Book Review: Home and Away

Anny Scoones makes her home at Glamorgan Farm, one of Vancouver Island’s original farmsteads. There she holds literary fundraisers, raises livestock including rare Gloucester Old Spot pigs, a woolly Russian Bashkir Curling horse, and Naked Neck hens, a rare breed that originated in Hungary. The

farm, as Scoones writes in her introduction, "in its gentle way, seems to provide so many reflections on nature and the human spirit". Fortunately for us, Scoones has recorded those reflections enhanced by illustrations by her famous artist parents: Bruno Bobak and Molly Lamb Bobak. Her writing is

refreshing and light as is her step on the earth.

Glamorgan Farm is also home to the Healthy Harvest Co-op, a group of challenged adults who grow heirloom produce, fruit and flowers. In this way, and so many others, Scoones shares the goodness of her farm every day. When her days on the farm are over, Scoones has bequeathed Glamorgan Farm to

North Saanich as a heritage park.

At the time of writing the book, Scoones had seven cats and four dogs, all from the SPCA. The SPCA is also the recipient of some of the royalties. Two of the dogs to be given a home on the farm are Daisy and Lily, "the Old Gals", who accompany Scoones on her farm rounds to fill the duck pools with

fresh water, give the hens their corn, groom the horses, put the eggs out for sale and talk to the goats. To some, these may seem like chores, but to Scoones they are mindful tasks attended to with joy.

Occasionally Scoones makes lists of tasks that are amusing and describe the attentiveness of her days. There’s the "good daily egg routine", for instance, when she is delighted by the surprises she finds. Scoones arranges the blue, white, brown and pinkish eggs in a pleasing design in a carton, decorates them with a clean feather, includes a sheet of information about the breeds and offers them for sale at the roadside.

This is the sweetest book about farm life I’ve ever read. Whether we live on a farm or not, the book gives a lot of inspiration for paying careful and grateful attention to what is in front of us and around us – people, animals, flowers and the smell of home – "that lovely combination of rain, the protected yew trees [near the Victoria airport] and the sea.

Mary Ann Moore is a poet, writer and creativity facilitator living in Nanaimo.