WAVERLY – Hundreds of people followed Paula Peterson as she monitored a stalk of corn growing on her farm through her Facebook page.
Now, Peterson’s fans will be able to follow her exploits on the farm all year long, in her new children’s book, “A Year on the Farm.”
The book was recently published by RoseDog Books of Pittsburgh, a division of Dorrance Publishing.
“A Year on the Farm” shows readers what goes on at the rural Waverly farm where Peterson and her husband, Tom, have been raising corn, soybeans, cattle, kids and now grandkids for 35 years.
“It takes you through everything that goes on in the farm,” Peterson said during a recent phone interview.
The book came out first in digital form through various platforms, including Kindle and Amazon. Now the hard copy version is also available for purchase.
Seeing her book on a website for a major online retailer brought everything home for Peterson.
“I was really, really excited when it showed up on Amazon,” she said.
Peterson had originally published a handful of copies of the book on the Snapfish Photo app. After she applied for the copyright through the Library of Congress, a publisher contacted her.
“Dorrance reached out to me,” she said.
Peterson was familiar with Dorrance Publishing. When her daughter, Erica (now Erica Siemek) was in FFA as a student at Waverly High School she wrote a book for her FFA ag education proficiency award that was published by Dorrance.
Each page talks about one month on the farm. Some of the months were pretty easy, like the months when they planted their crops, or during harvest. Then during the winter months it was a little more difficult to find action on the farm.
The photos that illustrate the book and grace the cover were taken by Peterson as she went about her daily chores. She compiled a large supply of photos over the past few years.
Peterson also included fun facts about agriculture sprinkled throughout the book. For example, the book tells readers that an acre of wheat can produce more than 1,500 loaves of bread, and adult cows can drink 12 to 14 gallons of water a day during the colder months.
The agricultural facts come from Peterson’s work with the statewide Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom program. A Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation program, Agriculture in the Classroom matches teachers and farmers as pen pals, Peterson explained.
Peterson got started with Agriculture in the Classroom when Erica was in eighth grade, which was about 15 years ago. Over the years, she said writing letters got boring, so she started adding videos and creating her own picture books using Snapfish or similar applications.
She would make books tailored for the classrooms she was matched with.
“They like something personal,” Peterson said.
She has worked with kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms in Ceresco, Prague, Columbus, Omaha and Lincoln. This year, she has been paired with Holmes Elementary School in Lincoln.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Peterson would bring calves or lambs to the classroom to show the students what these animals look like. But the pandemic has kept her out of the classrooms for over a year.
Instead, she reads books over Zoom or does other virtual activities with her students. But she’s eager to see the kids in person as soon as the Lancaster County mask mandate and other health measures are lifted.
“I’m ready to go into the classroom,” she said.
Peterson also educates all ages through her Facebook page, “Farmer Paula a Farm,” which has more than 600 followers, including 15 classrooms across the country. This summer she showed her followers how quickly a corn stalk grew with regular updates on her page.
The Lancaster County Farm Bureau is purchasing several copies of Peterson’s new book to put in classrooms. She is looking forward to having another avenue to reach children as she educates them about agriculture.
“I love working with kids,” she said. “Having that connection with kids always has been really fun for me.”
The book helps children understand where their food comes from.
“It helps show kids that connection I take for granted,” Peterson admitted. “A lot of kids don’t have that chance.”
With this book under her belt, Peterson has plans for another. Although not set in stone, she thinks she will write about her great pyrenees dog, Sampson, and his adventures on the farm. Because it can’t be a Peterson production without a little agriculture education mixed in.