Birth, Death, and a Tractor; Connecting an Old Farm to a New Family.

Author:Jagareski, Rachel
Position:Book review

Kelly Payson-Roopchand; BIRTH, DEATH, AND A TRACTOR; Down East Books (Nonfiction: Nature) 24.95 ISBN: 9781608934119

Byline: Rachel Jagareski

The author's extensive knowledge, passion, and lyrical prose elevate this biography of a small Maine farm to a rewarding work of literature.

For a sparsely populated state, Maine has an enormously rich literary tradition, particularly in the genres of memoir and fiction. A new voice joins this august pantheon: Kelly Payson-Roopchand, with her elegant account of life on one small farm in Somerville, Maine. Birth, Death, and a Tractor: Connecting an Old Farm to a New Family deftly intersperses her family's first years establishing a goat dairy with stories of the six previous generations who worked the land.

From evoking Sebra and Lydia Crooker, who carved out a homestead from forest in 1808, to Don and Shirley Hewett, who fed their family and others through the lean years of the Great Depression, Payson-Roopchand is a gifted storyteller. She plucks out family lore, heirloom recipes, snippets of correspondence, and tales of joy and sorrow about living so finely attuned to this flinty-soiled corner of New England. While this young mother might offer a few too many stories and photos of her own adorable children, her talent for recreating the lives of each farm family is abundant.

The book is also a primer on the...

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