978-0-553-38015-6 / 9780553380156

Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm





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About the book:

Jeanne Marie Laskas is 37, with a house, garden, dog, cat, flourishing writing career--all of the perfect ingredients, in fact, of a happy city-person's life--when a childhood dream resurfaces. It is a farm dream, this "song I couldn't get out of my head," and it would make more sense, she ruefully admits, if she were "at least the farm dream type. A person with some deep personal longing to churn butter." But not Laskas. She likes malls. She eats Lean Cuisine. She believes "very deeply in the power of air conditioning, microwave ovens, and very many things you plug in." Nonetheless, she spends weekends on make-believe "farm shopping" excursions with her boyfriend, Alex, who is another city person, a shrink and the owner of an honest-to-goodness poodle--a farm dream disqualifier, if ever there were one. Then, one summer afternoon, the perfect place appears, and it's very real: fifty acres, a pond, an Amish barn, and a magnificent view out over the rolling hills of Pennsylvania's Washington County. They fall in love. They buy the farm. Goodbye, city-person life.

But the scenery with which they fell in love is not quite like the scenery in postcards. Things need to be done to it, and all of these things involve buying and learning how to use different kinds of tractor attachments. And then there are the neighbors: the sheep farmer who shoots dogs, the curious proliferation of Joe Crowleys, everywhere the hunters. ("Congratulations on your ... dead deer," is all Alex can think to say to them.) Over the year that follows, the two city slickers find out a great deal about livestock, tractor attachments, and themselves; all of which is related in Laskas's funny, warm, conversational style. As she leaves behind her ordered, interior world for one that's gorgeously, chaotically exterior, Fifty Acres and a Poodle becomes much more than just a book about learning to live in the country; it is, in fact, a book about learning to live--dead groundhogs, emotional messes, and all. You don't need your own farm dream to fall in love with this witty and winning memoir, but it wouldn't hurt to look through the real estate pages, just in case. --Mary Park

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