Horse-Drawn Yogurt: Stories from Total Loss Farm

Horse-Drawn Yogurt: Stories from Total Loss Farm a collection of true-life stories of a young man’s life on a Vermont farm commune at the height of the back-to-the-land movement

In 1969, author Peter Gould moved to Vermont. Soon after, he turned all the communal living, eating, smoking, dancing, loving, and farming into fiction in his first novel Burnt Toast (Alfred A. Knopf, 1972).

Now, in Horse-Drawn Yogurt, Gould has created a patchwork of true stories of farm life. You’ll learn how locals and newcomers helped each other out in a pivotal moment of history. Find out how young people, new to the land, learned how to tend gardens, animals, and fields, while belonging to a national movement against the Vietnam war and for peace and justice around the world.

“This book is not a memoir,” Gould says. “It’s a patchwork, a comforter. I didn’t throw all those old clothes away. I cut and pieced them and sewed them together. Now they keep me warm.”

“Gould is the dramaturge of our worldly problems and sense of wondrous possibility—he is a national treasure.” —Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist

“Beautiful humor . . . beautiful writing.”
—Vermont Public Radio

“Total Loss Farm in Guilford, Vermont, was and is a wordy place. Its hilly acres and flimsy buildings provided a refuge from a riven country, a place to grow paragraphs and stanzas, among the tilled rows of the market garden. Peter Gould’s first novel Burnt Toast was a youthful exploration of this mythic turf. Peter left the farm to pursue love and work. In Horse-Drawn Yogurt, Peter returns to offer his take on how we lived in times that seem exotic, yet oddly familiar. He is eloquent, whimsical, critical, musical, magical, and tender.” —Verandah Porche, poet & communard, author of Sudden Eden

A scene at Total Loss Farm, one of the many communes that blossomed in southern Vermont in the back-to-the-land movement. PHOTO COURTESY OF HARRY SAXMAN

“Peter, I sit here dewy-eyed at your honesty, insight, and superb use of the language of story. You got me!” —Dan MacArthur, Vermont timber framer

“No matter where Peter’s going or what he’s doing or how far he’s moved on the miracle-strewn Peter Gould timeline, he has kept a remarkably open channel for the voices and concerns of real people.” —Karen Hesse

“Gould is a consummate observer…”—The Rutland Herald

From Seven Days: It was 1970, and communes had begun to poke up everywhere, like skunk cabbage in springtime. Brattleboro writer, performer and musician Peter Gould first blew into the farm/commune at Packer Corner late one summer night in 1968. In this patchwork collection of stories, poems, drawings and recipes, Gould describes his arrival in Guilford as the outcome of a pivotal choice. Either he would get in the car to join the rioting fray at Chicago’s Democratic Convention, or get in the car to find “the Farm” using a hand-drawn map from his sister.

Gould’s heartfelt account of option No. 2 is warmly written; it feels as if you’re right with him at, say, the kitchen table or the woodpile. In a soft but not lighthearted tone, he recollects the personal and collective pains that drew him back to the land, drawing parallels to current upheavals in American politics, and writing in the second person to drive these connections home. Some of the stories are taken from the commune’s fresh, youthful days, like those originally published in Gould’s 1972 autobiographical “commune book” Burnt Toast. Others are recollections penned more recently. Together, they make for an intimate, thoughtful contribution to the history of a vital cultural moment, in both Vermont and the nation at large. —Featured review in Vermont’s premier weekly newspaper, Seven Days

Excerpt: “[the stories] make for an intimate, thoughtful contribution to the history of a vital cultural moment, in both Vermont and the nation at large.”


“Peter was an inspiration as a guest for my Vermont history class at UVM.”
—Richard Watts, Center for Reseach on Vermont, Director, Assistant Research Professor, Advisor Environmental Program

“Peter Gould’s voice and personality shine through all his stories with wit and incisive insight. His perspective on life in Vermont’s 1970s counterculture is an invaluable one…incredibly helpful, personal and emotional.”—Amanda Gustin, Vermont Historical Society

Peter Gould, recipient of the 2016 Arts Education Award from the Vermont Arts Council, wrote the legendary back-to-the-land novel Burnt Toast (Alfred A. Knopf)—the first fictional treatment of the 1970s commune movement in New England. Peter’s young adult novel, Write Naked (Farrar Straus) won the Green Earth Book Award. Read more at

6 x 9 Paperback Original; $19.95
Pen and ink drawings by the author throughout.
Pub Date: May 12, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9982604-8-8
Available wherever books are sold. Distributed by Midpoint. 



Photo below from the farm for the launch party and reading.