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Book Review -- The Dirty Life

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

My enjoyment rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Source:  Personal copy

Genre:  Memoir, non-fiction

My only recollections of EVER geting up at 3:45am:

• Pulling an all-nighter in college to finish college paper or study for a test
• Nursing a newborn
• Insomnia

Kristin Kimball and her husband Mark, get up routinely that early (or is that still considered night time?) to do their “chores” – everything from milking cows, to feeding chickens, to the multitude of other tasks that must be done on their farm – Essex Farm – in upstate New York.

The Dirty Life is the story of Kristin’s transformation from city chic to farmer frugal. Living the urban life in Manhattan, Kristin was a well traveled writer – who on assignment to interview an organic Pennsylvania farmer – fell in love with her subject.

In glorious prose, Kristin recounts for us their courtship, their early trials at farming, the arduous job of raising animals, and the nemesis of both insects and weeds that inhabit their fields.

Although not quite ready to sell my house and move to a rural outpost, I was enthralled at the transformation of Kristin’s life: living in a ramshackle and dirty farm house, infested with rats; the sheer amount of energy and fatigue she and Mark invest in the land; and the happiness that blossoms forth. It was obvious to me after reading her book, that all of us spend way too much time in front of the computer! Nary a mention of texting, tweeting, or blogging – just slop, seeds, slaughter, and sunshine.

She does not sugar coat their efforts – her memories of the farm are marked by conditions – the dry, the wet, the frozen, the abundant. It made me want to read an additional chapter, not yet written, about how the farm is fairing after the tremendous rains inflicted on upstate New York with both Hurricane Irene and tropical depression Lee.

This was pure enjoyment – I only wish I had an Essex Farm close enough to me to in which to indulge.

For more from Kristin -- check out this great video:

View all my reviews

Melissa Mc is a mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary.  She blogs at Gerbera Daisy Diaries.

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