Saturday, December 08, 2018

History Tree




The Christmas tree is up. The tree lights are on. The tree decorations are hung with care. And the memories return. I remember the Christmas trees when I was a kid on the home farm. We had no lights at the time as we had no electricity. Pa would never think of putting candles on the tree. He was afraid of fire. He allowed no candles in the house, except for those that appeared on birthday cakes. Our tree was beautiful with big, shiny ornaments that my mother carefully stored away and brought out in early December to hang on the tree.

I must have been about four years old when I remember spotting a toy barn under the tree on Christmas along with toy cows and horses. It was likely the following year that I received my first and only toy train. It included a half dozen little red metal cars, and a black, wind-up locomotive. I still have that special little train, which I played with for years. It still works; it was built to last and last it did.

Today, and for the past several decades, our Christmas tree and its decorations have become a family history tree. Each year, Ruth writes down the essential happenings for the year and puts the information in a little matchbox that we hang on the tree. There are also unique ornaments for each of our children, grandchildren, and great grand grandchildren. To find the history of our family—we have three children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren—inspect our Christmas tree.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Christmas trees can become history trees.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

December 15, 10 a.m. to 3:p.m. Macfarlanes, Sauk City. Presentation, radio show, and book signing.

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Christmas is just around the corner. Order your signed Apps books and DVDs for Christmas presents from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

The following DVDs are available for purchase at the library. Each is about one-hour long and each was aired on Public TV.

• One Room School, Based on the book, One-Room County Schools.

• Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps, based on the book, The Quiet Season.

• Jerry Apps A Farm Story, based on Every Farm Tells a Story

• The Land with Jerry Apps, based on Whispers and Shadows.

• Never Curse the Rain, based on the book with the same title.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Perfect Christmas Tree




Dark and dreary. Chilly but not cold. Our day for searching out and cutting Christmas trees at our farm. An annual event for the past several years. Always fun, and ever a challenge as over the past couple of decades we’ve planted about twenty-five thousand trees to choose from. Most of them are red pine. A few of them Norway Spruce. A handful are jack pine. Add to this list several hundred Scotch pines that self-seeded and are of various sizes. The searching crew—daughter-in-law, Natasha (with the saw), daughter Sue, and two young lads that Natasha cares for.

And add several hundred, maybe thousand, white pines to the mix. When we bought the place in 1966, there was a former cornfield just south of our cabin. On the west and north sides of this field, previous owners had planted a white pine windbreak in the 1930s. This was during the depth of the Great Depression and the associated drought that raised havoc with the sand country in central Wisconsin.

Today, that cornfield, about six acres or so, is a naturally seeded white pine plantation, with white pine trees ranging from a foot or so tall, to those that are of timber quality. So the Christmas tree searchers had many choices: red pine, white pine, Scotch Pine. The spruce are still too little for consideration, and jack pines are in a class by themselves.

“How about this one?”
“Too scraggly?”
“This one?”
“Too short.”

And so the time passed as we searched, discussed, debated, and finally agreed on three trees. One red pine, one white pine, and one Scotch pine. What could be fairer?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: What fun it is to tramp through the woods in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Monday, December 3, 7:00 p.m., All Wisconsin public TV stations. One Room School with Jerry Apps.

December 9, 4:30-6:30. 702 E. Johnson St., Madison.
"Water, Woods & The Pioneer Life: Three Wisconsin Authors on Process & Publication" 702WI teams up with Wisconsin Historical Society Press to present a panel discussion with three Wisconsin authors: Jerry Apps, Kathleen Ernst & Marnie Mamminga. A book signing will follow. Tickets are $15 for the event only or $20 for the event and a copy of Telling Your Story by Jerry Apps. Purchase tickets online, www.702wi.com.

December 15, 10 a.m. to 3:p.m. Macfarlanes, Sauk City. Presentation, radio show, and book signing.

Christmas is just around the corner. Order your signed Apps books and DVDs for Christmas presents from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org
Featured books: You can purchase these separately, or as a package of four;
THE QUIET SEASON
WHISPERS AND SHADOWS
NEVER CURSE THE RAIN
SIMPLE THINGS: LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY FARM

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Winter Around The Corner



A late fall sun slowly crept over the eastern horizon. The thermometer reported eight degrees this morning as I made my way from the bedroom to the woodstove that provides most of the heat for our cabin. With some crumpled up newspaper, a couple sticks of cured split oak wood, and the magic of some commercial fire starter, the old stove sputtered to life.

