Dirt Under My Nails: An American Farmer and Her Changing Land

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9781882593774: Dirt Under My Nails: An American Farmer and Her Changing Land

A woman farmer observes with a poetic and appreciative eye the transformation of the plant and animal life on her land through the changing seasons, and now through the encroachment of residential development.

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Author Marilee Foster is a modern farm woman, 31 and single, the fifth generation of her family to plant and harvest her fields. She observes with a poetic and appreciative eye the transformation of the plant and animal life on her land through the changing seasons--and through the encroachment on the environment of residential development.

With a section devoted to each of the seasons, she interweaves the timeless rhythms of nature with the story of a year of her life on the land, the tales of her ancestors who farmed it before her, and descriptions of what it is like to be a contemporary farmer.

Her land is situated in "the Hamptons" at the eastern end of Long Island, an area that has been growing as an international resort community. This has driven up land values. What inspires a modern college-educated young woman and her family, working land that could be sold for tens of millions of dollars, to elect to pursue the hard life of farming rather than cash in for an easier existence? The author answers that as she reflects on her love of the land. She reflects, too, on the impact of residential development on the environment and on local farmers. This is a story of "the other Hamptons" or what one might call "the real Hamptons." But at the same time it is a story that reflects in microcosm American farming nationwide and the enduring beauty of nature's bounty even as the farm scene changes, with inevitable environmental consequences.

The author muses on the habits of farm cats and guinea hens, white throat sparrows and wrens, potato beetles, ants and ladybugs. She watches as the springtime plow "breaks winter's seal," senses the scents of summer, joins in the mending of barns and machines. She comments on local political and environmental wars, the secrets of old cemeteries, the ever-changing weather. And she helps the reader understand what it is that inspires a young modern woman to choose farming as a career, a way of life.

About the Author:

Marilee Foster is 31 and lives and farms in Sagaponack, New York, 100 miles east of New York City. Between growing corn and potatoes, squash, peas, asparagus and tomatoes, and chasing invading deer, she writes a weekly column, "Sagaponack Scene," for the "Southampton Press." She is a graduate of Beloit College, in Wisconsin, and also is an artist.

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