Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer
by Antonia Murphy
Pub Date 22 Jan 2015
An uproarious memoir chronicling the misadventures of a born-and-bred San Franciscan who leaves city life to become an artisanal farmer in New Zealand
After a traumatic experience caring for her father’s chicken, Antonia Murphy vowed to never again take responsibility for a living creature besides her children. That all changed in 2013 when Antonia uprooted her urban family and moved to Purua, New Zealand, a small rural community where the residents all lived as their forebears had done for centuries, raising livestock, growing their own food, and making cheese.
It was an odd place for American yuppies to settle, but, after Antonia’s five-year-old son was diagnosed with a developmental delay, she feared that he would struggle at a fast-paced city school. She and her husband wanted him to grow up in a place where he could thrive and be part of a community. How great it would be to get back to the land! How responsible and progressive and eco-friendly, she thought. So what if she had zero farming experience? How hard could it be?
As Antonia later noted, "You don’t see dairy farmers moving to the city with big ideas about being cardiologists for fun." Soon, she found herself carrying poop in her purse, trying to wrangle a rogue dairy cow, and impregnating a goat. But Antonia soldiered on, slowly becoming addicted to farm life—even if she’ll never be a natural.
Part touching story of a family starting over and part raunchy send-up of the burgeoning artisan farming movement, Dirty Chick will make you laugh, cringe, and root for its incredible, unlikely heroine.
“Antonia Murphy is a writer of great charm and appeal. She's kind of impossible to resist.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love
“Dirty Chick has it all. And by all I mean homemade booze, arson, a heavy hand of insanity and a magic place called Love Mountain. It's the dirtiest, most delightful book I've ever read. I f*cking loved it, laughed my ass off, and got so grossed out I couldn't wait to go back and visit Antonia and her very brave family on her raucous New Zealand farm. Dirty Chick will love you long time.”
—Laurie Notaro, New York Times bestselling author of The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club and The Potty Mouth at the Table
“Dirty Chick perfectly captures the chaotic balance of hilarity, hardship, triumph, tragedy, romance, pornography and general grossness that makes up farm life. In this crowded world of hipster farmers, Antonia Murphy proves herself to be the real thing.”
—Josh Kilmer-Purcell, bestselling author of I Am Not Myself These Days and The Bucolic Plague and star of The Fabulous Beekman Boys
“Way down under in the land of hobbits, a family of transplanted Californians do battle with monsters worse than mere dragons – lusty goats, a crazed rooster, and alpacas that spit green gobs of goo. Nearly every page of Antonia Murphy’s big, boisterous, hilarious tale of how not to start a farm in New Zealand bristles with jaw-droppingly outrageous livestock encounters and visceral details that would have made Rabelais blush. Wallowing in this filthy, funny, and unexpectedly sweet tale of self-inflected misery is the perfect cure for the next time you’re feeling too sorry for yourself.”
—Bob Tarte, author of Enslaved by Ducks and Kitty Cornered
“Just when I thought motherhood was the toughest challenge there is, along comes Antonia Murphy, doing the Mommy thing with goats, cows and freaking alpacas. Her hilarious exploits with chickens, lambs and a single amorous rooster make me grateful there's no goat colostrum in my sippy cup. Trigger warning: Dirty Chick might make you laugh out loud. Proceed with care.”
—Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour, and go-to parenting expert for The Today Show
“Filled with sass, love, high energy, foibles, and the delicious power of a rich and supportive community, this book is raw, rugged and alive in a personal, humanistic way. Dirty Chick is a great read for any DIY farmer wannabe and anyone who wants to take a peek at how dreams and reality blur when you actually take the risk to jump into your passion full speed ahead. Three cheers and a big cloacal kiss for Antonia! May all your cheeses bloom, without poil de chat!”
—Ricki Carroll, A.K.A. “The Cheese Queen,” author of Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses
In sparkling prose, Antonia Murphy takes us along on one family’s foray into the world of small farming. By turns entertaining and heart wrenching, her story is so captivating that I neglected my own chores and children to follow hers on their wild ride. Farming and parenting are both dirty work—exhausting, satisfying, rich with all kinds of meaning—and Murphy captures life in all its gory and glorious complication. Dirty Chick is an exceptional story of Murphy and her crew finding their place in the world.
—Margaret Hathaway, author of The Year of the Goat and Living With Goats
“Murphy's book presents an unsentimental, at times unapologetically graphic, treatment of farm life. At the same time, it offers a comic yet thoroughly wise perspective on what it means to start over in a new country and live close to a natural world that is anything but romantic. Warm, funny and touching.”