|Tales: Flat Broke with Two Goats|
Despite mixed feelings about this memoir, both good and bad, the book kept me engrossed. In fact, I'll likely read it again.
I borrowed Flat Broke with Two Goats from the library and was very excited to find it. I hadn't seen it advertised previously and at first glance I thought it was a memoir about transitioning to a homestead while flat broke - a similar story to mine. However, it turns out that it was not quite a story like mine. In fact, parts of her story are very different than mine.
Flat Broke with Two Goats is a memoir written by Jennifer McGaha. It is not a "how-to" transition to a homestead when you want to. It is a life story about not planning, taking money for granted, and ending up in a run down cabin. And I came to think of it as a "how-not-to".
McGaha and her husband were living the American dream; buying a house in suburbia, raising kids, and apparently over-spending. A kid in college and kids in private schools. She's very honest that during her childhood, money was available and she can to think of money as always there. The Great Recession hits in the same time range they caught owing years of back taxes. Her accountant husband had less work due to the economy and while he wasn't really keeping them afloat financially to begin with (e.g. not able to pay taxes) they really began to flounder with the electricity being shut off and cars being repossessed. Finally, the home was in foreclosure.
Throughout the book, McGaha is unhappy. Unhappy that her husband didn't tell her about the back taxes, unhappy that they ended up moving to a rickety old cabin infested with snakes, and unhappy that so many things happened to her. At one point, she moves out to take an adjunct teaching job. Then she moves back to the rickety cabin, her dogs, and her husband.
And they begin to buy chickens and goats.
At first I was irritated that the story wasn't more about chickens, goats, and homesteading. I felt the advertising that it was about the traditions of Appalachia was false advertising. I was irritated that they got goats when they didn't seem prepared for goats. I was worried about the dogs. I was annoyed that the author was committing to lives that she couldn't afford to commit to.
But the story grew on me. And McGaha has an interesting writing style.
While I've never, ever been able to take money for granted, I have tried to run from problems I've helped create. There have been times I haven't faced my responsibilities. And there have been MANY occasions that the grass looked greener on the other side. I have jumped in to situations I wasn't prepared for. I have lived in denial. Haven't we all? That's life. And in that way, she writes an unflinching story about life and what it is to be human.
Flat Broke with Two Goats is an interesting how-not-to. How-not-to take a six figure household income for granted. How-not-to keep spending when times get tough and bury your head in the sand when the repo man becomes a familiar person.
It is also a story of a mom who wanted the good life for her human kids and who was wondrous at the birth of the goat kids. McGaha learns to make soap and cheese, and shares relevant recipes at the end of the chapters. In her quiet moments, she thinks of her connection with relatives long ago who worked hard in Appalachia.
You may like her or you may hate her, but McGaha knows how to write and how to tell an entertaining story.
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