Sunday, October 21, 2018

October Snow


I’m mowing one of my prairie patches with my tractor and rotary mower. The temperature is in the low 40s and all is going well. Earlier in the morning it had rained a bit, but with a stiff westerly wind, the field is dry and mowing is easy.

I’ve always enjoyed mowing. One thing about it. You can see what you’ve accomplished. Immediately. Sometimes it takes weeks, months and or even years before I learn whether I’ve accomplished anything with what I mostly do (writing, teaching, TV work). Not so with mowing. Feedback is immediate. The grass is cut.

About one-fourth into the project I glimpsed some white specks flying on the wind. Could they be snowflakes? Can’t be I told myself. It is October 20. Way too early for snowflakes.

I continued on. More snowflakes. The temperature seemed to be dropping as well. More than half done. Heavy snow falling. Heavy snow in October. My mind said not possible. The hood of my tractor said otherwise. It was snowing. Big time snowing. The kind where you have trouble seeing where you are going and where you have been.

Never before in my many years of mowing have I cut grass in a snowstorm. But we Germans can be stubborn. I had to finish the job. Snow or no. And I did. I don’t know why I am writing about this. People will think I’ve lost a few marbles. ‘That guy mows hay in a snowstorm.” But the field is mowed.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When it comes to weather, expect the unexpected.

October 27, 4:00 p.m. Edgerton Book Festival, showing of the film, ONE ROOM SCHOOL, with discussion and stories to follow.

November 9, 2-4 p.m. Plymouth Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center, Plymouth, WI Book Signing.

November 10: 9:30-11:30, Plymouth Art Center, Second Saturday. ONE ROOM SCHOOL.

November 13, 6:30 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Central Wisconsin launch of SIMPLE THINGS, LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY FARM.

Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835
DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)

The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Beauty of Fall



As a farm boy, I allotted one-word descriptions to each of the seasons:
Spring: Planting, Summer: Growing, Fall: Harvesting, and Winter: Resting.

Each season is much more than can be described in one word. Take my favorite season, fall. Of course, it involved harvesting. I remember so well when I was a kid. Pa cut our 20-acre cornfield with a one-row, McCormick corn binder, pulled by our trusty team of horses. The binder spewed out bundles of corn stalks, neatly wrapped with binder-twine. It was my job, and when the corn was all cut, Pa joined me, to stand the bundles into corn shocks. What a sight to see at day’s end when the cornfield had become an Indian encampment, with teepees standing in neat rows—or so it appeared.

It was hard work, but it also had its high points. By this time in the fall, the trees were in full fall color. The maples brilliant red and yellow. The aspens had turned to yellow, and the oaks announced a soft, natural brown.

And the smells, oh how I enjoyed and still do, the smells of fall. The subtle smell of drying cornstalks, the clear, clean smell of an early morning when frost coated the grass and caused the last geranium and other flowers still alive to wither and die.

With the corn in shocks, it was off to the woods for the first round of wood cutting, making wood we called it. Hard work, but also filled with the smells of drying oak leaves, the sight of a clear blue sky, and the feeling that summer had become a memory as we moved deeper into fall.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Appreciate the beauty of fall, wrapped around the hard work of the harvest.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

--October 20, 6-8:00 pm. American Legion Post 306, 518 Water Street, Green Lake. Fund Raiser for Princeton Public Library. Phone 920-295-6777 for ticket information. Simple Things book.

--October 21, 1:00 pm. Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello. Simple Things book.

Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835
DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)
The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.


Saturday, October 06, 2018

Garden to Bed For Winter


Once more we’ve put our garden to bed. The fence keeping out the deer/turkeys/raccoon is lifted and tucked away in the shed for the winter. The late crops: cabbage, carrots, kale, squash and pumpkins are harvested. The sweet corn stalks are cut into little pieces. The tomato racks removed and stacked. The blighted tomato and potato plants are removed to keep ground contamination at a minimum. My son, Steve did all this work last weekend.

As I ate breakfast on Tuesday, I watched a six-point buck eating what garden remnants remained. He dined for nearly half an hour in the garden, and because of the fence, all summer he was not allowed to enter. But the fence is gone.

Later in the morning I hooked the tractor to my brother’s disc and I worked up the soil, burying whatever garden trash that remained, and preparing the ground for its annual winter cover crop—this year it is winter rye.

Then I broadcast the rye seed by hand. Broadcasting means flinging the seeds in such a way that the entire garden plot is covered by seed. I learned how to do this many years ago from my father.

A final discing buried the seed, and the “putting to bed” procedure was completed. Within a few days, the rye seeds will germinate, turning the brown soil to a blanket of green. The deer and turkeys will enjoy this spot of green until next spring. In April, we will disc up the rye and the garden season will begin once more, the winter rye providing what is called “green manure.”

