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Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,125 ratings  ·  375 reviews
In over his head with two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a baby due any minute, the acclaimed author of Truck: A Love Story gives us a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country.

Last seen sleeping off his wedding night in the back of a 1951 International Harvester pickup, Michael Perry is now living in a rickety Wisconsin farmhouse. Faced with thirty-seven acres
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Harper (first published April 10th 2009)
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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverAll Creatures Great and Small by James HerriotFarm City by Novella CarpenterThe Dirty Life by Kristin KimballHit by a Farm by Catherine Friend
Down on the Farm
30th out of 132 books — 167 voters
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. JacobsThe Happiness Project by Gretchen RubinAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertJulie and Julia by Julie Powell
A Year in the Life
44th out of 138 books — 249 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dave Gaston
As a convenient metaphor, Michael Perry kinda pushes this memoir out like an egg. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. As we have come to expect from Perry, it has the same folksy charm and the same exquisite descriptions of both land and life. Still, it felt a little more like an excellent journal and a little less like a memoir. There are Wisconsin chestnuts to be had, but he also threw me for a loop. This is the first Perry book (that I have read) that introduces us to his faith. His ...more
This review is going to be more about my failure as a reader than it is about Perry's success as a writer. He's warm and honest and loving and straight-laced and, well, annoying in his rectitude. He comes from a family that took in numberless foster children, many of whom died agonizing deaths. He hearkens back to his childhood with love and reverence, and he strives to raise his own children properly. He apologizes in advance for profanity (which at its worst, comprises "ass" for buttocks). He ...more
Diane Yannick
Michael Perry has written a trio of memoirs but this is the first one that I've read. I'm glad I did even though his meandering style sometimes annoyed me. Yet, he was able to set a pastoral Wisconsin scene that drew me into his world. I saw Shake 'n Bake, his special needs chicken and actually cared about her well being. I knew more about his attempts to construct a chicken coop than I ever wanted to know. I shared (well, not really) his pride when his wife learned to blow her nose without a ha ...more
Tamara Taylor
I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy this book more than I did but in all fairness I believe my expecatations were quite high. Parenting, poultry, pigs...that is right up my alley! Humour, even better! I was excited to delve into this novel and was disappointed when it didn't deliver. While Perry has a whimsical way of describing his day to day life as father, husband, writer and fledgling farmer, I found his experience unremarkable and his writing style not "enough" to overcome that. Two pigs ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Suzka rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Louisa, Tammy, Miranda, Tanya and Brynn, particularly
Recommended to Suzka by: a storefront window in Montpelier, Vermont
I couldn't decide between four and five stars, so I flipped a coin, which landed on its edge. This is at least a 4.5 star read. Coop was one of those books which unfolds itself quietly but solidly. Though it was not a compelling page-turner, it held me kinda how thoughtful reflecting on my own life holds me. (Note: you do not need to have embarked upon a chicken-raising journey to appreciate this, though it certainly does not hurt.) The world in which this author lives (as it is a memoir, not fi ...more
Joan Colby
A substantial step up from the typical rural life memoir. Perry’s self deprecating humor is salted with observations that are never, as he puts it, “prettied up.” During the course of this, his third memoir, he has moved with his wife and young stepdaughter to his mother-in-laws former farm in northern Wisconsin. Both Perry and his wife grew up on Wisconsin farms, he as a member of a large Christian fundamentalist family which eschewed TV and radio, but fostered a love of books along with numero ...more
I never keep track of where my recommendations come from and my to-read list is, well, I won't finish it in this lifetime. So I have no idea why I picked this book up. It's reasonable to guess, however, that it's because it is a sort of modern back-to-the-land fumbling memoir of the author, his wife, their young daughter and the baby-on-the-way moving out of the city to an old family farm. It's not a how-to book. It's a memoir, and his farming experiences are mostly just context for Perry's mean ...more
My folks sold the dairy farm in Wisconsin when I was quite little. What little memories I have of the time came from stories told by my father’s large brood of siblings. Over the years, my husband and I idealized these stories to the point where we thought it would be a grand idea to buy thirty-five acres and get back to the living land. Like the author, we were hit square in the backside with some fundamental reality. Animals bite! and poop! and eat! Weeds beat out grass every single time! You ...more
I admit, I stopped reading around page 265. I just didn't care about hay and the best kind and how it is baled.

I skipped to the last chapter and skimmed it and probably would have enjoyed it more if I had felt like reading it as it focused more on his belief's and faith.

