You might have a lot in common with a guy who lives on Salt Spring Island. Then again, maybe not; unless you have a small farm, are a well-known Canadian poet, a borderline curmudgeon who likes to wander naked in the woods at night, a virtual animal whisperer with a 24 year old parrot, plus horses, dogs, sheep, geese, chickens, ducks, pigs and peafowl, who loves local food, big parties, good friends, hates government, disdains factory farms and is losing money trying to keep the farm going. Perhaps you’d just enjoy a book on a small subject which is really a vast subject with ramifications that extend well beyond the author’s island.
Possibly you would find enjoyment in stories about animals that are a bit more gory than those of, say, James Harriott. Certainly, you could relate to someone living on an island, the sense of community, the lack of privacy and the importance of retaining some kind of order. Without a doubt, if you garden, or raise animals you will find something of value. You will find excitement in stories like the author’s epic battle with a mouse and wolf spider.
I actually got choked up reading about the death of a valued horse and I’m not too sentimental about animals. And I think I learned stuff that will be helpful to me as a gardener. For example, one of the expert farmers in the book was asked when the best time was to prune apples. His answer: when you have time. This was his answer to every question about farming, a messy, always unfinished business. Brian Brett taught me that I shouldn’t be too precious about the garden, that there was too much outside my control. That farming is more of a calling than a business pointing to the joke about the farmer who won the lottery when asked what he’d do with the money said, “I guess I’ll just keep farming til it’s gone.”
I liked the stories about smart dogs (as I’ve personally known so few), am intrigued with the idea of peafowl and am now full of admiration for the goose. I liked the writing well enough that I ordered Mr. Brett’s detective novel set on a fictitious Salt Spring Island to see what he can do with fiction. I’m guessing that a guy who can write a fascinating chapter on chickens can also entertain me in my favorite genre.
With his stories Brian Brett makes a compelling case for localization, for local food and for staying home and getting intimately involved with your own environment. Highly recommend Trauma Farm and my copy is available for loan to anyone interested.