Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Tribute to 4-H


Ruth and I attended a birthday party for 4-H last night in Wisconsin Dells (We each were 4-H members for 10 years).  More than 500 people from around the state gathered to celebrate 100 years of Wisconsin 4-H.  The festivities also involved inducting 98 people into the newly created 4-H Hall of Fame—volunteer 4-H leaders, county and state-based 4-H professionals, business people who support 4-H, and early founders of the organization.

Four-H, is an out-of-school educational program and part of University of Wisconsin-Extension, which is in every county in the state.  Four-H has enrolled thousands of rural and urban kids over these 100 years.

We organized a 4-H club in my home community in 1945, only a few months after the end of World War II.  We named it Chain O’ Lake, after the name of our one-room country school.  All of the members of our new club were also students at the school.

I enrolled in the dairy and forestry projects.  In the forestry project, I received 50 little pine seedlings, which I grew out in a nursery I constructed back of our chicken house.  Two years later, I set the trees out along the edge of our oak woodlot. 

Today, I often drive by to see how these trees are doing.   They are now nearly 70 years old, standing straight and growing taller every year.  It was the 4-H forestry project that helped develop my life-long interest in the environment—and my love for trees.  Today, these many years later, I run a tree farm, and continue to plant trees every year, sometimes only a dozen or so, some years several thousand.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Happy Birthday Wisconsin 4-H

December 3, 7:00 p.m.  Live on Milwaukee Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells (Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.

December 8, 8:00 p. m.  Live on Twin Cities Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 13, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Barnes and Noble, La Crosse.  Book Signing.

January 28, 2015 7:00 p.m. Stoughton Opera House.  A Farm Winter.

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


The library now has available both of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s book including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
50 Division St.
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835







Sunday, November 09, 2014

Barns of Wisconsin


Wisconsin’s old barns remain one of the state’s major attractions.  They are photographed, artists paint them, and historians collect photos of them and make calendars featuring them (see the West Salem Historical Society’s new 2015 calendar of the “Barns of La Crosse County.”)

            Fourteen years ago I spoke about barns as part of The Sheboygan County Historical Research Center’s Second Saturday program—more than 90 people came.  This past Saturday I once again talked about Barns for the Second Saturday Program and 150 people attended.

            People like old barns, want to look at them, and learn more about them.  Why do barns attract people?  I tried to answer that question with this paragraph from my book, BARNS OF WISCONSIN (Wisconsin Historical Society Press).

            The barns of Wisconsin are history books in red paint, sociology with gable roofs, theology with lightning rods.  In many ways, barns are Wisconsin agriculture nailed together in buildings with cupolas on the top.  Here is where both life and death on the farm often occurred simultaneously; here is where farm boys and girls learned about responsibility, where many a farmer began and ended his day 365 days a year for his entire life.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Every old barn has a story to tell.

COMING EVENTS:
November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  The Quiet Season stories.

November 14, 6:30 dinner.  Port Washington Library.  Meeting at First Congregational Church, 131 Webster Street, Port Washington.  How I became a writer.

November 15, 4-H Hall of Fame Program, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells.

December 3, 7:00 p.m.  Live on Milwaukee Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells (Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.

December 8, 8:00 p. m.  Live on Twin Cities Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 13, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Barnes and Noble, LaCrosse.  Book Signing.

January 28, 7:00 p.m. Stoughton Opera House.  A Farm Winter.

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


The library now has available both of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.

Also available are several of Jerry’s book including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also  Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

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






Monday, November 03, 2014

Old Man Winter


He came early last Friday morning, on a brisk northwest wind, when everyone was sleeping.  Sneaky this one, but persistent.  Coming to remind us that he will be here soon.  But now just teasing.  Sending us a reminder of what is to come.

Old Man Winter is a wily one.  He sits up there in the North, waiting his opportunity to come visiting, if but for a few hours.  Reminding us that like a free-loading relative, he will eventually come to stay for weeks, indeed months, before he once more retreats to his home in the Great North.

I awoke last Friday morning to my car covered with an inch of snow, and the lawn, and the rooftops—all snow covered.  Old Man Winter’s calling card.  His message not written in words, but in snowflakes.  But a message received and understood.

            “I’m coming soon.  Ready or not.”

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Are you ready?  Old Man Winter is.

COMING EVENTS:
November 8, 9:00-11:30, Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, WI.  Sponsored by Sheboygan County Research Center. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  Farm Stories.

November 14, 6:30 dinner.  Port Washington Library.  Meeting at First Congregational Church, 131 Webster Street, Port Washington.  How I became a writer.

December 3, 7:00 p.m.  Live on Milwaukee Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells (Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.

