Sunday, August 18, 2019

Prairie Restoration




Daughter, Sue in Roshara Prairie. Photo by Jerry Apps.

When my two brothers and I first got our farm in 1966, we decided to grow corn on the only field that wasn’t too steep for cultivation. It was about six to eight acres. We asked our neighbor and longtime friend, David Kolka if he’d be interested in planting corn in the field for a share of the profits.

For three years, if I remember correctly, David planted and harvested corn from this sandy, stony field. Our goal was to make enough money from the corn to pay the taxes on the place. David made little money. We made little money. We pulled the plug on corn growing on the field.

A few years later we divided the farm into three equal pieces, and later I purchased my brother Darrel’s share, which included most of the old cornfield.

Along the way, I had been researching the history of the place, discovering that Tom Stewart, a Civil War veteran, had homesteaded the farm in 1867. I wondered what he saw when he first broke this land. I began calling the former cornfield “the prairie.” I set out to restore it by doing nothing, except keeping out the brush and trees that wanted to grow there. For a couple of years, we had weeds, but then, slowly the native grasses and wildflowers began returning.

Now, some forty years later, we have a prairie of wildflowers and grasses. Something new almost every week as new wildflowers come into bloom.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Nature has its own way of healing—if given a chance.\

ANOTHER WRITING OPPORTUNITY:

WHAT: A “Telling Your Story Workshop”

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019—9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Wyocena Community Center, Wyocena, WI

REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Contact Wyocena Library (608-429-4899) or Portage Public Library (608-742-4959)
Workshop fee includes a copy of my book, “Telling Your Story,” and a catered lunch.
Sign up soon, limited seats available.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

September 7, 5-8:30, Autumn with the Al Ringling Theater, Wild Rose Ranch, E12311 Cty. Rd. W, Baraboo, Wisconsin. Circus stories.

September 12, 7:00 p.m. Belleville H.S. Auditorium, Belleville. Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm.

September 18, 9-4 Writing Workshop, Wyocena Public Library, Wyocena (see above for details)

September 20, 12:30 p.m. UW-Platteville, Baraboo Campus, 1006 Connie Rd., Baraboo, WI. History of WI Agriculture.

October 5, 10-2:00 p.m. Dregne’s, Westby. Book signing.

October 12 1:00 p.m., Fox Cities Book Festival, Menasha Public Library

October 22, 6;30 Sun Prairie Public Library, Sun Prairie, WI

October 24, 1:00 p.m. Friends of Muehl Public Library. Outagamie County Home and Community Education Assoc. Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 349 N. Main St., Seymour, WI Rural Wit and Wisdom

November 9, 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. Farm Winter With Jerry Apps

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI Wisconsin. CCC

To learn more about my prairie restoration project, read my book OLD FARM: A HISTORY.
Available for purchase from your local bookstore or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org


Friday, August 09, 2019

Mid-Summer Garden Report



For my vegetable garden friends—time for a mid-summer report on how things are doing. In a word, quite well but first the failures—radishes just didn’t make it. Too hot too soon, I’m guessing. They immediately went to producing seeds and forgot about first making a radish. So zero radishes. Last year they were one of my best crops. Sweet corn doesn’t look all that great either. First harvest coming up.

Outstanding crops so far this year: Cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, lettuce, kale, (especially Russian Kale that apparently finds Waushara County a good place to expand its influence), and early cabbage. Beets are tasty, but I’d put them in the average category. Onions are okay, but a bit small. Tomatoes average. None ripe yet.

Three unusual crops, unusual to me anyway. First climbing purple snap beans. Never saw any beans quite like these. They are pretty to look at as they grow. And guess what? When you cook them, they turn from purple to green. I planted some Red Gold early potatoes. New to me. Yield not great, but very tasty. Red on the outside, gold on the inside. And carrots, well my main weed-puller and harvester, daughter-in-law, Natasha, suggested we try some multi-colored carrots. That’s right, you can grow carrots that are white, purple, brown, everything but the orange color of “regular carrots.” They grow kind of long and skinny, to my mind they look like a cross between a poorly developed radish and a lead pencil, Guess what? When you cook them, they don’t turn orange. But they do taste like carrots, mostly.

No comment on my winter squash, pumpkins, and gourds. Patience.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When you are gardening, remember to do first things first, but not necessarily in that order.

ANOTHER WRITING OPPORTUNITY:

WHAT: A “Telling Your Story Workshop”
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019—9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Wyocena Community Center, Wyocena, WI
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Contact Wyocena Library (608-429-4899) or Portage Public Library (608-742-4959)
Workshop fee includes a copy of my book, “Telling Your Story,” and a catered lunch.
Sign up soon, limited seats available.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

September 7, 5-8:30, Autumn with the Al Ringling Theater, Wild Rose Ranch, E12311 Cty. Rd. W, Baraboo, Wisconsin. Circus stories.

September 12, 7:00 p.m. Belleville H.S. Auditorium, Belleville. Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm.

