Coop is Michael Perry's memoir about his life on a farm. Subtitled A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting, it is about how farming has been and is a major part of his life. So far, I've read about three chapters and I love it so far. I'm enjoying this book far more than I expected to. He talks about milking cows (in his childhood), buying a pig that he wants his daughter to care, his dreams for a chicken coop, splitting wood for his fireplace when previously he would just flick the thermostat switch.
Before starting the book, I did assume that I may have a hard time getting into it. As I mentioned in my post last week, I am so not a farm girl. Part of it has to do with the fact that I never grew up in such an environment. All through my childhood, teenage and adult years, I've lived in cities (big and small). So the idea of ditching everything and moving into a farm is alien to me. But when I started this book, it proved to be a compelling read. Michael Perry, the author of this book, is funny, often using self-deprecating humor to great effect, charming and knowledgeable, and also very practical. And his experiences, however normal, usual or mundane, were fun to read about and can be so easily related to.
Mike grew up on a farm, moved away and returned back to a farm. He talks about both phases of his life, and doesn't rattle on as if this is a common every day thing. Rather, it seems a perfect read for hesitant and unconvinced people like me. Without preaching, he demonstrates many advantages of a farming life. And also many of the downsides. For instance, living on a farm means a heck lot of responsibilities, much like in any normal house. He explains how he and his brothers grew up knowing their chores and helping his father milk the cows. He yearns to impart the same feel of responsibility and accountability to his daughter.
I loved his chapter on the whole cow milking experience. One of the photos I have of my late grandmother is one in which she is milking a cow. Up until I saw that photo, I never imagined that my mother might have grown up in some kind of a farm. So I found it quite enchanting that we did have a cow once. The author talks about the many cows they've had and discusses their various temperaments. For instance, there's one that's always head butting him and then racing him just to knock him down. There's another that doesn't like to be milked and would keep kicking whoever's in charge of the work. It was quite entertaining to read the little annoying characteristics of these animals.
Mike says that his family grew up poor. A farmer's life is not always rich, but he makes it clear that they never grew up wanting. It was a kind of life where nothing is wasted and one would think twice, thrice, four times (frice?) before buying something. A lot of things were recycled and reused. Most importantly, the lessons were ingrained from childhood. Although I never grew in a farming family, my parents clearly did. They brought me up in a frugal lifestyle, and if I so much as threw a little food, I could be sure of seeing my mom's angry face and listen to her lectures for the rest of the day. There's so much more wisdom that Mike shares, so I'm looking forward to what the rest of the book has to offer.