Saturday, September 16, 2017

Prairie Restoration


What is now the prairie on our farm was a cornfield at one time. That was nearly 50 years ago. Over the years I have simply watched and waited to see what would happen to this once cornfield. It has been quite amazing. A little history.

Thomas Stewart, a Civil War veteran from New York State, homesteaded our farm in 1867. He broke the land with oxen. At the time it was mixture of oak trees and open ground—which was mostly big blue stem grass. The land was stony, hilly, and sandy. Far from ideal farm land. But homestead land was essentially free, 160 acres for someone willing to “prove up,” meaning putting up some buildings and farming the land.

Stewart sold the place and a succession of farmers continued to work these sandy acres. They sometimes harvested a decent crop if the rains came at the right time, but mostly the crops were poor and making a living was tough.

My goal is to try to return this old cornfield into a prairie of wildflowers and native grasses. It takes patience but so far, outside of some mowing and keeping out the rogue trees and brush, I have done little to speed up the restoration. I have too many nearby pine trees for burning.

It has been a joy, over these 50 years, to see how much Mother Nature can do to restore itself to what at one time it had been.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: We are all so much in a hurry. Mother Nature is not.

COMING EVENTS:

Monday, September 18 Old Farm Country Cook Book. Willy St Coop West, Madison. – 6 p.m. cooking with Susie.

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. at Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

Friday, September 29, 5:00 p.m. at Farm City Dinner, Platteville. Old Farm Country Cook Book. Jerry and Susie

Oct. 5 at Wisconsin Rapids McMillan Library 7 p.m. (One-Room Schools).

Oct. 14 at Neenah Public Library – Never Curse the Rain & Garden Book– 11 a.m. .

Oct. 18 at Water Conservation Presentation, Portage, 6:30 p.m. Place to be announced.

Oct. 25 at Cambridge Public Library – Never Curse the Rain – 12:30 pm

Saturday, October 28, at Edgerton Book Festival 9 a.m.Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie..

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. at Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie..

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m. Mequon Nature Preserve, Mequon, WI. Never Curse the Rain.

Saturday, Nov. 11, Second Saturday, 9:00 a.m. Plymouth Art Center, The Land

Thursday, Nov. 16. 1:00 p.m. Berlin Library. Old Farm Country Cook Book.

Tuesday, November 28, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Madison. Never Curse the Rain.

Saturday, December 2, Dregni’s, Westby. Old Farm Country Cookbook, Susie and Jerry.

Thursday, Dec. 7, 6:00 p.m. Waupaca Historical Society, Christmas on the Farm

Saturday, Dec. 9 McFarlane’s, Prairie du Sac. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

Sunday, Dec. 17 –Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello 1 p.m. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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, September 09, 2017

Grape Jelly




This will be short and sweet—pardon the pun. Remember the grapes I talked about last week. Well, they are now grape jelly. Forty-two jars to exact. And Ruth did it all.

For a recipe for making grape jelly, follow the directions on a fruit pectin box or turn to p.151 of Sue and my book, Old Farm County Cookbook.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Homemade grape jelly on toast. It’s so, so good.

COMING EVENTS:

Monday, September 18 Old Farm Country Cook Book. Willy St Coop West, Madison. – 6 p.m. cooking with Susie.

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. at Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

Friday, September 29, 5:00 p.m. at Farm City Dinner, Platteville. Old Farm Country Cook Book. Jerry and Susie

Thursday, Oct. 5 at Wisconsin Rapids McMillan Library 7 p.m. (One-Room Schools).

Saturday, Oct. 14 at Neenah Public Library – Never Curse the Rain & Garden Book– 10 a.m. .

Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Water Conservation Presentation, Portage, 6:30 p.m. Place to be Announced.

Wednesday Oct. 25 at Cambridge Public Library – Never Curse the Rain – 12:30 pm WHSPRESS drives/sells JOHN

Saturday, October 28, at Edgerton Book Festival 9 a.m.Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie..

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. at Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie..

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m. Mequon Nature Preserve, Mequon, WI. Never Curse the Rain.

Tuesday, November 28, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Madison. Never Curse the Rain.

Saturday, December 2, Dregni’s, Westby. Old Farm Country Cookbook, Susie and Jerry.

