Monday, January 24, 2011

The Dirty Life

ETA Picture:

If you've been reading this blog for long you will know that I'm intrigued by the idea of someday owning an acreage and trying to live something approaching a self-sufficient lifestyle (see Oh, I DO Want To!). I read a lot of books and blogs about homesteading, both in and out of the city. But I'm always a little wary of the rose-covered glasses that book readers get to look through. (See, for example, The Backyard Homestead.) Everything sounds so fun and simple and inspiring! Until I remember the time that Nick's aunt C (married to T, of compost-giving fame) was reminiscing about the period of time when she thought "the work of this place [her family homestead] really might kill me." And I think, "Gosh, they sort of leave that part out of the brochure."

So one day while listening to NPR (National Public Radio) I heard an interview with Kristin Kimball about her new book, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love. It was a retrospective on the early years of her relationship with her husband, during which he convinced her to abandon a New York city apartment and career to start what sounds to me like the most complicated CSA anyone has ever conceived of, providing not just veggies but also meat, dairy products, maple syrup, eggs, lard, and who knows what else, using almost entirely human and animal labor. (I know, I'd like to join, too.) After much dithering over the fact that it's not available at the libray, I finally bought the book and read it cover to cover in three days.

Wow, does she make it sound like hard work. She talks about walking back to town in a blizzard because the cow had to be milked, about cutting a hole in the side of her barn (and then fixing it) because she had to get the pigs to their new pen, about driving her horse team through a field in the dark because the potatoes had to get planted before the rain started up again. (Somehow, she makes all of these experiences sound uplifting.) She talks about mistakes and misfortunes, and the kindness of neighbors that helped them get by. She talks about taking an incredible risk and succeeding. I love this passage about her husband: "It occurred to me that the man I was supposed to be marrying was accustomed to finding his edge by falling off of it, catching it by a fingernail, and clawing his way back up." As someone who finds her edge by very, very slowly inching up on it on her belly, with a long stick stretched out ahead of her, it sure did sound like fun.

Okay, I'll stop gushing and just tell you to read the book. Read the book.

1 comment:

  1. You should scan that 5 acre plot from the other book and include it.