The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

4.2 111
by Kristin Kimball, Tavia Gilbert
     
 

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From author Kristin Kimball, "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."  See more details below

Overview

From author Kristin Kimball, "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."

Editorial Reviews

Dominique Browning
…Kimball has a lusty appetite, and her memoir is as much a celebration of food as it is of farming…As Kimball loses her cool attitude in the round of daily chores, her writing acquires a lilting softness.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Kimball chucked life as a Manhattan journalist to start a cooperative farm in upstate New York with a self-taught New Paltz farmer she had interviewed for a story and later married. The Harvard-educated author, in her 30s, and Mark, also college educated and resolved to "live outside of the river of consumption," eventually found an arable 500-acre farm on Lake Champlain, first to lease then to buy. In this poignant, candid chronicle by season, Kimball writes how she and Mark infused new life into Essex Farm, and lost their hearts to it. By dint of hard work and smart planning--using draft horses rather than tractors to plow the five acres of vegetables, and raising dairy cows, and cattle, pigs, and hens for slaughter--they eventually produced a cooperative on the CSA model, in which members were able to buy a fully rounded diet. To create a self-sustaining farm was enormously ambitious, and neighbors, while well-meaning, expected them to fail. However, the couple, relying on Mark's belief in a "magic circle" of good luck, exhausted their savings and set to work. Once June hit, there was the 100-day growing season and an overabundance of vegetables to eat, and no end to the dirty, hard, fiercely satisfying tasks, winningly depicted by Kimball. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Kimball has a gift for throwing into high relief contemporary Americans' disconnect between farm-life realities and city ambitions." —Booklist
Library Journal
Kimball, a farmer and freelance writer, here tells the story of two loves: one with farming, and one with a man. She travels to Pennsylvania for an interview and meets Mark, a handsome farmer with a flair for culinary courtship. Driven by love and longing for a home, she follows him to northern New York, where they transform a neglected piece of land into a sustainable farm powered by horses and supported by year-round community-supported agriculture (CSA) memberships. While learning animal husbandry, nose-to-tail cooking, and maple syrup and cheese making, Kimball also learns to cope with the harsh realities of an agrarian lifestyle. VERDICT With a fiery romance at its heart, Kimball's welcome addition stands out from others in the growing genre of books on city girls turned farmers, butchers, cheese makers, and ranchers. Comparable titles include Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska's Simple Living: One Couple's Search for a Better Life and Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.—Lisa Campbell, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Tuscaloosa
Kirkus Reviews

A freelance writer moves from Manhattan to create an organic farm in upstate New York.

When she met her future husband, Mark, Kimball was working on a story about young farmers going local and organic. The two eventually fell in love, married and moved to Essex, N.Y., to take stewardship of a 500-acre derelict farm, with dreams of making it into a community-funded agricultural project—not just vegetables, but also grain, dairy and meat. Following their utopian vision, they began raising draft horses, milked cows by hand, ran a forge and created their own energy and resources. As Kimball chronicles that first year in supple prose, the farm takes on vivid form, with the frustrations balancing the satisfactions and the dark complementing the light. Throughout the book, the author ably describes the various trials and tribulations involved in building a sugaring sled, treating the cattle for mites, dealing with flies and rats and finding the old-fashioned tools required to work with draft horses—at an auction of Amish implements, which "looked like a ZZ Top tribute band convention, all long beards, dark suits, and shades." The couple often warred with each other: Kimball is a passive-aggressive disputant, Mark a tenacious arguer, but both think they are right. "I had come to the farm with the unarticulated belief that concrete things were for dumb people and abstract things were for smart people," writes the author. She soon realized, however, that "there's no better cure for snobbery than a good ass kicking." Finally, when the harvest comes, "you feel insanely rich, no matter what you own."

A hearty, chromatic account of a meaningful accomplishment in farming, "that dirty concupiscent art."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452652788
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
06/15/2011
Edition description:
MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.59(h) x 0.54(d)

What People are saying about this

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

Meet the Author

Tavia Gilbert, a six-time Audie Award nominee and multiple Earphones and Parent's Choice Award�winning producer, narrator, and writer, has appeared on stage and in film. She has narrated over 250 multicast and single-voice audiobooks.

