“Barnheart”: a book review

HERD ABOUT IT?

by Ana Grarian

At work the other day a distributor dropped off a few reader’s copies of new books for the staff to review. My co-worker was looking through the pile, came to this little book, and handed it to me saying, “this is for you”.

There’s a condition that inflicts some of us and I can only describe as Barnheart. … a sharp, targeted, depression that inflicts certain people (myself being one of them) as harsh and ugly as a steak knife being shoved into an uncooked turkey. It’s not recognized by professionals or psychoanalysts (yet), but it’s only a matter of time before it’s a household diagnose. Hear me out. It goes like this:

Barnheart is that sudden overcast feeling that hits you while at work or in the middle of the grocery store checkout line. It’s unequivocally knowing you want to be a farmer — and for whatever personal circumstances — cannot be one just yet. So there you are, heartsick and confused in the passing lane, wondering why you cannot stop thinking about heritage livestock and electric fences. Do not be afraid. You have what I have. You are not alone.”

I’ve had barnheart my entire life. My horse at 15. An eclectic selection of livestock after college. A small herd of sows. Then a dairy that grew too big to handle. Then back to the mish mash of calves, pigs, bulls and a goat. I was fortunate to actually own the barn and livestock, and now, in exile in the city, I have barnheart bad.

The small step of moving to a place where my hands can work in dirt has helped,

but I still long for livestock.

I visit my daughter who is experimenting with different kinds of poultry. Guinea hen keets (chicks) are sweet with a throaty call that is part cheep part purr.Several breeds of chickens roam the yard. An elderly garage/shop/barn sports a hen house addition.

A year or so ago – though I would still have been jealous – I would have smirked at the idea that this was farming. Smarter now, I know that the healthy future of our food supply is wrapped up with small producers and going back to household flocks and gardens. I will one day proudly call this corner lot my urban farm. Unless of course – I get a barn 😉