Saturday, January 30, 2016

Good Old Days?



The years when I was growing up are often referred to as “The Good Old Days.”  Maybe some of time, but not when it came to shoveling snow.

I’ve just finished plowing the driveway at my farm.  Six inches of new snow fell, but it was no challenge for the box grader and the front end loader I have on my John Deere Tractor.  In a little over an hour, the driveway was clear, as was a path from my cabin to the woodshed.  No fuss, no muss.  My tractor is four-wheel drive, with power-steering.  And I must say, compared to handling a snow shovel, driving my little John Deere is easy, and dare I say, fun.

Back to “The Good Old Days.”  My dad, two brothers and I, following a snowstorm, spent hours shoveling the various paths: from the house to the barn, from the house to the chicken house, from the house to pump house, from the pump house to the barn, from the barn to the straw stack, from the barn to the granary—and of course, from the house to the outhouse.  And worst of all, the driveway from the country road to the pump house—so the milk man could make his daily rounds.

It was a miserable job.  And just about the time we finished shoveling all the paths, it would snow once more.  And it was back to the shovels.

What a difference a tractor and a front end loader would have made.  But in those days we didn’t have a tractor, but depended on horses to do the heavy work.  Clearing paths was not part of what they did.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Not all of “The Good Old Days” were that good.

UPCOMING EVENTS.

February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture).  Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.   One talk at 11:00 on February 3.

February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison.  February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land.  February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.

February 23, 7:00 p.m. Phillips Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI. Part of Wisconsin Historical Society Tour program.  Stories From the Land.

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 and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books 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 as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
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, January 23, 2016

2016 Almanac


About this time in the New Year, I often go to the current year’s almanac for inspiration and direction, and a hint of what the year’s weather will be like.

I’m paging through the 2016 “Almanac for Farmers and City Folk.”  Apparently the publishers figured out that less than two percent of the population are farmers these days, so they added “and City Folk” to the title.

As the editors of this esteemed publication proclaim, “Included are calendars and tide tables (always useful in Wisconsin), stories and articles, and a grand assortment of nostalgia, trivia, and anecdotes, plus enough cookery, puzzles, and helpful information to provide edification and entertainment for the whole family for the entire year.”  I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more edification I require.

There are three pages on how to grow cauliflower.   The wind chill table lets you know when you shouldn’t stick your nose outside and risk it freezing off.  For instance, when the wind is speeding by at 25 mph, and the temperature is minus ten, the wind chill is minus 59.  But as my dad always said about wind chill temperatures, “Get out of the wind.”

There’s a list of the worst jobs.  Lumberjack comes in first; Author is also close to the top.  Hmm.

Best jobs are biomedical engineers, data scientists, audiologists (can you hear me now), mathematicians, and a handful of others.

Weather forecasts for the entire year are here, arranged in 19 different zones.   Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota are clumped into Zone 9.  If I read these predictions correctly, I conclude that yes, we will have weather in 2016.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  If it’s a little edification that you need, check out the 2016 “Almanac for Farmers and City Folk.”


UPCOMING EVENTS

January 25, 6:30 p.m. Mt. Horeb Library—History of Cheese making in Wisconsin.

February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture).  Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.

February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison.  February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land.  February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.

February 23, 7:00 p.m. Phillips Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI. Part of Wisconsin Historical Society Tour program.  Stories From the Land.

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 and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books 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 as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
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, January 16, 2016

Grazing Conference



 Ruth and I have just returned from Wisconsin Dells where I spoke to 325 folks interested in grazing their farm animals.  It was the 24th annual Grazing Conference that was held January 14-16 and included 39 educational sessions with information on everything from grass-fed rabbits, pastured pork production, to dairy grazing, soil health and much more.

 I spoke at their Friday evening banquet and talked with many of these farmers committed to a sustainable approach to agriculture.  They are members of an organization called GrassWorks.  Go to their website, www.grassworks.org for details of their organization.  I copied this from their website:

GrassWorks is a grassroots membership organization that provides leadership and education to farmers and consumers for the advancement of managed grass-based agriculture to benefit present and future generations. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, GrassWorks links farmers with the resources they need to be successful graziers.