September 18, 9-4 Writing Workshop, Wyocena Public Library, Wyocena (see above for details)

September 20, 12:30 p.m. UW-Platteville, Baraboo Campus, 1006 Connie Rd., Baraboo, WI. History of WI Agriculture.

October 5, 10-2:00 p.m. Dregne’s, Westby. Book signing.

October 12 1:00 p.m., Fox Cities Book Festival, Menasha Public Library

October 22, 6;30 Sun Prairie Public Library, Sun Prairie, WI

October 24, 1:00 p.m. Friends of Muehl Public Library. Outagamie County Home and Community Education Assoc. Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 349 N. Main St. , Seymour, WI Rural Wit and Wisdom

November 9, 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. Farm Winter With Jerry Apps

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI Wisconsin CCC

Purpose a copy of THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS IN WISCONSIN, and SIMPLE THINGS: LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY FARM from your local bookstore or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org


Saturday, August 03, 2019

A Wren Family in Trouble





The birdhouse was meant for bluebirds. It stood a few yards from our front window, and not far from a big maple tree. As it turns out, not far enough from the maple tree.



Almost every year a pair of bluebirds took up residence in the house, providing Ruth and me a treat watching them fly in and out of the little house, tending to the little ones there.



Not this year. No bluebirds—the birdhouse stood vacant. But not for long. A pair of wrens, searching for a suitable place to take up residence and raise a family, moved in. We watched them and listened to their early morning chatter and their saucy scolding if we walked too near their newfound home.



All was well until a stormy night in late July smashed off a major part of the maple tree, but mostly leaving the birdhouse untouched as the smashed limb surrounded it. A week later, when I assembled my little crew of chainsaw users and brush haulers, everything changed for the wren family. We couldn’t avoid it. A major part of the chain-sawed limb smashed off the birdhouse post and the house fell to the ground.



I hoped the wren family had grown and left, but not so. The little ones were still in the house, shaken, but alive. Steve gathered up the birdhouse—still in good shape, but without a support post—and fastened it to a pine tree. All the while the wren parents flew about, chattering their unhappiness of all that had happened to their little family.



A few days later, I once more watched the wren couple flying in and out of the house. Wren family life back to normal?



THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Saving a wren family is the right thing to do.



ANOTHER WRITING OPPORTUNITY:

.

WHAT: A “Telling Your Story Workshop”



WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019—9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.



WHERE: Wyocena Community Center, Wyocena, WI



REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Contact Wyocena Library (608-429-4899) or Portage Public Library (608-742-4959)



Workshop fee includes a copy of my book, “Telling Your Story,” and a catered lunch.

Sign up soon, limited seats available.



UPCOMING EVENTS:





August 8, 6:30 p.m. Galloway House and Village, CCC Barracks, 336 Old Pioneer Rd., Fond du Lac. CCC story.



September 12, 7:00 p.m. Belleville H.S. Auditorium, Belleville. Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm.

.



Purchase a copy of THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS IN WISCONSIN, and SIMPLE THINGS: LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY FARM from your local bookstore or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.

Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org







Thursday, July 25, 2019

Telling Your Story





They came from Minnesota and Illinois. But mostly they came from Wisconsin, from Suring and Evansville, from Mosinee and Pulaski, from Wittenberg and Spring Green and places in between. They came to a place called The Clearing Folk School, an adult learning center just north of Ellison Bay in Door County, which was founded in 1935. I was their workshop leader.

Thirty-four of them, all with one purpose in mind—to learn a bit more about stories and how to write them. Personal stories, stories about childhoods, about people who made a difference in their lives, about first memories when they were impressionable toddlers and more. They wrote their stories and shared them aloud for comments of praise and suggestions for improvement.

Some participants were younger—in their thirties, many were older, in their seventies and eighties. But one woman held the record. She looked to be in her late seventies, maybe early eighties. Her little critique group selected her story for one to be read to the entire group. Smiling, she stood up and began reading her story in a loud clear voice. When she finished, I asked, “Would you share your age with us?”

“Sure,” she said. “I’m 79.” She hesitated for a moment. Then she said. “I have dyslexia, I’m really 97.” Silence in the room for the moment. Then everyone stood up and clapped, and the 97-year-old storyteller smiled broadly and sat down.

It was a day of uncovering memories long forgotten, a day for laughter and for tears. A day when the “story” made all the difference.
THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: When we forgot our histories, we forgot who we are.

ANOTHER WRITING OPPORTUNITY: For those unable to attend my Writing Class at the Clearing, here is another opportunity for you.

WHAT: A “Telling Your Story Workshop”
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019—9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Wyocena Community Center, Wyocena, WI
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Contact Wyocena Library (608-429-4899) or Portage Public Library (608-742-4959)
Workshop fee includes a copy of my book, “Telling Your Story,” and a catered lunch.
Sign up soon, limited seats available.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Monday, July 29, 6:30 p.m. Winchester Academy (Waupaca Public Library). The Civilian Conservation Corps.
For more about how to write your own story, pick up a copy of my book, TELLING YOUR STORY, Fulcrum Press.
To learn more about The Clearing Folk Schools and its classes and programs, go to https://theclearing.org/wp/

Purchase TELLING YOUR STORY book from your local bookstore, or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Dreaded Buckthorn




It’s an invasive plant; growing where I don’t want it to grow. Taking over. Shading out other plants, especially new little ones trying to establish. Buckthorn is its common name. It was once considered an attractive ornamental plant, especially when it was introduced into the United States in the mid-1800s.