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Dirty Life 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 111 reviews.
Neha Pandit More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most insightful books that I've read. It's written with a beautiful poetic narrative that can only be presented by a gifted author, and a perspective on life that can only be presented by one that's been well lived.
nhces29 More than 1 year ago
Almost makes me want to live the dirty life too...
Anonymous 4 months ago
A very good read, will make you want to become a farmer.
Mitton More than 1 year ago
Comfortable read. Universal. I have a friend who says that food – real food - should be dirty and bloody. In other words, fresh and clean and near to the earth. I think Kimball would agree. In ‘The Dirty Life’ she writes about love and dirt and farming, to be sure, but the book is deeper and explores ideas about success and commitment and simplicity. Kimball writes in a comfortable prose though her Ivy League education peeks through at times. Other reviewers note some oddities that I can’t argue with. She converts from being a long-time vegetarian to meat eater in a single night, helping her boyfriend kill a deer and then romantically feasting on its liver. Her commitments waver. There is a feeling throughout the book that she is tip-toeing through this new adventure in the way that an adrenaline junkie would: the commitment lasts as long as the feeling does. Even as the book reaches its climax, her marriage and the reaping of their first harvest, she runs off to Hawaii just in time to let her husband harvest the crop by himself. But I think it’s these inconsistencies that make the book more human and universal. The book isn’t about farming or living a simple life – there are much better books about those things – but it’s about the struggle to work hard and stay committed to something you choose. It’s about growing into who you want to be. As such I think it’s an excellent read. Highly recommended.
Devinzgrandma More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, full of humor and determination.
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I totally enjoyed this book. However if your not into reading a lot about vegitation on a farm then this book isn't for you. I found the ups and downs of their farm life very interesting, but what amazed me was the people in their lives. I loved the wedding. I don't know how I would have felt when I found my new husband milking cows durring our reception.
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I loved this book and so did my book club. I sent a copy to my 84 year old mother who grew up on a farm and she loved it also.
Sglo More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super interesting book with an engaging story line. Made me want to leave the city and live the harder, but seemingly more fulfilling life of a farmer.
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...makes you want to get your fingers in the dirt!
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NattiFranz More than 1 year ago
Kristin Kimball’s intriguing memoir, the Dirty Life, gave me a taste of a different lifestyle, one that consists purely of commitment and of hard, dirty, and rewarding work. Kimball’s story tells of her decision to leave her Harvard education, family, and whole life behind in New York City, in exchange for a life of hard farm work. Mark, her fiancé is an experienced farmer and together they take on the challenge of providing full-diet shares to their customers by means of their own farm, this diet including steak, chicken, pork, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, celery, syrup, cheese, milk, etc. And if that was not a grand enough challenge, Mark and Kimball decide to jump back a century and farm by means of horses and ploughs and their own genuine physical labor – nothing else. Their day begins at around 3 am, when Kimball and Mark must milk the cows, feed their assortment of animals, weed the fields, and anything else you can imagine that must be done on a farm. The work is never ending, but somehow the two of them develop a farm that today has grown to feed over 100 customers and employs over 20 workers. The success seen between Kimball and Mark is extremely inspiring, as it thoroughly shows the amount of effort required to attain what you want most, as well as the commitment. A theme of perseverance is constantly conveyed throughout Kimball’s memoir, and has the effect of showing the reader that things in life do not always come easy. They aren’t supposed to, as If they did then there would never be that essential feeling of fulfillment in life, an emotion that keeps one striving forward. Kimball must not only fight onward for her farm, but for Mark as well. Without their relationship the farm would have failed. The effort they must put in to keep each other happy while keeping the farm running proves to be quite a challenge. Thus, a theme of love is also prominent; love for the farm and all its animals and plants, and love for Mark. A message about the importance of decision making is always present, as Kimball explains how decisions determine the paths of our lives. You can make or break yourself, and others, with a yes or a no. My family is a health nut family, always dedicated to the thought that a good diet makes for a healthy life. The Dirty Life, hit home for me – an everyday consumer of organic foods. This book made me yearn for fresh, fresh food, straight from the source! I would recommend that those interested in health and good food read this, as it inspires one to start their own garden. Anyone up for a good story about problem solving and woman falling in love with a man and a farm should read this as well. Its detail about the effort needed to accomplish the humble act of providing food is captivating and interesting. My dislikes were the areas where there was too much attention to detail though, as this drew away from the story and my focus waivered.
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