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Every gardener knows the importance of taking care of the soil.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

--October 8, 7:00 p.m. Launch of my new book, SIMPLE THINGS: LESSON FROM THE FAMILY FARM, at Middleton Library. Ruth is baking cookies.
--October 13, Wisconsin Book Festival, 3:00 pm. Wis Historical Society Museum on the Square. Once a Professor book.
--October 20, 6-8:00 pm. American Legion Post 306, 518 Water Street, Green Lake. Fund Raiser for Princeton Public Library. Phone 920-295-6777 for ticket information. Simple Things book.

--October 21, 1:00 pm. Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello. Simple Things book.

Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835
DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)
The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cranberry Harvest



In the fall of 1955, I was working on the home farm waiting to go on active duty in the army. By the first of October we were mostly caught up with the farm work. The corn had been harvested. The silo was filled, and we had finished the first round of making wood for our every hungry wood stoves.

Our neighbor friends, Jim and Dave Kolka suggested we could earn a few dollars working in the cranberry bogs located near Wisconsin Rapids. They knew a bog owner who paid $1.25 an hour, a quarter more than the standard $1.00 offered for laborers in those days. So my brother, Donald and I joined our friends in applying for this new job.

I had never paid much attention to cranberry growing and knew nothing about harvesting them. I would soon learn. The bog where we worked was one of the few left where the cranberries were raked by hand, using a rake similar to the one pictured above. I also learned that I needed to have a pair of hip boots, as we would be working in water.

Ranking cranberries by hand proved to be one of the most difficult jobs I’d ever had. By this time I’d worked in a pea cannery, in a pickle factory, and of course, did farm work of every stripe. On a scale of 1-10 for hard work, raking cranberries was 11. But the money was good and by late October, with frosty mornings and cold, cold water to wade in all day, we finished the job. Army basic training was nothing compared to raking cranberries.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A little hard physical work never hurt anyone.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

-October 6, 10-2:00 pm, Dregne’s, Westby. Book Signing with daughter, Sue.

--October 7, 1-4 pm, August Derleth Center, 300 Water Street, Sauk City, Guest Speaker.

--October 13, Wisconsin Book Festival, 3:00 pm. Wis Historical Society Museum on the Square.

--October 20, 6-8:00 pm. American Legion Post 306, 518 Water Street, Green Lake. Fund Raiser for Princeton Public Library. Phone 920-295-6777 for ticket information.

--October 21, 1:00 pm. Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello.


Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835
DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)
The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Garden Report


As summer reluctantly moves into autumn, it’s time to report on Roshara’s vegetable garden. We’ve planted a vegetable garden for more than fifty years, and each year, we see failure and success.

Overall, I’d rate this year’s garden as below average compared to other years. The green beans were an exception. Last year the green beans did nothing. This year they win a solid A.

I must award our tomato crop a D. I planted seven different varieties, and all of them, every last one of 50 some plants, was taken down with blight, some affected more than others. We managed to harvest a couple bushels, but many of the individual tomatoes were far from the perfection that we expected.

As for the potatoes, they started out well, looked great all through June, then, the heavy rains came and the high humidity. And the blight. Maybe two plus bushels.


The sweet corn crop ranked a D as well. Poor yield. Same for the squash and pumpkins—a dozen or so squash and only four pumpkins. Pathetic.

On the other hand, an A to the radishes, lettuce, kale, and zucchini. But as the saying goes, if you can’t grow zucchini, best you hang up your hoe.

The weather has a lot to do with a vegetable garden’s success. We started the season with lots of rain, then an extended dry spell, then fifteen inches of rain in ten days, along with 90 degree plus temperatures and equally high humidity.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Remembering his father’s oft said words: Next year will be better.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

--Sept. 28, 5:00 pm. Platteville Farm-Town Dinner Meeting. Speaker

--October 6, 10-2:00 pm, Dregne’s, Westby. Book Signing with daughter, Sue.

--October 7, 1-4 pm, August Derleth Center, 300 Water Street, Sauk City, Guest Speaker.

--October 13, Wisconsin Book Festival, 3:00 pm. Wis Historical Society Museum on the Square.

--October 20, 6-8:00 pm. American Legion Post 306, 518 Water Street, Green Lake. Fund Raiser for Princeton Public Library. Phone 920-295-6777 for ticket information.

--October 21, 1:00 pm. Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello.


Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835
DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)
The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thriving Prairie


In 1867, Tom Stewart, a Civil War Veteran, homesteaded my farm. When he arrived, he saw a mixture of open prairie land with small clumps of trees. Stewart hired a neighbor, who had oxen and a breaking plow, to turn over the wild grasses and flowers that had grown there for several thousand years. He likely planted this “new” land to wheat, which was commonly grown throughout central and southern Wisconsin counties at the time.

Now, more than 150 years later, I am working to restore some of Tom Stewart’s prairie land to its original state. I know that is probably impossible as Stewart’s prairie land had been cultivated until I started my prairie restoration in 1968. Corn had been the final cultivated crop on this land before I allowed it to begin returning to its original state.

I encouraged the prairie restoration by cutting rogue brush and trees, and I occasionally mow it. I have several pine plantations that surround my prairie, so I have been skittish about doing a burn.

Over the years, new wildflowers have appeared as well as grasses I had not seen before. This year, with the late summer rains, my early autumn wildflowers have been spectacular, especially the blazing star and goldenrods. I’ve also seen monarch butterflies everywhere. A couple weeks ago, my daughter Sue, and I counted a dozen monarchs in one cluster.

Each year I see something new in my prairie, some new grass and wildflower, and often a butterfly I hadn’t seen before. To help the monarch population, we have lots of milkweed plants. With the recent rains on our sandy soil, our droughty prairie has thrived.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Prairie restoration requires patience, but what a joy to see something new each season.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

--Sept. 21, Evening, Wisconsin Writers Association Meeting, Milwaukee. Keynote Speaker

--Sept.22. 9-2:00 p.m. All Writers Workshop, Waukesha

--Sept. 28, 5:00 pm. Platteville Farm-Town Dinner Meeting. Speaker

--October 6, 10-2:00 pm, Dregne’s, Westby. Book Signing

--October 7, 1-4 pm, August Derleth Center, 300 Water Street, Sauk City, Guest Speaker.

--October 13, Wisconsin Book Festival, 3:00 pm. Wis Historical Society Museum on the Square.

--October 20, 6-8:00 pm. American Legion Post 306, 518 Water Street, Green Lake. Fund Raiser for Princeton Public Library. Phone 920-295-6777 for ticket information.

--October 21, 1:00 pm. Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello.


Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835

DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)

The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.



Saturday, September 08, 2018

Rain



Last year, I wrote a book titled “Never Curse the Rain,” published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and I did an hour-long documentary with Wisconsin Public TV with the same title. The idea came from my dad, who had farmed during the dry-weather Depression years of the 1930s, and the occasional dry summers that followed on our sandy, western Waushara County Farm. My brothers and I dared not ever say a bad word about rain, as, according to Pa, we never had enough.

Now, late summer 2018. It has rained. And rained. Fifteen inches of rain at my Waushara County Farm in 10 days. We have survived quite well. Some rotten potatoes, some spoiled tomatoes. Some trail washing. Not so in many parts of Wisconsin. My nephew, Jim Olson, farms west of Westby. All of his valley fences washed away. He managed to save his cattle from drowning. Coon Valley is flooded. Reedsburg is flooded. Montello bridge is out. And many, many other places have suffered, including some Madison streets that are flooded. Several roads and bridges destroyed. Farm crop losses are unknown, but there will be many.

“Now can we curse the rain?” several people have asked me. (Photo is my son, Steve, clearing dead brush in our pond so he can photograph it. The pond is the highest it has been in 40 years.)

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: “Under certain circumstances, a bad word about too much rain is probably appropriate.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

--Sept 14, 7:00 p.m. The Local Store, Eau Claire. Simple Things and Old Farm Country Cookbook

--Sept. 21, Evening, Wisconsin Writers Association Meeting, Milwaukee. Keynote Speaker

--Sept.22. 9-2:00 p.m. All Writers Workshop, Waukesha

--September 28, 5:00 pm. Platteville Farm-Town Dinner Meeting. Speaker

--October 6, 10-2:00 pm, Dregni’s, Westby. Book Signing

--October 7, 1-4 pm, August Derleth Center, 300 Water Street, Sauk City, Guest Speaker.

--October 13, Wisconsin Book Festival, 3:00 pm. Wis Historical Society Museum on the Square.

--October 20, 6-8:00 pm. American Legion Post 306, 518 Water Street, Green Lake. Fund Raiser for Princeton Public Library. Phone 920-295-6777 for ticket information.

--October 21, 1:00 pm. Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello.


Purchase Jerry’s signed DVDs and books from the Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
Phone: 920-622-3835
DVDs: His latest Public TV show, One-Room Country School is now available. It’s based on his book, One-Room Country Schools (also available). 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,)
Never Curse the Rain, (based on his book with the same title)
The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Once a Professor, Every Farm Tells a Story, Living a County Year (reprints), One-Room Country Schools, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.