Winter is the time of year when some of the seasonal farm work recedes, allowing more time for the luxury of reading.
Here are several books currently being promoted by various authors and organizations with ties to the agricultural community:
Marilyn Bay is widely known for her work as the executive director of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and as a freelance communications professional. But she also writes historical fiction.
Her latest release, "Prairie Truth", is set in the San Luis Valley in 1886 and provides an in-depth look at the clash of cultures between descendants of Mexican immigrants who moved north to claim land under the Mexican Sangre de Cristo Land Grant and the influx of Anglo immigrants a generation later.
The Jewish heritage of some Mexican immigrants and the establishment of the Denver Union Stock Yard Company, as well as many San Luis Valley customs and traditions, are woven into the heavily researched work.
"Prairie Truth" is a sequel to "Prairie Grace", a 2014 finalist for the Colorado Book Award. In addition to the two novels, Bay collaborated with her mother Mildred Nelson Bay on "All We Like Sheep: Lessons from the Sheepfold", a series of stories based on the mother-daughter duo’s collective six decades of sheep raising experience. For more information on the author and her books, visit www.MarilynBay.com.
Another Colorado historical fiction writer with a new book on the way is Denver-based author Sandra Dallas. "Westering Women" comes out on Jan. 7, with a book tour kickoff scheduled at Denver’s Tattered Cover Bookstore, followed by appearances in Lone Tree, Fort Collins, Highlands Ranch, Evergreen, Monument Niwot, Boulder and Golden through Feb. 16.
For the full schedule, go to sandradallas.com/events.
Dallas also wrote the title short story for a new anthology, "The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories", which came out on Nov. 20.
This fall her previous book, "The Patchwork Bride", was a finalist for the Willa Literary Award from the Women Writing the West organization. (She also won the children’s fiction and nonfiction category with a book entitled Hardscrabble.)
In her recent newsletter, she recalled that “years ago, when I was starting out, I wrote a novel that I called a women’s Western. I was told there was no such thing. Today we have an entire organization devoted to it.”
For those seeking a coffee table book that combines beautiful imagery with heartwarming personal stories, there’s "Sheltering Generations: The American Barn", which was written and designed by members of the Certified Angus Beef brand team. It showcases ranchers from more than 20 states, as they celebrate their way of life, the bonds formed in rural communities and the importance of barns in the American landscape.
While each family featured in the book has their own special tale worth sharing and preserving, each also has at least one thing in common: they all have the CAB brand logo painted on their barns. In 2018, in a throwback to “old school” marketing, CAB painted 40 barns to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The purchase price of each book goes to benefit the new CAB Rural Relief Fund, which helps cattlemen recover from natural disasters. Buy the book directly from Certified Angus Beef through their on-line store for $19.95 each.
The Kansas Sampler Foundation, based at Inman, Kansas, which promotes rural tourism, recommends another unique book that combines photos with narrative.
There’s also an interesting story behind how "The American Grain Elevator: Function and Form", by Linda Laird, came about.
In 1992, the Kansas state legislature revised the tax code placing a tax on historic wooden elevators. As a result, many of the oldest wood frame elevators were torn down or burned. Laird and her husband, Larry Haney, were determined to photographically document each elevator in Kansas before the destruction was complete. With a grant from the James Marsden Fitch Charitable Trust, a New York foundation that provides mid-career grants to historic preservation projects, they traveled the Midwest, researching and photographing elevators in multiple states. This book is a product of that grant.
In 2003, they achieved their original goal of photographing all the elevators in Kansas and now have over 1,200 elevators photographed and documented in a searchable index.
Their paperback book includes over 150 illustrations sharing the story of how grain storage began and how elevators were invented. It includes sections on the materials used in Midwestern construction from the 1800s to today along with many historical photos and 90 full-color examples of various buildings. It’s $23 and available for purchase from Grain Elevator Press, based in Hutchinson, Kan/ (grainelevatorpress.com).
For more philosophical and possibly thought-provoking reading, the Animal Ag Alliance is promoting "What Would Jesus Really Eat? The Biblical Case for Eating Meat". (Free shipping and handling on all orders is available through December 31 by using the coupon code FreeShipping at the alliance website, AnimalAgAlliance.org.)
According to the alliance, the book is designed to give farmers, ranchers and others in the animal agriculture industry the information needed to have informed conversations about the complex topic of religion and meat consumption. The book, which is edited by Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Wes Jamison and Paul Copan, looks at what the Bible has to say about using and eating animals from several different perspectives and tackles increasingly controversial subjects such as Christian meat-eating, human exceptionalism and humanity’s dominion over other living creatures.
It comes with a recommendation by Greg Bloom, the former executive director of the Colorado Beef Council and a speaker, consultant and blogger for Meatingplace.
“I would encourage everyone to read this book regardless of their beliefs, since the book presents some very important arguments regarding the ethical use of animals for meat that don’t depend on faith,” Bloom said in his endorsement.