Dyslexic seed salesman pens comforting stories about farmers

Wisconsin State Farmer
Author Pete Curran on a dairy farm in Columbus, Wisconsin.

“I saw, a circle of life worth repeating,” said Pete Curran when asked why he wrote his new book, When I Listened to a Farmer. 

Fired from his job at the age of 54, Pete Curran of Sun Prairie grasped at the option to become a seed salesman, calling on farmers in southern Wisconsin.

While Curran admits he's only 'loosely connected to a farm via his mom's hobby farm up in Antigo and birthday parties shared with his cousins on Grandma Brown and Huberts' farm in Neenah, he began knocking on barn doors in order to make a living.

“I had never been on a farm in a business capacity,” said Curran, who currently tests milk. "I believed I needed to ask farmers questions about their business and their lives so I might start to understand who they are and how they make decisions.”

Curran says the title of his book, When I Listened to a Farmer, emerged from the 'listening interviews' he did with several farmers before he interviewed with a global seed company.

From the day he began interviewing farmers, Curran believed they were and still are ‘the original, American entrepreneurs.

Fourth generation farmer, Justin Krebs reviews his story, Beating Heart.

His book, published by Sunbury Press, is a compilation of 15 short stories that look like poems, yet follow no rules of poetry.

“I’m dyslexic and avoided reading all my life. I’m a skimmer who absorbs information visually via key words I see and by looking at photos," he said.

Curran says his stories are written like he reads – in one to two word burst or small sections – that are like a staccato delivery that is slow enough for him to see the word, process it in his mind and then understand it.

While standing face-to-face with farmers and listening to their stories, Curran came to appreciate more and more what farmers do to create a life. A life where work, play and living occur on the same land – “via the same driveway that welcomes guests to the farm, and makes way for the sh*t spreader to get to the fields.”

His literary work blends lyrical stories of human accomplishment with stunning photography. Together, the stories weave a unique tapestry of the stewards of the land and animals living on Wisconsin farms. The story, ‘Mud. Motor Oil. Manure.’ focuses on the dirty hands of a farmer which are both strong and gentle.

'Trespassing on a Thursday' helps readers to see beyond the vandalized shell of a farmhouse, to visualize ‘the centerpiece of American family values.’ And, 'We’ll Get There' introduces readers to a delightful farm couple who demonstrate how to experience a meaningful life.

The seed for a new book was planted in seed salesman Pete Curran's mind as he called on farmers across southern Wisconsin.

Curran says When I Listened to a Farmer is a celebration of farmers and their way of life, so young students may know the value of a life…’that tires the body and renews the soul.’ Curran plans to spend the next 12 harvest seasons sharing stories and photos to #celebrateWORK for the next generation to discover the possibilities in agriculture.

In addition to his new book, his Career Gallery Exhibit, ‘a life. from dirt.,’ which premiered at the Rountree Gallery in 2020, was on display at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days 2021 in Eau Claire. The exhibit is available for organizations to borrow with information at:

Curran's association with Wisconsin Farm Technology Days began in 2019 a a member of the fundraising committee. He is also credited for creating the concept of  Ag Career Day ’19, that provided youth with a hands-on, interactive look at career paths in the ag industry.

To learn more about Currans’ Ag career development platform, visit Curran's book is available on, and other book sellers.