtime book for my boyfriend and i. (which sounds far, far dirtier than it ought to.)

the descriptions of cheese in it were so vivid they made me routinely exclaim in dismay - "aggh! why can't i get that here??" (artisanal goat cheeses being rather few and far between out belfast, n. ireland way). and aside from jealousy piqued by her nonchalant 'yeah, i just had some wicked smoked goat gouda' moments, i enjoyed the saga. there were some silly moments in the writing, yes. but margaret and kar
This book follows a couple who give up their fairly affluent life in NYC to pursue a dream of living a slower life on a farm. They visit goat farmers across the US for a year, during which they seem to spend a lot of time sleeping in their car. They also get married in that year. After a year, they move in with one set of parents while looking for a farm to buy. By the end of the book, she is pregnant, they have a farm, and have just purchased a few goats. I liked the portions of the book that d ...more
4 - 4.5 stars. This book is exactly what it purports to be, which is a travel memoir for the year or so the author and her boyfriend (then fiance, then husband) hit the road and go in search of information about and experiences with goats across America. Will they be able to give up (for more than a year) their lives in NYC and transition to a more rural life of goats?

Hathaway's writing is well done - fairly sparse but still honest about her experiences as she, her boyfriend, and their dog under
I wish I knew how many people have left New York City for a life of farming and wrote a memoir about it, just in case there are still one or two I haven’t read. In this one, the manager of Magnolia Bakery and her photographer boyfriend-soon-husband quit their jobs and spend a year traveling the country to learn as much as they can about raising goats to decide if that’s the path they want to take. It’s very well written, and would be a valuable resource for anyone considering doing the same. I’m ...more
It was great to read their goat journey.

Quotes I liked:

"We didn't simply want to make goat cheese. Rather, we want to center our lives around something both great and simple: producing food and devoting our lives to the pursuit and cultivation of real flavor, in every meaning of that word. Connecting the palate to the place seemed the perfect goal of our lives."

"Living an integrated and honest life, whether on a farm, in a cheese cave, or at a ball park, is what brings these people joy and is wh
May 08, 2008 Rachel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Lena
Meat goats, dairy goats, even packing goats are the focus of this tale of traveling around the US in search of anything goaty. The author blends her travel writing with updates about her family, her engagement, their wedding plans and struggles to balance a love of both rural and urban life. At times I felt as though I was reading a personal letter both to and from people I didn't know, but the goats she met along her travels remained interesting enough to carry me through. It even inspired me t ...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
I had no idea there was such a quirky goat subculture in this country and hadn't realized that goat meat was an up and coming meat. This book did deal more with people than actual goats and never got into what makes good goat milk. I got that answer in the first five minutes of talking to a goat farmer, so what's up with these people who spent a year talking to goat farmers across the country? The use of present tense was quite distracting in this memoir and took a bit of the enjoyment away, and ...more
Abigail Johnson
concise, informative, interesting and hopeful.
Yvonne Loveday
My dream as a child was to live on an organic farm and keep goats. I spent a lot of time with other people's goats in the '70s and '80s, and tried to raise a few at one time. I was pregnant with my first son and spent the days in the field shepherding our five kid goats because we had no fence. It was like an idyllic dream. Did it really happen? Yes, I have the pictures to prove it. I love goats. So when this book came out amidst the other urban farm narratives, I was thrilled. Read it.
Sep 24, 2009 J rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lizzie, Laura, Sally
Recommended to J by: Diana, my librarian
Even though this wasn't on my list of books to read, my librarian Diana recommended it to me as a MUST. I wasn't let down.

It was interesting to read about Margaret and Karl's adventures and research. The longer they were on the road the more focused and defined their purpose became. It's an inspiration to those of us that wish to "get back to the land." I only wish some of the vignettes about the people they met and stayed with had MORE info.
About food? Yes. A story about someone leaving their traditional job to get into the food industry? Yes. Ability to live vicariously through said story? Yes.

I really enjoyed this book. It comes across as honest, real and thoughtful. Reading about each visit doesn't get old, and Hathaway weaves each visit to tell a compelling story about her journey from New York City to a farm in Maine.
Stephen Holbrook
It would be nice to have the time and funding to run off for a year visiting all the farms you want. If not, this book might fulfill some of your desires to do so. Interesting to read about urban folks making the transition to a rural one. Goats seem to be a good choice for a dairy animal for being low impact on the environment, easier to care for, and get a high value product in cheese or meat.
I'm pretty psyched on this tale of adventures in goat farming written by a former Magnolia baker and her photographer husband. It details the year they spend learning every aspect of the goat cheese making industry and goats in general by caravaning around the country, deciding whether to give up city life for farm life. And since that was my plan, reading a book about it might save me some strife.
A fascinating book. Given the subject matter I thought that author Hathaway did a great job of making it relevant and interesting even to those who know little about goats and cheese (except that it is tasty!) Also made me think again about agricultural practices in the USA and how I would like to do more to support family-farms and farms where animals are raised/slaughtered humanely.
Self indulgent rich white "hippies" spend a year learning about goats from aged learned hippies of years gone past. This reader was simultaneously envious and somewhat disgusted by their quest. That they had the means to even consider this year and subsequent book doesn't seem to enter into it. Basically, the book made me wish I had a goat farm, the end.
Dec 28, 2007 jenne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: urbanites who want to farm
what i learned is that i need to go on a farm internship before i decide to become a goatherder. also that its not naive to want to do these things, and that other smart people have looked into it and been able to do it. a very easy quick read, and very inspiring. not for vegetarians. (much research into the goat for meat industry.)
A couple takes a year off to explore the world of goat farming. Nicely written, with a good balance of presenting the appeal and the drawbacks of small-scale farming. I wish there had been more photographs; it would have been fun to see more of the goats themselves. Another addition to my list of farm-fantasy reading.
I enjoyed reading about hiking with pack goats the most. It's a bit indulgent, a yuppie couple embarks on a quest for goats and cheese, but it is an enjoyable read. The writing is nice and the look into the odd, quirky world of goats will bring smiles to all farm-y folks and goat lovers' faces.
This book -- the story of two people who think they might want to be goat farmers but aren't sure how to start and travel the country to learn more -- completely affirmed my love of goats. It also made me realize how not impossible an experiment like that could be for all of us.
It was interesting to "watch" someone go through the type of research needed to consider this type of lifestyle change. I was surprised at the number of people they spoke to that I either have spoken with in the past or spent time on email lists with.

Sigh. I miss my goats.
I'm probably not cut out to be a goat farmer, but it was nice to read about someone who followed the dream. Their idealized notion of living off the land turned out to be true! No chickens allowed in Havertown, so I'll have to settle for the farmer's market for now.
Is it horribly dorky of me to say I wish it had been more about actual goats and not just people who like goats? Also, who knew there was a whole goat subculture across America? I wanted to like it more than I did, but ultimately it was just so-so.
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