This book is about Michael Perry's life. He shares things about his present life and then it will bring back a memory and he digresses a bit and then becomes a bit discursive (which I don't mind, I love discursive people) and th
I absolutely loved this book. The farming aspects of it are my foundation, as well. After I read him describing the process of milking, I stopped and just sat there holding my book. This event happened twice a day on our farm. My parents farmed for 41 years, and it went back over 100 years through my grandparents and great-grandparents on our farm, and my great-great grandparents who came from Germany and settled on the farm up the road. So many things in this book are ingrained in me, and I am ...more
What a fantastic book. Each time I read a book by Michael Perry I swear it is better than the last one. The really ironic thing is I despise chickens, not just despise, but am actually afraid of them. (Long story involving a rooster) Oddly enough, by the time I was a quarter of the way through this book, I was asking my husband what he thought of getting some chickens. This book is more than a chicken buying guide and that is what has always endeared Michael Perry to me. His thoughts on his fami ...more
Heather Colby introduced me to this author. I really enjoy his writing-- musings on life in rural midwestern America and what it means to be a husband and father. Some of his one-liners still float into my consciousness every now and again. This work starts strong but begins to feel a bit self-indulgent about a third of the way through the book when we get too many glimpses of his daily routine-- too many unrelated and unimportant details and there is not enough of a story to it. It begins to fe ...more
This was a pretty popular book at our county library. I had to wait a good long time to find it in. I see it has a new cover image and subtitle, but this is the one I read, and I like that subtitle: A Family, a Farm and the Pursuit of One Good Egg, though the other cover image is mighty fetching too.

I'd recently read Perry's, Truck: A Love Story, so this was a nice continuation of his family and their dream. Perry doesn't placate the reader and while I've lived through my own back to basics time
Laura C.
Michael Perry, who wrote "Coop" comes from a farm. He's not someone with illusions. So his book didn't bug me from that standpoint. I was prepared to sigh heavily when he talked about his fabulous relationship with his wife's ex-husband, and the home birth of his child. However, he raised pigs and chickens for food, admitted that he procrastinates and is too busy to be a perfect father and husband, and the new baby is a cry-er. Another sign of the authentic: apparently there is junk laying aroun ...more
Steve Duong
Somewhere in between a journal and autobiography, you get Coop- A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting.
When Michael sells his city home to buy 37 acres of farmland in the middle of Iowa and invites his new wife (who is by the way, conveniently pregnant) and 9 year old child, with only a vague idea as to the kind of life he is ready to live; your bound to have some problems. Understated is the rough end commitment to this rural living, which suits the book fine. This account of Michael Perry's f
Book Concierge
This is the third of Michael Perry’s memoirs that I’ve read. In this volume he relates the early years of his marriage and efforts to establish his small family on a farmstead in Northern Wisconsin – growing much of their own food by raising chickens and pigs, and planting a good-size vegetable garden.

Perry is a humorist and a philosopher. His memoirs aren’t particularly linear, though they are revealed in a fair approximation of chronological order. He goes off on tangents, ruminating about th
This book sits me squarely on the fence and asks me to enjoy the sensation of pickets poking my unders.

Perry is a great storyteller and I really enjoy the thoughtful honesty he uses to tell his tales. He's incredibly skilled at painting rural life without condescension or the easy stabs at humor. I loved Truck for this reason and more.

Coop, however, falls a little flat for me. The elements are there, but they seem tired...maybe even forced? Despite the fact that the book is called Coop, his chic
Coop was alternately hilarious, poignant, thought-provoking...and occasionally really, really boring. The first few chapters were entirely charming, and the last few as well, but there's a long time in the middle when it seems like nothing happens. Some parts were so good that I wanted to read them aloud to someone, and then a few pages later I'd find myself skimming ahead, looking for some action. So I definitely recommend it, with the exception of chapters four through eight.

