Book: The Dirty Life

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is a good look at life when you’re trying to start a farm. She was a city girl who fell in love with a man and the romance of a farm. The reality was harder than she’d imagined but now that she’s been doing it a while, she can’t imagine anything better.

Now, she and her husband were trying to start an organic farm from scratch using horses instead of tractors, and a whole meal model that had never been done before. It’s a compelling idea actually – it’s CSA but the farm provides meat, dairy and dairy products, maple syrup, veggies, herbs, and eggs. The only things you would need to shop for would be some types of fruits. They started with 400 acres. He had farming experience but she had none. Difficult, to say the least.

While I have no aspirations toward a 400 acre farm, I would like to try my hand at raising meat animals for my family, chickens for eggs, and maybe a milk cow along with my garden. However, I am not about to jump right in and start with all of them at once! Chickens seem to be the least demanding, so we’ll start there. This book does give a rounded picture of the joys and hardships of farming. You’re tied to the land, no vacations, through good or bad weather. Your animals get sick. But you get to feel the warm side of the cow moving with her breath as you milk her. You get to watch your fields explode with life. You get some of the best tasting food you’ll ever eat. You become closer to the rythms of nature and life. Whole all of that sounds amazing, the sheer volume of work involved seems daunting. I may very well have to scale my dreams down quickly once I see how much work is involved.

Kristin’s journey from city girl to farmer is fun to read. Everything is new. She puts her head down and powers through. Before she knows it, it has started becoming her life. She still craves days off and trips to the city now and again, but the farm quickly becomes her home. She has an advantage I  that she’s not squeamish and has an adventurous palate. She tries eating bull testicles, blood pudding, liver, and scrapple. I don’t know if I’d be adventurous enough to want to cook, much less eat, some of the things she tries. Although, to be fair, I have tried haggis. I probably ate most of that all ground up then.

The book has kept me interested not only because I want to find out what happens next to this woman, but because it is such a valuable insight into the life of a farm. The work never ends and the rewards are very different than those most people are used to. Maybe, once we’ve reached financial independence, we will be able to manage a full time hobby farm. We’ll see.

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