There is something powerful about honestly sharing the wisdom and knowledge of experience. In Good Husbandry Kristin Kimball does exactly that and although we might not all be trying to build and maintain a farm there is much to learn as a result. There is also a genuine joy to be had from sharing in another person’s striving to achieve a meaningful goal. Culturally we value speed, we want what we see and we want it now, but spiritually that avaricious consumption of both material things and ambitions and dreams is robbing us of depth and meaning. Through Kristin and her husband Mark’s endeavour we see the value of hard work towards a fulfilling, values based life.
On one level, with the majority of lives now completely divorced from the process of food production and lacking relationship with the land, there is a need to understand what is involved in keeping food on our tables. Industrial agriculture has directly damaged the land that we rely on to sustain us and it is has robbed us of our relationship with that land and the people who work it.
There has been a societal celebration of tearing up those rural communities that cared for the land, protecting and improving soil for future generations as well as feeding their own, and crucially sustaining each other. It is heartening therefore to read of those who are returning to the fields to farm them in a relational, restorative way. We need brave people to make this reverse movement and we should find ways to support them rather than constantly asking that good farming be done so sacrificially. That way we can all benefit, through what we eat and also how we experience it.
The value of Good Husbandry goes well beyond that however, as Kristin’s willingness to share her intimate personal hopes and fears sheds light on universal struggles that are familiar to us all. Her honesty about her marriage and the way the arrival of children has changed both her and the way she relates to her husband and her work, speaks to us all in our own close relationships. Kristin is prepared to be open with us about her struggles and her compromises, giving us permission and space to do the same as we read.
There is also a sense throughout the book of the need for community. This isn’t just the story of Kristin and her family. There are a steady cast of inspirations and inspired that travel through it. Locals to the area where the family farm who can share wisdom and resources to keep them going and fellow dreamers who want to set up farms of their own and learn from someone already doing it.
As humans we can’t be self-sufficient, we need others around us to share both our physical and our psychological burdens. I’ve seen how powerful community can be recently when my wife had a major operation and a chain of love and care seamlessly stepped in to provide for us when we couldn’t manage alone. Good Husbandry is a personal memoir of a difficult struggle to achieve a dream, but it is also a wise guide and welcome companion as we transition through the stages of life and also the periods of human history. Thank you.