I thought the open
May 03, 2009 Jackie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jackie by: May IndieNext list
Michael Perry has made a name for himself writing about small town life: "Population:485" about being a volunteer fire fighter, "Truck: A Love Story" (and an Indie hit) about meeting his wife, etc. "Coop" picks up where he left off as he, his wife, his "given" daughter (he hates the word 'step') and a soon to be born addition to the family move onto a farm formerly owned by his in-laws. The book covers about a year in the family's life and his filled with absolute hilarity (don't make my mistake ...more
I liked this a lot, mostly because I'm from Wisconsin and can relate to a lot of what he writes about, but also because I enjoyed his humor. He's deeply self-satisfied with his life in this book, and why shouldn't he be--he's got all he ever wanted, seems like. By far the best passages are about the sense of community you find in small-town Wisconsin (probably any small town, but I only really know WI), and how, when something unfortunate happens, everyone is there, and everyone truly wants to h ...more
Maybe I overdosed on Michael Perry, maybe I should have taken a break after reading Truck … I didn't enjoy this one as much, although it was still a compelling and moving read. I did find the story of his parents and the church in which he grew up fascinating, and really like hearing about his siblings as well. I'll admit that, as a staunch supporter of public education I found myself put off by the fact that he and his wife have chosen to homeschool their daughter; he doesn't give much of an ex ...more
Between this and "Shotgun Lovesongs," I'm beginning to think that the northwestern quadrant of my native state is some kind of artistic Lake Wobegon. The sense of community in my hometown in southeast Wisco is much more insular and judgmental, as our local writer made good (A. Manette Ansay) has demonstrated caustically well. But up near Eau Claire, you can be a farmer or an indie rocker and secure in the support of those around you.

"Coop" was hysterically funny at the beginning, a bit twee (and
Ginny Tata-Phillips
Best book yet this year - really enjoyed almost every single page and had at least one LOL moment per every 3.5 pages!!!
More "makes me miss WI" fodder. This is the 3rd Michael Perry book I've read and probably my second favorite behind Visiting Tom. I appreciate his running dialogue about wanting his daughters to have a life similar to his, then again, maybe not and worrying about if he is being a good father and husband. Have two young ones under the age of 3 this one was sweat, heart-breaking and endearing. Also, for some reason I kept reading the title of the book as Co-op instead of Coop and only realized my ...more
It didn't just stumble into the bookstore yesterday, this time-honored (if not quite hoary) premise: the self-deprecating, fish-out-of-water tale of the sophisticated writer who moves to the farm and reports back to ignorant us about the adventures of a rustic life.

So along comes Michael Perry's Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting. You look at the cover. Bald-headed young guy holding a chicken in his arms, his goofy, slightly deranged grin apparently acquired on his escape, unscathed, f
I stumbled across this memoir as I was topic searching the library catalog for books about keeping chickens. It didn't teach me a lick about keeping chickens, but I'm glad I read it. The first book I've read of Perry's, I'd had no expectation. Some have said not to start here, but I'm thinking that means I've only got more gold to pile on top of what I've already discovered.

Often I will devour a book in two or three evenings. This one did not imprison me just so, but that's exactly what I loved
I love Michael Perry's prose. It's delicious. Coop didn't capture my heart the way Population:485 did, but it was still quite captivating, especially having lived in the area he describes for 6 years. I even ran into people I know in his pages. Coop was a nice finish to the trilogy; big transformation of Perry as a person from where he was back during Population, to Truck, and now to Coop.
Tessa Bunn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Perry starts his book by saying that he does not consider a farm to be the best place to live or raise a child and then proceeds to write on and on about the superiority of the rural life. That could be forgiven, the book's title does tell the story but what cannot be forgiven is the poor editing. Is it a memoir or a collection of essays? I don't know.
Perry has amazing knack for capturing and reflecting my own life. Although our childhoods were dissimilar, there were some congruencies that I was able to relate to. I really felt that he was able to articulate not only my desires for homesteading, but also my concerns, misgivings, and misadventures in that area, as well! A beautiful story.
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Michael Perry is a New York Times bestselling author, humorist and radio show host from New Auburn, Wisconsin.

Perry’s bestselling memoirs include Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom. Raised on a small Midwestern dairy farm, Perry put himself through nursing school while working on a ranch in Wyoming, then wound up writing by happy accident. He lives with his wife and two da
More about Michael Perry...
Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time Truck: A Love Story Visiting Tom:  A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace The Jesus Cow: A Novel Off Main Street: Barnstormers, Prophets & Gatemouth's Gator: Essays

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“We were the church. As the New Testament instructed. When it was time for Sunday morning meeting, we convened in private homes. To raise a structure and call it a church was the worldly way. A church made of hands was soon cluttered with altars and crucifixes, and was thereupon idolatrous. These false churches, they were not walking in Truth. They were whistling off to Hades. This was a shame, because I knew some real nice Lutherans.” 1 likes
“I will never cut it as a Quaker - I cannot find it in me to renounce all violence, not with two daughters under my protection - but I do love their silent hour, which in my case invariably evolved into a self-scouring meditation on the idea that the busy life is not the full life.” 1 likes
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