Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hollow Potato

This was the year of the potato. We harvested about six bushels from the 12 rows in our Roshara garden, the highest yield in my many years of gardening. The yield was great and so was the size of the potatoes—many were larger than my fist, some as large as two fists. Unfortunately, some of the largest potatoes were also hollow, caused by stress and when potatoes grow too rapidly.  Hollow potatoes can be eaten, merely cut out the hollow part, which is usually discolored.

My dad grew acres of potatoes on the home farm and occasionally some of them were hollow.  He told the story of when he and Wilbur Witt, my uncle, peddled potatoes from door to door in Oshkosh.  This was back in the 1930s.  They sold a bushel of beautiful, big white potatoes to a woman.  The following week they returned to Oshkosh, and found themselves confronted by this woman who said, “Some of the potatoes you sold me were hollow.”

            “Those are special potatoes,” my dad said, with a straight face.  “What you do, is you plug the potato, removing a little core.  Fill the hollow part of the potato with butter, replace the plug and bake them.  Nothing better tasting.”

            “I’ll take another bushel,” the woman said

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes a hollow potato is a special potato.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  For those in the Madison area: Mark your calendars.  Launch of my new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY will be at Barnes and Noble, West in Madison on October 7, 7:00 p.m.  Everyone invited.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County (A trade show, which is not open to the public.)

October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 9, 11:00 a.m.  The Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 23, 5:00 p.m. dinner, 6:00 p.m. presentation Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days. Registration required.

November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI.

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI.

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Sheboygan County Research Center, Plymouth, WI. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  Farm Stories.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells(Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stonefield: Where You Can Visit The Past



STONEFIELD, Wisconsin Historical Society’s Museum of Agricultural History and Village Life, is tucked in a valley next to the Mississippi River about a mile north of the little river town of Cassville.  If you are a former farmer, have relatives on a farm, or are merely interested in what early farm life in the Midwest was like, STONEFIELD should be on your “a place I must visit” list.

Here you see early farm machinery, the real thing, not replicas, of such implements as reapers and corn binders, high wheeled wagons and threshing machines.  There’s a farmstead with an early 1900 farm house and barn and out buildings, and when you cross over a bridge you find a fascinating little village of yesteryear complete with a newspaper office, a one room school, a saloon, blacksmith shop, country grocery and meat market, hardware store and much more.

I was there Saturday with my fellow Fulcrum published writer, Kenny Salwey, who calls himself the “The Last River Rat.”  We were there telling stories, signing books and visiting with people spending the day learning about The Great River Road and life at an earlier day when people were less hurried and took time to visit with their neighbors and enjoy their surroundings.

It is always fun to talk with folks I’d met other times at Stonefield, and visit with my old friend. Allen Schroeder, who is director.  My daughter Sue, author of One Room Schools: Stories from the Days of 1 Room, 1 Teacher, 8 Grades, accompanied me.  She signing her book and talking with folks about life in a one room school.


It was a good day.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A day visiting the past is a day to remember.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  For those in the Madison area: Mark your calendars.  Launch of my new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY will be at Barnes and Noble, West in Madison on October 7, 7:00 p.m.  Everyone invited.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
September 24, 10:15. Wisconsin Retired Educators, Marriott West, Madison. Rural Wit and Wisdom

October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 9, 11:00 a.m.  The Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 23, 5:00 p.m. dinner, 6:00 p.m. presentation Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days. Registration required.

November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI.

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Sheboygan County Research Center, Plymouth, WI. Barns of Wisconsin.

November 12, Noon. Wisconsin Historical Society Tour, La Crosse, Weber Center for the Preforming Arts.  Farm Stories.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells(Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last Days of Summer


During these last days of summer, my prairie at Roshara is a panorama of yellow with a sprinkling of purple accent.  Goldenrods provide the yellow; blazing star wild flowers offer the purple. Honeybees are everywhere, working on the goldenrods, gathering nectar for what must be a delightful goldenrod honey.  And the sometimes scarce Monarch butterflies flit here and there by the dozens.

On a steep prairie hillside, the big bluestem grass, several large clumps of it, is now six feet tall with its flowers spread wide—in the shape of a turkey’s foot, as the grass is sometimes called.

And a few hundred yards to north, in the deep woods, a maple tree’s leaves have turned a brilliant red.  Soon hundreds of other maples will join the aspen, birch and oak in a blast of color that will convert my woodlot from its many shades of green to reds, yellows, tans and brown.

Once more the seasons are changing.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Every new season is welcomed; every new season a joy.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  For those in the Madison area: Mark your calendars.  Launch of my new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY will be at Barnes and Noble, West in Madison on October 7, 7:00 p.m. Free.  Everyone invited
UPCOMING EVENTS:
September 20, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Stories From the Land, Stonefield Village, Cassville.