I shared some of my stories about farm life when I was a kid, when we pastured our dairy cows, chickens, and hogs, as everyone did in those days.  I also talked about what I learned from those growing up years on the farm—and reminded this group, many of them younger farmers with their children along, the importance of getting down their stories of what they were experiencing.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Appears that GrassWorks might have a handle on the future of agriculture—with an ear to “listening to the land.”


UPCOMING EVENTS

January 25, 6:30 p.m. Mt. Horeb Library—History of Cheese making in Wisconsin.

February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture).  Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.

February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison.  February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land.  February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.

February 23, 7:00 p.m. Phillips Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI. Part of Wisconsin Historical Society Tour program.  Stories From the Land.

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 and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books 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 as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
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, January 09, 2016

Plant a Tree. Make a Memory.


I’m looking out my cabin window on this dark, foggy morning.  Through the haze and drizzle I am able to make out the shapes of three spruce trees growing along the trail that leads to the pond.  The trees are tall, maybe 60 feet, two tall ones and one a little shorter.

I planted these trees in 1966 when they were just seedlings, only six inches tall.  I named the trees after our three children, who were four, three and two at the time.  So there is a Steve tree, a Jeff tree, and a Susie tree.

Ruth and I have watched these three trees grow, as we watched our children grow.  We smiled when the kids were little and they ran out to see how their trees were doing.   They still look at the trees, which once were so much shorter than they were and now are many times taller.

These tall spruce trees have become a part of our family.   And they surely are embedded in the history of our farm.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Plant a tree and name it after each of your kids or grandkids.  And watch the trees and the kids grow and develop.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

January 12, Noon, Wisconsin Certified Crops Advisory Board, Coliseum, Madison.

January 15, 6:45 p.m. Wisconsin Grazing Conference, Wisconsin Dells. Stories from the land.

January 25, 6:30 p.m. Mt. Horeb Library—History of Cheese making in Wisconsin.

February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture).  Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.

February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison.  February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land.  February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.

February 23, 7:00 p.m. Phillips Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI. Part of Wisconsin Historical Society Tour program.  Stories From the Land.

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 and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books 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 as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
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, January 02, 2016

Seed Catalogs


           On the dreary days following Christmas, with the snow piled high and the cold gripping the land, I remember my mother sitting by our wood burning cook stove.  By the light of a kerosene lamp she studied the seed catalogs that had just arrived.  And she was smiling.

            On this wintery day in early January, I, like my mother so  many years ago, am poring over the newly arrived seed catalogs: Burpee’s, Gurney’s, Jungs, Shumway’s and several others.   A new wonderfully red tomato graces the cover of the Burpee catalog with the enticing words, “Madame Marmande: Gourmet tomato with a French accent.  Juicy.  Succulent.  Super-flavorful.”   On the Jung catalog cover I see an “Easy care barberry shrub, “A perfect pumpkin for patches big and small,” and a cluster of three strawberries: “Big yields of tasty berries on disease resistant plants.”

            On the Shumway catalog cover I see the “Lazy Housewife Bean, the original heirloom from the 1800s.  One of the first to be completely stringless-there is little work or time involved, thus resulting in its name.” And Grandpa Admire’s Lettuce named after a Civil War veteran whose family preserved the seeds throughout the years.

            That’s just the covers.  A peek inside the catalogs and all thoughts of long winter days melt into thoughts of spring and planting garden, and selecting  just the right seeds for our sandy, central Wisconsin soil.  Decisions, decisions.  What to plant this year, something I have not tried: maybe Swiss chard, or how about some kale, or maybe a couple hills of Atlantic Giant pumpkins that are supposed to reach 400-500 pounds.  Or maybe some Crimson Blaze sunflowers that “captivate with sensuous shades and tones,” and grow six feet tall?

