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Good Husbandry: A Memoir (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
From the celebrated author of the beloved bestseller The Dirty Life, a “beguiling memoir about the simple life” (Elle), Kristin Kimball describes the delicious highs and sometimes excruciating lows of life on Essex Farm—a 500-acre farm that produces a full diet for a community of 250 people.
The Dirty Life chronicled Kimball’s move from New York City to 500 acres near Lake Champlain where she started a new farm with her partner, Mark. In Good Husbandry, she reveals what happened over the next five years at Essex Farm.
Farming has many ups and downs, and the middle years were hard for the Kimballs. Mark got injured, the weather turned against them, and the farm faced financial pressures. Meanwhile, they had two small children to care for. How does one traverse the terrain of a maturing marriage and the transition from being a couple to being a family? How will the farm survive? What does a family need in order to be happy?
Kristin had chosen Mark and farm life after having a good look around the world, with a fair understanding of what her choices meant. She knew she had traded the possibility of a steady paycheck, of wide open weekends and spontaneous vacations, for a life and work that was challenging but beautiful and fulfilling. So with grit and grace and a good sense of humor, she chose to dig in deeper.
Featuring some of the same local characters and cherished animals first introduced in The Dirty Life, (Jet the farm dog, Delia the dairy cow, and those hardworking draft horses), plus a colorful cast of aspiring first-generation farmers who work at Essex Farm to acquire the skills they need to start sustainable farms of their own, Good Husbandry is about animals and plants, farmers and food, friends and neighbors, love and marriage, births and deaths, growth and abundance.
About the Author
Kristin Kimball is a farmer and a writer living in northern New York. Prior to farming, Kimball worked as a freelance writer, writing teacher, and as an assistant to a literary agent in New York City. A graduate of Harvard University and the author of The Dirty Life and Good Husbandry, she and her husband Mark have run Essex Farm since 2003, where they live with their two daughters.
“Exquisite… describes the surprising enchantment of crops that need tending, cows that need milking, the travails that beset Kimball’s family… And yet. The children thrive, meals are glorious and bountiful. I closed this lovely book with gratitude for those who spend their lives giving us food and with a fervent wish that everyone in it live happily ever after.” –Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review
“Frighteningly intelligent… an excellent follow-up… offers a vivid example of what a good, sustainable, modern family farm looks like but also a reminder of how furiously, almost masochistically, devoted you have to be to keep such a place alive.”
–Stephen Heyman, Vogue
"Kimball's recounting of how she left the glamour of New York City for the back-breaking -- and very dirty -- work of farming is exquisite and inspiring, filled with insight."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"In her beguiling memoir, Kimball describes the complex truth about the simple life in prose that is observant and lyrical, yet tempered by a farmer’s lack of sentimentality."
"In this "know your farmer" era, [Kimball] doesn't sugarcoat or skirt around the challenges and hardships that organic farmers face.That's part of what makes her memoir so memorable."
"Kimball writes about all this in vivid but unsentimental language, equal parts dirt and poetry."
—Burlington Free Press
"Kimball is a key voice for the young farmers taking on the hardest but most satisfying work."
“With warmth, honesty and vivid anecdotes, Kimball weaves a compelling narrative… She writes movingly about accepting the gifts and the hardships of each season, outer and inner. Good Husbandry is a clear-eyed tribute to a tough but nourishing rural life and the deep, sustainable joy it provides.”
"As Kimball chronicles that first year in supple prose, the farm takes on vivid form, with the frustrations balancing the satisfactions and the dark complementing the light. Throughout the book, the author ably describes the various trials and tribulations involved... A hearty, chromatic account of a meaningful accomplishment in farming."
“In this poignant, candid chronicle by season, Kimball writes how she and Mark infused new life into Essex Farm, and lost their hearts to it… (there was) no end to the dirty, hard, fiercely satisfying tasks, winningly depicted by Kimball.”
"This book is for all readers of memoir and lovely prose."
—Booklist, STARRED review
“Kimball has a gift for throwing into high relief contemporary Americans’ disconnect between farm-life realities and city ambitions.”
“The Dirty Life is a wonderfully told tale of one of the most interesting farms in the country. If you want to understand the heart and soul of the new/old movement towards local food, this is the book you need. It's the voice of what comes next in this land, of the generation unleashed by Wendell Berry to do something really grand.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"The Dirty Life is a delightful, tumultuous, and tender story of the author’s love affair with the man who becomes her husband and the farm they work together to restore. With wisdom and humor, Kristin Kimball describes how she abandoned her career in New York City, leaving behind everything she thought was important for a hard, distinctly unglamorous existence that turns out to be the most fulfilling thing she’s ever done.”
—Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses
“Like all good stories – fiction or nonfiction – Kimball’s memoir considers what it means to build a good, happy life, and how we are tested in that endeavor. You don’t need to know the first thing about farming to love this book.”
—Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes
"I’ve always wondered what became of Kristin and Mark after The Dirty Life, and this book delivers. Their family grew, their crew grew, and Kristin tells the story of their hardships with grace, humor and honesty. I’m rooting for them."
—Andrea Bemis, author of Dishing Up the Dirt