Why is modern America so dissatisfied with life? We're rolling in wealth to the extent that we can afford vacations to Europe, boats, swimming pools and $100 concert tickets. We don't have to bother raising or even cooking our own food, because multinational corporations continue to discover ways to produce technologically advanced, highly processed food products at lower and lower cost. We don't have to repair our own cars, clean our own houses, or mow our own grass. We own multiple automobiles, televisions, computers and even places to live. We take advantage of a standard of living that exceeds most other countries on the planet. To quote a popular song, "The Future's so Bright, We Gotta Wear Shades." Why then are so many of us taking Prozac, seeing therapists, and finding less and less joy in our daily lives? It's difficult to contemplate, but many of us somehow feel disconnected from our daily existence. Despite being surrounded by incredible riches, we somehow long for a lifestyle that no longer seems attainable. Something important seems to be missing. No only can't we identify what's missing, we don't have a clue on how to restore it to our lives. Joann Grohman's book, Keeping a Family Cow, provides a great deal of insight into this very issue.
Keeping in character with the book's premise, the author provides a detailed guidebook for nurturing and managing a dairy cow while successfully integrating such a creature into a modern lifestyle. Presented in an easy-to-understand, straightforward manner, the book offers up a plethora of information designed to turn the most inexperienced neophyte into a competent dairyman. The book provides details on animal acquisition, feeding, disease prevention, breeding and food hygiene, and is written in such a way to offer enlightened reading to a diverse audience. Joann also maintains a free web site,..., that provides a discussion forum for cow-related issues. If you've ever contemplated adding a bovine member to the family, this book will go a long way toward helping to make this project a success.
Even though these technical topics make the book worth the price of admission, I strongly believe that there is more to this book than initially meets the eye. During my undergraduate years, I stumbled upon a book called The Continuum Concept (authored by Jean Liedloff) that contrasts Western child rearing techniques with those of more primitive cultures. Even though I was not yet married, and had no interest in starting a family, I realized that there was something about her ideas that resonated with my innate sense of right and wrong. I couldn't identify why I could so easily relate to her views on nurturing infants, but it just seemed as if Liedloff had illuminated obvious truths about human nature that no one had previously discussed.
Joann's writings resonate in the same fashion. The first couple of chapters in the book seem to emanate from someone who shares Liedloff's understanding of human nature. Keeping a Family Cow demonstrates a remarkable insight into the cultural, technological and market forces that have produced the frenzied pace that we all take for granted, and demonstrates how the acquisition of a family cow can restore some of the "rightness" that seems to be missing from our daily existence. There's something incredibly satisfying about Joann's arguments to support the family cow concept, and her writings offer a glimmer of hope that we can somehow find our way back to a lifestyle that is more in tune with our expectations, our evolutionary experience as human organisms, and our hopes and dreams for the future. I can't recommend this book enough.