Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Dirty Life : On Farming, Food, and Love - Kristin Kimball
My Review: Kristin Kimball never imagined herself on a farm, slaughtering pigs, planting beets, and driving a team of horses. When a chance interview leads to few days of grueling farm work, Kristin falls in love, first, with a way of life, and then with Mark – a farmer, who is equal parts eccentric, romantic, and world-class chef. Despite all good sense and the concerns of her family, Kristin moves to a ramshackle farm located on 500 acres of land in upstate New York, to cultivate a life of agricultural bliss with her soon-to-be husband.
The Dirty Life follows Kristin’s transformation from a single, freelance writer and devoted city slicker, to that of a wife, mother, and down-home farm girl. In a fit of idealism, Kristin and Mark embark on an agricultural venture that, given their lack of capital, equipment, and expertise, has very little chance of success. Their goal is to grow and eat their own food – all of it – and to give their community the same opportunity by building a cooperative, CSA-like farm that will provide members with a year-round, complete diet of organic fruit, vegetables, beef, chicken, pork, milk, eggs, butter, cheese, grain, dry beans, maple syrup, and more). If that isn’t ambitious enough, they plan to do it all without chemical fertilizers or heavy-duty machinery. Mark is determined. Kristin is sure they are crazy.
After endless days of what Kristin calls, “trying to hammer out this big, awkward thing, [and] bring it from theory into being,” a farm begins to emerge from the dust and the wilds. It hobbles at first, and then it runs, as each week more members arrive at the farm, boxes in hand, to pick up their increasingly unlimited supply of food. While it was thrilling to watch the Kimball’s dream come true, it was Kristin’s description of the journey that I found most interesting – the successes, failures, and frustrations of living a life both gloriously simple and tremendously difficult.
Passionate and evocative, The Dirty Life had me at the prologue, with an irresistible blend of food, romance, and farm life that continued throughout the book. I was absorbed in the particulars of cooperative farming, the authors’ eloquent imagery, and unexpected sense of humor. I savored every page of it. Whether you are in love with country living, looking for a little inspiration, or just longing for a good book, The Dirty Life won’t disappoint you.
*POST EDIT* While I read the hardcover version of this book, the paperback version released April 12th, 2011, complete with recipes and photographs. *Yay!*
My Rating: 5 Stars
For the sensitive reader: There were two moments of profanity and a few scenes of slaughter and gore that, though realistic in a farm setting, made my stomach a little squeamish.
Sum it up: A riveting agricultural love story that is compelling, realistic, and well worth your time.