The New York Times
On the Farm, a Rat Race in Sheep’s Clothing
By PENELOPE GREEN
Published: November 1, 2007
SHANNON HAYES makes her own soap, composts her garbage and plans to home-school her unvaccinated daughters, who have grown huge and pink-cheeked on unpasteurized milk from the cow she milks herself. She eschews white sugar, white flour, television and plastic (though she has harvested the odd baby walker from a Dumpster).
She eats food that she has raised with her husband, Bob Hooper, and her parents here at Sap Bush Hollow Farm, where the livestock is grass-fed, or that her neighbors have grown, some of which she preserves for winter.
She dresses in used clothing, sits on secondhand furniture and lives in a solar-powered house made from (untreated) pine trees that grew here.
Ms. Hayes, 33, also writes cookbooks (in the predawn hours before her farmwork begins), agitates and advocates for local causes, lectures national organizations about sustainable cuisine and advises those closer to home, like the staff members of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
And though she is a third-generation farmer, Ms. Hayes is a newly minted paradigm, an exemplar of the pastoral, in a year the pastoral ideal cycled back into the zeitgeist with such force that hardly a month goes by without another urbanite declaring his intention to eat locally in order to save his family and the planet (and to write a pastoral memoir and secure a book deal).
Before you roll your eyes at Ms. Hayes’s now voguish alternative lifestyle, you should know that she has beaten you to it. In an essay last month for her blog at shannonhayes.info, she acknowledged that her lifestyle represents a new stereotype, and cautioned that it is one that is tucked into a very old type indeed: the supermom. It was widely circulated among Manhattan women who found its evocation of a woman striving for perfection and sliding over the precipice of that ideal all too familiar.
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