Anton Coaker Book Reviews
The Complete Bullocks Book Review
This highly entertaining and at times heart rending book follows the successful first book ‘‘All the usual bullocks’’ published in 2011. This book is subtitled ‘A world seen through farmer goggles’. Anton Coaker in his own words ‘ekes out a meagre living farming and sawmilling in the rain on Dartmoor’. He breeds hardy Blackface sheep, Dartmoor ponies, Belts, Whites and Riggit Galloways. He also writes about the many other strings to his bow, the oak beam production at his sawmill, the sale of hide rugs and local granite and his safer sidestep into writing and public speaking.
The book follows the highs and lows of a hardworking hill farmer from winter 2010 to spring 2013. It is full of both highly amusing and interesting stories and thoughts. It is punctuated by the introduction of interesting local characters, animal and human. We hear about bovine assertion training and the canine capers of the author’s faithful companion ‘Gyp’ who also helps mould the Coaker family into knowing their place in the ever-changing animal and family hierarchy. Anton writes in a way that transports you up into the hills and introduces you to the aforementioned farming characters and the ever-changing land which is so obviously an integral part of him.
There is an interesting thought provoking practical slant on ‘save the world schemes’, just don’t use the word sustainable! Anton’s political views suggest another career path to add to his collection in the future.
On a much more serious note the book will have you in tears reading the section dealing with Anton’s agonising vivid account of when his stock were taken in 2001 during the Foot and Mouth cull. To share his memories so openly of that overwhelming challenging time and his comeback is totally humbling. The only upshot of that time was that Anton took to writing more and hopefully in the future we can all look forward to reading more books in the ‘bullocks collection’. This is definitely a book to be put on your wish list.
Tobergill Belted Galloways
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All the Usual Bullocks Book Review
This delightful book is sub titled “a glimpse into the life of a peasant farmer”. It is also a love story, the writer has a mistress; she is described on the first page, and “wears a cloak of peat on her granite bones”. Anton Coaker farms on Dartmoor, breeding sheep, hardy hill types such as the Blackface, and cattle, also hardy types; Galloways and Belted Galloways, alongside South Devons. He also runs a sawmill, producing oak beams, sells beef and hide rugs, and writes. His style, like the man, is down to earth, warm, and witty, with keen observations of the world around him and beyond.
He has been described as a practical romantic, and these qualities shine through the writing, capturing the complex relationships between the land, the animals, the weather and the foibles of the bureaucracy in farming and forestry. The reader meets many characters, both human and animal and is introduced to some” Dartmoor speak”, don’t worry if you are not a farmer or from Devon, there is a glossary. Anton Coaker has always enjoyed writing and this ability was sharpened in the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001, where took to writing more publicly about his involvement in that most painful of times. His tangential and humorous style, appealed, and he was asked to write more professionally. This book is a collection of stories and observations from 2008 to early 2011.
The understanding and respect that Anton Coaker has for his life and surroundings, and his zest and wit in sharing the challenges of life in a tough and beautiful place, make a compelling reading. This is definitely a book to enjoy.
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