The Dirty Life by Kristan Kimball is a book that surprised me, not because of content but surprised me because I liked it so much. As a vegetarian I thought I don’t want to read about raising animals for meat, slaughtering etc.. I’ll explain later why I like the book first a synopsis:
From Publishers Weekly
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.
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This books hits on a dream of many I think, to chuck it all and move out to the country and have a farm. This book doesn’t sugar coat it, this is real life. I loved that this was a story about a real life, thorns and all, working a self sustaining farm. They used horses for plowing, raised their food to be used for food for sustaining life, no chemicals. They slaughtered their own livestock, milked their own cows, grew everything and in the middle of it managed to create a marriage, a home and a community.
At first it was rough for me, I didn’t want the gory details of slaughtering cattle or chickens, pigs but what struck me was they knew their food, they appreciated and cared for their animals, they treated them with dignity and respect due. I cannot fault someone who raises and uses what they grow and raise. This books help you look at your food in a more respectful way. To know why buying organic is more expensive. Kudos to the farmers and thank you!
Four out of five stars!Book Review: The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love