I was at a party last month and, as usual, I found myself drawn to a certain crowd. The ones gathered in a quiet corner, wearing their "good" Blunnies, deep in conversation. The dance music blared, waiters balancing trays of cocktails and paella swept by largely unnoticed. The discussion had turned to keeping chooks and for me there is no finer party conversation.
It seems a lot of the friends I've made in Tasmania share a similar dream. One of wanting to either grow as much food as we can or at least know who did. Have a few chooks, grow veggies, keep a house cow. Some even go that one step further than the dream of a big veggie patch.
Like one friend who bought a scythe from here so he could cut his grass without trying to wrangle a temperamental brush cutter, and break away from the oil addiction. Or the couple from London who dream of harrowing their fields using draught horses instead of a tractor. Then there is the family who moved miles into the Tasmanian wilderness from Marrickville, and now live a life more in common with Almanzo Wilder than the city one they left behind. Complete with a house cow.
So where am I getting to? This book. The Dirty Life by Kristan Kimball. This memoir is one of the most heartening stories I have read since Animal Vegetable Miracle. A real page turner, I couldn't put it down. I laughed, I cried, I dreamed. It's the tale of a New York gal who falls for a farmer and they move to a 500 acre derelict farm to start an organic CSA business.
Kim Kimball is no Lisa Douglas. Never before have I read a story of such a transformation. From NYC writer to a real, in all weathers, in all hours, when all seems hopeless, despite sickness or snow, hardworking-fingers-to-the-bone farmer. Kristen with her husband Mark provide a whole diet, everything from vegetables, grains, dairy and meat, for 150 members every week of the year. An incredible feat. Especially as they use draught horses, Amish tools and hand milk their cows. Their story is so amazing, their compost heap so enviable, their passion, their faith in the universe, their sheer hard work and their love are all so admirable. Everyone who cares about their food and where it comes from should read it. And be inspired.
A while back whilst I picked up a novel and on the back cover was a quote from a famous American actress along the lines of "I'm buying this book for all my friends." I read the book. It was okay, but I didn't feel the need too rush out and distribute copies.
But the Dirty Life? This is the book I want to buy for all my friends. At least for all the ones who wear Blunnies. Or the ones who dream of wearing them. It's as if Kristen bundled up all of our collective dreams and turned them into her reality. Her life. A glorious, hardworking dirty one.