Bellwether Farm held the first Intergenerational Book Club to bring all ages together over great literature on August 12. The first book the book club read was All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, a delightful classic about a first-time veterinarian in rural Yorkshire. These stories are excellent to read on your own, with your family, or listen to on audiobook. The first book club meeting also included a conversation with the veterinarian who treats our Bellwether animals.
40 years ago, during a break from theological school, I spent a year farming sheep in the hills of south-central Pennsylvania. With my uncle, I cared for some 250 ewes and their lambs.
Lambing season began in the late winter and was exhausting work. I would often be in the sheepfold delivering lambs at all hours of the day and night, regularly birthing twins and triplets. In the evening, I would come in from the barn to have dinner and put my feet up for a short while. And every evening, before heading out to check the sheep, I would listen to Dick Estell, host of The Radio Reader, read a book on his half-hour radio show, originating at Michigan State University and broadcast to me over the National Public Radio station from Hershey. To my great fortune, that winter of 1979 Dick Estell read James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, the first of an autobiographical trilogy about his 50-year career as a veterinary surgeon in the Yorkshire Dales of England. Over the crackling radio speaker, I was graced by his beautiful writing and inspiring tales of the virtues and blessings of rural farm life.
Ever since I was a young adult, I have loved James Herriot’s books. I invite you to join me and Canon Anna Sutterisch in reading the volume that got me started, All Creatures Great and Small, in the Bellwether Book Club for Youth and Young Adults. At the end of July, we will gather virtually to share our favorite learnings. If you want, you can enjoy it the way I first did and have it read to you! It is widely available in audio copy from your public library.
However you experience All Creatures Great and Small, I am confident that you will be very glad you did. I look forward to your reading companionship.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio