Horse-Drawn Yogurt: Stories from Total Loss Farm, 2nd Revised Edition is 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.
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, in this second edition, with three new stories and an introduction by Vermont author Bill Schubart. Gould is eloquent, whimsical, critical, musical, magical, and tender. The new stories in this second edition are gems with additional line drawings by the author.
“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
“For years I thought that I’d written the best book on the communal, counter-culture reality. It’s called Sleeping Where I Fall and has been in print since 1999. Peter Gould has written a real contender, and perhaps even a better book. It turns out I met Peter one night about 47 years ago when my girlfriend, Nichole Wills, my daughter, Ariel, her son Jeremiah and my dog, Josephine, pulled down their long snowy road and were taken in. We were traveling from commune to commune from the Delaware Water Gap of Pennsylvania throughout New England, establishing a counter-cultural trade route; assessing surpluses and needs, publishing them, and sending the book back around. 47 years later Peter sent me the book for a blurb for the new edition and I fell into it as if it was a vat of honey. He really nailed the amount of labor, reclaiming of abandoned and abused shelters and machinery, and the diplomacy of making friends with the older farming generation which was on its way out. My family, the Diggers, did the same at every place we lived — Olema, Forest Knolls, Trinidad, Salmon Creek, Black-Bear Farm. His story could have been — and in many degrees is — our story. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Peter Gould must be my brother-by-another-mother. I urge you to read his book. It’s glorious! Peter’s tone-perfect narratives capture the back-to-the-land movement—the danger, the disappointments, the values, the joys of living a life of meaning in harmony with one’s deepest intentions, and the thrill of expanding the heart’s perimeter to include everyone you meet. He really nails the amount of labor, in salvaging thrown-away machines and lumber, forging bonds, in learning skills that would have passed away with the previous generation. Horse-Drawn Yogurt is a great read by a fine writer and an even better reminder of a time and season when many young people were fearlessly committed to living lives of meaning and ecstasy. You can’t beat that combo.” —Peter Coyote, actor, author, Zen Buddhist priest
“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
“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.”
FOR EDUCATORS, LIBRARIES, CONFERENCES, AND HISTORICAL SOCIETIES — PETER WILL BE A GUEST SPEAKER OR WORKSHOP LEADER:
“Peter was an inspiration as a guest for my Vermont history class at UVM.”
—Richard Watts, Center for Research 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
Photo below from the farm for the launch party and reading.
About the Author
Peter Gould, the 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 www.petergouldvermont.com.
6 x 9 Paperback Original; $19.95 (CA $22.95)
Pen and ink drawings by the author throughout.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
Pub Date: DECEMBER, 2019
Distributor: IPG; also available through Ingram, Follett/Baker & Taylor, and other wholesalers.
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