Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review: Dirty Chick (Audio)

Summary: "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). -- Audible

DIRTY CHICK: ADVENTURES OF AN UNLIKELY FARMER by Antonia Murphy probably wouldn't be a book that I'd normally seek out. I enjoy the occasional memoir, but I am about as far from a farmer as anyone you'd ever meet. In fact, Ms. Murphy's story just seemed a bit crazy to me; however, there was something about it that appealed to me.

I am definitely glad I listened to DIRTY CHICK because it was a very entertaining story.  When I consider that the story was based on Ms. Murphy's own life, it makes it all the more interesting. Ms. Murphy was a city girl, born and bred in San Francisco, and lived the stereotypical urban life. However after she got married and gave birth to a little guy with a rare genetic condition, she and her husband's priorities changed. They decided to move to Purua, New Zealand, a rural community where most of the residents were farmers.

And boy did their life change! Ms. Murphy and her husband became artisan farmers in the hopes that a simpler life would bring them in touch with nature. Ha! Simpler is definitely not the right word for what this family experienced over the next twelve months. Crazy, insane, dirty, unbelievable, gross, scary, and more would be my descriptions!

DIRTY CHICK is an extremely entertaining story about what Ms. Murphy and her family endured during their first year as farmers in New Zealand, and I have to say I might be permanently scarred by some of the things I learned about farm animals. There were so many animal scenes that were disgusting, yet interesting in a strange way; and I couldn't help but find myself giggling as I listened to this book. Ms. Murphy's account isn't for the faint of heart and she doesn't shy away from telling it like it is... and these things make for some very funny stories.

It is Ms. Murphy's "tell it like it is" personality, though, that made this book so good. Not only does the reader (or listener) get the animal stories in all their glory, but he or she also gets an inside look into the more serious aspects of Ms. Murphy's life including the challenges she faced with her son. Ms. Murphy does offer some semblance of humor when telling the stories, but as a mother, I can only imagine how scary and difficult it would be to constantly worry about your child.

DIRTY CHICK was actually read by Ms. Murphy; and while I usually tend to avoid books read by the author, this one worked. In fact, I thought Ms. Murphy did a terrific job with her story. Not only did her adventures sound real (And why wouldn't they? They were her adventures!), but she also managed to execute quite a few different accents. I'm certainly no expert on New Zealand accents, but they sounded good to me. In addition, I loved Ms. Murphy's ability to tell the stories with a dry wit and perfect timing!

Overall, DIRTY CHICK was a fun way to get through seven hours on the treadmill! Definitely recommended for fans of memoirs and readers who appreciate humorous adventure/animal stories!

Thanks to Audible for providing me with a review copy of this audiobook.


bermudaonion said...

I do love memoirs and can't wait to dig into this one. I have it in print.

Carin Siegfried said...

Sounds good! I also love memoirs and I like armchair farm books as that's something I intend to never do. I will keep an eye out for this one.