Looking out the cabin window to a newly piled stack of firewood, now a little snow covered, I thought about my days on the farm as a kid. This time of the year and on into the “just around the corner” winter season, we began to relax a bit. The haymows in the barn were stacked high with alfalfa, clover, and bromegrass hay. The corn crib was filled to running over with yellow cob corn. Our wooden stave silo was filled with corn silage, and the oat bins in the granary sagged from the seasons annual threshing. The woodpile, many times larger than the one pictured here, stood ready for the long, cold winter ahead.

As I looked out the window at a chilly landscape, I thought about how much the winter season drove everything that we did on the farm. All of the work from spring to fall centered on preparations for winter. For providing sufficient shelter and feed for the farm animals. And making sure the family had shelter and food to last until spring.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: As we finished preparing for winter, we looked forward to slowing down a bit.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

December 9, 4:30-6:30. 702 E. Johnson St., Madison.

"Water, Woods & The Pioneer Life: Three Wisconsin Authors on Process & Publication" 702WI teams up with Wisconsin Historical Society Press to present a panel discussion with three Wisconsin authors: Jerry Apps, Kathleen Ernst & Marnie Mamminga. A book signing will follow. Tickets are $15 for the event only or $20 for the event and a copy of Telling Your Story by Jerry Apps. Purchase tickets online, www.702wi.com.

December 15, 10 a.m. to 3:p.m. Macfarlanes, Sauk City. Presentation, radio show, and book signing.

Christmas is just around the corner. Order your Apps books and DVDs for Christmas presents from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org


This week’s featured books:

• Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm
The importance of the simple things
.
• Once a Professor
Teaching at a major university during the turbulent 60s

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Opening Day



Opening day of the deer gun season in Wisconsin. A sacred day for thousands of hunters who would not think of attending a wedding, a funeral, an anniversary or a birthday party on this day.

I am at my trusty deer stand, at the crack of dawn. Except dawn hasn’t cracked as it is cloudy, dark, and cold. And quiet. So quiet. No bird sound. No wind rustling the tops of the naked oaks. A dusting of snow covers the landscape and the frozen, snow-covered pond that is to my left. I am sitting near a much-used deer trail. It includes fresh tracks, made last night? Promising. Surely a deer will wander by.

A half hour goes by. Nothing. No squirrels. No bluejays. No crows And no deer. I pour a cup of coffee from my thermos. Inevitably a deer will wander by when I do not have my rifle in hand. That’s when they usually show up. Not this time. Still nothing.

An hour goes by. Nothing. I pour more coffee. And then, strange as it may sound, I begin enjoying the nothingness of the morning. No phone ringing. No radio blaring. No loud talking. I can’t remember when I have experienced such absolute quiet, such complete “nothing happening” time. I sit back and relax. Enjoying the morning. Long ago, I concluded that deer hunting is so much more than bagging a deer. This is one more of those times.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes nothing can be everything.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

December 15, 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Macfarlanes Sauk City. Presentation, radio show, and book signing.

Christmas is just around the corner. Order your Apps books and DVDs for Christmas presents from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org


Featured Books of the Week

Jerry’s Seven Novels

Cold as Thunder
A look into a challenging future when climate change is denied and one political party rules.

Tamarack River Ghost
Plans for a large industrial hog farm upset the nearby rural community

Blue Shadows Farm
A Family fights to keep control of their farmland with mounting pressures to sell.

Cranberry Red
When research results in unintended consequences that cause food safety concerns and raise havoc in Ames County

In A Pickle
A Story about the demise of the small family farm and how their disappearance affects the people who own them

The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
When a sand mine has its eye on a rural community and the uproar it creates among the Citizens

The Travels of Increase Joseph
A historical novel about a preacher who advocates the need for soil conservation in the 1850s

All copies of these novels are signed by the author and available for sale at the Wild Rose Library as a fundraiser for the Friend of the Library.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Wood Makers



Last Saturday was our annual “wood making” day at Roshara. We bring as many volunteers from the family who are available, sometimes the number reaches a dozen or so when kids and grandkids are there. But Alas, the grandkids had seen fit to be elsewhere this year. So it was back to the long-time reliables. My daughter, Sue and son-in-law, Paul worked on Saturday along with brother, Don who lent a helping hand. My son, Steve and daughter-in-law Natasha worked on Sunday.

A note on the weather. Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day. No wind and temperatures hanging in the high forties. Sunday was a miserable, cold, all day rain. But weather or not, wood making went on. Earlier I had spotted two trees that were close to the trail. One dead, and one nearly so.

With Paul on the chainsaw and Sue helping with the cant hook, by noon we had a pile of blocks ready for splitting. I was in charge of hauling, an easy task. I drove a four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle with a dump box. When I was a kid we toted limbs and tree trunks to the farmstead from the oak woods with our trusty team of horses and a steel-wheeled wagon.