Thursday, Dec. 7 Waupaca Historical Society, Christmas on the Farm

Saturday, Dec. 9 McFarlane’s, Prairie du Sac. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

Sunday, Dec. 17 –Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello 1 p.m. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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

Monday, September 04, 2017

Split Rail Grapes


About forty-five years ago I planted one Concord grape vine along the split rail fence in front of my house. It sputtered along for a couple of years, sending out a rather frail vine with few grapes. I did nothing, no fertilization, nothing special with weed control, except I pruned the vine back each spring, as per a grape-growing friend’s suggestion. Each year my neighbor was sure that I had killed the vine with what he said was excess pruning—but rather than kill it, the pruning encouraged ever more growth each year.

Around year five, the grape vine succeeded in growing to the end of the split rail fence, and was producing a quarter bushel of beautiful, plump, purple grapes.

By year ten the vine was producing a half bushel or so of grapes, again with no care on my part except pruning each spring and tying the vine to the fence here and there.

Then there was last year. Never had I seen since lush growth. The vine not only grew to the end of the split rail fence and headed south, but when it reached the corner post it turned and began growing west (with my help). I looked forward to the best crop of grapes ever. But alas, when I began harvesting I found five grapes. Not five quarts, not five pails, but five miserable little grapes. A late frost last spring had taken its toll.

Ah, but this year. More lush growth. More turning the corner at the end post and, yes, likely the most grapes we have ever harvested. It’s grape jelly making time.

THE OLD TIMER: There is a lot of talk these days, but little being said.

COMING EVENTS:

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

Friday, September 29, 5:00 p.m. Farm City Dinner, Platteville (details to follow)

Saturday, October 28, Edgerton Book Festival (details to follow)

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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, August 26, 2017

Watkins Man


I have fond memories of the Watkins man who stopped by our farm once or twice a month, every month of the year. He carried a big black leather case, which he sat on the kitchen table as my brothers and I watched him unload product after product for my mother to see and consider buying. He was a pleasant chap, calling my brothers and me by name, and seeming glad to see us. We enjoyed his visits as well, especially during the cold and snowy winter months when we saw few visitors.

A few weeks ago, Ruth and I had an opportunity to visit the Watkins Museum in Winona, MN. I learned that J. R. Watkins had started his door-to-door business in 1868, working out of Plainview, MN. His first product was horse liniment. I recall my dad always had some Watkins liniment handy. He said it was good for everything, a horse’s sore muscles, a person’s sore leg, an upset stomach. Pa said that Watkins liniment was good for “man or beast.”

In 1885 Watkins moved his operation to Winona, MN, where it remains today. By 1895, Watkins had added several other products, including its ever popular pepper and Vanilla. Now, more than 130 years later, Watkins products are still sold—but not door-to-door, as I so fondly remember.

In the early days, the Watkins salesmen made their rounds with horse and buggy—see photo above.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When you whack a hornet’s nest, expect to be stung.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

Friday, September 30, 5:00 p.m. Farm City Dinner, Platteville (details to follow)

Saturday, October 28, Edgerton Book Festival (details to follow)

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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








THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes a bad situation can turn into something better.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

Friday, September 30, 5:00 p.m. Farm City Dinner, Platteville (details to follow)

Saturday, October 28, Edgerton Book Festival (details to follow)

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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



Monday, August 21, 2017

Logging at Roshara


I wrote about the fierce windstorm that swept through central Wisconsin last June, tearing out trees by the roots, and doing considerable damage to buildings and other structures. It was that storm that smashed into the row of willow trees that serves as a windbreak for my farmstead at Roshara, nearly destroying the end willow, a character in my first book.

At the time, I had not done an assessment of the damage the storm had done to my woodlots, especially the half dozen acres that made up a naturally seeded white pine woodlot. These white pines have an interesting history. John Coombes, who owned Roshara before we bought it, planted a row of white pine trees in the 1930s. He planted the trees as a way of saving some of his sandy soil from blowing away with the windstorms that swept through this part of Wisconsin at the time.

When we came to Roshara in 1966, the field immediately to the east of the white pine windbreak was a cornfield. As the years passed the cornfield became a field of naturally seeded white pines, many of which are now more than 50 years old.

