Saturday, November 26

Book Report


The Dirty Life
Kristin Kimball

NPR Interview

I love reading about other people and their adventures in farming, homesteading, or just living life on a farm. Partly because I am working toward the first two of the three and, as for the third, I don;t think I will ever own sheep, horses or cows, but I do love a good trial and error horse plowing story.

This book was wonderful - full of ideas and an honest look at what buying a farm and working it really entails. My romantic ideas of farming met with a nice little slap in the face - hearing about all the lovely chores and animal processing. This is not to say that I was discouraged by this book - I just think that in its honestly, it makes certain parts of farming seem as unromantic as a trip to the dentist. and that is a good thing.

"As much as you transform the land by farming, farming transforms you." I just remember a quote about how she wears her cashmere sweater to the barn and how she used to wear it on first dates and have it dry cleaned. Even though there are far deeper and more meaningful examples throughout the book, I just like that one.

That they farm with horses really makes it all the more interesting.

She talks about farming in general as "generations of accumulated skill and local knowledge and the sense of belonging to a place that would dead-end with this generation." According to a recent survey, most farmers in the US are over the age of 50, so I can see how the dead end might be eminent. However, I wonder, with the resurgence of a back-to-the-land type of urban homesteading, we might be able to change these numbers. After all "all farmers were once what ewe now call organic and the horse drawn tools they invented to deal with weeds were precise and efficient."

Her take on seeds is one I can relate to - her long lists of seeds to order and getting a little carried away with all the different varieties. But lucky for both of us, we have husbands who have a little more common sense in the seed lust vs. garden space department. "The whole trick of seed catalogs is that they come into the house in winter, when everything still seems possible and the work of growing things is too far in front of you to be seen clearly."

Who among us does not have the graph paper out in January plotting and planning where our 10 different varieties can fit? (maybe if I just reduce the space in between recommendations....)

And when the seeds arrive in the mail.... "I could not imagine how several tons of food could come out of a box so small and light I could balance it in one hand."

That we can feed our families for a whole year, or longer, on what comes in a box the size of a box of Crayola 64 count crayons amazes me every time.

Looking for some great inspiration to buy that old farm the next state over? Read this book immediately before heading to the realtor with your checkbook.

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