2004 - Volume #28, Issue #5, Page #07[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Rural Gal Specializes In Feminine Farm Humor
Valerie Van Kooten was raised on a farm near Pella, Iowa, and admits it was her sister, not her, who inherited the farming genes in the family.
"About the only thing I ever mastered was æfarmer time,'" Van Kooten jokes. "If Dad said he needed us for 15 minutes, we figured an hour. If he said he needed us for an hour, we blocked out the whole morning."
Van Kooten, who has been a writer and editor for the past 20 years, is now entertaining crowds across the Midwest, with her down-home wit. She calls herself "The Reluctant Farm Girl," and bases her presentations on her writings over the past 15 years which focus on the humorous, exasperating and poignant moments of farm life,
She learned at a young age about "Murphy's Laws Concerning Farm Life": "Cows always get out 15 minutes before you're ready to leave on vacation; hogs quickly decide who's the weakest link and will surge that way; hay mows make the best haunted houses; and all-girl bean-walking brigades are the best, because then you can peel down the tube top and get a real tan."
Anyone who has chased hogs in their "good" clothes, detassled corn on a sweltering summer day, or lived with husbands who have International tastes on a toy tractor budget, will be tuned in to Van Kooten's brand of humor.
While growing up, she did her share of the farm work, and was even named the 1980 Marion County Pork Queen, but Van Kooten admits she "just wasn't well, very good at it."
Instead, her skills have turned out to be far more impressive in the communications field, having had her writings published in REC News, The Des Moines Register, Successful Farming, Acreage, Farm Bureau Spokesman, and The Iowan, among others. People across the country write to her requesting copies of her work.
Besides her "Reluctant Farm Girl" presentation, Van Kooten offers two other equally funny talk themes: "Mothers Shouldn't Have to Clean the Cat Box," and "Growing Up Dutch."
She graduated from Iowa State University and besides being a mother of three, Van Kooten currently teaches technical writing at Central College in Pella. Her husband, Kent, is parts manager for McCormick International USA, and collects antique farm machinery.
"You can take the girl off the farm, and please do!" she says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Valerie Van Kooten, 2051 Old Hwy. 163, Pella, Iowa 50219 (ph 641 628-9789; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.central.edu/homepages/vankootenv).
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