Weekend Review: Coop by Michael Perry

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting (2009) by Michael Perry is a very heartfelt year-in-the-life memoir of a man trying to start a small sustainable farm with his wife, daughter, and brand new baby. Perry goes back and forth between stories of growing up as one of 60-some children (not all at once--his parents fostered many kids over the years) on his parents' dairy farm and anecdotes of his mishaps as he tries to raise pigs, chickens, and a family on an almost zero budget. Perry comes across as incredibly earnest, honest, and funny. I recognized a lot of my own dreams in his recurring tendency to dive fully into his farming/homeschooling/writing goals and stumbling along the way.

What was most striking about his journey is the real sense of community that is fostered around him. Buying a homestead that is not very far from the one on which he grew up, Perry is already well integrated into the community. He always seems to "know a guy" who can help him accomplish whatever he has set out to do; whether that be slaughtering his hogs, building his chicken coop, or getting assistance for his wife's home birth. It serves to demonstrate that none of us are really in this alone; we all do need the love and support of our neighbors. He places much value on a sense of family that extends beyond those related to him by blood to include all those whom he works with to build a better life. It seems obvious that these values came from growing up in a family that always made room for one more child in need.

The book ends as his family sits down to a meal that he literally provided for them from start to finish; from the pork to the vegetables, all of it was brought to the table by their own hands. It is an incredible thing. Not only that he is able to accomplish this without driving his wife crazy, but that he does so with such good humor and a real commitment to the idea that what he's doing is carving out a more meaningful life for his two little girls.

Edit: The title of this book for the 2010 paperback edition has been changed to "Coop: A Family, A Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg."

2 comments:

  1. Love this. Sounds like a book I will pick up in the coming weeks! You have AMAZING book taste, so glad you have time to read one a week to share with like hearted individuals!

    :)

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  2. As a fellow book lover, you know that is THE best compliment that I could have possibly received. Thank you!

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