South Dakota farmer Lee Friesen has turned his own experiences as a farmer into a children’s book called “If a Farmer Gets a Pickup.” Published in 2020, and now available worldwide, the book is a circular tale of a young farmer who gets a brand new truck. After he gets the truck, the farmer needs one thing after another to run the farm. The book traces this tale in a “circular” fashion all the way back around to when the truck has to be replaced. The book is written to teach children about life as a farmer, the cycles of planting, and the work that goes into the food we all eat. It’s an easy-to-digest, positive book that includes a hidden rubber chicken on each page to engage even the youngest readers.
“As [farmers] get a piece of equipment, then there always seems like there has to be another piece of equipment that goes with it,” Friesen explained. “I guess it really just comes down to life.
“The idea of one purchase leading to another strikes a chord with every farmer,” Friesen continued. “It seems like there are always things at every auction or farm supply store ad that we really need, then [we] require more purchases down the line.”
The genesis of the book was a series of discussions he had with his family. In particular, a conversation with his son about how getting one piece of equipment always leads to needing another piece of equipment sparked the idea. The circular concept shows that life on the farm is all about cycles. The narrator, Old Ben, tells real-life farm tales in a fun, simple way.
“Ultimately, it comes down to knowing and understanding that we have got a very safe,
equitable, food source and just to make them more aware of what farming life iskind of all about,” Friesen said. “And with this book, it kind of goes through a whole year, in a circular style, of what farmers do run into.”
Friesen teamed up with notable New York-based illustrator Vartan Ter-Avanesyan to create a colorful, engaging story that entertains and teaches. The book and Freisen’s website include add-ons like corny jokes, puzzles, games, coloring sheets, and farm facts to make learning about Old Ben and his need for a pickup truck even easier. Friesen’s first-hand experience on a working farm near Olivet, South Dakota makes the book ring even more true. With the help of his wife and three children – he raises cattle, sheep, and goats and plants soybeans, corn, and alfalfa. His work with the South Dakota Ag and Rural Leadership program and his local newspaper The Freeman Courier has helped promote the book to children across the Midwest and beyond. He’s also the man behind the comic book series Murphy’s Law Firm, about how things can and will go wrong on a farm.