At Crossroads with Chickens

At Crossroads with Chickens is a 63,700 word memoir about my “what-if-it-works?” adventure in off-grid living, and quest for home.

In 2012, my husband, Carl—a trombonist-wanna-be-a-farmer—and I—a writer-what’s-this-pitchfork-for?—built an off-grid, solar-powered house in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. It was to be a weekend, getaway place. That December, with our two cats and six newly adopted chicks, we drove up to Jaffrey from our home in Providence, Rhode Island. Just for the winter because we didn’t want our new pipes to freeze . . . and because Rhoda Red had turned out to be Big Red, and roosters are outlawed by Providence city regulations. Big Red couldn’t go back. Thus, neither did we.

Survival of the fittest. Natural selection. Soul evolution. We named our 193-acre home “Darwin’s View” for a reason.

From full-time weekenders to organic gardeners, our tale braids with my mother’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Mother and Mother Nature both spiral. Chicken kerfuffles might lighten the mood but this story is born of heartbreak, yearning for the great beauty of the world as it used to be as opposed to what it has become. Add the sun, the wind, a cock-a-doodle-do and you have the recipe for a perfect storm of personal growth rippling out to effect transformation in the bigger picture.

With Gene Logsdon sensibility, At Crossroads with Chickens is about dreams coming splat up against reality. As Kristin Kimball writes of in The Dirty Life, so do I describe the twists, turns, and get down and dirty path of my personal seismic shifts as I move from seeking home to saving it. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas described the book as “impressive” and “unusual”. “The experiences … described are essentially familiar to most of us, yet […the reader] sees them in an entirely new light … with deeper vision.”