Friday, November 15, 2019

Fresh Apples


Photo by Jerry Apps.


Fresh apples are a fall pleasure to eat. On the home farm, we had a half dozen apple trees or so in a little orchard fenced off in the field across the road from the farmhouse. We had Whitney Crabs, Northwestern Greenings, Russets, Wealthy, and Duchess trees. I don’t remember that we ever sprayed them with anything—but I also remember my dad would say, “If you happen to come onto a worm when you are eating an apple, be happy that it’s not half a worm.”

Starting in September, we picked the apples and stored them in the cellar under the house, along with the potatoes, rutabagas, onions, carrots and everything else we had harvested from our garden.

My mother made apple sauce, canning it for our use in winter. She made crab apple pickles canning them also. And apple pies, fresh from the oven for Sunday dinners, and for Thanksgiving. Of course, we ate apples from right off the tree. Talk about fresh. I’ve never forgotten that crisp, tart flavor of an apple right off a tree.
Today, one of my favorite apple recipes is Apple Crisp. Here is my wife. Ruth’s recipe

APPLE CRISP

Place in a greased 8-inch pan:

4 sliced baking apples

Blend until crumbly; then spread over apples:

2/3 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
½ cup sifted flour
½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup soft butter
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes—until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.
Serves 6-8

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Remember the old saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

December 14, 9:30 to 2:00 McFarlane’s, Sauk City. Christmas on the Farm.

For those interested in purchasing my books (Christmas is coming). Get them 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 travel to 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.
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Friday, November 08, 2019

First Snowfall



Photo by Jerry Apps

When I was a kid, the first snow in the fall was special. If we were on schedule, and Pa usually was, the fall harvest was completed—cob corn filled the corn crib, the silo was full, the oat bin in the granary was about to run over, the hay mows in the barn were stacked to the roof. All that was left to do was to make some wood as we heated our farm home with woodstoves in those days.

For my brothers and me, it meant looking for our sleds and skis that were stored somewhere in the woodshed. Summer softball and swimming were fun, but sledding and skiing were equally so. And dare I say, no other kind of fishing could be compared to ice fishing, which we did a lot of once the nearby lakes froze over.

At the country school, we switched from warm-weather games to playing fox and geese, a tag game laid out in a wheel-like circle in the snow with the spokes coming together in the middle. Lizzie Hatliff owned the land back of the school yard, which had a long hill, ideal for sledding and skiing. When we tired of fox and geese, it was off to Hatliff’s hill.
If the weather warmed enough to begin melting the snow, we switched to snowball fights—I don’t recall how we decided who should be on which side of the battle. One rule never to be broken, do not. hit anyone in the head with a snowball.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The first snow marked the beginning of winter, not the calendar.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

November 9, (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. “Farm Winter With Jerry Apps”

November 14, (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. The Land Still Lives launch.

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

.For those interested in purchasing my books (Christmas is coming). Get them 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 travel to 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.
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Remembering Halloween in an Earlier Day




Jack-O-Lantern design by Ruth Apps. Photo by Jerry Apps

When I was a kid, Halloween meant tricks only. No “trick or treats.” The favorite trick was tipping over somebody’s outhouse. No one had indoor plumbing in those days. The country school outhouses were favorite targets.

The toilet tippers tried to avoid the possibility that someone might be in the structure when it was tipped. If that were the case, the consequences would be dire. Some farmers were known to sit up most of Halloween night, shotgun in hand, protecting their outhouses.

Another trick I heard about was a group of tricksters that managed to take the neighbor’s horse harnesses and put them on his cows. There was no dressing up in strange costumes and walking from house to house—just too much effort as the farm homes were at least half a mile apart.

We always had a Halloween party at our country school, with the mother’s invited. (The men were usually still involved with the fall harvest.) We bobbed for apples that floated in a galvanized washtub. The only way to retrieve an apple was to hold your breath and chase your apple of choice to the bottom of the tub, resulting in a very wet head. Additionally, the teacher would blindfold us and led us past a bowl of grapes, which we would feel and be informed they were a ghost’s eyeballs. We would smell some vinegar—a witch’s brew, and feel some cooked spaghetti—I don’t remember what the spaghetti represented. Mothers brought cookies and cake for treats.

