A couple’s massive tax debt leads them to move to a cabin in the North Carolina woods.
McGaha began not with a romantic desire to return to the wild but with a foreclosure on the suburban house she and her accountant husband were buying from friends and a bill from the IRS for unreported back taxes in the six-figure range. Her determinedly upbeat memoir follows the couple and their dogs to a run-down cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina. The setting was idyllic, but for someone used to the pleasures of upper-middle-class living, the housing situation was less than ideal. The house, filled with the “thick, pungent odor” of mold, had green camouflage carpet “on the ceiling,” a barely functioning bathroom, countless mice, and a constant influx of snakes attracted by those mice. McGaha gradually forgave her husband for lying to her about their financial situation, and she achieved some happiness with the purchase of a few goats and chickens. She learned how to make goat cheese and breed the goats, with a few misadventures along the way. While she describes her experiences with the animals in vivid detail, the narrative often rambles. A long section about her life with her abusive first husband seems to have been shoehorned in, and she glosses over some of the deeper problems the author and her husband created for themselves, their college-aged children, and their friends. Many of the recipes that conclude the chapters are not detailed enough to be useful, particularly the one for Crock-Pot goat milk soap, which involves “9.56 ounces 100 percent pure lye” and some unspecified “protective gear.” The book also includes a reading group guide.
McGaha offers plenty of detail about life with a tiny herd of goats, but readers will finish the book with more knowledge about the outer lives of the chickens, goats, and dogs than the inner lives of their human owners.