The fact that vampire worms were reproducing by the tens of thousands in the belly of my goat should not have come as a surprise. By now I'd learned that country life is not a pastoral painting. Sure, at various times during the year you might see fluffy white lambs prancing in the tall grass, but those moments are rare. Real country life, it turns out, involves blood, shit and worms.
Sitting in traffic on your morning commute, with a day of staring at a screen and answering emails ahead of you, you catch yourself wondering: what if I threw it all in for a peaceful life in the country?
Antonia Murphy knows the feeling—and she did something about it. Swapping deadlines for feeding times, traffic jams for homemade cheese, Antonia transplanted her husband and children to a small farm in rural New Zealand.
But it turns out that collecting your own organic eggs isn't all it's cracked up to be. In her hilarious account of rural life, Antonia exposes the dirty truth behind the agrarian dream: a world of turkey slaughter, maggots and menopausal hens. Not to mention that there's family life to contend with, too: when her young son collapses on the school bus one day, she realises her troubles are just beginning.
It's mad, bad and dangerous to grow your own vegetables—Dirty Chick will make you grateful that you can get yours from the supermarket, instead.
An excellent debut.
â€œBy now Iâ€™d learned that country life is not a pastoral painting. Sure, at various times during the year you might see fluffy white lambs prancing in the tall grass, but those moments are rare. Real country life, it turns out, involves blood, shit and worms.â€
Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer is the first memoir by magazine journalist, Antonia Murphy. When the cost of health insurance in San Francisco sent Antonia Murphy looking for somewhere to migrate to, New Zealand looked promising for several reasons, and before long, Antonia and husband Peter were sailing the Pacific in a south-westerly direction. Eventually, they found themselves renting a house in the North Island town of Purua for a year while the owners were in Germany. And somehow acquiring animals: three alpacas, two cats, two dogs, a goat, two calves, a lamb, a rooster with insatiable libido, a flock of chickens, three turkeys and a pair of ducks.
By this time they had a developmentally delayed son and a feisty daughter. Luckily, they also had the help of a capable niece, and the support of a bunch of wonderful neighbours: â€œJohn scowled when I spoke, and I realised there was a time when I would have thought he was angry at me. But this was a man whoâ€™d offered to shave a sheepâ€™s arse for free. Whatâ€™s a better indication of friendship than that?â€ and â€œâ€™Weâ€™re all a bit nutty to be out here,â€™ Abi agreed. â€˜Youâ€™d have to be really. Itâ€™s not like any of us knows what weâ€™re doing, with the animals and this country lifeâ€¦â€™â€ describe a few of the friends they made in Purua.
As she learns about chicken anatomy, goat care, milking, alpaca shearing, cheese making and wine fermentation, Murphy includes plenty of humour: descriptions of rapist ducks, alpaca noses, vampire worms, an ovine Brazilian, chicken physiotherapy, the perils of calf transport and an addiction to lambs: â€œThatâ€™s how that lamb seduced me. It was cute like a baby, but unlike my own children, it didnâ€™t whine or annoy meâ€¦.I felt sorry for people who didnâ€™t have lambs, because their lives seemed so grey and predictable. Unlike me, they didnâ€™t live in hyper-elevated lamb reality, full of cute things and sparkles.â€
This memoir is delightfully funny as well being interesting and moving. Further adventures of the Unlikely Farmer will be eagerly anticipated. An excellent debut.