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The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love | [Kristin Kimball]

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"Kimball has a gift for throwing into high relief contemporary Americans' disconnect between farm-life realities and city ambitions." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (264 )
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4.2 (231 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tiffany adams center, NY, United States 05-07-12
    Tiffany adams center, NY, United States 05-07-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Could NOT get into it."

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brooksiesgal 04-20-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Accurate but missing the ups to balance the downs"

    She did a very good job of accurately portraying starting a new farming venture - at least from my own experience. What I did not like was that in spite of her regular professed love for the work and experience, much of the book felt negative - not the events themselves but her experiences of them. Having had many of the same experiences I would have liked to hear more of the uplifting, enlivening, purposeful, and inspiring experiences that cause her to love what she does.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Etcher Cape Cod, MA, United States 04-18-12
    Etcher Cape Cod, MA, United States 04-18-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Couldn't turn off my IPOD once I started listening"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Dirty Life to be better than the print version?

    I loved listening to Tavia Gilbert's voice tell the story as much as the story was good to hear in itself! I even loved hearing the "yummy" sounds as she described the food that was grown and how it was prepared.


    What did you like best about this story?

    For me, the best part of the story was how a complete city girl threw her "familiar" to the wind in order to have a simpler life. Not that a simple life is necessarily easy, it's just nice to know that a simple life is still obtainable in this day and age. I envied the main character for her story.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was moved the most at the end of the story when the draft horse, Silver, died. I could picture my parents farm that I grew up on, as I listened to the story, and our own horses with all of the adventures with them and I remembered how attached to them we were...and how heartbreaking it was for them to pass away after the years of companionship and hard work that they had given to us.


    Any additional comments?

    Any city person that longs for a self providing life of simplicity and hard work or even, someone like me, that grew up in an agricultural environment, would love this book!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Calgary, AB, Canada 04-10-12
    Lisa Calgary, AB, Canada 04-10-12
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    "Fascinating"

    I loved this combination of memoir, advocacy for local food, and treatise on farming. Kimball seamlessly wove together food, relationships, farming, hardships, and life story to create something well worth listening to. I found myself longing to head for a farm and grow all my own food. I cringed along with her at the experiences of slaughtering her first animals, and wondered what it would be like to eat only the things which I'd grown and raised myself. Definitely worth the listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn buckingham, PA, United States 04-03-12
    Lynn buckingham, PA, United States 04-03-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Very entertaining"
    What did you love best about The Dirty Life?

    I love a city girls point of view on farming, organic farming at that. How hard the work actually is.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dirty Life?

    The point of farming on a budget. Buying second hand and living off the land. This is not an easy task.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was moved by the decision of the drastic move from city life to drastic do it yourself organic. This decision is not for the light of heart.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book, great story teller!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    louis Largo, FL, United States 02-23-12
    louis Largo, FL, United States 02-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    ""The Dirty Life", Cleans Up!"

    I couldn't have enjoyed a book more. The author and narrator accompanied me while walking my energetic Visla. The author can, "turn a phase", certainly as well as she can turn the soil to which she has become so connected.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara United States 01-02-12
    Sara United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2010

    mitchellsart

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    "Dirty Life made sweet"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Dirty Life to be better than the print version?

    I am not sure the audio is any better than the written version. As a matter of fact when she mentioned a few books I wish I had them in writing. However, the narration is authentic and the prose is tangible.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I felt wooed by her honesty and often felt myself being drawn into her life as if it were a dear friend sharing her story.


    Any additional comments?

    I believe any one who is living, thinking of living or interested in living locally will gain insight from this book.Pick it up, read it, and share it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee Conway, SC, United States 12-08-11
    Renee Conway, SC, United States 12-08-11 Member Since 2011
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    "A good story, well written, wrong performer"
    What did you love best about The Dirty Life?

    This is a great story and very well written. The author has a lovely way of telling a story and a command of the langauge.


    What aspect of Tavia Gilbert’s performance would you have changed?

    The reader sounded very uptight and snobby. Her voice grated on me. It wasnt until the end that I became accustomed to it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi Boise, ID, United States 11-02-11
    Heidi Boise, ID, United States 11-02-11 Member Since 2011

    thebirthlady

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    "so honest!"

    I loved this book, every minute of it.Too many people have a confused vision of what bootstrapping is really like- this book was honest and balanced, she shared the hardships of farming but also the subtle and profound beauty there is to be had if you can push beyond hardship and grow through it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise Mansfield Louisville, TN 04-02-13
    Denise Mansfield Louisville, TN 04-02-13 Member Since 2010

    sdmb27

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    "partly enjoyable to read."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Would not. although it does have some good parts, it takes the "bad side" of farm life too far.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Kristin Kimball again?

    probably not


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    too much of telling how hard life is on the farm.


    Do you think The Dirty Life needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    NOPE


    Any additional comments?

    nope.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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