The Year of the Goat
Margaret Hathaway, photos by Karl Schatz
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Buy *The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese* by Margaret Hathaway, photos by Karl Schatz online

The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese
Margaret Hathaway, photos by Karl Schatz
The Lyons Press
224 pages
August 2007
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz felt something was missing from their New York City lives. They felt the yearning to leave the city and move to the country, a longing for a simpler life. As they discussed their options, they came upon the idea of raising goats. As the couple began their research, they found the information and expense daunting. Was this something they could realistically do? And the better question—was raising goats worth giving up everything about their previous lives for?

Karl and Margaret decide to spend a year touring different goat operations around the United States in order to firm up their dreams and goals, as well as to determine if this is, indeed, the path they desired their lives to take. The couple spends The Year of the Goat traveling in their car, camping or sleeping at various farms along the way. All the while, they talk with farmers, breeders, farmers who raised dairy goats, meat goats, and everything in-between. They sample every product made from goat and end their year with a realization that this isn’t just a lifestyle change—it is a calling.

The Year of the Goat is an intriguing story. Sustainable, local foods and products is a growing movement around the country, and there is a great deal of fascinating information included in this book. Infused with humor, the book reads like a novel much of the time, and the author doesn’t hold back with her assessments and insightful conclusions she draws after each visit or situation.

At times, The Year of the Goat becomes tedious. I am not sure the reader needed to have details of every stop on their tour (and I’m not even sure that all of their stops are included, but I think there are just a few too many). One example of each type of production technique or circumstance would suffice. But just when I thought things were getting a little repetitive, the author would come up with an extremely thought-provoking comment that would make each section worthwhile.

It is also appreciated that the author comes full circle, bringing the reader up to date with their latest adventures rather than limiting the book to their year on the road. She is transparent enough that the you really feel like you get to know her and are taking part in their decision-making process along with the couple. The Year of the Goat is a fascinating look at leaving a busy, chaotic life behind for a new philosophy, going back to a simpler, land-focused existence.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Melissa Parcel, 2007

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