Friday, May 22, 2020

Another Road to Take?




Photo by Jerry Apps

A line in a Robert Frost poem reads, with a little paraphrasing, “I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.” I’ve been thinking about those words. Nearly everyone is affected by the dreaded COVID-19. It is easy to yearn for the old normal, what we knew and enjoyed, at least thought we did.

What is going on today feels like a timeout. When the coach is concerned that the game isn’t going well, and we should stop playing for a bit and think about what to do next. What to do next may not be what we have been doing. Is it time to take a different road, maybe one that is not so well-traveled?

Some of us, along the way, were forced to take another road—because of an accident or an illness in the family. Or something more serious. We didn’t have a chance to choose. The choice was made for us. I was one of those. I had polio which meant I could play no sports in high school or participate in anything requiring much physical effort. I did not want to take another road—but I had to do it or else. I didn’t want to think about the “or else.”

Today, many of us have a choice of a different road to take after this crisis passes. Will we?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: So many roads to take, which one should it be?

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

My books are available at your local bookstore or 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

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.. They have a great selection of my books for sale, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Laughter Helps During Tough Times


Image from free Clipart.

During these difficult times, I remember the humor and laughter on the farm when I was a kid. Humor was a way of making a bad situation better, of finding something good in something that was awful. Of evoking laughter in a situation that was often filled with tears. Stories about a farmstead fire, a charging mad bull, or a tipped over pickup truck. Stories about minor and sometimes not so minor injuries caused by poor judgment or lack of knowledge.

Rural humor included practical jokes ranging from smearing Limburger cheese on the muffle of a newlyweds’ car, to stuffing rocks in a grain sack so that the fellow carrying the grain from the threshing machine to granary walked with a staggering gait and a look that said, “I’ve never carried such heavy grain.”

Humor allowed country people to live through the tough times, when the rains didn’t come and the crops dried up, when a friend or relative died, when milk prices fell, when someone in the family was injured. Country humor was homemade; it was of the people. It was humor that came from the land. And although it may have evoked a belly laugh or sometimes only a chuckle, it cheered people up. For country people, good weather nourished their crops; humor nourished their souls.

I’m reminded of the story about the fellow driving along who spotted a sign that read: “Boat for sale.” Behind the sign were a lawnmower and a wheelbarrow. The fellow stopped, interested in buying a boat.

“Saw your sign,” the fellow said, “but all I see is a wheelbarrow and a lawnmower.”

“Yup,” the man standing by the sign said, “And they’re boat for sale.”

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A good laugh is often the best medicine.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, May 20, 10:00 a.m. On your computer go to Wisconsin Historical Society Press Storytime Live.. I will be reading from my children’s book, “Stormy.” A true story about my 4-H calf when I was 12 years old.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

My books, including Stormy, are available at your local bookstore or 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

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.. They have a great selection of my books for sale, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Early Garden Planting




Natasha planting onion sets. Photo by Jerry apps

During these days when the world seems upside down and tomorrow remains a mystery, many people are turning to gardening. So many that when I tried to buy some additional seeds this past week, the two garden catalogs that I regularly ordered from had the words “Out of stock” alongside many popular vegetable seeds.

As many of you know, I am a long-time vegetable gardener, learning from my mother way back during the Depression years when we depended on our big garden for the food on our table. Both my mother and dad were excellent gardeners, and both loved doing it.

Last weekend we planted the early crops for our three-family garden at Roshara, our Waushara County farm. For those interested, we planted nine rows of potatoes (five of Kennebec, and four Pontiac Red). Two short rows of lettuce, one short row of kale, one row of carrots, one short row of radishes, a row of rutabagas, and a short row of beets.

Memorial Day weekend we will plant green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, sweet corn, and sunflowers. We’ll set out the tomato plants that I have been nursing inside under a grow light, plus we’ll set out some broccoli and cabbage plants. We’ll also find some room for zinnias, which seem to do well in our garden. One of Pa’s mantras was, every vegetable garden needs a little special beauty.

I’ll share a progress report as the season goes along—no two seasons are ever alike.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: One way to avoid food shortages is to grow your own.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

My books are available at your local bookstore or 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

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.. They have a great selection of my books for sale, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414.


Friday, May 01, 2020

Opening Day of Fishing Season




A younger Jerry with his daughter Sue and recently caught trout.

When I was a kid, outside of Christmas, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, two equally important events were the opening day of deer season in the fall, and the first day of fishing season in May.

Our fishing equipment consisted of a 14-foot long cane pole, some heavy green fish line, a red and white bobber, and a hook. All were available from Hotz’s Hardware in Wild Rose.
On the opening day of fishing season, when I was maybe 12 years old, my dad, brothers, and I would gather up the cane poles that we stored under the eaves of the corncrib. Then we’d dig some earthworms from a place back of the chicken house where we’d always found plenty of them, put them in a tin can, tie the cane poles across the top of the old black Plymouth and drive to Norwegian Lake.

We’d stop at Anderson’s farm, bordering the lake, and rent a wooden boat from them. One dollar rental fee. We’d spend a couple of hours tossing out our lines and hauling in big bluegills—the fish that Pa prized above all others. And that evening, we ate pan-fried blue gills—what a treat.

