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Homestead Year

Homestead Year

by Judith Moffett
The chronicle of a year devoted to a backyard hive of bees, a fish pond, ducklings, a vegetable garden, and more.


The chronicle of a year devoted to a backyard hive of bees, a fish pond, ducklings, a vegetable garden, and more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Poet, novelist and teacher Moffett wanted to devote a year to living on the land. With her husband, Ted, she moved to a house on a one-acre plot in a Philadelphia suburb and started a garden. Homestead Year began in February with maple sugaring (one tree) and inspecting bees. Then there were gardens to be laid out, planted and tended; next followed battles with thistles, mice and slugs. The Moffetts built a pond and stocked it with fish and plants; then they were ready for ducklings. The author gives an engaging account of on-the-job training as a beekeeper and raiser. Her frustrations, failures and victories will strike a familiar chord in gardeners. At the end, Moffett concedes there is a fundamental absurdity to subsistence living and economic independence in a posh suburban setting. But for her it was all worthwhile, as it will be for interested readers. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Moffett, an English professor and science fiction author, took a year-long sabbatical to become as self-sufficient as possible on her one-acre yard in suburban Philadelphia. Using a journal format, she chronicles the work involved in establishing her garden, fish pond, beehives, and duck pen. As in a miniature Gaia, all the components, from algae to humans, are interrelated. Moffett frankly acknowledges the forerunners whose homesteading accounts inspired her own experiment (e.g., Helen and Scott Nearing's Living the Good Life, LJ 11/15/70, and Harlan Hubbard's Payne Hollow, LJ 11/1/74) and points out some philosophical differences. While her meticulous recording of varieties of seeds started makes for slow reading at the beginning of the book, the pace soon picks up, and Moffett's account culminates at year's end with more successes than failures. This is an excellent picture of the tasks and problems facing anyone considering a similar project, told in a very readable manner. A good addition where gardening and homesteading titles are popular.-Cheryl Childress, Collegiate Sch., Richmond, Va.
Gilbert Taylor
Convalescing from breast cancer and burned out from teaching college English, Moffett only had to step into her backyard to get away from civilization. This is her journal of cultivating plants, fattening (and slaughtering) ducks, and tending an apiary for one year on one acre in suburban Philadelphia. Relaxing as gardening tends to be, her experience develops its own quietly dramatic tensions, as sowing changes to reaping. Primarily, vigilance against threats to her projects, in the form of inclement weather or the predators of suburbia such as woodchucks or slugs, instigates much of Moffett's immediate activity and most of her prose. She protects the tomato plants with chicken wire, inspects the cabbages for interloping consumers, fends off a late season attack from beetles, and picks up the pieces of an unknown critter's assault on the ducks. Without any idealistic, bucolic pretensions, this down-to-earth chronicle fertilizes the gardening genre by showing the hobby's hard work and subtle rewards.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.20(d)

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