The Gerbil Farmers Daughter: A Memoir
You also had to square your shoulders and lift your chin, the same way the sailors and Marines looked at Dad when they were saluting. My father was six feet tall, thin and muscular and handsome. The year we moved to Virginia, he was only thirty-five years old but already nearly bald, a fact that he claimed was due to us kids making such a racket that he couldn't even hear himself think, so how could we expect his poor hair to grow? At home, Dad liked to be our captain just as he was captain on his ship.
To prove his point, he sometimes made us eat "square meals" like he ate when he was at the Naval Academy. Also, before we left the dinner table, we were expected to say, "May we please be excused from the table, Daddy, sir? Mine has gerbils. One would jump on top of another and there would be a scramble, but that could as likely happen in a cage of young males vying for leadership as it could between a breeding pair in the mood for love. I just knew that the gerbils were making babies. Within a month, all but one of Dad's original pairs had a litter; within two months, they'd bred again and Dad was setting up cages for new pairs out of the first litters.
Telling the difference between male and female gerbils was easy, Dad said. One Saturday, while I was helping him fill water bottles, he held a pair of gerbils up by their tails to show me how the females had two touching buttons and the males had theirs separated with a bulge to either side.
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It didn't seem to matter which one you picked as a mate for any particular gerbil, either; any couple would happily make a nest together. What would make a Navy officer sitting on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea consider raising gerbils in his garage?
By late spring, when the shelves along the back wall of our garage were half filled with cages, it finally occurred to me to wonder. My father cared for his cars the way he cared for his ship: everything had to be spit-shined and tuned up and sparkling.
Unfortunately for his family, we were his only crew. You know, I can't find a thing about gerbils in the library. She was in the kitchen with her mother, Maybelle Keach, and she was not impressed. Mom was such an animal lover that we'd had pet mice, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, dogs, cats, and even lizards through the years. Yet she still couldn't find room in her heart for gerbils.
She was determined to make a go of being a wife and mother and threw herself into every domestic task with an overabundance of energy and intelligence. At the start of our lives in Virginia, she had gone on an antiquing kick, painting our furniture Colonial blue and then streaking it black. On the morning that I spelled out Dad's plans for writing a book about gerbils, hopping from one foot to the other in my excitement, Mom was engaged in a brand-new hobby: decoupage.
Each day, another piece of furniture in our house was graced with a magazine picture shellacked to its surface. See All Customer Reviews.
Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Soon the Annapolis-trained Navy commander was breeding gerbils and writing about them for publications ranging from the ever-bouncy Highlights for Children to the erudite Science News. To support his burgeoning business, the family eventually settled on a remote hundred-acre farm with horses, sheep, pygmy goats, peacocks—and nearly nine thousand gerbils.
She lives in northern Massachusetts with her husband and their five children. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Gerbil Farmer's Daughter 4. It's well written, well paced, and fascinating.
The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter
These parents are surrounded with, and busy with family life to be sure, but their primary focus is on their own pursuits and work, not on their kids' schedules or activities. A farm or an entrepreneurial endeavor where the work truly is never done! And, I might add, a blessing to grow up in such a family! A refreshing look at life before it became socially respectable, even expected, for moms and dads alike to organize their personal schedules, their social lives, and sometimes even their family budgets around their children's pursuits.
I guess someone had to, but I'd never thought much of "who" raises the gerbils which you find in labs and pet stores. And even if I did, I doubt I would think of the family of the farmer. The book gives some very interesting insights into this field of business, but jumps around a little too much with reminiscences from her childhood and teen years, with the result that many of these significant moments of her past seem ill-developed. But overall, the book is well written and her memories are enchanting and frequently humorous - I just wish there were more. The family is wonderfully quirky.
While the home certainly has problems, the author tells the story with an optimistic tone, her military father's rigid inflexibility and penny pinching ways, her mother's zest for life, and her brother's wild ways are told with humor and affection. I found myself laughing out loud as the author recounted the one family vacation, the brief attempt at raising African Pygmy goats, and cried at the loss of her young sister.
I highly recommend this book as a postive look at a family I define as qurky rather than dysfunctional. LorrieThomson More than 1 year ago Holly Robinson tells the tale of her exuberant family and their equally exuberant pets.
Read it now. What are you waiting for? It was raw, it was real and it was well written. I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. Robinson's work. Anonymous More than 1 year ago.
The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter - Robinson, Holly - Altstadt Buchhandlung Bülach GmbH
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