The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell – Review

I have it. That dream, the dream about moving from the smoggy, crowded, stressful big city to the peaceful, clean, rural farm. I have that dream. Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his husband Dr. Brent Ridge, had the dream. My dream involves horses and dogs, while theirs involves chickens and goats. Okay, maybe I’ll take chickens and goats too. On my imaginary farm, that is.

Unlike me, Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge went for it. The Bucolic Plague (hysterical title! It’s what drew me to the book in the first place) is the sweet, fun, heartfelt and somewhat untrue story of a couple of well-off gay men who decide they want a slice of quaint American pie, while keeping their Manhattan digs.

Together they impulsively buy a million dollar, run-down farm for a lowball price, hire gay Farmer John, and hang out with gay inn keepers. There is more gay-per-square-foot in small town Sharon Springs, NY than in many mid-sized US cities, and it wasn’t too long into The Bucolic Plague that I started to search out Sharon Springs on the Internet. Typical stuff, like the cost of moving and the current real estate market.

Then I remembered the US election results, and just closed that browser tab down.

Funnily enough, the sheer absurdity of owning a farm felt just as comfortable and wildly unpredictable as my drag gigs in nightclubs. I was excited again for the first time in several years. I had so many new dance steps to learn, so many new costumes to try on. ~ Josh Kilmer-Purcell

The pair purchased the Beekman 1802 Farm (manor, farm, crypt and land) in Sharon Springs in 2007. And with Kilmer-Purcell’s advertising expertise and Ridge’s MBA and a series of unfortunate events, the Beekman 1802 brand is born and thrives as well as their now 125+ herd of goats.

The duo start raising goats when Kilmer-Purcell surprises Ridge with a small herd of the little bundles of energy and poop. One December, before Ridge is downsized, they make Martha Stewart (for whom Dr. Brent worked) some goat milk soap which leads to a TV spot, for the baby goats, that is. Cue the extra energy and the extra poop, handled somewhat expertly with the use of baby wipes. At least the goats smelled nice. Both lost their jobs within one month of each other in 2008 and decided it was time to turn start turning a profit on the farm by turning goatmilk soap into a lifestyle brand.

While Martha’s skins fell off her tomatoes like a silk slip off a supermodel, our skins got caught in the deep folds and stuck stubbornly. It was like trying to peel leather pants off of a sweaty, hairy, fat guy. ~ Josh Kilmer-Purcell

I may never buy an upstate (upprovince?) farm with a doctor turned MBA partner, and I certainly won’t do it with Martha Stewart’s blessing… in fact I will probably never do any such thing, but vicariously I can live through Josh and Brent, the Beekman Boys, while they succeed. And I can laugh along the way.

Cover of the book The Bucolic Plague
Cover of the book The Bucolic Plague

1 Comment

  1. Kind of Like Katherine Friend’s “Hit By a Farm?” only she has sheep. And beautiful wool.

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