A Great Read

Eighty Acres: Elegy for a Family Farm. By Ronald Jager.  Boston, MA: Beacon Press 1990.

What is the fate of the family farm?  Is this Little House on the Prairie/Great Depression way of life a thing of the past?

This richly detailed memoir by Ronald Jager walks us through his childhood on a rural Michigan farm during the mid-20th century.  While it details the often heartwarming, heart-wrenching, funny and ironic details of growing up on a family farm, it also chronicles the demise of a way of life that has almost completely vanished from this country.

Through his expressive storytelling, we hear about everything from outhouses and chicken coops, horses and cows, cutting wood and stacking wood, plowing and planting, gardening and canning, to the naming of dogs and cats (and yes, even the chickens), and the spooning of black coffee into the newborn baby’s mouth to be used as a heart stimulant. We come to understand the work ethic created in this rural America. It is life – family life – farming life at its best.

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