Those who watch Peter and The Farm expecting to see the inspiring tale of a patient, caring, and kind organic farmer will discover that they are at the wrong movie. This documentary charts a year in the life of Vermont farmer Peter Dunning who at 68 has spent nearly half of his life running Springfield's Mile Hill Farm; he's a cynical and sad old man.
Having grown up as an orphan, he became a Marine; he recalls a time in Waikiki when he and a rowdy band of soldiers recreated a song from West Side Story with him as the director and choreographer. Dunning's creativity came alive in the 1960s when he was a painter before he got caught up in the back-to-the-land trek of counterculture questers. His critical and self-centered behavior drove his wife and two children away from him and farm life.
Dunning's alcoholism surfaces one night when he drinks too much and must be carted home in his pickup truck. He wakes up in a bad mood and spews his anger on the fellow who volunteered to drive him home. Additional doses of rage are directed against the killing sprees of coyotes in the area.
Tony Stone directs this unusual documentary and succeeds in conveying this lonely man's vulnerability and regrets. Despite Dunning's curmudgeonly character, he shows how staying in sync with the routine chores of taking care of animals is a necessity in his daily life. His sheepdog companion overlooks his flaws and is grateful to be in his presence.