For years we split the blocks with a splitting maul, with Steve becoming an expert at doing it. But now, as we all are older, I purchased an electric log splitter that does the job twice as fast with a fourth of the effort.

The splitting continued on Sunday, in the rain (the splitter was in a shed). Sue on Saturday and Natasha on Sunday (in the rain) created a neat woodpile outside the woodshed, where it will dry until next summer when we will carry it into the woodshed.

With sore muscles all around, one more annual farm task is completed. Aside from the hard work, there is a certain beauty to the work (I never thought I would say that). The smell of freshly cut trees, and the artful pile of split blocks. Plus of course a great feeling of accomplishment.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: There is much more to making wood than cutting down a tree and splitting the blocks.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

November 13, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Central Wisconsin launch of SIMPLE THINGS, LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY FARM.

December 15, 10 a.m. to 2:p.m. Macfarlanes Sauk City. Presentation, radio show, and book signing.

Christmas is just around the corner. Order your Apps books and DVDs for Christmas presents from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

Jerry’s latest books are:
• Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm
• Once a Professor
• Cold As Thunder (A Novel)

Jerry’s most recent Public TV show (DVD)
One Room School (Aired on Public TV stations)(Based on the book, One-Room County Schools.

Additional DVDs of Public TV Shows (DVDs)
• Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
• Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Every Farm Tells a Story)
• The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows,)
• Never Curse the Rain, (based on the book with the same title)

The library has several of Jerry’s signed books for sale including several of Jerry’s nonfiction books:
• Every Farm Tells a Story (Revised edition)
• Living a County Year (Revised edition)
• One Room Country Schools
• Never Curse the Rain
• Whispers and Shadows
• The Quiet Season
• Old Farm Country Cookbook,
• Wisconsin Agriculture: A History
• Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps)
• Old Farm: A History
• Telling Your Story—a guidebook for those who want to write their own stories.
• Horse Drawn Days

Additionally, the library has for sale Jerry’s six published novels:
• The Travels of Increase Joseph
• In a Pickle
• Blue Shadows Farm
• Tamarack River Ghost
• The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
• Cold as Thunder

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Weather Wise




When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a TV weather report with radar images showing one exactly where a storm was located, and even suggesting how much rain or snow could be expected. Truth be known, there was no television in our neck of the woods until the early 1950s.

So how did we predict the weather? Farmers live by the weather, especially during the harvesting season, but also to a considerable extent throughout the year. For instance, you didn’t cut down 20 acres of alfalfa, if it rained the following day.

Pa was good at weather forecasting. He depended on two things, cloud formations and wind direction. We had a weather vane on top of our barn. First thing in the morning, Pa looked for the wind direction. If the wind was in the east, and the sky was red as blood, rain was on the way. The old saying, “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” had much truth connected to it.

If the wind came from the west or the southwest, and there were but a few fluffy clouds floating along, we were in store for some clear weather. If it happened to be one of those rare days when we left farm work behind and went fishing, Pa would say, “Wind in the west fish bite best.” For a south wind, he would say, “Wind from the south blows the worm right in the fish’s mouth.”

Pa was generally right about what kind of weather was on the way. He used his weather wisdom his whole life.


THE OLD TIMER SAYS: In the olden days, weather forecasting was an art. I suspect it still is.

UPCOMING EVENTS:


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

November 13, 6:00 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 28, 2018

Remembering Lamps and Lanterns



I recently spoke to a group of mostly retired people, about 300 of them. I asked how many of them had grown up without electricity. Ten people raised their hands. I expected more, as many in the group were of my generation. Electricity didn’t come to our farm until the spring of 1947 when I was in eighth grade. By that time, I had grown quite accustomed to lamps and lanterns. Before electricity arrived, we lighted out home with kerosene lamps. We used lanterns to light our way in the barn and other outbuildings.

The people in Wild Rose, our nearest town, got electricity in1908. Wild Rose had a water-powered grist mill, which not only ground grain for cattle feed but also powered a generator that provided the electricity. In those days, the village people had electricity from sundown until eleven o’ clock in the evening. The miller said he needed the waterpower for grinding grain at the mill during the daylight hours. Besides, why would anyone want electricity in the daytime

Electricity surely made life easier on the farm. We enjoyed electric lights, but electric motors where even more appreciated than light bulbs.

Thinking back to those pre-electricity days. I remember the cold, clear nights in winter and seeing a sky filled with stars, from one horizon to the other. I also, remember the quiet. There was no hum of motors in the background, no blaring TV, only quiet.

My newest book is titled: SIMPLE THINGS: LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY FARM.
In the book, I talk about the simple things including life on the farm with lamps and lanterns

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes we forget how important the simple things such as darkness and quiet can be.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

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.