Friday, January 24, 2020

Fifty Years of Book Writing




In 1966, I began writing a weekly column (Outdoor Notebook), for the Waushara Argus in Wautoma. It was in 1966 that we also acquired Roshara, the farm we have now. My columns were mostly about happenings on our farm, which had been abandoned in the 1950s after the farmhouse burned. Always looking for new ideas, I began wondering if a collection of these columns might make a book. In 1969, I showed them to Bob Gard, a rural folklorist for the College of Agriculture in Madison.

Bob, a Kansas farm boy, showed some interest in what I had been writing. But he said, “Why don’t you develop a story-line using your columns as ideas?” And that’s what I did. I even used an old willow tree as a character in the book. The book is mostly about how our young family, we had three little kids at the time, was adjusting to the kind of rural living that Ruth and I both experienced as kids.

I titled the book The Land Still Lives. Bob Gard introduced me to Senator Gaylord Nelson, whom he thought would be interested in my book because of its environmental theme. Senator Nelson agreed to write an introduction to the book, which was published in 1970.

A couple years ago, Kate Thompson, my editor at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, asked me about publishing a 50th-anniversary edition of the book. How could I say no? It is now available, with an added epilogue that I wrote to bring the story up-to-date.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Who would believe that the Old Timer would still be writing books after 50 years?

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Speaking Saturday, February 8, 2:15 p.m., Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison. Topic: The Land Still Lives: Restoration of an old farm. Book signing in Wisconsin Historical Society Press booth, 10 to 12 in the morning and 3:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon.

Speaking Sunday, February 9, 1:00 p.m.., Garden Expo Alliant Center, Madison. Topic: The Land Still Lives: Restoration of an old farm .Book signing in Wisconsin Historical Society Press booth, 2:30 to 4:00 in the afternoon.

Saturday, March 21, 1:30, Columbus Community Center, Columbus, WI Sponsored by Columbus Public Library and Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

New anniversary edition of The Land Still Lives 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 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. Or visit your local bookstore.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Talk About Winter


2019 snow at Roshara in Waushara County. Photo by Jerry Apps

It is often said that If Wisconsin people didn’t have the weather to talk about they wouldn’t have much to say. There is more than a little truth to the statement. This winter is a good case in point. In Southern Wisconsin, we had more winter in October than we had in December. At Christmas time, Golfers on Madison area golf courses were chasing those little white balls on bare ground with temperatures in the 50s.

Ice fishermen had to wait until January 12 for Lake Mendota to freeze. This usually happens in December. Snowmobilers and cross-country skiers had to travel north to find enough snow for their winter fun.

At my farm in central Wisconsin, so far this winter I’ve not had to crank up my tractor once to plow snow. Four or five inches of snow has been about it—and even this snow shrunk with days of above freezing temperatures. Last winter was different. Snow was piled up everywhere. I put my tractor with front-end loader to good use, making a path just wide enough for my car to pass in my long driveway.

A couple weeks ago, the Madison weather people announced a weather warning. A big snowstorm on the way. Up to a foot or more of snow. People flocked to the grocery stores and gas stations in preparation. Guess what, less than an inch of snow in much of southern Wisconsin, nothing in central Wisconsin.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: In Wisconsin, weather—the good, the bad, and the ugly—gives us something to talk about.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, February 8, 2:15 p.m., Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison

Sunday, February 9, 1:00 p.m.., Garden Expo Alliant Center, Madison

Saturday, March 21, 1:30, Columbus Community Center, Columbus, WI Sponsored by Columbus Public Library and Wisconsin Historical Society Press.


WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

To learn more about winter in Wisconsin, check out my book, The Quiet Season. Buy it 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. Or visit your local bookstore.


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Friday, January 10, 2020

Sauerkraut



Sauerkraut in cast iron fry pan. Photo by Jerry Apps

When I was a kid, if you were of German heritage, you knew about sauerkraut. If you didn’t like sauerkraut, you got over it, for especially in the winter, you ate a lot of sauerkraut. Ma had many ways of preparing it: baked sauerkraut, fried sauerkraut, sauerkraut and pork chops, sauerkraut and ham, sauerkraut and pock hocks, sauerkraut cake.

A row of cabbage stretched from one end of the home garden to the other. By mid-October, the cabbage was ready for harvesting. Once harvested, Pa sliced the cabbage into shreds with a cabbage slicer, which he called a finger shortener. Ma tucked the cabbage shreds into a five-gallon Red Wing crock and sprinkled salt on each layer of cabbage. My brothers and I took turns tamping down the shredded cabbage with a piece of stove wood. We did this until the crock was filled nearly to the top. On top of the shredded cabbage, Ma placed some cheesecloth that overlapped the edges of the crock, and on top of that, a big round plate that fit inside the crock and, weighted down with a fieldstone. In a few weeks, it was ready for eating.

Today, when I am alone at the farm, where we have a wood-burning cookstove, I will often dig out the big cast-iron fry pan and fry up a batch of sauerkraut. The smell of the frying kraut takes me back to the home farm kitchen and its many memories. I still like sauerkraut.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sauerkraut is low in calories and high in vitamin C and Vitamin K.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, February 8, 2:15 p.m., Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison

Sunday, February 9, 1:00 p.m.., Garden Expo Alliant Center, Madison

Saturday, March 21, 1:30, Columbus Community Center, Columbus, WI Sponsored by Columbus Public Library and Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

To learn more about Sauerkraut along with several recipes for preparing, see my book, Old Farm Country Cookbook, which my daughter Sue, and I wrote.

