Join staff for a book discussion of Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha. Books are available for checkout near the Service Desk.
About the Author
Jennifer's work has appeared in many literary journals and magazines including The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Lumina, PANK, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and others. Her memoir, Flat Broke with Two Goats, was published by Sourcebooks in January, 2018.
About the Book
Jennifer McGaha never expected to own a goat named Merle. Or to be setting Merle up on dates and naming his doeling Merlene. She didn't expect to be buying organic yogurt for her chickens. She never thought she would be pulling camouflage carpet off her ceiling or rescuing opossums from her barn and calling it "date night." Most importantly, Jennifer never thought she would only have $4.57 in her bank account.
When Jennifer discovered that she and her husband owed back taxes—a lot of back taxes—her world changed. Now desperate to save money, they foreclosed on their beloved suburban home and moved their family to a one-hundred-year-old cabin in a North Carolina holler. Soon enough, Jennifer's life began to more closely resemble her Appalachian ancestors than her upper-middle-class upbringing. But what started as a last-ditch effort to settle debts became a journey that revealed both the joys and challenges of living close to the land.
Told with bold wit, unflinching honesty, and a firm foot in the traditions of Appalachia, Flat Broke with Two Goats blends stories of homesteading with the journey of two people rediscovering the true meaning of home.
Book Discussion Questions
1. Imagine you are with Jennifer and David when they see the cabin for the first time. What would your initial reaction be? What are the pros of living there? What are the cons?
2. Describe how Jennifer and David's relationship changed after discovering their financial situation. How did they recover? How did their relationship grow over the course of the book?
3. Why do you think Jennifer decided to take a teaching job out of state? What did that time away from the cabin and her husband teach her?
4. Jennifer feels a deep connection to her Appalachian roots and her ancestors who also lived off the land. How does that influence impact her daily life, even after her grandmother dies?
5. Being an educator while also living in the cabin, Jennifer sees the merits of both a formal education and a cultural education, where information is passed down from one generation to the next. How does she benefit from both of these? How do you benefit from both in your own life?
6. Why do you think David adjusts so much more easily to life at the cabin then Jennifer?
7. Imagine you and a spouse, family member, or friend must make this move. Who do you think would have a better time adjusting? What challenges would the two of you face?
8. Throughout Flat Broke with Two Goats, cooking seems to be an outlet to help Jennifer process her family's new situation. What sort of influence does cooking or food have in your own life? Your family's life? What recipe from the book are you most eager to try?
9. Why do you think Jennifer and David decide to get goats even though neither of them have any prior experience raising farm animals? How did this decision change their marriage?
10. How doe Jennifer come to terms with her own mistakes through-out the book? Do you think acknowledging these hard truths changed her character?
11. After reading about Jennifer's goat antics, what do you think would be the best part of goat raising? What part would be the most difficult for you?
12. Jennifer finds that eating food she has grown or raised herself is a more rewarding experience. Have you ever felt this way? Describe a time that you have used something that you have either raised or created with your own two hands. What was that like?
13. From dealing with mice, snakes, and even the stray possum, Jennifer realizes that the uninvited wildlife is unavoidable when you're living close to the land. If you were in Jennifer's shoes, how would you react to these unwanted houseguest? Is there an animal that you would be unable to deal with?
14. Jennifer and David name all of their animals, including their chickens. How does this reflect on the relationship they have with their animals? How would you define the difference between farm animals and pets?
15. After reading Flat Broke with Two Goats, what do you think would be the most appealing aspect of living off the land? What would be the most unappealing?
16. Overall, do you think moving to the cabin was a good move for Jennifer and her family? Why or why not?
Discussion questions were found at the end of the book Flat Broke with Two Goats.