Book 2: The Daughter's A Farmer: A True Story
"In this true story, The Daughter’s a Farmer, we view the journey of a mother and a daughter moving gradually toward mutual understanding and respect for each other’s world perspectives and life choices, and see lessons learned and insights gained that surprised them both. The Mother and The Daughter, different in many ways, find their common ground in the values they share and the strength they possess. By choosing to use the generic terms, “The Mother” and “The Daughter,” the author underscores the universality of the themes so brilliantly illuminated in this fine and touching essay.
The compilation of holiday letters, warm, wise, and hilarious, is evidence that Erma Bombeck, or, perhaps, a literary clone, is alive and well in upstate New York. For anyone who has a knee-jerk negative reaction to holiday letters I recommend reading the no-holds-barred true stories about raising children and animals on a farm. Far from being the all-sunshine-and-light chronicles of the accomplishments and exotic adventures of perfect families, each member of her farm family, beautiful, smart, and brave, these accounts are honest tales of real people dealing with such issues as the family dog (a guide dog reject) overdosing on corncobs or a teenage daughter learning to drive. The humor The Daughter finds in every day events and the family’s love for their land, their animals, and for each other shines brightly throughout each mini-masterpiece. If there were a Pulitzer category for holiday letters, these would win." -Joyce Hepburn Radochia, Writer/Library Advocate/Community Volunteer
"This is a story of a mother's hard-won but finally unconditional love for her daughter who chose a path completely different and almost incomprehensible to anyone in the family. Beautifully written and illustrated. A lovely gift as well."
"Freda S. Warrington again presents a personal story that gives insight into the larger issues of life. In her second book, she focuses on the joys, heartaches and complications of a mother-daughter relationship. She cleverly juxtaposes her point of view in her own engrossing narrative with that of her daughter’s, as expressed in annual holiday letters. Rising above sentimentality, Ms. Warrington engages readers to find their own understanding about not only her family relationships, but also in their own."
"With detailed descriptions of farm scenes, events, plights, the charming, captivating animal pictures (other interesting pics too, but being an animal lover, these really "got me"), the open and honest conversations and thoughts conveyed between The Mother and The Daughter; the author draws you in and you feel like you are there."
"This is a very powerful , personal and open book about a Daughter's unique life choices (and her very real successes) and a Mother's gradual understanding and ultimate appreciation and approval. In this case a city girl with multiple college degrees becomes a bona fide Farmer , knowledgeable and even expert in many phases, from animal husbandry-- sheep with black wool, hens that lay multicolored eggs, Icelandic horses- to the mechanical needs of repairing electric fences or the logistics of ensuring the well doesn't run dry. And, in addition raising three energetic and lively children, --all the while dealing with a difficult health issue. The Mother struggles with her own thoughts of what might have been for this very bright and capable Daughter , and sometimes misses the significance of what is and how it is shaping in a very positive way the lives of the family. The book is written in two parts. The first several sections deal with the Mother/Daughter working to an understanding , as well as providing an overview of the farm life for the human and animal members. The second part is also a gem --fifteen end of year Holiday Letters from the Daughter , from 2002 through 2017, chronicling the the farm and family situation for the year. These are very clever , honest, amusing and uplifting portrayals of a close knit family working hard and having fun (mostly) in an environment with its never ending daily obligations , interrupted by minor and major ( farm and family) crises from snow storms, sick animals and sick humans, and so on that come with farm life. Any parent or grandparent would do well to read this book and reflect on the inherent message in both parts."
Suggested Discussion Questions
Please use these questions or create your own to suit your reading group.
1. Do you see The Mother as a controlling individual and a completely unsympathetic character? Or have you personally and on occasion been determined to push your agenda, convinced that your way was the best way forward?
2. Is it clear that a parent must always allow a young adult to find his/her own way?
3. Are there any caveats or exceptions to giving a young person freedom to choose?
4. In this case, can the reader predict whether the children in this story will become capable and satisfied adults after growing up on the farm? In other words will the farm experience translate to future success in life or is there no correlation?
5. Does it appear that the conflict has damaged the mother/daughter relationship? What kinds of stress would have been avoided if The Mother had accepted The Daughter’s decisions early on?
6. Do you think the illness played into The Daughter’s decision to carve a path for her life to suit herself? Do you think the illness played a part in The Mother’s resistance? Is it clear in the story that The Mother and The Daughter love each other? How does The Reader know this?
7. While there are clues in the story that The Daughter has an illness, are you frustrated that this illness is not named until the end? Do you need that information to understand the essential dilemma and conflict between The Mother and The Daughter?
8. Does The Mother’s backstory make her any more or less sympathetic a character? If you consider The Mother an average product of her time in history, do you consider her a victim?
9. What implications does the story have for raising independent children? Do you have to live on a farm to ensure positive outcomes in raising children? What are your personal prerequisites for raising a capable and a compassionate younger generation?
10. As a parent or teacher, can you and do you let children fail/lose? Under what circumstances do you let them fail/lose? How do you know when it’s safe to let them fail/lose and if you need a safety net?
11. Can you separate their failures from your own or does your self-worth and standing in the community reside in the accomplishments of your children? If your daughter were to become a farmer rather than a supreme court justice or Nobel laureate, would that be okay with you?
12. Have your opinions changed regarding farm life after reading The Daughter's holiday letters? How?