Book review: 'Its Head Came Off by Accident' a lumbering ranch-life memoir

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 5:31 p.m. MDT

"ITS HEAD CAME OFF BY ACCIDENT," by Muffy Mead-Ferro, TwoDot, $14.95, 170 pages (nf)

Despite its intriguing title, “Its Head Came off by Accident” is only a mildly entertaining read.

Author Muffy Mead-Ferro was raised in the wilds of Wyoming. Her daily life included face to face amblings with Hereford cattle that were raised on the family ranch. But while immersed in the day-to-day workings of animals and land, she always felt a little bit out of place, especially when she compared herself to her mother, Mary, a proficient but stony feature of the ranch.

As an adult, Mead-Ferro traded the saddle and tractor for big city dreams. She kept her toe in the family business by purchasing an old pig farm on the border of Wyoming and Idaho but only spent time there during the summer months.

Planted with her husband and two children in Salt Lake City, Mead-Ferro unexpectedly receives a package in the mail that changes her life. Startled to find the clothes her mother was wearing when killed during a cattle drive inside the box, Mead-Ferro is suddenly compelled not to give up on ranching but stretch into her roots and continue that legacy.

The book sketches moments pulled from Mead-Ferro’s youth on the ranch as well as tidbits from her adult attempts at continuing that way of life. Revealing childhood adventures in forgotten junk sheds, encounters with heroic cowboys and the life and death of precious livestock during her learning experiences and occasional blunders fill the pages with unique flashes of farm living.

This inside look at ranch life in rural Wyoming had potential, but sadly, the project fell flat. Although some of the anecdotal glimpses into life on a cattle ranch are amusing, Mead-Ferro fails to connect readers with her story in any tangible way.

The book feels like a yawning evening sitting around swapping farm stories with acquaintances. While the tales are occasionally intriguing, there is a depth missing that leaves the account feeling tepid.

There are quirky characters and comical moments, but overall the book is tedious and lackluster. There is a lot of dry information to sift through in order to find the entertaining fragments.

If you go ...

What: Muffy Mead-Ferro book signing

When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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