As I got older the tradition continued, except I moved from a long cane pole to one of those fancy fishing rods that had a reel and fish-line about the size of a single strand of a spider web. I also got interested in trout fishing—so opening day was on the Pine River, or more often, at the Wild Rose Mill Pond.

Great family memories.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: One way to put aside your troubles is to go fishing.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

My books are available at your local bookstore or 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

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.. They have a great selection of my books for sale, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414.


Friday, April 24, 2020

Small Space Gardening


Photo by Jerry Apps.

Don’t have enough room for a vegetable garden? Too old to garden? I’ve heard these comments many times over the years. Let me begin by saying, you are never too old to garden. My father was gardening when he was 92, and never once did I hear him say he was too old to do it. And you don’t need a lot of space for a garden.

An example that I have in my backyard is pictured above and it is four feet, by eight feet. It is also a raised garden so I don’t have to bend over to tend it and harvest the vegetables. My son-in-law, Paul built it. It’s about four feet high, with a three-foot fence on top to keep out the pesky rabbits. Once the framework was up, we put a layer of gravel on the bottom and then filled the space with soil from my compost pile, along with a few bags of topsoil.

So far this spring, I have planted radishes, lettuce, and peas. When it warms up, I’ll plant beans close to the fence so they can climb it, and likewise, I’ll plant cucumbers that can climb the fence. I may even sneak in a couple of zucchini plants, plant a few beets, and a few onions. There are no rows, although I tend to keep the various vegetables separated from each other. I’ll keep you posted as to how my little garden does this summer.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Remember the Victory gardens from WWII? A garden need not take up much space.

UPCOMING EVENTS;

April 30, 11:45-12:30, Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.
Read about my gardening adventures in GARDEN WISDOM, (Wisconsin Historical Society Press).
It is available 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

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.. They have a great selection of my books for sale, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. Or visit your local bookstore.


Friday, April 17, 2020

Remembering Earth Day: April 22




This book by Sheila Terman Cohen is a brief biography of Gaylord Nelson.

With all the bad news, I remember what happened 50 years ago that for me was uplifting and forward-looking. The year was 1970. The previous fall I had written my first book, THE LAND STILL LIVES, and my publisher and I asked Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin U.S. Senator at the time, to write a foreword to my book, which he graciously did. (The LAND STILL LIVES has recently been re-published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.)

I was teaching at the UW-Madison at the time. I was in the audience on the evening of April 21. 1970 when Senator Nelson introduced the idea of Earth Day, which would be celebrated on April 22. The gathering was at the Stock Pavilion on the Ag. Campus—and it was packed with people.

Here is a bit of what he wrote in the introduction to my book: “Today, the crisis of our environment is the biggest challenge facing mankind. To meet it will call for reshaping our values, to quality on a par with quantity as a goal of American Life.

“It will require sweeping changes in our institutions, national standards for goods we produce, a humanizing of our technology, and close attention to the problem of our expanding population.

“Most of all it will require that people assert their right to a decent environment that they evolve an ecological ethic of understanding and respect for the bonds between people and their planet.

This is what Senator Nelson said 50 years ago, and can be said today.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:. Sometimes it’s important to be reminded of something that happened a long time ago, which is still vitally important today.

Both THE LAND STILL LIVES and GAYLORD NELSON: CHAMPION FOR OUR EARTH are available from your local booksellers.




Friday, April 10, 2020

Gardening, A Happier Thought




My 2019 garden in mid-season. Photo by Jerry Apps

As the bad news continues and the number of those captured by the COVID-19 virus goes up and the number employed goes down, it’s easy to feel nothing but gloom and doom.
I’m switching to happier thoughts and our family garden quickly comes to mind. I remember helping my mother in our big farm garden back when I was maybe four or five years old and I have worked in a garden almost every year since. About the only time when I missed gardening was the time when I was in the army. We’ve grown a vegetable garden at Roshara, our Waushara County farm for more than 50 years—never missing a year.

A couple of years ago, my kids gave me a special folding lawn chair, with the words on the back “Senior Supervisor.” Steve and Natasha have taken on most of the work, enlisting Sue and Paul on occasion, especially during the times when the weeds seem to be winning.

I planted tomato seeds a couple of weeks ago and they are up and thriving under my grow-light. I ordered seeds back in February, and yesterday I spread them out on the dining room table—radishes, peas, rutabagas, lettuce, kale, sweet corn, zucchini, beets, winter squash, pumpkins, carrots, bush beans. Natasha has been rounding up seed potatoes, both white and red, plus onion sets. I will buy cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprout plants for setting out.

So we are ready for another gardening season with all of its challenges and surprises—every garden season is different, which is one of the joys of growing a garden.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Not only does a garden provide fresh vegetables for the table, but it also nourishes the soul.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

April 15, 10:00 a.m. I will be reading from my book TENTS, TIGERS AND THE RINGLING BROTHERS live on the Wisconsin Historical Society Press’s Facebook page. Tune in.
You can also go to the Wisconsin Historical Society Press’s Facebook page and see me reading my children’s picture book EAT RUTABAGAS, which was aired on March 25.

.WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

Read about my gardening adventures in GARDEN WISDOM, (Wisconsin Historical Society Press).

It is available 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

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.. They have a great selection of my books for sale, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. Or call your local bookstore.