The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
On Farming, Food, and Love

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Synopsis

"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

 
 

About Kristin Kimball

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Kristin Kimball is a farmer and a writer living in northern New York. 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 of Harvard University, she and her husband Mark have run Essex Farm since 2003, where they live with their two daughters. 
 
Published October 12, 2010 by Scribner. 287 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Cooking. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Throughout the book, the author ably describes the various trials and tribulations involved in building a sugaring sled, treating the cattle for mites, dealing with flies and rats and finding the old-fashioned tools required to work with draft horses—at an auction of Amish implements, which “look...

Oct 12 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Star Tribune

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Kimball's recounting of how she left the glamour of New York City for the back-breaking -- and very dirty -- work of farming is exquisite and inspiring, filled with insight.

Oct 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

The Independent

In a former existence, freelance writer Kristin Kimball lived the life of a Manhattan singleton: dating, drinking, using her oven to store her cashmere.

Apr 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Christian Science Monitor

Farming memoirs are nothing new, and neither are accounts of city slickers recharged by a move to the country.

Dec 21 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Huffington Post

"The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love" (Scribner, $25), by Kristin Kimball: The night freelance writer and vegetarian Kristin Kimball met her future husband, she helped him slaughter a pig.

Oct 11 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

BlogHer

Have I told you lately how awesome this community is and how much I love all y'all?

Nov 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Englewood Review of Books

Having read her memoir I feel like I’ve met a new friend and hope someday to visit and volunteer on the Kimball’s upstate New York Essex Farm (because one can’t simply tour a farm, one must be put to work, for there is work to do!).

Jan 20 2012 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Hutchinson Leader

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May 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Hutchinson Leader

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Hutchinson Leader

"The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love" is the story of Kristin Kimball.

May 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

The Kitchn

The Dirty Life is one to add to the top of your pile, a memoir by Kristin Kimball about her first year as a farmer on a very labor-intensive organic farm in Essex, NY.

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Horticulture

I was charmed by this book, the story of a pair of first generation farmers building a working farm in upstate New York, powered by draft horses­­— and love.

Jun 29 2012 | Read Full Review of The Dirty Life: On Farming, F...

Reader Rating for The Dirty Life
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