May 02, 2012 - The cow says, "Moo!"
Farmer Nate (also known as Nathan Perkins) visited Leonard Elementary last week to talk to students and promote his brand new book “A Day with the Animals at Upland Hills Farm.” Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
The pig says, "Oink! Oink!"
Farmer Nate says, "Read my book!"
Nathan Perkins, who works at Upland Hills Farm (481 Lake George Rd.) in Addison Township, visited Leonard Elementary last week to talk to students about writing, life on a farm and his brand new book, "A Day with the Animals at Upland Hills Farm."
"It just seemed like it was a really marketable book because people like farm animals, but they don't really know a lot about them," said the 43-year-old Addison Twp. resident.
The book follows Farmers Steve and Leslie Webster, who own Upland Hills, as they take their grandchildren around the farm to visit each of the animals who inhabit this little rural slice of heaven.
Along the way, the kids learn fun facts about each creature and the all-natural products they provide, ranging from milk and eggs to wool and meat.
The even learn that not all age-old barnyard stereotypes are true.
For instance, contrary to popular myth, pigs are not the messy, muddy oinkers that many folks believe them to be.
They're actually "one of the cleanest animals on the farm" and they're "very smart."
While Perkins wrote the text, his 18-year-old son, Caleb, took all the wonderful color
photos that help make the book com alive. This fall, Caleb will begin attending Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids to major in photojournalism.
"We spent probably about four months putting the book together," Perkins said. "It's been doing really well. I actually self-published it just because I knew I had a market."
The book is meant for children ages 4-8 and costs $13.95.
Perkins, who is Steve Webster's brother-in-law, has been working "more than full-time" at Upland Hills Farm for about five years now.
He presents shows for the more than 100,000 people who visit the farm each year. His 45-minute show gives both kids and adults a glimpse of all the animals on the farm and educates them on things like how to milk a cow, make butter, shear sheep and spin yarn.
"Most of my job is people-related and that's probably the thing I enjoy the most about it," Perkins said. "Everyone gets real excited about seeing the farm animals and they ask lots of questions. It's just a real meaningful experience and I like to be a part of that."
Perkins used the outline of his show as the basis for the book.
"As far as writing goes, it probably wouldn't have been my first choice to write a children's book because I don't have a lot of experience with that," he said. "But I do spend a lot of time on the farm talking to kids at their level, so this seemed like a natural fit for me."
Although he loves life on the farm and looks quite natural in a pair of bib overalls, believe it or not, Perkins is actually a preacher by trade and has been for 25 years.
Prior to his career at Upland Hills, Perkins worked as an associate pastor at Oxford Free Methodist Church from 2000-04 and even planted a church in Leonard called Graceway Christian Fellowship, which later disassembled.
He's actually waiting to hear back from a publisher on a new marriage book he submitted. It's aimed at young couples and designed to encourage them and help them work through various issues and challenges.
"As a pastor, I've done a lot of counseling and this is all material that I've developed and used for the last 20 years," Perkins said.
Those interested in purchasing a copy of "A Day with the Animals at Upland Hills Farm" can do so by calling Perkins at (248) 318-5706 or e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book is also available through eBay, WestBow, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
"I appreciate any support people can give," Perkins said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.