Pastoral Song: A Farmer's Journey

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Pastoral Song: A Farmer's Journey

Pastoral Song: A Farmer's Journey

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Anyway I am glad this book seems to be very well liked by so many people. I hope you can read it! 😊 What a terrific book: vivid and impassioned and urgent – and, in both its alarm and its awe for the natural world, deeply convincing. Rebanks leaves no doubt that the question of how to farm is a question of human survival on this hard-used planet. He should be read by everyone who grows food, and by everyone who eats it.”— Philip Gourevitch I really enjoyed the first part of the book that involved him learning about farming from his grandfather. My grandfather’s solicitor was simply spoken of as Charles, as in We’d better ask Charles about that, when anything remotely legal came up. Little market towns like ours have long had a smattering of middle-class professionals who serve the needs of farmers and others who live from the land. This is Nonfiction/Environment/Nature. As this one started, I wasn't feeling it. I needed to read it for a reading challenge so I plowed ahead. I eventually fell into its rhythm and I was so glad I stayed with it. This wasn't quite 5 stars, but I rounded up for the overall message. Everyone should read this, whether you grow food or eat food....this is for you. This is a timely message.

Pastoral Song – HarperCollins Pastoral Song – HarperCollins

Hailed as "a brilliant, beautiful book" by the Sunday Times (London), Pastoral Song (published in the United Kingdom under the title English Pastoral) is the story of an inheritance: one that affects us all. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world were brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things were lost. And yet this elegy from the northern fells is also a song of hope: of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future. A con, however, is our tendency towards mono-cropping which can lead to disastrous results like the Irish potato famine. The death of more than a million people and emigration of a million more, was triggered by potato blight in a society reliant on one crop.He is eloquent — scenes of mud and guts are interspersed with quotes ranging from Virgil to Schumpeter, Rachel Carson to Wendell Berry … English Pastoral builds into a heartfelt elegy for all that has been lost from our landscape, and a rousing disquisition on what could be regained — a rallying cry for a better future.”— Financial Times James Rebanks’s fierce, personal description of what has gone wrong with the way we farm and eat, and how we can put it right, gets my vote as the most important book of the year ...Some books change our world. I hope this turns out to be one of them.”— Julian Glover, Evening Standard Near the end of the book, as he catalogues all the changes that must occur to combat the farming crisis, he implicates the reader by switching to the pronoun “we.” His rhetoric fails to inspire because unlike the memoir portions of Pastoral Song, he discards concrete details for abstract ideas. He writes: “We are all responsible for the new industrial-style farming. We let it happen because we thought we wanted the sort of future it promised us. Now, if we want a different kind of future, we need to make some difficult decisions to make that happen.” What decisions need to be made? How will they affect the future? Even in the climax to this section, he drifts into generalization: “Some of the solutions are small and individual, but others require big political and structural changes.”

Pastoral Song by James Rebanks — Open Letters Review Pastoral Song by James Rebanks — Open Letters Review

I will be honest, I absolutely adored “The Shepherd’s Life” and was not sure this would appeal to me. However, I was so very wrong. Rebanks has written a book that is both informative and offers an insight into his family history. Rebanks really opens up to the reader about what his family life is like, how far they have come and how far they have to go. At the same time, Rebanks reflects on modern farming and the damage that has been caused, is being caused and could be caused in the future. There was a time to live and a time to die. When he killed, he did it swiftly, with respect, but without great displays of emotion. Knowing and seeing death on personal terms, he had a kind of reverence for meat on the table. We were told not to leave a morsel, even the bacon rinds. He would have been confused that anyone could be so foolish, or rich enough, to suffer rabbits destroying a crop, or so morally elevated to think they were above killing when it was called for. He existed in nature, as an actor on the stage, always struggling to hold his ground. A risen ape, not a fallen angel." James Rebanks If I could, I would make this required reading for everyone. Regardless of where they live in the world. (America, you probably need to read this almost more than anyone else!) This is a painful read at times, but it's also full of transcendent beauty and hope. They used to call England a green and pleasant land, but in truth it was never entirely green, nor entirely pleasant. It was a tough old place with almost every acre used by humans, but there was much in it that was good. And yet the truth is that the countryside that feeds us has changed. It is profoundly different from even a generation ago. The old working landscapes and the wildlife that lived in them have mostly disappeared, replaced by an industrial farming system that in its scale, speed, and power is quite unlike anything that preceded it. This new farming has proved to be both productively brilliant and, we now know, ecologically disastrous. The more we learn about this change, the more unease and anger we feel about what farming has become. Our society was created by this farming, and yet we increasingly distrust it.

