Books·Canadian

Trauma Farm

Brian Brett won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction in 2009 for Trauma Farm.

Brian Brett

An irreverent and illuminating journey through a day in the life of writer and poet Brian Brett, as he tends a small island farm on Salt Spring Island, affectionately named Trauma Farm, with numerous side trips into the natural history of farming.

Brian Brett moves from the tending of livestock, poultry, orchards, gardens, machinery and fields to the social intricacies of rural communities and, finally, to an encounter with a magnificent deer in the silver moonlight of a magical farm field. Brett understands both tall tales and rigorous science as he explores the small mixed farm ― meditating on the perfection of the egg and the nature of soil while also offering a scathing critique of agribusiness and the horror of modern slaughterhouses. Whether discussing the uses and misuses of gates, examining the energy of seeds, or bantering with his family, farm hands and neighbours, he remains aware of the miracles of life, birth and death that confront the rural world every day.

Trauma Farm tells a story that is passionate, practical and frequently hilarious, providing an unforgettable portrait of one farm and our separation from the natural world, as well as a common-sense analysis of rural life. (From Greystone Books)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

We moved into our four-thousand-square-foot log house on a cold January afternoon, eighteen years ago. The shake roof leaked, skylights were smashed, snow drifted through the laundry room, the plumbing was split from freezing. Two of the outer doors were completely gone. Lost. Who would take someone's doors? You could see outside through the gaps in the log chinking. The sole heat was provided by a pair of wood stoves, both working inadequately. The woodshed attached to the barn contained a forlorn, punky chunk of alder. The kitchen stove hadn't been cleaned in a year because the caretakers didn't realize that ashes needed to be hauled from cookstoves. The chimneys were thick with creosote.


From Trauma Farm by Brian Brett ©2009. Published by Douglas & McIntyre.

Author interviews 

Novelist Susan Juby talks about three of her favourite books in the genre. 9:31