Friday, October 14, 2011

Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman: Blog Tour and Giveaway!


Today I'm delighted to be part of a blog tour for a new book, Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman, that I absolutely adore. I've known of Julia's illustration work for years (she worked with us at ReadyMade) and I love the subject matter of this book, so in my mind that makes for a perfect combination. If you, like me, are interested in sustainable living and knowing where your food comes from—and yet haven't really spent much time on farms or around folks who really know farms—this book will make you happy. I'm pretty sure it would also make kids happy too.

You can WIN A FREE copy!

How to Enter:
To celebrate the release of the book, Storey Publishing is kindly offering to giveaway a copy of the book to one lucky reader. To enter, post a comment by 8 am central time Monday October 17 saying why you love farms. Or animals. Or tractors. Please use your email address to register so that I can contact you. 

I'll choose a random winner and will announce it on Monday.

And now, Julia was kind enough to do a little Q&A so that we could learn more about the making of the book. 

Where did the idea for the book come from?
My husband Matt grew up on a farm in Iowa and I grew up in the Bronx in New York. I never experienced farm life and so I've always been intrigued by his childhood. I had already worked with Storey publishing on illustrating some cookbooks and when they approached me to work together again, we came up with the idea of making an illustrated book all about everything farm related. I was excited to get a chance to really learn all about the tools, animals and food my husband grew up with and to have his family farm be the inspiration. The first illustrated spread shows his farm and all the buildings on it. I also grew up looking at the book Living on the Earth which my mother treasured. My idea for hand writing the text definitely came from appreciating those pages. 

What was your favorite part of putting it together?
 Definitely the drawing part. I love drawing lots of objects so doing the old-fashioned kitchen tools spread, the toolshed spread and all of the vegetable varieties was so much fun. There are 224 pages of drawings in this book, so while I was working on it, there wasn't a moment I wasn't drawing. I carried my sketchbook and research images everywhere I went and drew while watching television, in subway stations and airports, or while hanging out with friends. I remember I drew the barn cuploas page when I was at jury duty because some guy started asking me about it. It was probably the least inspirational place to be drawing something from picturesque farm life...

Was the topic something that you've been interested in for a while?
Before I met Matt, I don't think I really thought about it too much. My parents have friends who have a sheep farm in Maine and we visited them a bunch of times when I was a kid. I've always loved animals and my sister did as well. We grew up with all kinds of pets – from rabbits to parrots. My sister now studies primates in Uganda. 

How did you do your research?
Most of my research came from other Storey publications. They have a huge range of books on every topic related to country living that you can think of. There are thick books just on timber frame construction and building chicken coops and raising goats and making maple syrup. It was hard to go through so much information and just pick out what I felt was important. While I merely skimmed the surface on all the topics, I tried to get a bit of general information on everything. Then I added some of the more curious tidbits in between. There was also visits to Matt's farm and advice from Matt's dad ("and you'll need to add water pumping windmills for sure...") and farmer's market shopping for the best looking vegetables to draw. After the book was totally sketched out, Storey had expert Carol Ekarius look everything over. She filled in some blanks for me and corrected anything that was out of order.

What do you hope readers learn or experience from the book?
I hope when they flip through it that it brings to mind the smell of animals or eating fresh apples or laying in hay or riding past endless fields. I want the book to evoke good memories of farm life. I also hope people learn something interesting from reading the text or try some of the recipes or projects.

How much time have you actually spent on farms? Just had to ask!
Not enough, that's for sure! I hope to continue learning and drawing about country life.

What's next for you?
I hope to do more big projects like this book. Some sort of sequel would be fun : )

Thanks so much for sharing with us Julia. Here's the full blog tour schedule so that you can follow along for more chances to win books and to hear more about the project:

10/10 – MintDesign
10/12– Growing with Plants
10/14 – Things we Make
10/15 – Print and Pattern
10/17 – Small Measure
10/19 – SF Girl by the Bay
10/21 – Pikaland
10/23 – The Spunky Coconut
10/24- Pitch Design Union
10/25 – Reading my Tea Leaves
10/27 – Book By Its Cover
10/28– Design for Mankind


  1. Ooh I'm also already a fan of Julia's work, and this book looks right up my alley! I haven't spent enough time on farms, but I'm hoping to remedy that in short order. I guess my favorite thing about a farm is just the concept of self-sufficiency, of having on your land what you need to survive and eating food you raised and grew yourself.

  2. Such a gorgeous book! I have recently moved to France and feel very lucky for living ten minutes away from a gorgeous farm. I try and buy most of my produce from there and can't wait to go apple picking later this week. Cooking fresh from the farm is a dream come true.

  3. As much as I love city life, I love escaping it too! And there's no better place to do so than a farm.

  4. I love farms, because I actually live on a farm! My neighbors are a bunch of cows & believe or not, llamas. I grew up in the city, and work in the city, but living in the country side is so peaceful to me.

  5. I love farms because my aunt and uncle have a small goat farm on the top of a bluff in Wisconsin. We go there every Memorial Day and Labor Day to sit around the fire pit, cook food communally, pick stuff out of their garden, ride horses, and pet the goats. In my heart, that farm is home.

    I'm excited about this book! Thanks, Amy, for featuring it.

  6. I love farms because my grandad grew up on one. And cheese is made on farms. And there's nothing better in this whole wide world than cheese!

  7. I love farms because they remind me of my last visit to my sister in Idaho, and of her dreams of having one day a farm of her own.

  8. I love farms because every year my Mom would take my younger siblings and I to pick apples and pumpkins. We would always carve the pumpkins and roast the seeds! Fresh roasted seeds are the best! I still love going to the farm and now I bake fresh pies or crisps after... which is also delicious!

  9. We love that there is always something new to be explored on farms. Crazy old machinery (or the old machinery bits we keep digging up in our garden), animals wild and domestic, and it all changes again and again as the year passes.
    We've been living in farm country (in Iowa) for a little under a year now, and have fallen hard in love with farms.

  10. My husband & I are chefs & we spend most of our time thinking about & selecting the best produce from our local farms. Our 1yr old son Jasper would love this book!!

  11. Hello, thanks for the interview. I think this illustrated book is a great idea to learn about life on the farm. I love farms and the countryside because I've always lived in cities so they take me away from the fast-paced lifestyle I'm used to and remind me of all the glories of "slow living".

    liberalsprinkles at gmail dot com

  12. I love my CSA farm because it's local and organic and the food is out of this world. I love that nature forces us to slow down and pay attention.

  13. Oooh! Love Julia's work and it looks like an amazing book. I love farms because to me farms = Iowa and I love Iowa. Iowa is where I went to college and launched my career. I wouldn't be where I am today without Iowa.

  14. OooH! my husband is an organic veggie farm manager so we get the most wonderful seasonal produce but best of all is our 4 year old who loves to proudly tell everyone daddy drives a tractor!

  15. What a lovely book - I'm a big fan of Julia's art. I grew up on a farm. I loved it. I miss it.

  16. I love farms for more reasons than I can count! animals too. mostly for local farmers for providing us with such delicious food to eat each day.

  17. This book is a great idea and I love when drawings are explanatory. And I love farms and animals because they're hands on and interactive. Cheers!

  18. I love farms for everything they do to provide food for our nation. To me it is a good day if I spent more time DOING vs WATCHING. I love farmers because they are doers and don't have time to sit around watching the world go by.

  19. I grew up on a farm in southern Indiana. The first time I drove a tractor was to pick up a field of baled hay with my Daddy and uncles. I was 13 yo and the tractor was a 1937 Farmall with steel lugs on the wheels and a crank start. It was a huge adventure for me!