Not content to remain as an ornamental, it escaped and proceeded to go on a growing rampage, especially in the oak woodlots on sandy farms such as mine. I have buckthorn twenty feet tall, looking like small trees. I have buckthorn six inches tall, and everything in between. It will grow in the shade; it will grow in full sun. It will grow on sandy soil and heavier soil. I even found buckthorn growing in the middle of my tractor shed, which has a dirt floor and little light (see photo above).

Birds love Buckthorn. Mature plants produce abundant purple berries that begin to ripen from August through September. Each berry contains three to four seeds that remain viable in the soil for up to three years. The berries have a laxative effect on birds and mammals assuring widespread distribution of buckthorn through their droppings. The Latin name for Buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica, recognizes this characteristic of the plant.

Few plants are as competitive as Buckthorn. It is one of the first plants to leaf out in the spring, and one of the last to drop its leaves in the fall. Buckthorn is also allelopathic, which means it produces chemical compounds that inhibit the growth of other vegetation.
I work at controlling this energetic invasive. But I am not winning the battle.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Nature has its challenges. Buckthorn is one of them.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Monday, July 29, 6:30 p.m. Winchester Academy (Waupaca Public Library). The Civilian Conservation Corps.

FOR MORE ABOUT OUR FARM, PICK UP A COPY OF Old Farm: A History,. Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Purchase from your local bookstore, or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Story of Two Ponds


Back in the 1940s, the ponds on our present-day farm were small lakes, teaming with wildlife, fish, and lots of ducks and geese during the spring and fall migrations. Some 25 years later (1966), when we bought the place, the ponds had all but dried up. Even in the spring, with the snow melt, the ponds gained little water and by mid-summer had become wet marshes. Trees began growing where water had been.

In 1993, the ponds began filling with water and continued so into the early 2000s. We canoed on the pond, exploring its many nooks and crannies. A pair of sandhill cranes nested on the northwest shore of the pond, a pair of wood ducks raised their brood on the south shore, a pair of mallards on the east shore. Deer came down to the water to drink, so did raccoons, and songbirds by the dozens gathered there.

Then the water began disappearing, each year a little more, until 2017 the ponds looked like they did in the middle 1960s. Where once there was water, now grew birch and willow trees, some thirty and more feet tall.

In 2018, it began raining. An inch of rain one day, two inches another day, and even more than that on some days in late summer. The pond began inching higher. The snow was deep during the winter of 2018-2019, and more rains fell in the spring. The ponds rose rapidly. Birch trees stood in four feet of water, all dead. Once more we canoed on what are now small lakes.

Will the pond waters recede again? Probably.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Never curse the rain.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Monday, July 29, 6:30 p.m. Winchester Academy (Waupaca Public Library). The Civilian Conservation Corps.

FOR MORE ABOUT OUR FARM’S HISTORY, PICK UP A COPY OF Roshara Journal:"Chronicling Four Seasons, Fifty Years, and 120 Acres." Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2016.
Purchase from your local bookstore, or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org


Sunday, July 07, 2019

FOURTH OF JULY GARDEN REPORT





For my vegetable gardening friends., my Fourth of July report. In comparison to other gardening years, my Waushara County garden is about two weeks behind. Cool weather has been the culprit up until a week ago when the temperature soared into the 80s and mostly stayed there. And the rains continued about 4.5 inches in the past two weeks. Even on our sandy soil, that is more rain than we needed. Last fall we had standing water in our garden. Same thing last week—standing water in the southwest corner.

On the positive side, everything seems to have come up, different from some years when the pumpkins and squash seeds only germinated by half, and the occasional potato plant failed to appear. This year progress has been slow. I have rated each vegetable on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being downright awful and 10 is beyond what one would hope for.

Those that rated five and below:
Radishes---2
Cabbage---3
Cucumbers---4
Green Beans---4
Pumpkins---5
Zucchini---5
Sweet Corn---5

Those that rated six and above:
Winter Squash---6
Late Potatoes---6
Early Potatoes---7
Broccoli---8
Beets---8
Carrots---8
Kale---8
Leaf lettuce---9
Onions---9

Weeds continue to flourish—too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot—no problem for the weeds in my garden. Steve and Natasha are mainly in charge of the vegetable garden these days—but even Steve’s new rototiller and Natasha’s diligent weeding are challenged.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Every year a different year for a gardener.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4088 if you are interested in attending. A few slots are still available.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
July 12, 6:00 p.m. Frank B. Koller, Memorial Library, 2 US-51, Manitowish Waters. Old Farm Country Cookbook, with co-author, Susan Apps-Bodilly.

See more about gardening in my book, GARDEN WISDOME, Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Purchase from your local bookstore, or buy them from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org