Sunday, March 26, 2017

March Lion and Lamb


On this last weekend of March, I went looking for the lamb at my farm. It was supposed to appear at the end of March especially if we were blessed with March’s famous lion at the beginning of the month. Which we were.

The temperature was 36 degrees as I stood looking over my pond, which was still nearly completely frozen. A northwest wind sent spits of a cold rain in my face, as my watery eyes looked for even the slightest indication of spring and the sprightly lamb that was supposed to announce its arrival. A few feeble snow piles remained on the north side of the trail, holding on, letting me know that the lion of winter had not given up.

Off to the north I caught the sound of a pair of sandhill cranes. I always enjoy their call—they nest on the west side of the pond each year. Frustrated with the frozen pond, I’m sure. And flying low overhead I spotted a pair of ducks moving fast. Disgusted as they looked for open water and found none.

I hustled back to the cabin, put another stick of wood in the stove, and watched the rain. March’s lamb is got to be hiding somewhere—but where?

Photo: Roshara’s frozen pond.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Can’t remember when March came in like a lion and went out like a lion.
.
WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Workshop meets Nine to Twelve in the morning.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Friday, August 18, 9-4:00 p.m. The Clearing, Door County.
Call 920-854-4088. Limited enrollment.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh.

April 6, 1:00 p.m. Union Grove Library.

April 8, 9-12:00 Writing Workshop, Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI

April 10, 1:30. Kiel Library, One-Room Schools

April 17, 6:30 p.m. New Berlin Library. Never Curse the Rain.

April 23, 7:00 p.m. Lebanon Historical Society. Town Hall, Fire Station, Lebanon. Storytelling.

April 27, 6:00 p.m. Waupaca Historical Society, 320 S. Main Street, Waupaca. Barns of Wisconsin.



Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction book, Never Curse the Rain, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History,
Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Master Gardeners


Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to the Madison Area Master Gardeners at their annual meeting. The Master Gardeners, organized in the late 1970s in Wisconsin, are trained by University of Wisconsin-Extension specialists in all matters related to gardening. As a group of volunteers, they answer phone requests for horticultural information, work with youth groups, schools, help with demonstration gardens and more.

I wish there had been Master Gardeners when I worked as an Extension agent in Green Bay, in the early 1960s. I worked as a livestock and 4-H agent, at a time when the folks living in the city of Green Bay discovered that the our office knew something about horticulture. I was the one with the least knowledge about horticulture—except for my practical experience as an already long-time vegetable gardener.

A call came in with a question about a plum tree. I drove out to the woman’s house on the east side of Green Bay. I soon learned, even before I saw the plum tree, that it was one of this woman’s favorites. She told me she had bought it from a nursery in New York State, and she said, “It has done so well until this year.”

I walked with her to her backyard, where she showed me her little plum tree, now about eight feet tall. This was in June, and already the little tree, clearly in trouble, had dropped most of its leaves, which lay on the ground under the tree.

“What spray would you recommend for my poor little tree?” she said.

After looking closely at the tree, and deciding there was no hope for it, I said, “I would recommend pruning.”

“Oh,” she said. “What kind of pruning?”

“I would suggest pruning--level with the ground?”

“What?” she huffed. Had there been a shovel handy I believe she would have clobbered me with it.

I hurried to my car and back to the office where I encountered the office chair who had already gotten a call from this woman, insisting “that the incompetent young man you sent to solve my plum problem should be fired.” He was laughing, and when he regained his composure said, “You likely gave her the correct answer, but you need to work on your approach.” He was still laughing when he said it.

Photo: Speaking to Madison Area Gardeners.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes how you say something is more important than what you say.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Workshop meets Nine to Twelve in the morning.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Friday, August 18, 9-4:00 p.m. The Clearing, Door County.
Call 920-854-4088. Limited enrollment.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh.

April 6, 1:00 p.m. Union Grove Library.

April 8, 9-12:00 Writing Workshop, Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI

April 10, 1:30. Kiel Library, One-Room Schools

April 17, 6:30. New Berlin Library. Never Curse the Rain.



Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction book, Never Curse the Rain, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History,
Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Muddling



The word “muddle” is defined as a state of confusion or disorder. “Muddle through” means to do something when you don’t know how to do it.