December 8, 8:00 p. m.  Live on Twin Cities Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 13, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Barnes and Noble, LaCrosse.  Book Signing.

January 28, 7:00 p.m. Stoughton Opera House.  A Farm Winter.

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


The library now has available both of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s book including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
50 Division St.
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835






Monday, October 27, 2014

Deep into Fall at Roshara


Last week brilliant fall colors.  Today, as I set by my pond, the maple trees are bare, the aspens are nearly so and the oaks now show the dull brown of late fall, those that still have leaves.
            The pond’s black water contrasts with the dead grasses, victims of several killing frosts the past week.  A cluster of birch trees stand a few yards in front of me, their striking white bark stands out against the tans and browns of fall.
            The smells of fall surround me, not at all unpleasant as I sit quietly listening to the sound of the northwest wind moving through the tops of the naked trees. We are deep into fall.  Winter is many days away, but the symbols and sounds are here—preparing us, I suspect, for what is to come.  

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Take time to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of fall.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, WI.  Sponsored by Sheboygan County Research Center. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  Farm Stories.

November 14, 6:30 dinner.  Port Washington Library.  Meeting at First Congregational Church, 131 Webster Street, Port Washington.  How I became a writer.

December 3, 7:00 p.m.  Live on Milwaukee Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells (Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.

December 8, 8:00 p. m.  Live on Twin Cities Public TV.  A Farm Winter.

December 13, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Barnes and Noble, LaCrosse.  Book Signing.


January 28, 7:00 p.m. Stoughton Opera House.  A Farm Winter.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Birth of a Novel

When I first heard about the successes with hydraulic fracturing as a new way to extract natural gas and oil buried deep in the bedrock of several regions of the American Northeast, West, and Southwest, I was intrigued. But I was also skeptical about the promise of job opportunities and economic development offered by this relatively new technique.
Then I learned that the special kind of sand needed for the fracturing process could be found primarily in Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota and southeast Iowa. As a native of the “sand counties” of Wisconsin, I became even more interested and concerned. After many decades of working in and observing rural Wisconsin, I’ve learned that usually what sounds so good—more jobs and economic development—often has a down side, too.

I began reading newspaper reports that said frac sand mining was spreading, and that companies were buying entire farms in western Wisconsin to turn them into frac sand mines. I contacted the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey offices, and from the WGNHS I learned more about hydraulic fracturing and especially about sand mining—what it is, how it is done, and some of the challenges it presents.

By then I knew that the topic of frac sand mining would fit perfectly within the series of books I’ve been writing about a fictional county in Wisconsin, my Ames County saga. So far I have written five novels, all published by the University of Wisconsin Press and focusing on issues the people in that county have faced in past and recent history: soil conservation, land use planning, water pollution, and large-scale farming.

So that’s how the idea for the new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County, was born. I continued reading reports from many Wisconsin newspapers to see the ways local people were debating whether and how to allow frac sand mines to open in their communities.

Many people saw sand mining as an economic bonanza bringing much-needed jobs and tax revenues to their communities. Others worried greatly about environmental effects: processing the sand requires great amounts of water; fine dust from the process can cause respiratory problems; rivers and streams could become silted or contaminated with runoff; lights, noise, trucks and trains would transform the quiet countryside.
And, as is often the case with new endeavors, especially those expanding rapidly, laws and rules governing frac sand mining lag well behind the growth of the industry. Sand mining rapidly became a political issue, forcing local officials to vote yea or nay on zoning, regulations, taxation, and other policy issues regarding the mines.
In many of the communities affected, especially in western Wisconsin, emotions flared. Citizens who once were friends became adversaries as they took positions for or against a frac sand mine in their neighborhood.
In my novel The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County, I illustrate how a small Wisconsin community (fictional Link Lake) copes with the possibility of a sand mine opening in the location of their revered community park. The local historical society becomes involved when the sand mine officials declare that they must cut down the Trail Marker Oak, a historic landmark along an old Menominee trail, to gain access for large equipment. With the hope for increasing the tax base and keeping more jobs in the village, the Link Lake Village Board approves leasing the park to the mining company, with a resulting uproar that divides everyone in the village.

Through fiction I’ve tried to illustrate, in an entertaining way, how complicated local development issues can be. Too often emotions can trump logic, historic fact, and scientific findings. Clear thinking can disappear in a cloud of angry words.
In cases such as my Ames County story, and in my other five novels that all take place in this fictional Wisconsin county, I advocate the need for critical thinking, which allows for economic, environmental, historical, and political views to be examined in a clear-headed and deliberate way to make wise choices for our present and our future.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Who would have thought sand would become so valuable.

