Book Review: Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own


Reviewed by Melynda Fuller

Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own

By Jenna Woginrich


At some point, every city-dweller utters the words, “I wish I could just move to the country and start a farm.” In her new memoir, writer Jenna Woginrich lays out that idyllic landscape found so often in the deep sighs of those who feel trapped by urban life. After a short stint as a homesteader in Idaho, Woginrich takes a job in rural Vermont, set on establishing the life of a farmer. With two dogs in tow, she drives across the country, ending up at the door of a small home she’d never seen, with just enough land to carry out the pastoral dreams she’d only begun to realize. She then goes on to perfectly illustrate a life lived with purpose. Where it would be assumed that the average 25-year-old would be caught up in career and relationship woes, we find a woman agonizing over chicken coops and becoming a shepherd with a flock and a sheepdog.

Woginrich’s voice is refreshing. (She begins one chapter: “When an old truck is considered a luxury purchase, you can safely assume I’m not a wealthy individual.”) She doesn’t romanticize her experience, preach, or simplify. As she deals with the variety of personalities you’d expect to encounter in a small Vermont town, or struggles to buy her first home—admitting that sometimes it is lonely to follow a dream without a partner to share in it—she does so with honesty, making her story relatable no matter the reader’s domestic circumstance.

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