Book Review: Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy

To view a complete list of all the books I have reviewed on The Academic Wino, visit my Wine Book Library page and browse!

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

The book for review today is Dirty Chick, by Antonia Murphy.

I had received an email a little while ago from Ms. Murphy’s publicity contact introducing me to a new book called Dirty Chick that included the following:

“Through such misadventures as wrangling a rogue dairy cow, attempting to impregnate a goat, and carrying animal poop in her purse, she began to realize how unprepared she really was—but still, she soldiered on…”

You had me at impregnate a goat…

Up until now, the books that I have reviewed have been solely focused on wine. However, as I have mentioned in the past, wine isn’t this isolated castaway on a deserted island. No, wine is intertwined in so many things, and it would be foolish to discount or ignore them. Before I begin with the book review, let me briefly explain what I mean:

For example:

  1. Wine is associated with environmental quality.

Just like other agricultural specialties, wine (and viticulture) has a direct relationship with the quality of the surrounding environment. What you put into the grapes goes into the soil. What you put in the wine eventually makes it into our water supply (I’ll let your imaginations discover the different ways that can happen).

Today’s book review can be filed under agriculture.

  1. Wine is associated with food.

Whether we agree upon the tiny details or not, wine is tightly associated with food. Wine has been paired with meals since the dawn of time…ok, maybe not time, but certainly the dawn of wine… It provides gustatory pleasures as well as gastrointestinal protection.

Today’s book review can be filed under food.

  1. Wine is directly and indirectly tied with our health.

Whether it’s because you’ve had too much or just enough, wine has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits when consumed in moderate amounts, or health problems when consumed in too great of quantities. Wine is there for you when you’ve had a bad day, and helps melt away your troubles, even if it’s for a moment in time…

Today’s book review can be filed under health (mental health in this case).

Oh, and there is a bit of homemade wine in this book as well, so file that under wine….


What the hell does all this have to do with today’s book review? Well, Dirty Chick, by Antonia Murphy, is first and foremost a book about one woman’s journey from punking it out in San Francisco to roughing it on the farm in New Zealand. While it’s not a book about making wine, it’s a book that indirectly tied to wine, since wine is- in essence -tied to everything else.

I just have to say, Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy has got to be the funniest book I’ve ever read. She had me laughing hysterically as early as the prologue. The PROLOGUE for goodness sake! Ms. Murphy writes in such a hilarious way and carries that humor consistently throughout the entire book.

The book starts off with a sad, yet funny story about how Ms. Murphy’s first experience with farm animals didn’t turn out the way she was hoping. A rapist duck episode and some potential mental scaring, and no invitation to the poultry funeral later, a farmer was born (but she didn’t know it yet).

Photo by Flickr user  Lan Phantastic (

Photo by Flickr user Lan Phantastic (

Laughing at least once on every page, I plowed through this book like a duck on a….well….never mind….

Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy, while incredibly laugh-out-loud funny (literally—my husband asked me several times what in the world I was doing when he heard me laughing from the other end of the house), also chronicles one woman’s journey becoming farmer, as well as some of the more personal times in Ms. Murphy’s life, including coping with an underdeveloped child and doctors who in other words refused to try and figure out what was wrong, to not knowing where her family (and farm animals) would be living in less than a month’s time, to losing a dear friend.

Throughout these hard times, you can feel her strength leaping out of the page, while at the same time knowing she could snap under the pressure at any time. Sipping homemade peach wine (see! –there’s the wine!) on the porch seemed to temporarily placate her pain, and the humor bore on.

I have to say, I had thought about raising backyard chickens at one point in my life, but Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy has certainly put jumper cables on that

Photo by Flickr user Mark Robinson (

Photo by Flickr user Mark Robinson (

idea and I’ve begun the process of learning all about the practice. Of course, I’m not going to do things her way—winging it at the seat of my pants—but at the very least her experiences have convinced me to do my research before I get too deep into the not-so-glamorous field of farming.

I didn’t want this book to end, but then again, if it were to continue, then I’d probably have to tune in via satellite since these events occurred so recently in the past. I highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind graphic curse words practically every couple of sentences and who loves to laugh.

Dirty Chick, by Antonia Murphy, is available for purchase now! Visit Ms. Murphy’s website to find out where Dirty Chick is available:


1 comment for “Book Review: Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy

  1. February 4, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Before you get too excited about those backyard chickens, you might want to get a dissenting opinion. My husband raises them and I am not a fan of the birds.

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