The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
"This book is the story of the two love affairs that interrupted the trajectory of my life: one with farming—that dirty, concupiscent art—and the other with a complicated and exasperating farmer."
Single, thirtysomething, working as a writer in New York City, Kristin Kimball was living life as an adventure. But she was beginning to feel a sense of longing for a family and for home. When she interviewed a dynamic young farmer, her world changed. Kristin knew nothing about growing vegetables, let alone raising pigs and cattle and driving horses. But on an impulse, smitten, if not yet in love, she shed her city self and moved to five hundred acres near Lake Champlain to start a new farm with him. The Dirty Life is the captivating chronicle of their first year on Essex Farm, from the cold North Country winter through the following harvest season—complete with their wedding in the loft of the barn.
Kimball and her husband had a plan: to grow everything needed to feed a community. It was an ambitious idea, a bit romantic, and it worked. Every Friday evening, all year round, a hundred people travel to Essex Farm to pick up their weekly share of the "whole diet"—beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, maple syrup, grains, flours, dried beans, herbs, fruits, and forty different vegetables—produced by the farm. The work is done by draft horses instead of tractors, and the fertility comes from compost. Kimball’s vivid descriptions of landscape, food, cooking—and marriage—are irresistible.
"As much as you transform the land by farming," she writes, "farming transforms you." In her old life, Kimball would stay out until four a.m., wear heels, and carry a handbag. Now she wakes up at four, wears Carhartts, and carries a pocket knife. At Essex Farm, she discovers the wrenching pleasures of physical work, learns that good food is at the center of a good life, falls deeply in love, and finally finds the engagement and commitment she craved in the form of a man, a small town, and a beautiful piece of land
The Dirty Life is a compelling, unsentimental read
By yeqotz - October 14, 2010
Although I am generally no fan of the memoir, I was deeply moved by The Dirty Life. Author Kristin Kimball first dissects her decision to give up a freelance writing career and a rent-controlled NYC apartment to start a sustainable agricultural venture with her then-fiance in upstate New York. She then smartly breaks the rest of the book up by season, going into just enough detail about the daily operations of the farm and the crises that crop up to draw the reader in and keep him or her invested in the outcome of this sometimes overwhelming undertaking.
Kimball's voice is refreshingly unsentimental, and even in her darkest hour of the soul, she never resorts to whining. She has her doubts, to be sure, which make for an authentic, compelling read. I recommend this memoir to anyone looking for a well-written story not just about building a farm from the ground up, but also about handling the unexpected turns life sometimes takes.
This book is truly a love story between man & woman, between farmers, between community & the farm!
By Laura Smith - October 12, 2010
This book grabs your soul. You don't want to put it down until you've consumed every last morsel. It is truly a love story! A story about the love between a man & a woman, love between farmers & love between a community & a farm. It is a story about a man who so believed in a dream that he made it materialize in spite of being surrounded by skeptics & about a woman who lost her heart to a man and to the land. This is a powerful book that is destined to be an award winning movie. A man, a woman & a community come together to make a dream a reality. It proves that life is about so much more than money. Money can not buy what the Kimballs have built!
A must for non-farmers
By gem - October 20, 2010
While at first glance it seems this memoir is for those who know farm life, it holds more for those who don't. Kristin Kimball beautifully describes the rawness and romanticism of working hard with someone you love to achieve a dream. It renews your faith in a younger generation that values the way farms used to be - family owned and community supported, both frustrating and fantastic, and eternally dirty. Kimball's descriptive phrasing will make you long to sip straight from the sap bucket again.
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