On the farm, on those days when the weather couldn’t decide whether it should be winter or spring, we had lots of mud. And did lots of muddling. The barnyard was mud, and the cattle stomped around in it. The path from the house to the barn, once snow covered and firm, was mud. Oozing, dirty, despicable mud. Mud that got on Ma’s nerves. “Leave those muddy boots on the porch.”

The road past our farm was mud. A challenge for the milk hauler; a problem for the mailman. In the mornings, when the mud had become frozen ruts in a once smooth road, we walked to school with little difficulty. Coming home was the challenge as mud sucked at our boots and made walking difficult.

As the definition of “muddle through” suggests, we tried to make the best of it—but mud is unpredictable. Ask any milk hauler who had to enlist a nearby farmer and his trusty team to help pull his milk truck to drier ground.

In a week or two, the mud disappeared, as spring once more returned, but the ruts in the road remained until the road grader appeared. The path from the house to barn was worn smooth again, and grass once more began to grow.

Photo: A deer outside my cabin window looks forward to spring.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When I am alone, I prefer to be myself.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Workshop meets Nine to Twelve in the morning.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, March 18, Noon. Madison Area Master Gardeners, Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison.

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction book, Never Curse the Rain, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History,
Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Spring Pushed Back


It’s a perennial battle this time of the year in the Upper Midwest—the battle between an arrogant spring and an overconfident winter.

This year it happened earlier than usual, in February, with a sprightly spring catching a complacent winter by surprise. Temperatures soaring into the sixties, when they should be in the thirties. Melting snow, rainstorms complete with thunder and lightning. Cardinals singing, sandhill cranes returning from their southern winter haunts, Canada geese on the wing.

Spring smiles, believing it has won. But alas, those of us with many winters in our histories know winter’s mean streak. Know that winter has more to offer before it takes its long seasonal sleep until next fall.

And so the northwest wind blows once more, and it snows, and the temperature drops way below freezing. Winter gloats and spring wonders what happened. Deep down, as the calendar marches relentlessly into March, winter knows it will eventually lose the battle. That spring will eventually win. But does a beaten back spring know it?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Met this fellow the other day who said he was born with nothing and had most of it left.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Tune in: Wednesday, March 8, 7:00 p.m. Never Curse the Rain on all Wisconsin Public TV stations. Based on my book, Never Curse the Rain, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2017.


WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Workshop meets Nine to Twelve in the morning.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, March 18, Noon. Madison Area Master Gardeners, Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison.

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction book, Never Curse the Rain, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History,
Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Writing the Words


“Can you tell us how you go about writing?” I’ve gotten that question many times over the past several years. It’s difficult for me to explain how I do the actual writing, how I put words down on paper, one after the other, to make sentences. Some of the process involves creativity, some of it tapping my memory, but a lot of it a mystery.

When my writing students ask how I spend my time as a writer, I tell them I spend a third of my time doing research, a third of my time writing, a third of my time revising and re-writing, and a third of my time marketing what I’ve written. I also fess up that my math skills were never especially good.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” is a common phrase. I’ve modified that a bit pertaining to my writing. For me “It takes a family for my writing to succeed.” Let me explain. Once I have some words down on paper, whether it’s this blog, columns I write for a weekly newspaper, a magazine article, or a chapter for a book--my wife reads it. If the material does not get past Ruth, it goes nowhere. As I jokingly say, my first reader is ruthless.

If the writing gets past Ruth, and the material is on its way to becoming a book, I bring in other members of the family. My daughter, Susan, an elementary teacher and a published author, is an excellent editor. She’s an expert at spotting errors in logic, inaccurate dialogue and overwritten description.

For big picture critiques, I turn to my Son, Steve, who is a photo-journalist. He helps me with the big ideas, the themes in my writing. If I’m writing something related to the environment, which is fairly often, I turn to my daughter-in-law, Natasha. She is a former environmental editor, trained as a journalist, and has an uncanny ability to spot dumb errors I often make. When I seek a business person’s take on what I’ve written, I turn to my son, Jeff, who is an investment counselor in Avon, Colorado.

I do all of this before I send my writing off to my editors, who put their professional training and experience to work on my words.

