I just wanted to let everyone know that the four books I have written over the past decade are now available for purchase in both Kindle file and paperback formats through Amazon.com. Writing has become a sideline profession for me, which I have continued into my retirement from planning. Much of my writing, including the posts I have placed on our farm website, discuss my farming experiences and traditional lifestyle values and practices. The second book I published, Reflections on My Lives, which I actually began writing in late 2000 but withheld from publication for personal reasons, focuses more on my adoption and the impacts that closed-record adoptions can have on adoptive children and their childhood self-images. The other three books (the last of which is a work of fiction) discuss traditional and self-reliant living and the values upon which it is based. Those are the values and folkways that form the foundations for both my childhood farm experiences and our retirement aspirations for Peeper Pond Farm.
The first published book (second written), Lifestyle Lost, introduces the community I grew up in and the farm life I lived. I wrote it to answer repeated questions from people in the Cumberland/Keyser area who couldn’t understand why I wanted to give up a better-paying and higher status job in Charles County, MD to move into their area and eventually retire there. The book gives a comparison of my childhood home to the Allegheny Highlands area of eastern WV and western MD to help people understand they have far more similarities (historically, economically and geographically) than anyone would have ever thought. I also use the book to explain what makes a rural, self-reliant lifestyle work and how it compares to life in the outside modern world based on my experiences living in both. I was never able to reconcile the traditional values of self-reliant living I internalized growing up on a dairy farm with the way people in the outside world actually live, despite what they want to believe about it. I was far too naïve when I moved into the outside world to believe I would ever have that difficulty. Once I realized how I felt about being the person I was expected to be in order to work in that society, I finally decided it wasn’t right for me. I felt lost for many years until I was able to find West Virginia and its people. I have never stopped feeling proud and satisfied about being here since.
The second book, Reflections on My Lives, recounts the darker aspects of my childhood that made it so hard for me to appreciate my childhood upbringing with my adoptive family. That element of my past was alluded to in the first book, but never explained in detail. Although I began writing it a full eleven years before I wrote Lifestyle Lost, I withheld editing and publishing it because I didn’t want to make matters in my adoptive family worse than they had become. I only shared it as a draft with my biological family (which I finally found in 1998) so they could understand my reason for searching and to provide a record of that for my son, Michael, who was only six years old at that time. When I returned to New Hampshire for a 2012 book-signing for Lifestyle Lost in my old hometown, I learned that my adoptive mother and many other family members had passed away, which created the separation that made me feel more comfortable finishing the book and publishing it. That’s why it was published a full 16 years after my search was conducted. This book explains how I actively participated in my own adoption search, which is further evidence of my self-reliant nature. The book also explains how my search, and all that happened with my adoptive family relationship because of it, helped me realize the true appreciation I had for our farm lifestyle, which is a big part of the reason why I chose to retire here at Peeper Pond Farm.
The third book, Country Life at Peeper Pond Farm, provides an update to our actual farm operation, which was only a work in progress when I wrote Lifestyle Lost. It began life as an earlier more focused story about our failed dairy operation, but I decided to expand its scope to make it more interesting and useful to readers. It contains a compilation of posts I placed on our farm website, and documents our struggles, successes, and failures as we returned to my traditional way of living. Our attempts to revive that lifestyle weren’t as successful as I’d hoped they would be, but they still sustain us today. I also used the posts that appear in the book to provide a guide for people in the outside world to learn how to live more self-reliantly. The book is sprinkled with humorous and whimsical memories and anecdotes about traditional lifestyles and the natural features that make the Potomac Highlands a special place to live. I managed to include many pictures in the book from my website posts that you might appreciate. You will find pictures of us, our loyal cat, Calli, and our dairy goats, Essie and Snowball.
The fourth and final book, Contagion, is a fictional story that is based on reality and the core values of self-reliance that I explain in all of the earlier books. You will note that this book was reviewed by technical advisors in the fields of medicine, public health, biology, and pharmacology to make sure that the things I say about natural living are sound and consistent with current scientific knowledge. The story was crafted to provide a plausible living example of how well a self-reliant lifestyle can sustain us and also to illustrate the things I have said previously on our website about the real benefits of raw milk, natural immunity, and the ultimate power of nature. In essence, the story hopefully helps reinforce the lessons I wrote about each of those subjects in the other books.
Reading all of my books will give you an interesting and transparent understanding of the major influences that framed my bizarre life. In addition, they will introduce you to such diverse topics as small farmers and why their views, needs, and values differ from those of urban dwellers, how a truly rural economy works, the social impacts and implications of adoption and bullying, how industrial wind energy does and does not work, the benefits of natural immunity and the merits of farm-fresh raw milk, the importance of traditional values in shaping and reshaping our society, and the governing power of the natural world on our lives.
All of these books can be purchased directly from Amazon.com. However, I am also selling discounted copies of the books at our Grant County Farmers Market booth in the City Park parking lot in downtown Petersburg. Feel free to visit us any Saturday morning during the months of June through early September to peruse or purchase them. You may also inquire about purchasing one or more of them directly from me through the mail. Our contact information is available on our website.
I hope these books will reinforce the lessons we have tried to teach about the benefits of living more simply and self-reliantly by employing our shared traditional lifestyle folkways. As I have stressed so many times now, they remain a relevant way to increase your own personal independence and live more affordably. All you need is a healthy dose of courage and curiosity to understand and apply them.