English Pastoral’ is a beautiful portrayal of an English farming family, this is incredibly enjoyable as well as being insightful. I absolutely loved this. One of the most important books of our time. Anyone who cares about our land – indeed, anyone who buys food – should read this book. Told with humility and grace, this story of farming over three generations – where we went wrong and how we can change our ways – is at the forefront of a revolution. It will be our land’s salvation.”— Isabella Tree Despite this chilling essential truth, this beautifully written and searingly honest book is full of vignettes from a Fells farm, both past and present. It doesn't ever sketch over the problems with any kind of farming; ultimately the biodiversity of the land is better without any humans on it! But we are also part of nature, even if we have forgotten. Good farmers husband the land and act as caretakers. Good consumers do not seek to be so disconnected with the process of food production, with where what they eat comes from. There is a way to produce the food we need without killing our future. When we plough to the edge of the meadows, when we remove hedges, when we sow crops several times a year and make silage instead of hay, we impact nesting birds, insects, mammals, myriad plant life. We kill off the very creatures who renew the soil that will feed us again. It's time to realise that we cannot eat our profit margins. We should pay fair prices for meat and dairy and respect the animals that gave them to us. We should focus less of fast, cheap, processed food and instead (wherever possible) pay a bit more and eat a bit less, respecting the labour that went into growing crops. And we absolutely should be lobbying our government unceasingly to do something about this before it's too late. Our best hope is to return to a more mixed and rotational style of farming. Our land is like a poem, in a patchwork landscape of other poems, written by hundreds of people, both those here now and the many hundreds that came before us, with each generation adding new layers of meaning and experience. And the poem, if you can read it, tells a complex truth. It has both moments of great beauty and of heartbreak. It tells of human triumph and failings, of what is good in people and what is flawed; and what we need, and how in our greed we can destroy precious things. It tells of what stays the same, and what changes; and of honest hard-working folk, clinging on over countless generations, to avoid being swept away by the giant waves of a storm as the world changes. It is also the story of those who lost their grip and were swept away from the land, but who still care, and are now trying to find their way home.

Pastoral Song - James Rebanks - Harper Academic Pastoral Song - James Rebanks - Harper Academic

The book is divided into three parts, and these are subdivided into short sections that hold anecdotal tales or brief arguments about the benefits or problems with different farming practices. Rebanks presents a nuanced view, influenced by his reading of Rachel Carson and his life on his family's farm. The overall narrative is about striking a balance between industrialisation in farming and keeping traditions alive, presented with some suggestions for future farming in the last chapter. Rebanks is on a passionate crusade to spread the word on “how can we farm in ways that will endure and do the least harm?” He maintains that “[a]pplying industrial thinking and technologies to agriculture to the exclusion of other values and judgments has been an unmitigated disaster for our landscapes and communities.” He goes on to say that “to have healthy food and farming systems we need a new culture of land stewardship, which for me would be the best of the old values and practices and a good chunk of new scientific thinking.”James Rebanks’s fierce, personal description of what has gone wrong with the way we farm and eat, and how we can put it right, gets my vote as the most important book of the year ... Some books change our world. I hope this turns out to be one of them.” — Julian Glover, Evening Standard Particularly striking is the image of a young Rebanks lying under a tree devouring Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—a book that changed his perspective on pesticide use and, he admits, changed his life. In later sections, an environmentalists named Lucy appears to offer ideas, as well as financial support, to improve water and habitat conservation on the farm. Her ideas take root and revitalize Rebanks’s perspective on stewardship. What are the questions? Rebanks, author of Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey, wants to know about the ongoing evolution of agriculture. What is being lost? What is gained?

Think Sustainability Is Simple? This Sheep Farmer Would Like

Author James Rebanks’ memoir, is written with a prose that’s so poetic, it’s fair to say it touches the soul, and was extremely moving. Thank the gods of agriculture for James Rebanks. … A lyrical narrative of experience, tracing 40 years and three generations of farming on his family’s land as it is buffeted by the incredible shifts in scale, market, methods and trade rules that have changed farming all over the world. … We experience that esoteric life through Rebanks’s evocative storytelling, learning with him to appreciate not only the sheep and crops he’s learning to tend, but the wild plants and animals that live among and around them.” — New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

James Rebanks family has been farming in the Eden Valley in Cumbria for many years. He learned his craft particularly from his grandfather whose methods of framing owed much to the past. His own father stood on the cusp of the old and the new economical and industrial framing which caused him a great deal of internal conflict. Now it is James turn to inherit the land - in which direction will he err, the old or the new? Early adopters are buying optical spraying systems to greatly reduce the amount of herbicide required for pre-season burnoff of weeds….



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