I also do joint projects with my kids. Steve and I have collaborated on several books. In the above photo, taken by Kathy Borkowski, Steve and I are signing a book we did together, Roshara Journal, at the recent Garden Expo. I did the words, Steve the photos. Sue and I have a new book coming out this fall, Old Farm Country Cookbook. I wrote the stories; Sue did the recipes.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: There’s many a step between the first word written and it being published.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Workshop meets Nine to Twelve in the morning.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, March 8, 7:00 p.m. Never Curse the Rain on all Wisconsin Public TV stations.

Saturday, March 18, Madison Area Master Gardeners, Goodman Community Center, Madison. Whispers and Shadows.

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh.

Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Writer’s Workshop, Wild Rose Library.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction book, Never Curse the Rain, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History,
Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The New Normal


It’s not normal. That’s what my dad would have said had he been here to experience these days of 60 degree temperatures in February. The snow is nearly gone. The ice is melting. The golfers are golfing. Teenagers are playing basketball outdoors without their shirts.

But there’s a downside to this respite from winter. We had something similar last year, but a little later. It warmed up; my grape vine began to blossom, and it got frosty once more. The result: In 2015 I harvested a bushel of grapes, in 2016, I harvested five grapes, not five pounds, not five quarts, but five, scrawny little grapes. The grape blossoms had frozen. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen this year.

I talked to a friend a couple days ago about this. He told me the acorn production last year was way down—the oak flowers came out too early and had frozen. I’m sure there were many other examples.

While we in the Midwest are basking in pseudo summer, the West Coast is drowning in floods, and the East Coast is buried in winter. Are these kinds of weather patterns the new normal? Researchers on climate change say “yes.” Unexpected weather patterns. One-hundred year rainfalls coming every couple of years. Record high temperatures in winter. Then below freezing.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The new normal for weather—fooling the plants. Confusing the people.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Workshop meets Nine to Twelve in the morning.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, February 22, 6:00 p. m. Wild Rose H.S. Auditorium. Premier Showing of Never Cruse the Rain, A Film by Wisconsin Public TV. Jerry’s newest hour-long documentary.

Wednesday, March 8, 7:00 p.m. Never Curse the Rain on all Wisconsin Public TV stations.

Saturday, March 18, Madison Area Master Gardeners, Goodman Community Center, Madison. Whispers and Shadows.

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh.Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Writer’s Workshop, Wild Rose Library.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Garden Expo 2017


With temperatures in the high thirties, the snow melting and the ice disappearing, people flocked to Wisconsin Public Television’s annual Garden Expo held at the Alliant Center in Madison. The show began on Friday, Feb. 10 and continued through Sunday, February 12

My son Steve and I were there on Saturday. Steve and I talked about our book, Roshara Journal: Chronicling Four Seasons, Fifty Years, and 120 Acres. Steve shared photos from the book and he talked about how he shot the various pictures. I shared entries from my journal that I’ve kept since we bought Roshara, our Wild Rose farm, 50 years ago. We both suggested that people with land, backyards, and gardens do what we’ve done over the years—capture what was happening in words and in pictures.

Attendees to the Garden Expo could also learn about straw bale gardening, “Landscaping tips for Elderly Living,” and “Birdscaping in the Midwest.” You could attend a session titled, “Everything you wanted to know about beets.” Square foot gardening remains popular—there was a seminar on how to do it. And if growing tomatoes has become a challenge, there was a seminar to answer your tomato questions.

For the nature lovers, there were seminars on Monarch Butterflies, Gardening for Humingbirds, and attracting Eastern Bluebirds. And much, much more.

If you came with garden questions, UW-Extension experts were there to help with information from insects to soils, plant diseases to how to enroll in a Master Garden program.

It was a great break from winter, and an opportunity to capture a bit of spring.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Garden Expo. A warm taste of spring.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Call 920-622-3835 for reservations. Limited enrollment. Nine to Twelve in the morning.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, February 22, 6:00 p. m. Wild Rose H.S. Auditorium. Premier Showing of Never Cruse the Rain, A Film by Wisconsin Public TV. Jerry’s newest hour-long documentary.

Wednesday, March 8, 7:00 p.m. Never Curse the Rain on all Wisconsin Public TV stations.

Saturday, March 18, Madison Area Master Gardeners, Goodman Community Center, Madison. Whispers and Shadows.

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Keynote speaker, Master Agriculturist Award Program, Oshkosh

Saturday, April 8, 9-12:00 a.m. Writer’s Workshop, Wild Rose Library.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835