True Cow Tales


As the only person in my family born and bred in Wisconsin, I have had life experiences that were not available to my Minnesota kin. For example, I have been to and enjoyed many cheese houses in my time. Family traditions of babies and toddlers sampling the local brew are commonplace in America's Dairyland. Growing up in the land of cheese means that youngsters were schooled early in agriculture. Knowing how to tell the difference between a Holstein and a Jersey cow was essential knowledge for one to grow up and become a healthy consumer of beer and cheese.

It was from this context that I was able to even crack open True Cow Tales. A self-published book from Dog Ear Publishing, True Cow Tales has forty stories from many different people who love cows and the dairy farm culture. Edited by C.R. Lindemer, True Cow Tales has stories about all facets of the bovine experience, including favorite cows, 4-H experiences, and dairy princesses.

True Cow Tales, being a self-published book, has a certain amateur feel about it that one needs to accept in order to appreciate the content. For example, the formatting of the book is a little off, as the editor made the choice to include a contributor's full bio after each story they authored in the book (I read Kermit Dietrich's four times). Being a book of stories written by people that are probably not writers means the occasional grammatical error will manifest itself, not unlike a typical sampling of Facebook status updates.

These are stories about cows, similar to stories about one's cat. These stories involve drama, goofiness, and the occasional escape, much like listening to stories told by?Angela?Martin. The section about dairy princesses is interesting, since a typical family trip to the Minnesota State Fair involves a viewing of Princess Kay of the Milky Way's head carved in a giant block of butter. However, unless you have a deep love for dairy farming, cattle, and possess a healthy acceptance of amateurism, you may want to skip reading True Cow Tales.

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  1. Arlene Stratman Walker 12.Oct.09 at 5:41 am

    In regards to Ben Kimball’s critical remarks, I ask him to make sure he knows what he’s talking about before he makes unkind and untrue statements. He makes the critical statement that this is probably a “book of stories written by people that are not writers.” OUCH!! He hasn’t checked out the credentials of at least some of us who are quite widely published. Consequently, his statements hold no value to me and I hope others who read his statements will also “consider the source” of the harsh comments. Arrogance has no place here.

  2. Ben Kimball 12.Oct.09 at 7:18 am

    You can be widely published and also be a bad writer.

    Do not assume that I did not check the credentials of the writers in this book. Again, bad writers can be widely published, sentence fragments and all.

    It has nothing to do with arrogance. No book is above fair criticism. This book is certainly not scripture and is fair game for honest criticism. I did not commit any personal attacks, unlike your comment that calls people to “consider the source,” like I am some sort of evil person with questionable character and credentials.

    When you publish a book, you are setting yourself up for both praise and criticism. No one’s work is free of flaws and above fair criticism. If you think you are, you are fooling yourself.

  3. christa 12.Oct.09 at 11:17 am

    I’m going to take Arlene’s advice and consider the source: Ben Kimball, a reviewer with no ties to this cow project and no, like, dueling cow book in the works as far as I know, versus a contributor to the cow book.

    I think Ben seems like a pretty reasonable source.

  4. Betty Taylor 12.Oct.09 at 1:40 pm

    Often times even inexperienced writers have delightful stories to tell. Like many of the contributors featured in “True Cow Tales,” I grew up in an era before factory farms. Farm families had relationships with their animals. We named each cow and recognized their personal eccentricities. We knew which ones were mild and which ones might kick or stick a foot in the milk bucket. It became a challenge and a big achievement to milk fast enough by hand to make milk foam up in the bucket. And then there was the everlasting problem of the cows getting out, told so well in Chris Lindemer’s own account. You will squirm with Roger Stoner as he stares down an angry bull and lives to tell the story. You will be amused by Arlene Walker’s dad providing them with a radio to milk by as the music made more contented cows. If you enjoy swapping stories about growing up, you might just find this to be a good read.

  5. Millie Dancer 12.Oct.09 at 2:00 pm

    I agree with Ben Kimball that the book has some formatting problems, and looks like it would have benefited from a good editing. Self-publishers, alas, often try to do everything on their own and the work suffers for it, as seems to be the case here. Some of the stories in Cow Tales are enjoyable, some less so, but overall it’s not a bad little book.

  6. Linda Schumacher 12.Oct.09 at 2:02 pm

    The world of today would be much better off if the values of family, love and strong work ethic as portrayed in True Cow Tales were emphasized more strongly. It is nice to see a positive message book that praises farm life as it used to be. Think about it, I doubt one will see a book in the future with fond remembrances of the monster “mega farms” of 2009.

  7. Jodi Chromey 12.Oct.09 at 2:30 pm

    It’s nice to see dissenting opinion on True Cow Tales without the ad hominem attacks on the author of this review. I really appreciate that. At Minnesota Reads we respect everyone’s right to express their opinion on a book, that much should be obvious now.

    However, it is a bit disingenuous to praise a book without revealing the fact that you’re a contributor to the project.

  8. Linda Schumacher 12.Oct.09 at 2:41 pm

    I accept and respect your comment. Just didn’t feel the need to draw attention to myself.
    But, truly, I’d feel the same way if I were a contributor or not. As you can tell from my poem in the book, I have a soft spot for farm life in the 1960’s, as do many folks. I know we can’t go back to “the good ol days”, but it is nice to see a book that brings back so many memories for we who grew up in that period.

  9. Jodi Chromey 12.Oct.09 at 2:55 pm

    @Linda Schumacher
    The very first comment in this thread called Ben’s credibility into question with the “consider the source” jab. It is unfair to readers to see a slew of positive comments from people who have a vested interest in the book being viewed in a positive light, people who are not being wholly honest about their relationship to the book.

    Consider the source indeed.

  10. Millie Dancer 12.Oct.09 at 3:31 pm

    C’mon, Jodi, Linda very graciously apologized, so why dig that last jab into her? (Speaking of jabs)

  11. Jodi Chromey 12.Oct.09 at 3:38 pm

    @Millie Dancer
    It wasn’t meant as a jab at Linda specifically, rather a reply to her comment. I appreciate her honesty.


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