Feeling Goaty

The back to the land movement – when city folks packed up and moved to rural places to try out their country legs – enjoyed its heyday in the 1960s and 70s. Margaret Hathaway’s new book, The Year of the Goat, tells the story of two sincere “back to the landers” born slightly out of time.

The book follows the 40,000 miles Hathaway and her (now husband) Karl Schatz took in search for the perfect goat cheese. Okay, maybe they were actually searching for a little bit more than cheese.

Hathaway was a freelance writer who managed Magnolia – a bakery in New York that has a reputation (and line out the door) for butter cream-frosted cup cakes. Schatz was a photo editor for Time Magazine. Together they shopped at the green markets, lived in their Brooklyn apartment, and generally enjoyed city life. But they wanted something more than the five boroughs could offer, and set off on a year-long journey to discover if working with goats would dominate their next chapter of their lives.

Along the way, Hathaway and Schatz meet what the website calls, a “vivid cast of characters-including farmers, breeders, cheese makers, and world-class chefs,” including a Texas-born Muslim living in Maine and helping the local Somali community in Lewiston acquire fitting goats for their religious festivals, and a Messianic Jew who keeps Shabbat as well as a herd of goats.

Delightfully, Hathaway’s honest, whimsical prose and Schatz’s photography make The Year of the Goat just as captivating as the couple’s story. Although their tale is nothing new (many people before them have found themselves drawn to the land, or simply yearning for a new story), it’s told with such earnest passion and curiosity, that it’s impossible not to root for these two as they wind their way around the country.

Find out more about The Year of the Goat at www.yearofthegoat.net. And if you’re in New York on November 8th, be sure to check out the Goatstravaganza – a celebration of finding one’s dream and, of course, all things goaty.

–Leah Koenig

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