Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sauerkraut Supper



It was cold. It was snowy. It was time. I pulled out my big cast-iron frying pan from my wood burning cook stove’s oven. It was the same frying pan my mother used when I was a kid. I took a big jar of sauerkraut from the fridge and dumped half into the frying pan. I cut up some sausage and mixed it with the kraut, then put the big pan on the hottest part of my old cook stove.

Soon the kraut began to bubble as its smell seeped into the kitchen, bringing back many memories. Growing up on our farm, every winter without fail, we had a big crock of sauerkraut brewing in the pantry. Each fall, we cut several heads of cabbage, shredded them, and packed them into a five gallon crock, adding salt between each layer. We ate sauerkraut at least once a week all winter long. Fried sauerkraut. Baked sauerkraut. Sauerkraut with ham. Sauerkraut with sausage. Even sauerkraut chocolate cake—mighty fine tasting

I stirred the kraut and sausage and waited. Cooking on a wood burning cook stove requires patience. When the kraut turned to a golden brown, I dumped it on my plate—supper was ready. And what a treat it was. It was a meal full of memories. When I finished, the cleaned frying pan went back in the oven until next time.


THE OLDTIMER SAYS When was the last time you ate sauerkraut as the main course of your meal? Give it a try—you may be surprised?

UPCOMING EVENTS:

March 3, 1:00 p.m. McFarland Historical Society, McFarland Municipal Bldg. Topic: Simple Things: Lesson from the family farm.

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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

Popular recent Books:

Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some of yesterday’s recipes)

The Quiet Season (All about winter)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Travels of Increase Joseph (Historical fiction about Wisconsin before 1900)




Saturday, February 09, 2019

Woodpecker Thaw


When I woke up that morning, our upstairs bedroom with the stove pipe leading from the downstairs woodstove was warmer than usual. Much warmer. After quickly dressing in front of the woodstove, I found my barn lantern and headed to the barn for the morning milking. In those days we had no electricity and milked cows by hand.

Once outside, I noticed that the kitchen porch eaves were dripping, the snow was mushy underfoot, and it was foggy. So foggy I could scarcely make out the barn and it was only a short hike from our farm house.

“Feels like spring,” I said to Pa, when I arrived in the barn. Pa laughed. “It’s a woodpecker thaw,” he said. “Be cold again in a day or so.”
The entire family enjoyed the brief pause in the long winter.

Last week we experienced a “woodpecker thaw” when the temperature at the farm climbed to 45 degrees, the eaves dripped, the snow became mushy and fog encapsulated everything. It was a much appreciated break in the snowy cold spell when temperatures fell into the minus twenties. These winter thaws allowed all of nature’s creatures, as well as we human “northerners” to re-group, re-supply and prepare for the next blast of winter.

I learned from when I was a kid to take winter as it was delivered, but also to appreciate and enjoy those few days when winter retreated for a few days. When the temperature felt spring-like, and snow melted, at least some of it.

THE OLDTIMER SAYS: Ah, the joy of a woodpecker thaw.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

February 15, 6:00 p.m. State of Wisconsin Mediation Program, Wintergreen Hotel and Conference Center, Wisconsin Dells. After dinner speaker.

March 3, 1:00 p.m. McFarland Historical Society, McFarland Municipal Bldg. Topic: Simple Things: Lesson from the family farm.

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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
Popular recent Books:
Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some yesterday recipes)

The Quiet Season (All about winter)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Travels of Increase Joseph (Historical fiction about Wisconsin before 1900)




Friday, February 01, 2019

Time to Think Garden



With the snow piled high and recent temperatures at record and near record lows, it’s time to think spring and gardening. Several seed catalogs arrived in my mailbox before Christmas. I gave them a quick glance and stacked them up. Now with February and the back of winter broken (I can hope), it’s time to gather up the seed catalogs and savor the beautiful photos of ripe tomatoes, long green cucumbers, and sweet corn so fresh and yellow that it wants to jump right off the page.

Seed catalogs, somewhat like the old Sears Christmas catalogs that I fondly remember, are filled with hope and joy. The vegetables displayed set a high bar for my gardening adventures, now going on for more than 50 years. I remember my mother, sitting by the wood-burning cook stove on a cold winter evening, paging through a seed catalog and smiling. Her mind was well into the gardening season, while the rest of her was trying to keep warm with temperatures well below zero.

