Treechange? Artisanal Farmer? Read all about it in Antonia Murphy's 'Dirty Chick'

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, Dirty Chick
$32.95, Text Publishing

$32.95, Text Publishing

I should say from the outset that I’m a tree-changer. That’s right … one of those annoying people who have ‘opted out’ of city life and all it entails: a short commute, quiet moments in cafes with quirky people in every corner, wine bars, live music … the list goes on.

 Unlike Antonia, I didn’t come into it blind as I grew up in the country but whoever the hell sold me the dream of a quiet simple life really lied. It’s like the goddamn harbour bridge. The chores are endless, there’s always something to build, fix, weed or grow and just when I’m at the end it all starts all over again.

 So while I did think, tree-change book, ho-hum when Antonia’s book was sent to me … I couldn’t help but have a squiz.

 And once I picked it up at 4 pm with a cup of tea, there was no putting it down until I finished at 11 pm. I ignored my family for the evening and read all about the trails of Antonia’s.

 Funny, tender, heartbreaking and brutally honest, Dirty Chick is the memoir to read for this autumn. 

Blurb from Text Publishing

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.

Text supplied a review copy but all opinions are my own.