“The Dirty Life- A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love” by Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life

One of the things that I most enjoyed about The Dirty Life is that it is a story about a real woman in today’s world.  She begins as a savvy New York freelance writer, and winds up as a deeply devoted farm wife.  This journey is not something that she consciously chooses in the beginning, but becomes something that takes hold of her and pulls her in an entirely new direction.

She is completely unprepared for her first meeting with the farmer who becomes her husband, but soon realizes that there are deeply rooted forces in her life that cannot be ignored.  To her credit, she does not run away from a completely alien experience on her first meeting with Mark, her future husband.  She believes that she is happy with her New York life, but soon realizes that the simple farm life offers a deep soul satisfying choice that is completely unmatched in the superficial, upwardly mobile city.  This is not to say that the farm life is easier than trying to make a living in the city, as it is much more difficult physically and emotionally yet is in many ways more rewarding.

Kristin tells the story mainly from her point of view, yet offers insights into the conviction that drives her husband on the farm.  She tells her story in a real, unglossy way that shows both the beauty and the heartache of farm life.  The audacity of two young, somewhat inexperienced people in starting a farm that supplies all of the food for a small community of subscribers comes through clearly.  Food is a focal point of the book; from the fresh, vibrant produce of the farm to the upscale cafes in New York.

Part of the core of this book is about chasing a dream and the joys and frustrations experienced in the chase.  Another  is a young woman’s journey into a deep relationship that she had hoped for but never expected to have.  Yet another shows the daily challenges involved in growing our food.  Watching the success happen only after much hard work is refreshing to see in today’s age of expected instant gratification.

This is an inspirational yet cautionary tale for anyone thinking of taking up farming as a profession.  She clearly shows that success is very possible, but the work is hard, long and arduous.  Watching her travel the path to the dedication needed to make both her marriage and the farm work is part of what keeps this book open and approachable.

A very enjoyable read, and one that’s worth going back to several times.

8 replies
  1. Janie Teel
    Janie Teel says:

    As a 66 year old woman with far too many flower beds to keep weeded and dead-headed, I recommend this book: GARDENING FOR A LIFETIME How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older by Sydney Eddison. (She has written several good gardening books.)

    The secret is to SIMPLIFY and keep the garden beds we love…to plant a lot of flowering shrubs that are easy care.

  2. Christine Reid
    Christine Reid says:

    I’m going to read this book as it looks like it’s the real deal. It looks like it won’t be a glossy overview of working with plants, but will explore the day-to-day challenges and joys. Glad I saw this post!

    • Stephen
      Stephen says:

      It is a wonderful book that acknowledges the challenges as well as the magic of farming and growing food for people. It is great to see the community that they help to create and educate that also supports them when they need it!

  3. Shea Richland
    Shea Richland says:

    A friend gave me this book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I keep being amazed at how many farmers are also great storytellers. Amazing what this couple accomplished with their CSA!

    I also very much enjoyed, “Turn Here, Sweet Corn” by Atina Diffley. As her web site shares… this book is a master class in organic farming, a lesson in entrepreneurship, a love story and a legal thriller.

    • Stephen
      Stephen says:

      Thanks Shea! We’ve really enjoyed it as well – a good realistic look at both the romance and hard work of today’s farm life.

      We’ve read part of “Turn Here, Sweet Corn” and have enjoyed it – need to get back to it and finish it!


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