“Written with the evocative simplicity of our New England landscape, here is a classical American story with a Swedish flavor: How a Worcester family, proud of their Swedish origins, through skill and industry eventually came to realize their shared dream—a farm by a lake in the country. The spirit of those happy, lazy days—now too rare—when children could wander untended and lie on their backs in the hay watching the clouds glide by, is here recounted with dry humor and sympathy by the reigning patriarch. Here at Oakholm farming still continues as, all around, suburban tentacles approach. The ending is wistful. Why can't we try a little harder to restore those times of tranquil creativity for all children?”
—Peter Shaw Ashton
Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry Emeritus at Harvard University
former Director, Arnold Arboretum
2007 Recipient of the Japan Prize
“These engaging vignettes take us to the center of a loving family and their rural retreat on the shores of Lake Quaboag in Brookfield, Massachusetts. The Jeppsons' devotion to their land, the creatures on it, and to each other makes the reader a willing participant in these quiet adventures affectionately narrated by the paterfamilias.”
former Director, American Antiquarian Society
“Making Hay more than lives up to its name. Both playful and down to earth, a memoir about farming and feasting at Oakholm, the lakeside farm that challenged the agricultural ingenuity of two Swedish-American industrialists, father and son, while sustaining their ancestral spirits on soil that was no longer foreign. A good read. Helan går!”
President, The American–Scandinavian Society
Published in: 2008
Hard Cover • 224 pages
(In Stock Now)
Combining local history, family memoir and a naturalist's simple affection for place, John Jeppson recalls his family's efforts to adapt a well-loved property to changing times. Bought in 1925 and now hosting a fifth generation of the Jeppson family, Oakholm has been optimistically run as a commercial enterprise in Brookfield, Massachusetts during the better part of a century in which farming has virtually disappeared from the local landscape. John's father, George Jeppson, started with a well bred Guernsey herd and developed a lively equestrian stable. His son abandoned the dairy business and concentrated on hay, Christmas trees, forestry and berries. During the week, both George and John played key roles in a growing industrial empire. On weekends, Oakholm took charge.
In Making Hay, a ram–murderous with envy, a TB-infected dairy herd, two devastating hurricanes, a visit from Swedish royalty, a family of bald eagles, lakeside flooding and a growing American family refreshing its Swedish heritage make weekends and holidays at Oakholm a complex respite for industrialists George Jeppson and his son John, each of whom led a leading abrasives manufacturer through two very different eras.
Making Hay is filled with humor, insight and engaging tales. It looks back, but with a steadying eye on the future. Farms and families are sustained by tradition and change. In Making Hay, John Jeppson makes clear why.