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)
A well written, engaging book about how two young people turned a run-down farm into a profitable business, providing people with wholesome, organic food. The author gave what seemed like an honest behind-the-scenes account of the hardships--and rewards--of growing vegetables without chemicals and raising and butchering animals without causing them undue stress or pain. It made me appreciate, all the more, the difference between "factory farming" and humane, sustainable farming.
I am a gardener. I prefer vegetables to flowers. If I am going to put all that effort into growing things, I want food to be the result. I have often thought about expanding and growing enough extra to sell and to make a small business of it. After reading this book I feel the effort would be rewarding, but I would be too exhausted to enjoy. These people are young and driven. But they live the dream. The dream of most organic gardeners.
This is a lovely book. Not lovely, pink flowers and butterflys, but lovely in its joy of life, of creation, of respect for tradition, past and future. It is short, but full of appeal to those of us who seek to find fulfillment in working with the soil.
The story is interesting enough in a "coming of age" kind of way, but the supercilious tones of the narrator make it a dreadful listen.
As a farm girl that now lives in the city, I loved this book.... the details and descriptions were spot on. I love the authors style and humor... I have been an Audible customer for several years, and I can honestly say that this is the first book that as soon as I finished it, I started it over again... a very enjoyible calming.... informative listen!
Loved this book, so inspirational! And such a cool way to enjoy a book. I listen to it in the car and around the house when doing chores. Makes my time so much more enjoyable!
This is a lovely honest description of Kristin's life transition into farming and marriage. Both of those commitments are gritty and difficult at times. As I was hearing Tavia speak Kristin's words I came to appreciate the doubt and hard work that accompanies the choice to farm in a less modern way in a difficult place. The community support was there whenever they seemed to need it. It is a compelling recommendation for getting closer to the earth in whatever way works for each of us.
lots of fun to listen to if you are a country life person. if you can't appreciate bad weather, hard work, good dirt, crazy animals, and total exhaustion at the end of the day, forget this book. if any of that is appealing, then this is a great book for you. living on a small farm, i empathized and sympathized and laughed and cried.
Can't help but think of them as being a little 'out there'. Really, he wants to live without electricity, build a house without nails, etc...? I live on a farm. We garden. We raise livestock. And, we raise all our own produce and meat. But, this couple is just way too granola for me. I picture them as being the ever present, freaky couple vending at the farmer's market... Very disappointed.
Those of us who buy not grow our food have romantic ideas of what it's like to work the land. This book quickly extinguishes the romance and shows the reader the down and dirty, no pun intended. Nevertheless, I loved this book, the characters were so real. I didn't want it to end. I have a new appreciation for what it takes to get the food to my table.
I would listen to this again because Kristin's story telling is entertaining and her honest descriptions of the challenges of small time sustainable farming with a specific goal in mind are true to life and delightful to anyone who has what I'll call "old world" experiences of seeing chicken from yard to table and the like. The back breaking work she encounters gives new depth of character to my own CSA farmer who is as lovely and transparent in operations as she describes of her own CSA.
I would have loved to listen to the book all at once, however the "busy-ness" of these days afford little of that kind of time.
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