            Let’s see, it’s only how many days before it’s time to plant garden?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Think garden thoughts; it shortens the winter.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

January 12, Noon, Wisconsin Certified Crops Advisory Board, Coliseum, Madison.

January 15, 6:45 p.m. Wisconsin Grazing Conference, Wisconsin Dells. Stories from the land.

January 25, 6:30 p.m. Mt. Horeb Library—History of Cheese making in Wisconsin.

February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture) each day.  Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.

February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison.  February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land.  February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.

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 and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books 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 as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
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, December 26, 2015

Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve



Not oyster stew again?  Someone in the family seems to ask the question every year.  Others agree that it’s a tradition for our family to have oyster stew on Christmas Eve.  My grandparents ate oyster stew on Christmas Eve.  My parents ate oyster stew on Christmas Eve. My immediate family has “enjoyed” oyster stew on Christmas Eve for more than 50 years.  And Ruth’s family, too, has a long history of oyster stew on Christmas Eve.

The oyster stew project has also become a ritual.  It’s hard to believe, the awful cook that I am and have always been, but I am in charge of oyster stew.  It begins when a couple days before the 24th.  I look for fresh oysters in the grocery store.  Sometimes I have to go to more than one place as they are sold out—we are not the only family with this tradition.  This year I had three choices—little oysters, big oysters, or oysters in the shell.  I chose the little ones.

After church on Christmas Eve, with the family all gathered at our home  for dinner, they are required to wait until I complete the  ”making of the Oyster Stew. “  Into one pot go the oysters—not a pretty sight if you like your food to look pretty.  Then in another pot goes the 2% milk, a goodly amount of butter, some pepper, and a little salt—notice how carefully I measure everything.  I stir the oysters until they curl on the edges, and then dump them all into the milk mixture, stirring all the while.

By this time, Natasha takes the orders.  “Who wants oyster stew this year?  Four choices:  Oyster stew with one oyster, oyster stew with several oysters, oyster stew with no oysters, and tomato soup.  This year, a record for oyster stew acceptance in one form or another as five out of nine say “yes.”  One wanted no soup at all and three ate tomato soup. 

The tradition continues.  But will it make it to generation number four?  It looks promising based on this year’s acceptance rate.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Christmas Eve would not be the same without oyster stew.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
January 12, Noon, Wisconsin Certified Crops Advisory Board, Coliseum, Madison.

January 15, 6:45 p.m. Wisconsin Grazing Conference, Wisconsin Dells. Stories from the land.

January 25, 6:30 p.m. Mt. Horeb Library—History of Cheese making in Wisconsin.

February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture) each day.  Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.


February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison.  February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land.  February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Santa at the Country School


During this Christmas season, my mind goes back to the one-room country school that I attended, and the annual Christmas program that we all had a part in.

I especially recall Santa Claus, and remember how we so much looked forward to his visit each year at our school.  When the Christmas program was completed, we listened for Santa’s sleigh bells, as Santa ran around the school house a couple of time ringing the bells.  Then he would burst into the school room with a loud “Ho, Ho, Ho—Merry Christmas,” sometimes give the teacher a kiss and then proceed to distribute gifts to each student from the big gunny bag he carried over his shoulder. 

            When I wrote the book, One Room Country Schools, I interviewed several former country school teachers. One teacher remembered the Santas she knew over the years:
            “One Santa came in his barn boots—the smell was so strong they could have walked by themselves.  One Santa was so stricken with stage fright that he forgot his own kids’ names.  One fortified himself with a bottle of whiskey under his belt.  He fell off the stage, sprained his ankle, and as some men escorted him out to his car, he swore so loudly that it fairly shook the building.  Another Santa came on stage, jingling the bells and shouting “Ho, Ho, Ho,” before the program was completed.  The rest of the program was a shambles, much to the disappointment and anger of the children who had not yet performed and the loud-voiced anger of their parents.”

            The former teacher told me that after that program, “I was numb for days.”  One good reason for the Christmas vacation I suspect.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Merry Christmas.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Next week I will include some 2016 events.


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 and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books 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 as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

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