At home, we carved pumpkins and put a lighted candle in them. But no trick or treating. Older boys usually were the ones involved with neighborhood tricks.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Fond memories of Halloweens past.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

November 9, (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. “Farm Winter With Jerry Apps.”

November 14, (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. The Land Still Lives launch.

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

For those interested in purchasing my books (Christmas is coming). Get them 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 travel 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.
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Autumn Means Lutefisk



Lutefisk on the left, lefse on the right. Photo by Jerry Apps

Little did I know when I married into a Norwegian family that I was expected to enjoy the Norwegian delicacy, lutefisk. For 58 years I have successfully avoided lutefisk (dried codfish that is soaked in a lye solution for several days to rehydrate it). All of this changed a few Saturdays ago when our friend, Patty Putnam invited my brother-law, Clarence Olson, my wife and me to attend the 72nd annual lutefisk dinner at the Vermont Lutheran Church located near Black Earth.

I was amazed to learn that over 900 people had signed up for this annual event. According to Pastor Barry Hoerz, people come from near and far—this year from Maryland, Arizona, and Missouri besides from all over Wisconsin. About every 45 minutes a new batch of people were served—from about eleven a.m. to six p.m. The meal was served family-style.

They served 600 pounds of lutefisk, 620 pounds of boiled potatoes, green beans, cranberry relish, and lefse. For the unknowing, lefse is made from potatoes. The Vermont church cooks made 1,400, 12-inch rounds of lefse, using an additional 350 pounds of potatoes. Not to forget the Norwegian cookies of many kinds—just the best.
To prepare the lutefisk, it is rinsed with cold water to remove the lye, then boiled or baked. It is served with lots of butter.

I ate some lutefisk, but, with my German upbringing, I could not find anything especially notable about its taste. I found this old Norwegian-American saying: “About half the Norwegians who immigrated to America came to escape lutefisk. The other half came to spread the gospel of lutefisk’s wonderfulness.” That says it all.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Always be open to a new adventure.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

November 9, (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. “Farm Winter With Jerry Apps”

November 14, (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. The Land Still Lives launch.

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

For those interested in purchasing my books (Christmas is coming). Get them 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 travel to 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.
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Making Hay in October



Photo by Jerry Apps

Making hay in October. Cutting it with a rotary mower. Raking it with an ancient side-delivery rake. Stacking it in bunches that line up across the little field to dry. With a pitchfork. Just like farmers did many years ago. Why do all that work?

It was probably 15 years ago that the septic system at the farm froze up. From one end to the other. Nothing worked. Not a pleasant situation as anyone with a septic system quickly understands.

Remembering what I learned as a kid when the winters seemed considerably more fierce at least in terms of below zero days, Pa would say, “If you wanna keep something from freezing, cover it with some straw or hay.” And that’s what I’ve been doing every year since that freeze up. My hay crop goes on my septic system. I have not had a problem since I began doing it.

When spring arrives, I remove the hay from the septic system and we use it to mulch the cabbages, broccoli, and tomatoes in our garden. The mulch helps keep down the weeds, and also helps to hold moisture.

In the fall, when we put the garden to bed for the winter, we disk in what’s left of the mulch to add e organic material in our sandy soil. (I also plant winter rye, which, when worked into the soil in spring, also helps improve the garden soil.)

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Hay cut in October can have multiple uses.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

October 22, (Tuesday) 6:30 Sun Prairie Public Library, Sun Prairie, WI CCC History.

October 24, (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 349 N. Main St., Seymour, WI. Sponsored by Friends of Muehl Public Library and Outagamie County Home and Community Education Assoc. “Rural Wit and Wisdom”

November 9, (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. “Farm Winter With Jerry Apps”

November 14, (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. The Land Still Lives launch.

