Dear County Agent Guy

Calf Pulling, Husband Training, and Other Curious Dispatches from a Midwestern Dairy Farmer

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Pub Date 03 May 2016 | Archive Date 29 Apr 2016


“Jerry Nelson’s column comes from the true heart of the Midwest. He has the true voice, the slow twang. He knows wheat from barley. He knows hardware, he knows vegetation, he knows people.”—Garrison Keillor

In the tradition of Mark Twain and Jean Shepherd, Dave Barry and Garrison Keillor, Jerry Nelson is a humorist whose beat is the American heartland, a small-town world of pickup trucks and Sunday night pancake dinners, dropping in on neighbors and complaining about the county agent.

His depictions of daily life, from the point of view of an ex-dairy farmer and taciturn husband with a twinkle in his eye, are read by 250,000 people a week—and occasionally woven into Prairie Home Companion scripts. These are stories of courtship; childbirth—he offers the delivery room doctor the use of his calf puller; family; neighbors; chores; and the duties of a father—why is it that a man who spends his days in cow manure can’t change a baby’s diaper? Knee-slappingly funny one moment, poignant the next, it’s a very special look at a distinctly American way of life.


“Jerry Nelson’s column comes from the true heart of the Midwest. He has the true voice, the slow twang. He knows wheat from barley. He knows hardware, he knows vegetation, he knows people.”—Garrison...

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ISBN 9780761187271
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Featured Reviews

Dear County Agent Guy is absolutely hysterical. I must admit I originally chose it on NetGalley because I am doing a 2016 reading challenge, and I needed a book in the Humor category. Not sure what to expect, I started it and could not stop reading – the book was so funny save a few sections where the intricate details of farm equipment made me skim those parts. Winter Storm Stories and Labor and Delivery were my favorites of the comical stories. Uncle Wilmer and That Old House were touching and so well written. I also enjoyed all of his references to his Norwegian heritage. I was reading this book while I was at the car wash and laughed out loud so many times that everyone around me wanted to know what I was reading. I am a big fan of Garrison Keiller and Bill Bryson. Jerry Nelson’s writing and stories remind me of them. Apparently a number of these stories have been printed in his syndicated column, but I had never encountered him before. I am now a big fan and will look for his column. This was a highly enjoyable read. Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and Jerry Nelson for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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An warmhearted, amusing book that should be well enjoyed by readers in rural areas as well as anyone with an interest in small town and family life

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Imagine Dave Barry's humorous prose crossed with James Herriot's heartwarming stories of life on the farm, and you'll have a good idea of what you'll get in Jerry Nelson's collection of stories. That's pretty high praise, I know, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The book is quite obviously a collection of articles, and I would have preferred they be knit together a little more for the purposes of a book, but this doesn't detract from the fact that Nelson lives an entertaining life and writes well about it. It's a light, quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about simpler times.

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Dear County Agent Guy is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. Being married to a man who grew up on a farm, I read him parts of it and he laughed out loud. Each story stood alone and many of the stories had previously been printed in a syndicated column. Stories about Winter Storms, Labor and Delivery (I loved this one), Calf pullers and others were hilarious, while ones like Uncle Wilmer and That Old House were touching and well written. I also enjoyed all of his references to his Norwegian heritage (Lutefisk anyone?). Apparently Jerry Nelson has written a syndicated column for various farm magazines for years, which might be why I had not heard of him (I do not read farm magazines) but this is a great way to introduce his wit and life on a farm to others. I will look for more books by this humorist, it might even get my husband to sit down and read a book. This was a highly enjoyable read.

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The anecdotal writing is great. I spent a large amount of time smiling while reading this book.

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Jerry Nelson has some pretty funny anecdotes to tell about his life as a dairy farmer in South Dakota. There are no holds barred as he describes his misadventures in finding a wife, childbirth, raising the kids, calving, ploughing and dealing with grain silos. Then there was the time he almost died of hydrogen sulphide poisoning while trying to fix a pump in a manure pit. After writing a letter complaining to his county agent about the interminable rain (because who else can you complain to about the weather?) asking how to get rid of the waterbirds and jet skiers from his cornfields, he was encouraged to start writing a weekly column about life on the land. This book has plucked some of his best columns from over 20y of observing the ups and downs of farming life, to put into this anthology. The great grandson of Norwegian pioneers, Jerry's family have been on the land ever since (and probably for generations before). His descriptions of the good times and bad times of life on the farm are often hilarious but his love and attachment to the country and the changing seasons also shines through.

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Although I’ve been off the farm three times longer than I was ever on it, I still consider myself a farmer’s daughter. The smell of freshly turned soil, the coolness of a maturing corn crop and the taste of fresh harvest are happy touchstones of my life. In Dear County Agent Guy, author Jerry Nelson brings to life all the gifts and foibles of ag life and sets them to the music of laughter. An entertaining, uplifting read.

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