Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer

Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1592409059

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“One month into our stay, we’d managed to dispatch most of our charges. We executed the chickens. One of the cats disappeared, clearly disgusted with our urban ways. And Lucky [the cow] was escaping almost daily. It seemed we didn’t have much of a talent for farming. And we still had eleven months to go.”

Antonia Murphy, you might say, is an unlikely farmer. Born and bred in San Francisco, she spent much of her life as a liberal urban cliché, and her interactions with the animal kingdom rarely extended past dinner.

But then she became a mother. And when her eldest son was born with a rare, mysterious genetic condition, she and her husband, Peter, decided it was time to slow down and find a supportive community. So the Murphys moved to Purua, New Zealand—a rural area where most residents maintained private farms, complete with chickens, goats, and (this being New Zealand)  sheep. The result was a comic disaster, and when one day their son had a medical crisis, it was also a little bit terrifying.

Dirty Chick chronicles Antonia’s first year of life as an artisan farmer. Having bought into the myth that farming is a peaceful, fulfilling endeavor that allows one to commune with nature and live the way humans were meant to live, Antonia soon realized  that the reality is far dirtier and way more disgusting than she ever imagined.  Among the things she learned the hard way: Cows are prone to a number of serious bowel ailments, goat mating involves an astounding amount of urine, and roosters are complete and unredeemable assholes.

But for all its traumas, Antonia quickly embraced farm life, getting drunk on homemade wine (it doesn’t cause hangovers!), making cheese (except for the cat hair, it’s a tremendously satisfying hobby), and raising a baby lamb (which was addictively cute until it grew into a sheep). Along the way, she met locals as colorful as the New Zealand countryside, including a seasoned farmer who took a dim view of Antonia’s novice attempts, a Maori man so handy he could survive a zombie apocalypse, and a woman proficient in sculpting alpaca heads made from their own wool.'

Part family drama, part cultural study, and part cautionary tale, Dirty Chick will leave you laughing, cringing, and rooting for an unconventional heroine.

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the Maidens—” “You’re kidding, right?” “—and they lead the yarn to the Orifice—” “I thought this was wholesome!” Rebecca flushed. “I don’t know. I never really thought of it like a sex thing. They’re just the traditional names for all the parts. Should I continue?” “Well, I don’t know. I’m a little offended. I feel like I should wash out my ears or something. Where’s the prick?” “The what?” “You know, the prick. The one Sleeping Beauty pricked herself with and passed out for like a hundred

health, it’s “epilepsy brain tumor.” I read about glioblastoma tumors, evil tentacles that ensnare your kid’s brain and squeeze until there’s nothing left. Swallowing hard, I shut off my phone. Silas’s pediatrician is Dr. Osei, a tall, elegant man from Ghana. He strode in later that morning holding Silas’s thick case folder under one arm. “Well, hello,” he said, greeting me. Dr. Osei’s speech has a slightly exotic cadence, his vowel sounds especially round. “I thought you were on holiday?” “I

made sure everyone had fresh water. Not even Jabberwocky or the flesh-eating alpacas could frighten me now. I’d seen my son’s eyes empty as his body shook with electric shocks. Compared to that, an angry rooster was a breeze. November is spring planting season in New Zealand, and Autumn asked if she could seed our top paddock with corn. “It’s a fantastic business idea,” she said, grinning merrily at Peter. “We’ll get early corn, then we’ll sell it all for Christmas.” It sounded fine to us, and

the night I caught him drinking a beer. I reached up to adjust my bunny ears. “I wonder what happened? To make him so serious?” Patrice shrugged. “He just grows up,” he remarked with a tilt of his head. “As we must do.” At the end of the day there was a cake auction, a spectacular display of high-calorie skills. Arrayed on the wooden lunch table were rainbow cakes, chocolate cakes, and coconut creams, but the one that caught my eye from the start was a homemade apple pie. “Thirty dollars,” I

goats!” “Sugar, Honey, Ice, and Tea!” Rebecca squealed. “That’s amazing!” “Settle down,” Peter cautioned. He was always more careful than I, especially when it came to money. We showed up at Fiona’s house that Saturday, bringing one drunken boy on epilepsy medication and a little girl in a rainbow bathing suit with a blue feather handbag. The driveway twisted back from the road, lined with puriri, totara, and other native trees. Peter and I sat up straight in our seats, both leaning slightly

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