The Dirty Life – Book Review

2020 is around the corner …

This is my personal Top 10 farm books of the decade.

I’m going to present my Top 10 in order of publication.

Let’s begin back in 2010.

With ,,,

The Dirty Life:

A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love

by Kristin Kimball

There are a lot of farming memoirs out there. The climax of these farm stories is the the realization that the author invested all their best energy and life into a venture that left them broken and broke, but that they should have expected this because “Hey that’s farming.”

I have read and enjoyed a number of these books but I’ve also felt such frustration with that underlying defeated perspective of agriculture.

It does not represent my reality as a farmer or the realities of so many of the farmers I know.

When I started The Dirty Life, I assumed this was this type of book.

Here were Kristin and Mark Kimball, two first generation farmers who wanted to start a farm that would provide a fully local diet for their clients. Their goal was to produce all the meat, vegetables, grains, beans, and maple syrup that their clients would eat in a year. (I might have skipped some of their desired offerings.)

And they were going to do this using draft horses.

Had I met Kristin and Mark in one of my crop planning workshops, I would have given them the solid advice to simplify their operations and focus on one thing. If they mastered that one thing, and only then should they add another one thing.

I have a feeling they wouldn’t have listened to me.

The Dirty Life chronicles the first year of this ambitious farming endeavour.

It is a difficult first year.

Their story leads perfectly to that climax of broken and broke but “Hey that’s farming.”

And if that is where this story ended, it would not be on my Top 10 Farm Books of the past decade.

Kristin and Mark succeed in their crazy full-diet horse-powered farm plan. And their farm, Essex Farm, is still running.

This book is a testament that with conviction, passion, and teamwork … and a little non stop hard work … you can build an amazing farm.

I still tell young farmers that they should start with simple small farms and only expand as they master each step.

I am so glad that some people don’t take that kind of advice.

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