Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Bucolic Plague

Confession: I long to be a farmer! This is only in theory, of course. I do understand that in actuality I would hate being a farmer. I do not like mud or being cold or getting up early. My heart condition would not allow for the hard physical labour of the job, and I know absolutely nothing about crops or livestock. And, yet.... The idea of it all appeals to me on such a fundamental level: being in tune with nature, being self-sufficient, carrying on age-old traditions, working with animals and teaching my children important skills and crafts that are being lost as each generations passes. 

I know I will probably never follow this particular dream, so I was as happy as a pig in the proverbial to discover The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. He, and his partner (now husband) Brent, have done it for me...and he was kind enough to record the whole thing for me to read about. Thanks, Josh!

Josh writes in an extremely engaging voice and frequently made me laugh out loud, but it is also a very earnest book and that's really why I loved it so much. It is the story of two Manhattanites who decide to buy a mansion and accompanying farm in upstate New York in order to spend more time in nature and "doing something real", but reality, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a whole lot harder than they expected, especially when the 2008 financial crash hits and they both lose their jobs.

Josh, the author, was born and raised on a farm in Wisconsin, spent several years in New York city as a drag queen and then ended up in a "respectable" job in advertising. His self-stated skill is "making things sparkle". He is inspired by Oprah. His partner, Brent, is "Dr. Brent" from The Martha Stewart Show and, with Martha as his inspiration, he struggles with perfectionism. Their trials and tribulations as they try to turn their beloved mansion into a profitable business that would allow them to leave the city and "live the dream" full-time are by turns hilarious and touching.

My favourite thing about Josh and Brent, though, is not only what they managed to achieve (which is truly awe-inspiring), but that they managed to involve what sounds like the entire town of Sharon Springs in their venture. For all things "bucolic", have a look at their website to see what they've been up to since the book was published.

They really have played a huge role in resurrecting their beautiful, historic village, giving local artisans and producers a forum for their wares at The Beekman 1802 Mercantile, as well as helping to bring back the tourist trade that first put Sharon Springs on the map back in the 19th century when it was a fashionable spa town for wealthy New Yorkers like the Vanderbilts, who came to "take the waters".

If you are anything like me, then reading about The Beekman Boys will spur you on to figure out how to make your dreams more of a reality -- even if your dream doesn't involve a herd of goats!


  1. YOU have an amazing way with words Aimee not to mention content. Your posts certainly inspire me - particularly this one about "mak(ing) your dreams more a reality"; yet, a herd of goats might be nice right now given I am in need of milk.

  2. Thanks! And, don't worry, you are not alone in finding the idea of goats strangely appealing!!