September 24, 10:15. Wisconsin Retired Educators, Marriott West, Madison. Rural Wit and Wisdom

October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library. The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County

October 23, 7:00, Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days.

November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

November 1, 4:30 p.m., Book signing WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County The Clearing, Ellison Bay, Wi.

November 8, 9:00-11:30, Sheboygan County Research Center, Plymouth, WI. Barns of Wisconsin.

December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells(Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Plants and Stories


Every old building has a story to tell.  Barns and old train depots, country schools and country churches, cheese factories and houses, these and many more have a story tell, it just takes a little digging to discover  the story.

Plants have stories to tell as well.  For years I have walked past a rather strange looking plant that grows at my farm.  It grows in clumps and some of the larger clumps resemble small shrubs.  Indeed, at one time I thought it was a shrub.

It’s a Lead Plant.  It has narrow, greenish-gray leaves and a rather striking blue flower that blooms in mid-summer. It will live for more than a hundred years and yet it never grows much taller than three feet. The older it is, the more it looks like a woody shrub.

It’s native to the sandy soils of central Wisconsin and is often found where big blue stem grass grows.  It’s sometimes referred to as a Prairie Shoestring because its roots will grow as long as 15 feet, thus its ability to survive on a droughty, sandy prairie, which is what I have.

I found two answers as to why it’s called a Lead Plant.  One answer: the plant’s leaves look like they've been dusted with white lead.  A second answer: the plant was found growing in southwestern Wisconsin when the lead miners arrived.  The miners thought that when they found this plant, they would find lead deposits beneath it.

Native Americans dried the leaves of the lead plant and made a tea from them.   And the first settlers in an area where the Lead Plant grew cursed it and called it the Devil’s Shoestrings because the roots became entangled with their breaking plows.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Look for the stories, they are all around us.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  My new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY is now available. Go to this link for details: http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5392.htm.  Order from my website, www.jerryapps.com or purchase from your local bookstore.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
September 9, 6:30 p.m., Monroe Library, Limping Through Life.
September 14, 6:00 p.m. West Salem Historical Society, (West Salem American Legion). Barns of Wisconsin.
September 20, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Stories From the Land, Stonefield Village, Cassville.
September 24, 10:15. Wisconsin Retired Educators, Marriott West, Madison. Rural Wit and Wisdom
October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 23, 7:00, Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days.
November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI
November 8, 9:00-11:30, Sheboygan County Research Center, Plymouth, WI. Barns of Wisconsin.
November 1, 4:30 p.m. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells(Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Remembering My First Day of School


On this Labor Day weekend, I am remembering my first day of school, and how important it was and how I had looked forward to it.  I had just turned five in July, and because there was no kindergarten in the country schools, I was in first grade.  Scared out of my wits.  Not knowing what to expect.  Wondering how all those “big kids” would treat me.

Miss Piechowski was my teacher, in fact she was everybody’s teacher in the school as it was a one-room country school with all eight grades in one room.  I arrived at school, walking the mile from the home farm with neighbor kids, wearing my new bib overalls, a new shirt, and my special “go to town” cap.  And I had combed my hair.  Ma said I could not go to school without combing my hair.  I hated combing my hair, but I didn't want to get in trouble with Ma, especially not on my first day of school.

In 1939 the year I enrolled, the school had no electricity, no indoor plumbing and was heated with a huge old wood burning stove. Quite primitive by today’s standards.  I soon discovered I loved the place because it was here that I learned how to read and appreciate the importance of books. 

It was here that I learned how to spell, and how to take apart sentences and put them together again.  It was here that I learned that 12 x 12 equaled 144, and that the capitol of Ohio was Columbus.  And it was here that I learned how to get along with Polish kids, Bohemian kids, German kids, Norwegian kids, Catholic kids and Methodist kids and kids who never saw the inside of a church.

 It was here that I spent eight years and developed a great love for reading, for books and for writing.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Learning does not require a fancy place, although such a place can make it easier.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:  It’s time to sign up for my writing class at The Clearing (Saturday, November 1). It’s about writing stories from your life—to be shared with families, friends and more. Go to this link for further information. http://theclearing.org/current/classes_workshop_description.php?id=3
If that doesn’t work, write or call The Clearing:
12171 Garrett Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
(920) 854-4088.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

September 3, 5:00 p.m. Live at Five TV Show, CBS, Channel 3, Madison.

September 9, 6:30 p.m., Monroe Library, Limping Through Life.

September 14, 6:00 p.m. West Salem Historical Society, (West Salem American Legion).  Barns of Wisconsin.

September 20, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Stories From the Land, Stonefield Village, Cassville.