STILL ROOM: For those interested in writing your life stories, a few openings are still available for my November 1, 9-4 workshop.  Contact The Clearing for sign-up information: www.theclearing.org.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

October 23, 5:00 p.m. dinner, 6:00 p.m. presentation: Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days. Registration required.

November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, Wi.

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, WI.  Sponsored by Sheboygan County Research Center. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  Farm Stories.

November 14, 6:30 dinner.  Port Washington Library.  Meeting at First Congregational Church, 131 Webster Street, Port Washington.  How I became a writer.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells (Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.

December 13, 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Barnes and Noble, La Crosse,  Book signing.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Frosty Morning Walk


Frost covers everything: the lawn, the woodshed roof, the cabin roof as I start my pre-dawn hike.  It is quiet, so quiet in the woods north of the cabin.  No sound except for the crunch of fallen leaves as I slowly move along, listening, looking—the oaks are about one-third full color, the maples at peak—and I am smelling the wonderful aroma of fall so different from the smells of all the other seasons.  Pungent, earthy smells recording the hand-off of fall to winter.

As I hike back toward the cabin, the sun begins to peak above my neighbor’s pine plantation to the east and soon I see the first rays of sunlight reflecting off the top of the big maple tree in front of the cabin.  This tree, a gift from my children on my 60th birthday, shows russet red from top to bottom.  A stunning display.

Spears of green winter wheat contrast with the white frost in the garden spot—now tucked in for the winter with its green cover.

Once back in the cabin I start the wood stove for the first time this fall.   I sit at my kitchen table with a strong cup of coffee.  It will be a good day.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Take an early morning walk.  It’s good for the soul.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  For those in Central Wisconsin: Mark your calendars.  Launch of my new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY will be at The Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, October 16, beginning with refreshments at 6:00 P.M. Everyone invited.

STILL ROOM: For those interested in writing your life stories, a few openings are still available for my November 1, 9-4 workshop at the Clearing in Door County.  Contact The Clearing for sign-up information: www.theclearing.org.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI. Central Wisconsin Launch of The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Madison Main Library. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 23, 5:00 p.m. dinner, 6:00 p.m. presentation Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days. Registration required.

November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, WI,  Sponsored by Sheboygan County Research Center. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Performing Arts.  Farm Stories.

November 14, 6:30 dinner.  Port Washington Library.  Meeting at First Congregational Church, 131 Webster Street, Port Washington.  How I became a writer.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells (Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Real Books


Ruth and I just returned from the Heartland Fall Forum held at the Depot Renaissance Hotel in Minneapolis, which is an old Milwaukee Road Railroad Depot, renovated and turned into a conference center.  The Heartland Fall Forum brings together independent booksellers (bookstore owners) from throughout the Midwest, plus a goodly number of publishers, librarians and a considerable number of authors.

 I was there signing my new book, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY.  I also signed THE QUIET SEASON, and RURAL WIT AND WISDOM.   It was a busy day of chatting with bookstore folks, from Omaha, NE; Leavenworth, KS, Bayfield, WI; Redwing, MN; St. Louis, MO; Minneapolis, MN plus folks from Indiana, Ohio, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and more.  Nonstop talking—but great fun.

            It was an opportunity to chat with my publishers, especially Andrea Christofferson from the University of Wisconsin Press, publisher of “Sand Fracas;”  Rebecca Weber McEwen and Melanie Roth from Fulcrum Press (publisher of “Rural Wit;”) and Kathy Borkowski, Kate Thompson and Halley Pucker with Wisconsin Historical Society Press (publisher of “Quiet Season”).

            And how could I not mention my old friends Chuck Erickson, a retired book salesperson, and Sam Spiegel, with Partners Book Distributing in Michigan.   Both have helped me so much over the past 20 plus years.

            Oh, need I mention that printed books—real books some folks call them—are still popular and much in demand.  Thousands of them were on display (children’s picture books, young adult books, and many new fiction and nonfiction books for adults) along with their smiling publisher representatives, and an equally smiling and upbeat group of independent booksellers who were paging through catalogs and books and writing orders.

            Back to work after three days in the Twin Cities.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Try reading a real book.  They never need to be recharged, nor have their batteries replaced.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  For those in the Madison area: Mark your calendars.  Launch of my new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY will be at Barnes and Noble, West in Madison on October 7, 7:00 p.m.  Everyone invited.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

October 6, 5:00 p.m. “Live At Five” TV show on Madison Channel 3 (CBS) Discussing The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 9, 11:00-12:30 p.m.  The Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 23, 5:00 p.m. dinner, 6:00 p.m. presentation Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days. Registration required.

November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, WI,  Sponsored by Sheboygan County Research Center. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  Farm Stories.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells(Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.