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The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love


The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love Cover

ISBN13: 9781416551614
ISBN10: 1416551611
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"This book is the story of the two love affairs that interrupted the trajectory of my life: one with farmingand#8212;that dirty, concupiscent artand#8212;and the other with a complicated and exasperating farmer."andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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. andlt;Iandgt;The Dirty Life andlt;/Iandgt;is the captivating chronicle of their first year on Essex Farm, from the cold North Country winter through the following harvest seasonand#8212;complete with their wedding in the loft of the barn. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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"and#8212;beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, maple syrup, grains, flours, dried beans, herbs, fruits, and forty different vegetablesand#8212;produced by the farm. The work is done by draft horses instead of tractors, and the fertility comes from compost. Kimballand#8217;s vivid descriptions of landscape, food, cookingand#8212;and marriageand#8212;are irresistible. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;"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 andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andnbsp;

About the Author

andlt;Bandgt;Kristin Kimballandlt;/Bandgt; is a farmer and a writer living in northern New York.andnbsp;Prior to farming, Kimball worked as a freelance writer, writing teacher, and as an assistant to a literary agent in New York City. A graduate ofandnbsp;Harvard University, she and her husband Mark have run Essex Farm since 2003, where they live with their twoandnbsp;daughters.andnbsp;

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opal, April 22, 2014 (view all comments by opal)
If you are a reader seeking fast and compelling text, Kimball's book will not disappoint.

Should you be seeking substance, or quality insights pertaining to stewardship of land and animals, you will not find that here. Anyone with experience as a farmer or rancher (which I have) will soon be wincing in embarrassment for the author and for her husband. The all-too-common personality encountered here is a sad and discouraging comment on our society. Because this pair (the author and her husband) decide that they want what they want when they want it (a fully developed farm in one year), their animals suffer inexcusably, their families suffer, and the reputations of young farmers in America suffer due to the impatience and hubris of this couple.

This farming memoir is absolutely not a good example of how to behave, or of how to learn, or of how to live an ethical life. The hopes of the author were laudable (to produce excellent organic food for a community), but the actions of the author and her husband were breathtakingly exploitive. The author does not see the pointy-elbowed approach to life that she and her husband personify in "The Dirty Life." Working ridiculously hard at a task does not magically create grace, and it does not justify exploding the lives of others (human or animal) just to get what one wants. For instance, the text explains that the couple had the time and money to host a party of perhaps 2 dozen people for their wedding at the farm, but instead they invite 300 guests and happily allow their exhausted families to work for days on end just to save the event from being a catastrophic disappointment. They buy chickens before they have adequate housing for the birds, and frostbite (quite predictably) is the result. It continues in this vein and only gets worse, without the author ever stumbling over her own tragic lack of compassion for those she and her husband use up and inconvenience. This is not sustainability. This is not a new model for farming. This is a self-indulgent adventure for an irresponsible and, sadly, arrogant couple.
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Klondike of the South, January 6, 2012 (view all comments by Klondike of the South)
I confess that I am a glutton for this sort of Beginning Farmer Memoir--it helps me deal with the disappointment of being stuck in a dead-end city job and keeps my five-year plan well lubricated--and this certainly hits all the right notes. But it goes far beyond the expectations of the genre with its lovely writing. I was spellbound. I ate it up in a night, a night during which I was supposed to be grading student papers. It was entirely worth it.
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Kate Gardoqui, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Kate Gardoqui)
Part love story, part coming-of-age story, part meditation on glorious food and its dirty origins, this book is many things but never boring. Kimball's voice moves gracefully from witty and blunt to poetic and powerful as she describes her adventures, discoveries, humiliations and accomplishments as a New York City writer transforming herself to organic farmer.

The book traces Kimball's journey from hipster to farmer, which commences after she meets Mark Guenther, a farmer whom she has gone to interview for an article. Falling in love with Mark, Kristin discovers a new universe unfolding before her, a world of hard work and rich rewards, of food pulled fresh from the mud to simmer and blossom in the pan. Kristin is as good a food writer as a memoirist, and her descriptions of rustic delicacies inspired me to try new ingredients and recipes.

I've started using parts of The Dirty Life with my eleventh and twelfth grade English students, who share my rave review. The honesty and humor of Kimball's writing voice pulls them in, and the vividness of her storytelling keeps them reading. Five stars for this wise and compelling tale.
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Product Details

Kimball, Kristin
Scribner Book Company
Biography - General
farming; farm; Essex Farm; CSA; community supported agriculture; farm to table; agriculture; memoir; organic; draft horse; startup; cooking; nose to tail; full-diet CSA; locavore; local food; seasonal eating; butcher; farm internships; farm apprenticeship
farming; farm; Essex Farm; CSA; community supported agriculture; farm to table; agriculture; memoir; organic; draft horse; startup; cooking; nose to tail; full-diet CSA; locavore; local food; seasonal eating; butcher; farm internships; farm apprenticeship
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
6 bandamp;w photos throughout
8 x 5.25 in

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