September 24, 10:15. Wisconsin Retired Educators, Marriott West, Madison.  How to Tell Your Story.

NEW NOVEL OUT IN SEPTEMBER: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County can now be pre-ordered. It's all about how a small town deals with the possibility of a frac sand mine coming to their community.  Go to this link for further information: http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5392.htm

Here are upcoming launch and signing dates for the book:

October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis

October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison,

October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library

November 1, 4:30 p.m. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rain Dance Worked


The rain dance worked.  The shower shuffle succeeded.  The rains came to the farm, more than three inches the last couple weeks. The garden is happy, especially the squash and the pumpkins, the cucumbers and the gourds.  They've lifted their wilting leaves and are growing once more.  Yellow blossoms everywhere.

And oh, how happy are the late summer prairie flowers, ready to bloom a few weeks ago and then the dry weather came.  But now they are thriving once more, especially the wonderfully attractive purple-flowered blazing star, and the vast spreads of three kinds of deep yellow goldenrods.

And my little pine trees planted in the spring, struggling to stay alive, now are likely saved with the ample rains.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A rainy day is a happy day.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:  It’s time to sign up for my writing class at The Clearing (Saturday, November 1). It’s about writing stories from your life—to be shared with families, friends and more. Go to this link for further information. http://theclearing.org/current/classes_workshop_description.php?id=3
If that doesn’t work, write or call The Clearing:
12171 Garrett Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
(920) 854-4088.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

August 26, Neville Museum, Green Bay. 6:30 p.m.  Breweries of Wisconsin

September 3, 5:00 p.m. Live at Five TV Show, CBS, Channel 3, Madison.

September 9, 6:30 p.m., Monroe Library, Limping Through Life.

September 14, 6:00 p.m. West Salem Historical Society, (West Salem American Legion.  Barns of Wisconsin.

September 20, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Stories From the Land, Stonefield Village, Cassville.

September 24, 10:15. Wisconsin Retired Educators, Marriott West, Madison.  How to Tell Your Story.

NEW NOVEL OUT IN SEPTEMBER: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County can now be pre-ordered. It's all about how a small town deals with the possibility of a frac sand mine coming to their community.  Go to this link for further information: http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5392.htm

Here are upcoming launch and signing dates for the book:

October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis

October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison,

October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI

October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library

November 1, 4:30 p.m. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Garden Report


Mid-August garden report.  An inch of rain last week helped considerably.  We had been watering, but a good, slow, soaking rain reaches every corner of the garden, something my watering system does not do.

Saturday was a harvest day.  I dug two long rows of onions.  We have two grocery bags of onions—I leave on the tops, which we tie together and hang up in the garage so the onions dry.  What a year for zucchini.  Once more I planted a few hills too many, so we had two grocery bags plus more of this prized green vegetable.  Ruth makes bread, muffins, and cake from zucchini.  Natasha has umpteen zucchini recipes, so we use them all from the finger-size ones, to those that are a couple feet long.

I dug the early red potatoes—a so-so crop, perhaps a half bushel.  And I dug the late potatoes that are ripe—another bushel.  Some of the potato patch is green and growing, which we will leave until the plants dry down.

The tomatoes are late; we picked perhaps 50 or so in various stages of becoming red, with many more to come.  Cucumbers have done well; we grow a long, skinny variety that is great for salads.

The sweet corn is also late.  Natasha picked a couple grocery bags.  Can’t beat fresh corn on the cob, ranks right up there with garden-ripe tomatoes.

My experiment this year, collards, have done well.  This is about the third harvest and they keep coming back.  They make a fine salad and are supposed to have big-time nutritional value as well.

More rain would be welcome, to top off the potato crop, keep the tomatoes doing well, and assure us of a decent squash and pumpkin crop—a few pumpkins have already turned yellow,  a reminder that summer is leaving us.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Troubles in your life—a vegetable garden can help them disappear.

NEW NOVEL OUT IN SEPTEMBER: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County can now be pre-ordered. It's all about how a small town deals with the possibility of a frac sand mine coming to their community.  Go to this link for further information: http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5392.htm

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:  It’s time to sign up for my writing class at The Clearing (Saturday, November 1). It’s about writing stories from your life—to be shared with families, friends and more. Go to this link for further information. http://theclearing.org/current/classes_workshop_description.php?id=3
If that doesn't work, write or call The Clearing:
12171 Garrett Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
(920) 854-4088.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

August 20, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Madison. 5-7 p.m. Stories From the Land.  For more information: elindell@wisconsinacademy.org

August 22, Verona Library 7:00 p.m.  Farm Stories.

August 26, Neville Museum, Green Bay. 6:30 p.m.  Breweries of Wisconsin

September 9, 6:30 p.m., Monroe Library, Limping Through Life.