It is now that I must make up my mind about which vegetable seeds to order, especially which tomato seeds. Last year I grew seven different varieties of tomatoes. With a very wet August at the farm—15 inches of rain in 10 days—none of them did well. Too much water and too much blight.

For those interested, I am speaking at Garden Expo (Alliant Center in Madison) on Saturday, Feb.9, 2:15 and again on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 1:00 p.m.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Time to think spring. Seed catalogs can help do it.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

February 5, 11:45-12:30. Larry Meiller Show, Public Radio. We’ll be discussing my books: Once a Professor, and Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm.

February 9, 2:15 Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison “Ten Simple Things I’ve Learned From Fifty years of gardening”

February 10, 1:00 p.m. Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison (Repeat topic)

February 15, 6:00 p.m. State of Wisconsin Mediation Program, Wintergreen Hotel and Conference Center, Wisconsin Dells. After dinner speaker.

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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

Popular recent Books:

Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook

The Quiet Season (All about winter)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Travels of Increase Joseph (Historical fiction about Wisconsin before 1900)


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Winter Stories


In 2013, I wrote. THE QUIET SEASON: REMEMBERING COUNTRY WINTERS. After the book was published, I believed that people who knew anything at all about winter, and that included a bunch of folks besides me, would not read it. How wrong I was.

People love telling their winter stories, sharing the cold temperatures they remembered, how the snow was so deep it came up to the telephone wires, when roads were blocked with snow drifts for sometimes more than a week. People have liked comparing their winter stories with mine.

For instance, I wrote about how on a cold wintry Monday wash day, my mother , using a wringer washing machine powered by a Briggs and Stratton gasoline engine, washed clothes. That is, after Pa spent an hour cussing at the little engine that insisted on not starting. After running the clothes through the ringer, my mother hung them outside, on clothes lines that began near the outhouse, and nearly reached to the woodshed.

Within a few minutes everything on the clothes line froze stiff, from the long underwear to the blue denim overalls. When I arrived home from school, mother had fetched the frozen clothes from the line, and stood the long underwear and overalls around the kitchen. It looked ever so much like we had company, albeit they all looked a little stiff and lacking in words.

Winter was a time for resting, just as the grape vines in this photo are resting, waiting for the snow to melt and spring to arrive.

The Old Timer Says: What would people have to talk about if there was no winter?

ANNOUNCEMENT: There is still time to join my new internet book club.. And you don’t have to leave home to participate. Go to www.jwappsauthor.com for details. It begins February 1 and will feature my first novel, THE TRAVELS OF INCREASE JOSEPH (historical fiction about Wisconsin)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

February 5, 11:45-12:30. Larry Meiller Show, Public Radio. We’ll be discussing my books: Once a Professor, and Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm.

February 9, 2:15 Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison “Ten Simple Things I’ve Learned From Fifty years of gardening”

February 10, 1:00 p.m. Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison (Repeat topic)

February 15, 6:00 p.m. State of Wisconsin Mediation Program, Wintergreen Hotel and Cnference Center, Wisconsin Dells. After dinner speaker.

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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

Popular recent Books:

Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook

The Quiet Season (All about winter)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Travels of Increase Joseph (Historical fiction about Wisconsin before 1900)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

An Old Clock Evokes Memories



What’s so special about an old clock? One that’s been hanging on the wall of our family room for more than forty years. One that has no batteries. One with no cord to plug in. A clock that chimes every half-hour and on the hour reports the time. It’s a windup clock that requires winding once a month. If the room is quiet, you can hear it running, “tick-tock, tick-tock.”

Our old clock brings back memories of the one-room country school that I attended for eight years. A clock just like the one we have now, hung on the school’s south wall. It was key to everything we did at the school. When school began, it chimed nine times. When we burst from the building for recess, one chime at 10:30, when we could find our lard-pail lunch buckets for noon lunch, twelve chimes. Two-thirty for afternoon recess, and four chimes announcing dismissal.

How I remember those cold wintry days, smelling chili and soup and whatever was brought from home. As the jars were warming in a pan of water on the wood stove in the back of the school room, delightful smells filled the school room We watched the clock move ever so slowly toward twelve and lunch time.