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

For those interested in purchasing my book (Christmas is coming) get a signed copy 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
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Friday, October 11, 2019

Rain, Rain, & More Rain



In January 2017, I published a book titled Never Curse the Rain. A few months later public television aired an hour-long documentary with the same title. In both the book and the TV show, I talked about the importance of water and how we must work to keep it available, safe and pure.

When I was a kid, it seemed our sandy farm never had enough rain. When it did rain and my brothers and I complained about cancelling a fishing trip, my dad would remind us, “Never Curse the Rain.” I’ve never forgotten those words.

As luck would have it, not long after the book and TV show appeared, it began raining, and it continues. I checked some records. Wisconsin’s annual average rainfall is supposed to be about 34.5 inches. In 2018 the total rainfall for the state was 58.65 inches, with some areas receiving much more.

In 2019 the rains continue. Green Bay weather people report that this year is the wettest year in that city since 1890. As of October 2nd, Green Bay received more than 39 inches of rain.

Farmers had trouble putting in their crops because of wet spring weather. Now, like a double whammy, farmers are having trouble harvesting their crops because of too much rain. For those who remind me of my words, “Never curse the rain,” I suggest a few negative words may be in order. But no cursing.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Rain is important, but, but . . .

UPCOMING EVENTS:

.October 22, (Tuesday) 6:30 Sun Prairie Public Library, Sun Prairie, WI CCC History.

October 24, (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. Friends of Muehl Public Library and Outagamie
County Home and Community Education Assoc. Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 349 N. Main St., Seymour, WI “Rural Wit and Wisdom”

November 9, (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. “Farm Winter With Jerry Apps”

November 14, (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. The Land Still lives launch.

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

To learn more pick up a copy of Never Curse the Rain, Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Signed copies of Never Curse the Rain are available for purchase 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

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Bees: Not to be taken for granted.




Photo by Jerry apps

As a farm kid, I took bees for granted. I knew not to tangle with a hornets’ nest, or a paper wasp’s special paper-like construction or a bumble bee’s nest. I learned that if I stayed away from their nests, the bees didn’t bother me much. One of my uncles had beehives and I came to like honey, especially during World War II when sugar was rationed. He would give us some comb honey; I really liked it smeared on a thick slice of home-made bread. I didn’t think of honey bees, in the same way, I thought of other bees—and they were different of course.

At the time, I didn’t know how important bees were to farmers, especially for our gardens and fruit. Bees do heavy-duty pollination. Without them we’d have few apples or cranberries, just to give a couple of examples.

I recently read an article with the headline, “The Bee is declared the Most Important Living Being On the Planet.” That that may be pushing it a little. But I got the point. The article went on to say that “the pollination that the bees make allows the plants to reproduce, of which millions of animals feed.”

And here’s the bottom-line. Bees are disappearing. To add a personal experience. For the past five years, I’ve had a steady decrease in the number of pumpkins and squash I grow in my garden. I plant the same amount of seed, the plants come up and look good. They form blossoms—but no pumpkins and squash. I see few bees in my garden.
THE OLD-TIMER ASKS: What can we do to increase the bee population?

UPCOMING EVENTS:

October 12 (Saturday) 1:00 p.m., Fox Cities Book Festival, Menasha Public Library. CCC

October 22, (Tuesday) 6;30 Sun Prairie Public Library, Sun Prairie, WI CCC History

October 24, (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. Friends of Muehl Public Library and Outagamie County Home and Community Education Assoc. Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 349 N. Main St. , Seymour, WI “Rural Wit and Wisdom”

November 9, (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. 2nd Sat. Plymouth Art Center, Plymouth, WI. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. “Farm Winter With Jerry Apps."

November 14, (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. "The Land Still Lives" launch.

November 18, 1:00 p.m. Kiel Public Library, Kiel, WI. “Wisconsin. CCC”

To learn more about my gardening efforts, pick up a copy of my book, Garden Wisdom, Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Available for purchase from your local bookstore or buy them 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