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The Dirty Life on Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

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Teresa's Reading Corner: The Dirty Life on Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Dirty Life on Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

Synopsis from Goodreads:  "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.

My thoughts:  I saw an introduction to this book on one of the blogs that I read (I think it was the Tattered Cover) and was immediately intrigued.  Then later that morning I was lurking on twitter and came across a tweet by the publisher and was even more intrigued.   I wouldn't go so far to say that I'm a city girl, but I can definitely say that I'm not a farm girl.  The closest I've come to actually growing something is the accidental pumpkin patch we ended up with after pumpkin guts were put in the compost pile.  (ask me if you want to know more)

Recently the idea of growing my own food has become more and more appealing.  As I read about others doing it and the satisfaction they get from their gardens I am more and more interested.  I loved their idea that they wanted to produce everything to feed their community.  They had some animals and a variety of crops.  This wasn't your typical farm.  They did as much of the work as they could using horses and old fashioned farm equipment.  They also utilized everything they produced to the greatest extent possible.

I immediately liked Kimball's voice.  She was very no nonsense about her desire to learn more about farming and about her romance.  Farming is difficult work and a difficult life.  I commend her for choosing to live her life the way that she wanted to.  In no way am I ready to take on life on the farm, but I think I just might plant a small garden next spring.  I think it would be good for me and for the little monkey.  Not only because we'll know where our dinner is coming from but so that we have a little bit of an understanding of the important role that the farmer plays in our life.

This was a fantastic book that I highly recommend.  I went on a bit of a memoir kick for awhile and this one is the best of the bunch.  I'll be passing this one around for some time to come.  I can't tell you how many times I've discussed it and suggested it already.

I received a copy of The Dirty Life from the publisher.  This is my honest opinion of the book.

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At December 20, 2010 at 8:09 PM , Blogger Reading Allowed said...

Sounds really interesting! I added this to my TBR list, thanks for the review

At December 20, 2010 at 8:32 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

I will have to check this out. My father grew up on a farm and always had a garden throughout his college years and beyond. In the crazy days of today, this seems like a great book to provide an escape to a simpler way of life.

At December 20, 2010 at 9:19 PM , Blogger Amused said...

I love memoirs like this so I will definitely have to check this out! And i know my mom will want to borrow it ;)

At December 21, 2010 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Emilie said...

Just found your blog from kendi everyday and just what I need! Am an avid reader and been looking for a good one for a while now.
Will go through your list and hopefully will have one in my hand by the end of the week! Thanks!


At December 21, 2010 at 1:44 PM , Blogger Bailey said...

I've seen this on a couple of other blogs. It looks like a good read! Plus, I really enjoy memoirs, too. Thanks for the review!

At December 23, 2010 at 8:55 AM , Blogger TheBookGirl said...

I don't read alot of memoirs, but the subject of this one is very interesting to me...many times I thought I would like to chuck it all and go live on a farm, would love to read about what that is really like!

thanks :)

At December 29, 2010 at 7:07 PM , Blogger Peppermint Ph.D. said...

This sounds great!! I'm putting it on my list!! Thanks for the great review!

At January 7, 2011 at 4:19 PM , Blogger Kim said...

I happen to enjoy memoirs if they contain some wit -- does it? I grew up on a small ranch in MT, so I will defiinitely look into this. Thanks!

At January 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM , Blogger Teresa said...

Kim, I thought it was quite humorous.

At January 22, 2011 at 8:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopping by from the Hop! I have a nonfiction blog and I will absolutely have to add this to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!!!


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