I also remember Miss Thompson, my seventh grade teacher, saying to the ragtag collection of farmer kids, “I want it so quiet in this room that we can hear the tick-tock,of the clock on the wall.” The room was oh so quiet.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: An old clock can evoke life-long memories.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I am organizing an internet book club that anyone can join. And you don’t have to leave home to participate. Go to www.jwappsauthor.com for details. It begins February 1 and will feature my first novel, THE TRAVELS OF INCREASE JOSEPH (historical fiction about Wisconsin)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

February 5, 11:45-12:30. Larry Meiller Show, Public Radio. We’ll be discussing my books: Once a Professor, and Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm.

February 9, 2:15 Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison “Ten Simple Things I’ve Learned From Fifty years of gardening”

February 10, 1:00 p.m. Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison (Repeat topic)

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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

Popular recent Books:

Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook

The Quiet Season (All about winter)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Travels of Increase Joseph (Historical fiction about Wisconsin before 1900)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Norwegian Woodpiles



This book was a Christmas present. I thought it was one those Norwegian jokes, like the Ole and Lena jokes of some considerable fame. As many people know, I married into a Norwegian family, so getting this book from my Norwegian, actually she’s half Swedish wife, was not a surprise.

What surprised me was the book was not what I thought it would be. It is not filled with page after page of Norwegian jokes about wood. Yes, I considered that could be a possibility. Norwegians seem to have a never-ending supply of jokes about anything and everything.

My background is German—a serious bunch of folks to be sure. I once saw a German joke book. All the pages were blank.

But back to the Norwegian book about wood. It is not a joke. It was written in Norwegian, and translated into English. And it is 191 pages of serious stuff about everything from how to select an ax to the nuances of wood splitting to an entire chapter on how to build a perfect woodpile. Reading this chapter, you will learn that “The first rule is to ensure that the pile you build is appropriate for the kind of wood you are stacking.”

Here you learn how to make a “sun-wall” woodpile—stacked against the sunny side of your house. Other stack styles you will learn about: a round cord stack and a long cord stack, a closed square pile and an open square pile. A “V” shaped stack and sculptural stack. These Norwegians take their woodpiles seriously.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Listen to those who seem to know, especially if they are of Norwegian background and are talking about wood.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
February 9, 2:15 Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison “Ten Simple Things I’ve Learned From Fifty years of gardening”

February 10, 1:00 p.m. Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison (Repeat topic)

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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

Popular recent Books:\

Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook

The Quiet Season (All about winter)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Old Pump House


Those who have followed my writing over the years know how much I like old buildings. I have written about barns, grist mills, one-room schools, cheese factories, and breweries. I discovered that every old building has a story to tell; sometimes it just takes a little work to discover the story.

Pictured here is the old pump house at my farm (There is a special beauty in these old farm buildings, especially after a fresh snowfall). The building was built in 1912, when the Coombes family moved their farm buildings across the road from where Tom Stewart, who homesteaded the place, built the first buildings in 1867. For several years, a windmill straddled the east end of the building, pumping water from the well that was located inside.

On a cold winter day in the early 1960s, the nearby farmhouse caught on fire and burned to the ground. The pumphouse also caught on fire, but the neighborhood farmers managed to put out the fire on this old building. To this day, the charred boards show evidence of the fire.

When we bought the place in 1966, the pump house provided our water as well as a storage place. Some years later, when we drilled a new well and installed indoor plumbing in the cabin, we turned the pump house into a woodshed. We continue to cook and heat the cabin with wood stoves.

Our woodshed, now some 107 years old is as sturdy as the farmers who once lived on this land.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Respect the old farm buildings, for each has a story to tell.


UPCOMING EVENTS:
January 8, 9:00 a.m.,Barns of Wisconsin, Auditorium Main Bldg, Wausau Campus of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Barns of Wisconsin

February 9, 2:15 Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison

February 10, 1:00 p.m. Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison

PURCHASING BOOKS AND DVDs:

Order your signed Apps books and DVDs from 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
Popular recent Books:

Simple Things: Lessons from the Family Farm (fun to read in winter)

Garden Wisdom (Time to begin planning for the upcoming garden season)

Old Farm Country Cookbook

The Quiet Season (All about winter)