“Never Kiss A Goat on the Lips: The Adventures of
A Suburban Homesteader” is a memoir published in 1981 about a husband-wife duo who left the hustle and bustle of city life to move into D.C. suburbia and raise goats and start a garden.
Both Vic and his wife Rachel grew up in traditional households where men didn’t cook and women didn’t use power tools, but they didn’t feel fulfilled by their jobs (his as a radio DJ, hers as a teacher), and they were frustrated by conflicting schedules that left them only a few hours together each day.
So they packed up and moved to the suburbs, which at that point were still semi-rural outside of Washington, D.C. Vic spends most of the book talking about his goats and garden, which is especially interesting when he dives into the planning and planting stages. As a wishful gardener with a big old black thumb, I like to live vicariously through others.
As it continues, “Never Kiss A Goat” dives into other parenting and lifestyle issues — the Sussmans don’t have television, and they follow a vegetarian diet and heat their home with a wood stove rather than oil or electric heat.A lot of the family’s experiments in “homesteading,” which is described as a back-to-the-land movement, seem to be done with the intention of decreasing their reliance on big business. They grow their own food, chop the wood to heat their home, and entertain one another through drawing, playing and reading.
Because the book is written about events in the 1970s, it’s interesting to compare Sussman’s homesteading movements to the ones we see today. The book, overall, reminded me of Joel Salatin’s “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” — mostly for its coverage of family issues along with food, gardening and raising livestock.
Overall, if you’re interested in gardening — or grew up in the 1970s — I think the book would be a good read for you. I definitely enjoyed it… and that’s even in spite of the wacky title.