Single, 30-something, and 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 500 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 AM, 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.
©2010 Kristin Kimball (P)2011 Tantor
"Kimball has a gift for throwing into high relief contemporary Americans' disconnect between farm-life realities and city ambitions." (Booklist)
City girl farms.
No, never. She is one of these precise, very accurate readers who is careful to enunciate every single vowel and consonant. No one talks like that! She also seems to have a snippy disdain for the very content she is relating. I really would have loved to have heard the author tell this story herself.
The narrator's voice was like nails on a chalkboard. I could not focus on the actual story because of certain words. I guess if you find the narration bad the whole thing is bad because from what I actually got to understand this was not a good story at all from the hour of it that I listened to. I wish I could get my credit back.
I love sustainability, food, ferns, and architecture.
I loved how descriptive this story was. It was also very real, it wasn't sensationalized or exaggerated. I could place myself in the seasons of the story, and I found myself longing for a farm of my own.
I was quite disappointed within the first 20 minutes of the reading to discover that this was more about a woman's fantasy of a "real man" and what he could do for her than it was about farming or a non-sexual transition from city to country life. Would not recommend at all.
What book has taken roots in your life?
This book is as infectious as "Lab girl" and "Into thin air". It is truly a delightful life filled with wonders!
I was so looking forward to a story about farming and personal transformation. It's, instead, a poorly edited, overly written book about a character who hasn't written why we should care about her. I love "moving to the farm" books and love personal transformation books. The author uses too many analogies, metaphors, adjectives and adverbs to describe the setting, leaving you disliking the narrator and author. I enjoyed the times she described the hard work, her experiences with the animals, and attempts to be a commercial enterprise. Her editor should have done a better job. At times, I didn't feel that the narrator's reading matched the mood of the book and all the descriptions sound worse when read aloud.
Kristen Kimball tells her life story from city girl to a farmer through honest and relatable anecdotes. I enjoyed her stories filled with captivating details and emotions as well as a few factoids about farming that I never would have known.
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