Flat Broke With Two Goats

April 5, 2018

 Flat Broke With Two Goats- a Memoir  by Jennifer McGaha  

 

My library is doing a Great Big Read, which is a program they do occasionally, where they temporarily purchase thousands of copies of a book so no one has to wait, and during the month there are plenty of copies for everyone to read it at the same time, then book club-style events are held to discuss the book, both in person or online. They're really fun, and I've enjoyed the books they've selected in the past, so was excited for this go around with "Flat Broke With Two Goats".

 

In this absolutely charming and real memoir, Jen has let her husband, an account, handle all of their finances for their entire marriage. When the power and phone get turned off, and someone comes to repossess their car, Jen has a heart to heart with her husband, where he reveals that he has not managed their money well, they owe years of back taxes which they can't pay, and their house is going into foreclosure. Jen rails against this new situation with all she can, but eventually accepts it, if not makes peace with it. The only house they can afford is an old, abandoned cabin in the mountains outside their Asheville, NC community. The landlords give them free rein to do whatever they'd like to the house and grounds, all 53 acres of beautiful mountain wilderness with a gorgeous waterfall in their front yard. It is far from ideal, however, as the house has been taken over by the wild things, and they struggle against mice, snakes, spiders, and general lack of upkeep.

 

In time, as Jen works through her grief and loss of her former life, and struggles to accept her new normal, they begin raising first chickens then goats. Growing their own food not only saves on the grocery bill, but also gives them a sense of meaning and purpose, and is in the end, the lifeline that pulls them out of their pit of despair. There are many animal husbandry adventures, and your heart sings with Jen's when the first goat kids are born on their little homestead.

 

I adored this book. Jen writes so frankly and doesn't shy away from sharing how hard this all was for her. She freely admits that holding onto memories of how things used to be, how they "should" be (a respectable house in town with a hot water heater, neighbors, no snakes, all that...), that it makes it hard for her to embrace her new life, and her lack of enthusiasm makes things all that much harder. I can relate to this wholeheartedly, as I well know the struggle of finding enthusiasm for a new situation when it feels like the old situation was better, but, like Jen, I have learned over the years that wishing for the past only makes the present harder. Enthusiasm for the new sub-par situation is a hard skill to master, and one I will work on until my dying day, I'm sure.

 

This is a great read, and I hope you'll love it to! Inspiring and gritty and heartwarming. 

 

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