The very first friend in which I made after moving to the sticks just six years ago is Andrea. She highly recommended the book: The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball and said that I would likely relate to it.

Taking three classes, two of which were literature-based, I didn’t have much time for pleasure reading this past term so it was tabled until at least mid-December. My mother-in-law was between books so I lent The Dirty Life to her. She was moved by the piece and admitted to devouring it in just a few sessions.

Since I am officially on winter break, I have carte blanche to stay up late and read whatever my heart desires. Last night, I finished the book and all I can say is: holy cats! What a terrific read. And yes, I certainly related to the book. My better half was subjected to several passages which I read aloud — one of which had him in a smile that looked like it could break his face:

One of the gorgeous and highly annoying things about Mark’s personality is that, once he bites into an idea, he’ll worry it to death, exploring every possibility, expanding it to the point of absurdity and then shrinking it back down, molding it around different premises, and bending logic, when necessary, to cram it into a given situation. No matter what he is doing or saying or thinking, the idea is perking away in the background of his formidable brain, details accruing. Bits of it will surface, iceberglike, in a burst of chatter, but the bulk of it remains hidden until whole thing appears at once, fully formed and fiercely defended (p. 57 – 58).

My dirty life: plowing with a 1937 JD this
past August

Why was Ryan smiling? Kimball apparently described me to a T.  (insert sheepish grin)

Publishers Weekly said the following about The Dirty Life: 

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.  

I loved the write-up by NPR: ‘The Dirty Life’: From City Girl to Hog Butcher

My dirty life: picking rocks this past summer

My Thoughts:
If non-fiction is your cup of tea and you enjoy reading memoirs, I highly suggest this book — particularly if you are interested in the “country life.” Even if non-fiction isn’t your ideal read, I found this book to be very entertaining. It made me laugh, sigh, and even get misty-eyed.

Want the book?
ISBN: 9781416551607; OCLC: 555638400; WorldCat: The Dirty Life; MeL: The Dirty Life

(Thank you for recommending such an enjoyable read, Andrea!)