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"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

 

Topics: Farming, Sustainability , Love, Marriage, Animals, Writers, Romantic, New York City, Rural, Inspirational, and New York

Published: Scribner on Oct 12, 2010
ISBN: 9781439187142
List price: $13.99
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Really good writing and such an interesting story of 2 people becoming first generation farmers. Loved the ups and downs they experienced and the risk they took to pursue a dream. Now if only I could get some one to GIVE me 500 acres...read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Kristin Kimball was living the high, city life, partying late into the night, wearing the latest fashions. A journalist in her mid thirties, she was yearning for something different, something that felt more like home. When she is sent to write an article on a young man running a local farm she finds what she is looking for in both the man and his dreams of a home on a farm. Soon the two of them are ensconced on a 500 acre farm trying to realize Mark's vision of a farm that would provide families with all the food they need for a year. Sound daunting? Raising chickens and cows, milking, making cheese, growing vegetables, sugaring maple trees, harvesting and marketing all that to a skeptical, small town? Now consider that the farm is run-down and long unused, they hired no help the first year, and they did almost all the heavy work with a team of draft horses! As you can imagine, many adventures, tragedies and triumphs came out of that one year.Kristin Kimball does an admirable job recounting the year that changed her life so drastically. She has a very straightforward and honest way of expressing what it was like to fall in love with Mark and his way of life. She never glosses over the incredible amount of work and the tough emotions she went through. The book is fun too. Its a real pleasure to discover the secrets of farming alongside Kristin as she shares the experience of the first calf born, picking out seeds to buy in the winter, and eating the first new potatoes out in the field. I really enjoyed this book!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved this book. I have a recurring romantic fantasy about living and working on a farm, spending a lot of time outdoors and eating only healthy food. What’s nice about this book is that it does reveal that notion to be a fantasy, but it does it without complaint. This is a story about how someone found her calling by falling in love, first with a man, then with his way of life. I liked the subject matter and the writing, but most of all I liked the honesty of it. And I went to the farmer’s market with more money to support my local farmers when I was finished. I’m not tough enough for the dirty life, but I’m smart enough to appreciate the people that are.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

Really good writing and such an interesting story of 2 people becoming first generation farmers. Loved the ups and downs they experienced and the risk they took to pursue a dream. Now if only I could get some one to GIVE me 500 acres...
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Kristin Kimball was living the high, city life, partying late into the night, wearing the latest fashions. A journalist in her mid thirties, she was yearning for something different, something that felt more like home. When she is sent to write an article on a young man running a local farm she finds what she is looking for in both the man and his dreams of a home on a farm. Soon the two of them are ensconced on a 500 acre farm trying to realize Mark's vision of a farm that would provide families with all the food they need for a year. Sound daunting? Raising chickens and cows, milking, making cheese, growing vegetables, sugaring maple trees, harvesting and marketing all that to a skeptical, small town? Now consider that the farm is run-down and long unused, they hired no help the first year, and they did almost all the heavy work with a team of draft horses! As you can imagine, many adventures, tragedies and triumphs came out of that one year.Kristin Kimball does an admirable job recounting the year that changed her life so drastically. She has a very straightforward and honest way of expressing what it was like to fall in love with Mark and his way of life. She never glosses over the incredible amount of work and the tough emotions she went through. The book is fun too. Its a real pleasure to discover the secrets of farming alongside Kristin as she shares the experience of the first calf born, picking out seeds to buy in the winter, and eating the first new potatoes out in the field. I really enjoyed this book!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved this book. I have a recurring romantic fantasy about living and working on a farm, spending a lot of time outdoors and eating only healthy food. What’s nice about this book is that it does reveal that notion to be a fantasy, but it does it without complaint. This is a story about how someone found her calling by falling in love, first with a man, then with his way of life. I liked the subject matter and the writing, but most of all I liked the honesty of it. And I went to the farmer’s market with more money to support my local farmers when I was finished. I’m not tough enough for the dirty life, but I’m smart enough to appreciate the people that are.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was great; entertaining, informative, and interesting. I found it to be a fast read. I highly recommend it if you're interested in farming, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and the whole back to the land, local foods movement. It's about the beginnings of an unusual CSA farm in upstate New York, written from the point of view of a former city girl. They serve about 100 customers who pay $2900 a person for supplies of beef, chicken, pork, eggs, dairy, cheese, some fruit, maple syrup, grains, flours, dried beans, and veggies enough both to eat and can all they want. They use plow horses rather than tractors. The author was a thirty-something freelance journalist living in Manhattan, shopping, frequenting cafes, going to parties, and sometimes traveling the world for stories, who goes to interview an also 30-something successful CSA farmer on leased land in Pennsylvania. She depicts him as an appealing, eccentric, kind of larger than life character; highly physical, energetic, very verbal and passionate about his beliefs. I love her initial paragraphs describing his philosophy on life, written in a stream of consciousness sort of way. Amusing and appealing. She's not a farmer, but she helps hoe the broccoli and slaughter a pig before she's done with the visit and interview. They fall in love, despite her reservations about the farming lifestyle and his hippy proclivities. He convinces her to look for farmland together where they can eventually build a home and run a more complete CSA together - meat, eggs, dairy, grains, fruit, etc., as well as veggies. The book details their struggle with limited funds to build that farm on 500 rundown acres (5 of it for their veggies) in Essex, New York, near Lake Champlain. She shares her learning process as a city girl new to farming who falls in love with it, as well as interesting, very readable details about aspects of farming and the mishaps and hard work involved. It's also the story of their relationship with each other and with the community around them. An engaging story.
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Great story, but not terrifically written, and while it started out with a higher purpose of talking about our relationship with food, it ended up being much more about her being a farmer - it lost some of its thoughtfulness along the way. Paled in comparison, ultimately, to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle.
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Kristan Kimball, the author, was a single,thirtysomething New York writer when she went to interview a young farmer. They fell in love or something like it, and she moved with him to a farmers life. She writes with equal ease about the backbreaking amount of work,the sadness of a horse dying, and the matter of fact rituals of butchering farm animals for meat. A excellent read!
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