Good Husbandry: Growing Food, Love, and Family on Essex Farm by Kristin Kimball
Years ago, when 'The Dirty Life' came out, I was curious & as a result, read a good amount of the reviews available at the time. I was already farming organically at this point having gone from dreaming about it, reading books that glamorized it, then having a hobby farm while working full time, to finally full time farm ownership. Some of the reviews of 'The Dirty Life' made me decide against the book. They made it seem like another fantasy farming book rather than the real deal. A spoiled princess, with loads of money decides to "rough it". I gave it a firm pass & never thought of it again until I came across this book, 'Good Husbandry'.
What really caught my attention was the books description. This was the after. This was the hardships. This was what happened after the rose colored glasses came off, or so I thought based on my limited to 0 knowledge about the first book. I immediately ordered this book & called my local library so I could read 'The Dirty Life' first.
I don't want to turn this book review into one about 'The dirty Life' So all I'm going to do is stress to you just how much I fell instantly in love with 'The Dirty Life'. It was nothing like I'd expected. It has touched me in a way that no other book on farming has ever done. Finally, something real. No rose colored glasses. No Mary Jane's Farm. Just the real dirt on what it is to farm naturally. It touched me deeply & has stayed with me ever since.
Now onto 'Good Husbandry'. This book didn't touch me like the first book, but it is still a great book in it's own right. Good enough in fact that I also purchased the audio version & have read this book more than once.
As the title states, it is mostly about caring for the various animals on the farm. As Kristin discusses this, she gently discusses how hard farming is on a marriage. There are so many passages in this book that I'd love to quote, but really, there are too many, much too many for me to pick any one quote. One I remember is when she mentions a farming relationship, I believe she said something along the lines of how farming can end in divorce. Towards the end of the book a farmer friends barn burned down. Kristen says how she burst into tears. Not for the building but for the loss of all of the work that went into it. That sums up farming as a whole. You put in endless amounts of backbreaking labor & it can all be wiped out in an instant. A total loss. It can destroy your hope, your faith in what you do, or you pick yourself up, learn from it, & try again.
I don't know many people who can relate to my way of life as an organic farmer. I don't use tractors, I don't till, I don't use the endless amounts of "stuff" that is applied to the land. On top of that, hardly anyone seems to farm anymore. It is shocking & disheartening to see how year after year, people are become more removed from their food rather than closer. I would have expected closer with the local farm movement in full swing, but somehow, it's just not the case. In too many situations farmers are being villainized. I'm sure this is in part to factory "farming", but what about the rest of us? The real farmers? We work hard, we do it because we love it. We do it because we love the outdoors, the land, the animals, eating the best food ever. Read both of Kristen's books, you'll see how hard it is & why it is the best life ever.
To sum it up, Kristen manages to show both the beauty & the misery of farming. She is my hero.
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