For years, Chase Pagel of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy told herself she should write a children’s book about her daughter’s Jersey steer, Rosco, who loved to eat pink Pop-Tarts.

Schmitz audrey
Editor / Progressive Dairy

“I had talked to people about it, and they said, ‘You know, that would be such a cute children's book.’ I would reply, ‘Yeah, one day,’ and that resided with me for years,” Pagel says.

One of the most influential people in getting Pagel to write her book was her husband, JJ.

“My husband is such a great cheerleader. I told my husband I was going to write this book. And I told him. And I told him. And finally, in 2021 he said, ‘Honey if you’re going to do it, just do it. If you’re not going to do it, stop talking about it,’” Pagel says. “That was my turning point where I said, ‘You’re right. I have to stop talking about it. If I’m going to do it, I just need to do it.'”

From that point on, Pagel started researching traditional publishing versus self-publishing and which was better suited for her.


“In 2022, I sent my manuscript out to a few different publishers and got a few connections with a few publishers. However, I did get one call in December of 2022 from TitleTown Publishing, which is a smaller publisher in Green Bay, Wisconsin, not far from me,” Pagel says. “The woman on the other line was amazing. I took her through my story, and she really liked it. We decided we were going to reconnect in January of 2023, and at that time, I pitched her Rosco’s story and about eight other stories. She loved them all, and from there she set me up with a couple of illustrators.”

In March of 2023, Pagel started working on illustrations. The biggest challenge for her was learning that it wasn’t a race to get it done, to slow down and take joy in the process.

“I’m a doer, and I like to get things done. However, publishing is not as fast-paced as I am,” Pagel says. “If it were up to me, I would have had this done a month after, but it doesn’t work that way in publishing.”

Pagel says it has been a great experience learning how publishing works, how she can be more productive and how to be a better author to her publisher.


In March of 2023, Pagel started working with an illustrator to design images for her book. Photo provided by Chase Pagel.

“A lot of the book stuff takes a lot longer than people understand. Between illustrations and edits on the book, we actually just finished up last week with everything, and we’re going to be sending it to production to get the books made, and it will be coming out April 1, 2024,” Pagel says. “Now we’re setting up book signings, interviews and readings at the library. Not only do we get to read a great book, but I get to start telling our family story.”

Pagel’s main goal behind her books is to teach the public that agriculture is more than a small farm with a red barn that has one of every animal.

“I want people to see a different side of agriculture. That not every barn in a book is a big red barn and not every farm in a book has one cow, one pig and one chicken,” Pagel says. “The barns in my book will be different because they will look like our barns.”

Giving the perception of what a farm is and what farmers do daily is important to Pagel in communicating to the public where their food comes from.

“Not every farm is the same, but at the end of the day, almost every farm that's out there has an actual family behind those farms,” Pagel says. “They are not just a bunch of companies that are getting together to build a farm. They are families, and they care about their farms, their animals and about the people they're reaching.”

The second book that Pagel is writing will go over different types of farms in her county, and all of the farms in the books will be called family farms because 99% of farms are owned and operated by families.

“It will look at large family farms, small family farms, family tree farms, pumpkin patches, vegetable farms, crop farms and so on,” Pagel says. “I want people to understand that farms come in all shapes, sizes and varieties, and they all have families behind them.”


Chase Pagel with her husband JJ and children Kiley (21), Jaylyn (14), Jaxen (13) and Jasen (10). Photo provided by Chase Pagel.

The second book will not only look at different farms but will hopefully have pictures of the families that actually farm them as well.

“To me, this is more than trying to promote and sell a book,” Pagel says. “This is about showing the public what our farms look like and what we do as farmers but in a way that kids will learn right along with the adults.”

Seeing her vision for the books come to life has made Pagel feel proud, nervous, excited, scared, stressed and joyful.

“It has been a mix of emotions. Through the process, there were days where I stressed if I was going to be done in time and by deadline and other days where I was so excited to make it happen,” Pagel says. “I’m still nervous wondering if people are going to like the book. But overall, I’m just super excited that I’ve made it to this point, and shortly I’m going to have a hard copy in front of me of something I was able to create.”

Pagel’s four kids are also excited for her and are each going to be in at least one of the eight books she has planned.

“I think we have a little bit of a ‘cool factor’ because my oldest daughter Kiley, who's in the first book, does the tours at our family farm here in Kewaunee, Wisconsin,” Pagel says. “How cool is it going to be that she can lead a farm tour and read a book about herself [and] the steer she had growing up? Not many places you go to can say that.”

Pagel says she is most proud that she took a leap, got over her fears and wrote it.

“I’m proud of myself for doing the research, making those calls, sending out my manuscript and taking those baby steps to get where, in two months, I will have an actual copy of the book in front of me,” Pagel says. “And, being able to say, ‘I did this.’ At this point, if I only reach two people, it’s worth it.”

Currently, the book is pre-sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Walmart, with a release date set for April 1.

“We're doing a dual launch and having the second book come out later this year,” Pagel says. “If people enjoy the stories, we're going to keep writing them.”