The windstorm topped many of these fifty-year old pines, created a mess of tangled branches and broken tree trunks. It also ruined a few of the original white pines planted by Mr. Coombes.

With the help of a consulting forester (I also worked with my brother, Donald, who had considerable damage to his trees) a logger spent the last week cutting and piling the broken trees, which are headed for saw and pulp mills. The logger also did some thinning of our other red pine plantations—a thinning done a bit earlier than planned. (The above photo shows some of the logger’s efforts. When the photo was taken, six semi-loads of logs had already been hauled away.)


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes a bad situation can turn into something better.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

Friday, September 30, 5:00 p.m. Farm City Dinner, Platteville (details to follow)

Saturday, October 28, Edgerton Book Festival (details to follow)

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook.

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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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



Monday, August 14, 2017

Cruisin' Down The River


From the day when I was first introduced to the writings of Mark Twain, I wanted to learn more about the Mississippi River and its famed steamboat history. This past week Ruth and I had an opportunity to do that in a special way.

We booked passage on the American Queen, a steam powered riverboat that travels the Mississippi from New Orleans to Red Wing, MN with stops at the river towns along the way.

We took an abbreviated trip, traveling from Red Wing to Dubuque, and then back to Red Wing with stops at Prairie du Chein, La Crosse, and Winona, MN, plus Dubuque and Red Wing of course.

The American Queen is a big boat, 420 feet long with 424 passengers and a crew of 172. It has six decks and as you might guess, one of its greatest challenges is traveling under the many bridges that cross the river. The boat has the capability of lowering its smoke stacks, was well as its pilothouse. But even then, for some of the bridges, only a few inches separate the top of the boat from the bottom of a bridge.

The several dams and locks along the river present another challenge. If I counted correctly there are nine dams and locks between Red Wing and Dubuque. These were built during the Depression years of the 1930s, as government projects, and each one is an engineering marvel. They were built, not for flood control, but as a way of maintaining the river depth so the many tow boats, and boats like ours could more easily make their way.

It was a great week on the Upper Mississippi, thought by many to be the most beautiful part of the river with the beautiful river bluffs, bald eagles everywhere, and interesting river towns along the way.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Too often we take the great Mississippi River for granted, the river that defines much of our state’s western boundary.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

August 15, 11:00 to 11:45. Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. With daughter Sue, discussing Old Farm Country Cookbook.

August 18, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Writing Workshop, The Clearing.


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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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, August 06, 2017

School of the Arts Legacy Program



My son, Steve, and I have just returned from a couple of most interesting days in Rhinelander, where I was involved with the “ArtStart School of the Arts—Legacy Program.” It was a Writer’s Retreat conducted at ArtStart and the Rhinelander District Library.

Many writers, artists, musicians and others interested in the arts will recall the School of the Arts in Rhinelander. It was started by UW-Madison Professor Robert Gard and carried on for many years in this beautiful North Country city. I attended the School of the Arts in 1967, when I was a beginning writer. I studied there with Bob Gard, August Derleth and Kentucky writer, Jesse Stuart.

I began teaching writing at the School in 1971, and I taught there for 32 years. Steve taught photography there for ten years. So it was a coming home experience for both Steve and me.

ArtStart, located at 68 S. Stevens Street in Rhinelander, in a wonderfully well restored old Federal Building, offers a series of events throughout the year—and is committed to bringing back to life the popular School of the Arts that had so many successful years in Rhinelander. (Click on http://www.artstartrhinelander.org/ for further information about ArtStart.)

I spoke to a group of writers and writing instructors on Friday evening. The event offered a variety of writing workshops from Friday through Sunday, August 4th to 6th. On Saturday, at an event open to the public, I spoke at the Rhinelander District Library—see photo—about my new books: Old Farm Country Cookbook and Never Curse the Rain.

I was pleased to be a part of this legacy program designed to bring back to life the School of the Arts in Rhinelander, which brought the arts to Northern Wisconsin, and ultimately attracted participants from throughout the Midwest.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: No matter how old we are, it’s never too late to learn something new.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

August 15, 11:00 to 11:45. Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. With daughter Sue, discussing Old Farm Country Cookbook.

August 18, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Writing Workshop, The Clearing.


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 books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, 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