The Dirty Life

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. (back cover)

"The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love" by Kristin Kimball is indeed captivating. I have not read such a well-written book in many years. Kimball's energetic style and vivid descriptions bring alive stories of her first year becoming a farmer, and the stories themselves are most often heartwarming, at times heart wrenching, and enjoyably wry.

I can't not include one of my favorite quotes:
"...the five kittens were just weaned, and at night they slept together in the barn, curled into a fuzzy ball. During the day they batted paper towels around the barn floor, staged elaborate ambushes and mock fights, and mewed to be picked up and petted." (p 124)
This is adorably accurate (from my experiences with kittens)! All throughout "The Dirty Life" there is excellent imagery and detail; and depth that is never dull or trite, and instead evokes a sense of knowing—cow breeds, horse-drawn implements, making maple syrup—and of being less detached to what for most of us is a foreign lifestyle. So, while not necessarily focusing on or developing the characters themselves, Kimball's writing intimately acquaints a reader to the life and work on the farm.

Season by season, "The Dirty Life" educates and entertains, and I for one highly enjoyed it. Note there are some words and experiences (and morals) that may not be suitable for all ages. Overall, I recommend this book for any adult who is interesting in farming, or gardening, or simply enjoys a good book to read in the evenings. "The Dirty Life" is fun, fast-paced, and full of the sweat, grime, beauty, and harvest of a year of farming.

1 comment :

  1. Sigh....I remember this book with such fondness. Maybe I should re-read it every spring as I excitedly await the coming garden season.