The last collection, we're told, of Perrin's ""gentleman farmer"" essays about delving and span-ing in Vermont--with a higher proportion of old to new stuff than its predecessors, but the same mix of capricious appreciations and mild preachifying. Perrin clocks the lockings and unlockings of two of Vermont's six seasons, and on through the year--noting both natural occurrences and human occupations: from April sugaring through the fairs of August to a New Year's Eve when the partygoers pulled on coats to sense the ""total silence"" of the snow. There's considerable about the Perrin animals: a philandering bull calf; a wily porcupine and its victims (with a new recipe for drawing out the hollow quills--pour vinegar down and they'll go soft). Also, described in loving and wondering detail: the birth of a calf. Perrin naturally does some barnstorming for solid causes--sometimes totting facts and figures, sometimes not. In a bull-narrated plea, he comes down hard on the feedlot systems that produce malformed, often diseased creatures. He warns against aiming for the ""perfect"" farm or animal. He pleads, as before, for a fair tax assessment program to allow farmers to keep their farms. And he concludes with an impassioned, 1960s anti-nuke essay--warning the solitary, impotent protestor: ""At the last minute we secretly feel, some god will step out and rescue those of us who protested."" On less serious notes: the class distinctions in the ski/snowmobile controversy; the vigor of wild flowers; the taste of the humble potato. An enjoyable crop, but thinning out.