by Julia Rothman

Introducing: Farm Anatomy!!

(Regular posting will resume again. My assistant editor Leah Goren is returning to get me on track!)

I’m so happy today to be sharing a big project I’ve been working on for the past year. It’s a book I wrote and illustrated called Farm Anatomy. It’s 224 pages of paintings, mostly diagrams and charts, with some writing about all the parts of a farm. For example, there are illustrations that show the parts of a pig, kinds of tractors, varieties of barns, all the different squash, bugs that are good and bad for your garden, and a chart of all the tools you can find on a farm. There’s also recipes, a few craft projects and lots of how-tos (how to make cheese, split wood, cut up a chicken, make a rag rug, can tomatoes…). It comes out October 1st from Storey Publishing.

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My husband Matt grew up on a farm in the tiny town of Tabor, Iowa where they raised chickens and goats and Angora rabbits. They had a plot of land they rented to another farmer who alternated growing corn and soybean. What was grown in the garden and small orchard was harvested, canned and stored in their root cellar. They have a huge barn and a corn crib and a bunch of unused buildings filled with rusty equipment. It’s about as picturesque as you can get. His father still lives there today. I’ve visited a large handful of times and each time I go I feel like I’m in another world, totally out of my element. I grew up in New York City and only left for college before coming back to reside in Brooklyn. Deciding to work on this book came out of the desire to better understand this unfamiliar world. I’m intrigued and excited by so many things that are just regular to Matt, like wind mills that pump water, the patterns of the contour plowing, or even just eating fresh eggs.

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My research was done mostly from other Storey books. They have an amazing collection of titles about everything you can think of about country living. I made an outline about what I wanted to include in the book and as I kept reading, it got longer and longer. Once I learned what a combine did, I wanted to see how the inside worked. When I saw how many colorful varieties of carrots there are, it made me want to also draw the varieties of peppers and squash and beans. Storey was completely open in letting me develop everything I wanted to include and were happy to fill in the blanks when I needed more information. They were amazingly knowledgeable and so helpful in gearing me in other directions I wouldn’t have thought of. Everything was looked over by an expert to make sure I had gotten it right which eased my nerves about not being an expert myself.

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The book took a little less than a year to complete. I’ll share more of the process of making the artwork and the cover and doing all of the handwritten text (whew!) another time. It was quite a process and I had a lot of help from Leah Goren (who was supposed to be my assistant for this blog but quickly changed into my painting helper).

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And while this book only skims the surface, I’m happy to say there’s a lot of information packed inside. I learned so much from this project and am so proud of the results. While I’ve authored and illustrated books before, this book is different because it’s all me. It feels very personal even though it’s about a lifestyle I am still learning about. Thanks so much for taking a look and I hope you like it! It comes out October 1st but you can pre-order it on Amazon or Indiebound. More soon! xo

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