I just finished reading Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Micheal Perry. (Evidently the paperback edition is titled slightly differently) It came recommended by the gal over at A Life Sustained blog.
I loved this book.
Of course I would love this book. It is about a guy who lives on farmland, with a wife and a daughter, and a bundle on the way. He gets pigs, and chickens, and he writes a book in that year. Besides the pigs, even more so after reading the book, this year in his life is a year I would like to see in the near future of mine!
Most of it anyway. It isn’t a book that is all glory with no guts. No ones life is void of ups and downs and crushingly painful downs at times. It is the journey of humanness. This book has one of those that caught me completely off guard. And hey, even with the pigs and chickens there are a few downs.
But I am in love with the idea of this. If you have read my Dreams of Homesteading post, you understand. Mr. Perry is funny and real in his writing, and hits some philosophical doozies that had me pause to look up from my reading:
“After the hot, sticky afternoon, storms have begun working either side of the valley and pushing a cool breeze before them. It’s nice, all of us out here together, eating and talking, laughing with the baby. I get going on the pigpen, or the garden fence, and from some imaginary omniscient perch I look down and see a man toiling on behalf of his family, forgetting that sometimes what the family needs is a man sitting still.”
~Coop pg. 178
As much as he wants to speak for himself, I feel as though he is speaking about me as well. Sometimes what a family needs is a Mom standing still. Not a Mom trying to be everything to everyone running around at warp speed just trying to make some effort and doing it all. We can toil all we want until we feel better and more in control, but often what is needed is moments of just being.
This crumb from pg. 245 had me in stitches for a multitude of reasons:
“And what better than haying to soothe the obsessive-compulsive beast? How clean the field looks when the last wagon departs. The stubble reamins slanted in the direction of the last pass, and as on a checker-mowed lawn, you can read the bend of the stems and see how the day progressed. On tight corners the haybine always missed little bed-head tufts of hay. They bugged me like a collar sticking up, so sometimes I tried to trim them when I was done, but this plugged the sickle, so I’d have to shudder and drive home. But still: at the end of it all, you had the very green manifestation of summer swept cleanly from the field, pressed into cubes, and stowed in square corners against the winter. Every time I stack firewood, there is this moment at the finish when I step back and survey the neat row, and a yogalike calm fills me. It is the same with the hay pile. You look at it, and you think, Well, whatever the winter brings, we’ve got out hay up.”
I know you are pondering, why so funny? Am I right? Two things.
First, two weeks ago I mowed my first lawn EVER. Yes, I will confess, this outspoken feminist has never mowed a lawn. Why would I have? I have always lived in apartments or in the mountains. No lawns in either locale. But as I have been getting more keen on the idea of homesteading, I thought I should branch out in areas of knowledge. After all, if I want to use a tractor, best to start with a lawnmower I presume.
Regardless, my husband and our neighbors sat and drank beers on the driveway as I learned to wrestle the little orange machine up and down our slanted lawn. I was so proud of myself when I was all done, I knew it wasn’t like some soccer field with a checkerboard etched in it, but our lawn was significantly shorter than it had been moments before.
Then I sat. On the driveway. Looking around at my work. Only to see all of these tufts of grass poking up in random places…all over the lawn. I was shocked and irritated too! It isn’t as if I can haul the mower all over the lawn again for 24 ‘stray hairs’ that I had left. But it annoys me still!
Second, from the statement “Every time I stack firewood, there is this moment at the finish when I step back and survey the neat row, and a yogalike calm fills me.”
Yes, yogi Michael. I get that too. Except it comes when I am at the helm of the Bissel 12 amp Pet Hair Eraser with 2x the cyclone action. There is nothing like the overwhelming sense of calm and control that follows in the footsteps of the last horizontal line vacuumed across my carpet. Pure success.
Back to that Coop…not co-op tag line. I can’t tell you how many people would read the cover of the book as I had it hugged to my chest then say “Coop. Or Co-op?” Followed by a strange and bewildered gaze. The man is holding a chicken on the cover. This book ain’t about a co-op, it’s about chickens. And people. People with chickens. It is COOP people. Coop.
Spill it: I am always looking for a good read, any other suggestions for a book junky who loves the idea of living with the land and following the seasons? (And yes, I have read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle…five stars!)