Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm

Overview

David Kline came upon a sleeping woodchuck one summer day as he walked the land near his farm. In a gesture that speaks eloquently of Kline's relationship with the natural world, he scratched the animal gently with his walking stick, and the sleeping creature arched its back with pleasure at the attention.

Like its title, this collection of essays on nature, farming, animals, insects, and other topics bespeaks the gentle demeanor and appreciation for nature that shape the ...

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Overview

David Kline came upon a sleeping woodchuck one summer day as he walked the land near his farm. In a gesture that speaks eloquently of Kline's relationship with the natural world, he scratched the animal gently with his walking stick, and the sleeping creature arched its back with pleasure at the attention.

Like its title, this collection of essays on nature, farming, animals, insects, and other topics bespeaks the gentle demeanor and appreciation for nature that shape the author's descriptions of the world around him. Whether sharing his fondness for watching clouds while he rests his horses or for planting flowers in his favorite spot in the woods, David Kline offers a view of life that few of us take time to experience. Scratching the Woodchuck resounds with knowledge, reverence, and a joyful spirit, and to follow Kline's explorations of the landscape and animals around his farm is to sense and come to share his respect for and unity with the earth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If you want to know what the real world looks like, you had best read Scratching the Woodchuck. David Kline writes with joy, good humor, and style—I can't think of a book that's given me more pleasure in years."—Bill McKibben

"Scratching the Woodchuck is a wonderful book about the pleasures derived from a well loved and competently used place. David Kline and the Amish are national treasures."—David Orr

"A calm and peaceful book . . . David Kline is a wonderful voice for all of these observations.”—Booklist

"Kline's thoroughly charming survey of the natural world . . . has much to teach us about appreciating wild things wherever we happen to be."—Kirkus

"In this delightful book Kline instructs the reader about the nature and wildlife that he observes on his Ohio farm. But his underlying message is, not surprisingly, to take the time to appreciate the joys of life: the birds, trees, hayfields, streams, clouds, spring peepers—all of nature, including our fellow human beings . . . As a pleasant, instructive visit with an appreciative witness to nature, this book is recommended for all libraries."—Library Journal

"David Kline's vision goes beyond 20/20 into the realm of A/Z, where he eloquently uses all of the letters in between to delight us with his insights from his wide travels at home. He's an Amish Thoreau, except he scratches the woodchuck that Thoreau ate."—Wes Jackson

"Unlike the plethora of books intended to help renew and reassemble our disjointed, modern lives, Scratching the Woodchuck provides no instructions for being mindful, strengthening community, cherishing the natural world, deepening spirituality, or doing meaningful work. Instead, Amish farmer David Kline shares with readers a life wholly made of these fundamental things."—San Francisco Chronicle

"David Kline is an alert observer of the natural world and its creatures, and an utterly pleasant and interesting companion."—Wendell Berry

Kirkus Reviews
An Amish farmer's blissful account of the rhythms of nature and work, finding delight in everyday places.

"Sometimes I wonder whether I farm to make a living or whether it is all a front, just an excuse to be out in the fields looking at clouds," writes Kline (Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's Journal, 1990), who works the farm in northwestern Ohio where he grew up. He's not a typical modern-day farmer: He plows with draft horses and uses chemical pesticides only as a last resort, and then reluctantly. His view of wildlife is more enlightened, too. He tolerates woodchucks (considered unredeemed pests by farmers dependent on expensive heavy equipment) because their burrows nurture foxes, rabbits, and other species. Kline organizes his observations into short, discursive essays that shift easily from farmstead to fields, woods, and the community. Though some early passages seem pedestrian (the section on spiders reads like an elementary science text), his observations of plants and animals grow more intriguing the farther from home he wanders. Kline's finest moments involve fascinating interactions with wildlife that show how attuned he is to nature. He observes a titmouse plucking fur for its nest from a sleeping raccoon's back, recalls a pet crow from childhood who liked to grip the hood ornaments of cars and go for a feather-ruffling ride, and stands stock still in a field until a weasel passes between his legs, close enough for Kline to observe drops of blood on its nose. He respects nature, and it rewards him with genuine oddities: A damselfly lays eggs on his finger; a napping woodchuck arches its back appreciatively when he scratches it with his walking stick.

Though Kline's thoroughly charming survey of the natural world focuses on the flora and fauna indigenous to Ohio, it has much to teach us about appreciating wild things wherever we happen to be.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820321547
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 669,897

Meet the Author

David Kline is the author of Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's Journal. A member of an Amish community, he lives on a farm near Fredericksburg, Ohio.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2001

    Spend a Day With Nature

    This book was delightful. Kline, an Amish farmer, takes you along and allows you to share firsthand his impressions and feelings about the life that he finds in the surrounding countryside. He combines a love of God and an appreciation for all things living with a wealth of information. He knows a lot about what he says, and he says it beautifully. Each section is short enough to make it easy to pick up the book and put it down if you are a reader that likes to read in spurts.

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