Buy it 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

Sunday, January 05, 2020

The Pond Seeks a New Level



Ben, Josh, and Paul at the Pond. Photo by Jerry Apps

The pond at our farm nearly dried up in 2015, but then the water began rising with the heavy rains of the last couple of years.

By the fall of 2019, our pond was running over its banks. It had risen to a place it had never been. It was surrounding trees, some of which were likely more than a hundred years old. I have never seen it this high, even when I was a kid and that was a good many years ago.

One of the projects I had in mind once the pond froze was to cut some of the trees and brush that had been surrounded by water. My grandsons, Josh, who lives in Denver, and Ben who lives in San Diego, came home for Christmas. So with these husky lads, both in their twenties, plus my son-in-law, Paul, and daughter, Sue we went on the ice with chain saws and loppers.

Soon, we had a sizeable pile of brush and trees on the ice. The grandsons asked about building a bonfire, and I said, “Sure, go ahead,” I didn’t tell them what happened when you started a brush fire on ice.

Soon they had a substantial fire. And then, just like that, the fire went out with a sizzle.

“What happened?” Josh asked.

“The fire melted the ice and put itself out,” I said, remembering when we had tried to build a campfire on ice when we were ice fishing.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Fire and ice have never been good companions.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, February 8, 2:15 p.m., Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison

Sunday, February 9, 1:00 p.m.., Garden Expo Alliant Center, Madison

Saturday, March 21, 1:30, Columbus Community Center, Columbus, WI Sponsored by Columbus Public Library and Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

Look at my books, OLD FARM, ROSHARA JOURNAL, and THE QUIET SEASON for more about winter.

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

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. Or visit your local bookstore.


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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Homemade Christmas Presents


Homemade deer Christmas Presents. Photo by Jerry Apps

On these days after Christmas, I often think about the gifts I have received in the past, especially when I was a kid growing up on a farm during the Great Depression. Money was scarce in those days and “store-bought” presents were few.

I remember most of all the homemade presents I received during those rather dreary times. My grandmother was a knitter, and I, along with my two brothers, often received newly knitted mittens as Christmas presents—how I prized them. Best of all she knitted a heavy woolen scarf for me one year. I wore it when I walked to school on below-zero winter days. My mother wrapped the scarf around my head and shoulders so everything was covered, except for my eyes. As I walked along our snow-covered country road, I thought about my grandmother sitting by a wood stove, knitting. The thoughts helped keep me warm.

I also remember fondly, the skis my Grandfather made for me one Christmas. He made them out of birch boards. I learned that he had steamed the ends of the boards over a boiling kettle so the boards turned up at the ends. He fashioned pieces of leather to hold my rubber boots in place. How wonderful they were. They did not have grooves on their bottoms, so on packed snow they were as likely to go sideways as straight ahead—but that was some of the fun in having them.

I received the two little homemade deer from my son and his family who live in Colorado. They have been a part of our Christmas decorations for several years. They welcome friends by our front door.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:: There is something special about homemade Christmas presents.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, February 8, 2:15 p.m., Garden Expo, Alliant Center, Madison

Sunday, February 9, 1:00 p.m.., Garden Expo Alliant Center, Madison

Saturday, March 21, 1:30, Columbus Community Center, Columbus, WI Sponsored by Columbus Public Library and Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

Look at my books, ONE ROOM COUNTRY SCHOOLS and THE QUIET SEASON for about winter and Christmas.

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

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. Or visit your local bookstore.


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Friday, December 20, 2019

A Christmas Thank You


Book Display at McFarlane's in Sauk City. Photo by Steve Apps.


Christmas is a time to say thanks. I must say thanks to the many people who have helped me doing the past year and years before that. I’ll start with the booksellers, without whom my work would fall on its face. To mention a few: Mystery to Me in Madison, Jahnke’s Bookstore in Wausau, Books and Company in Oconomowoc, and Dregne’s in Westby. Then the non-traditional booksellers: Friends of the Patterson Library in Wild Rose and McFarlane’s in Sauk City. McFarlane’s is an upscale hardware store, but they have my books for sale, and invite me to do a special Merry Christmas radio show at their store each year. And a big thank you to the many booksellers I have not mentioned.

Above all, I must thank my many readers. First a big thank you to all who read my books, young and old. I especially want to thank those at nursing homes and memory care centers, who read my books to folks who can no longer read themselves.

A big thank you to those who read my weekly blog and my weekly column in The Wisconsin State Farmer. Thank you to those who read my twice-monthly column in Agri-View and those who previously read my columns in The Country Today. Not to forget, thank you, readers, of my monthly column in the Richland Electric Coop newsletter.

A Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year. As we old farmers always say no matter what happened this year, next year will be better.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A writer without readers is like a car without wheels. Neither goes anywhere.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

Get them from booksellers mentioned above. Here is how to 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
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Friday, December 13, 2019

A Special Book



Photo by Jerry Apps

When I was a kid, the weeks and days leading up to Christmas were almost as much fun as Christmas itself. The Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog arrived in our mailbox right after Thanksgiving. Up until a couple weeks before Christmas, my two brothers and I pored over that precious catalog. Instructions from our parents—you can select one toy and one article of clothing. And that’s what we did, although it wasn’t easy because that “wish book,” as it was commonly called, had so many choices.

My choice for a “toy” from about the time I was about ten years old was usually a book of some kind. That year If I remember correctly, I looked at the vast selection of books until I struck on the one that I absolutely had to have. Its title “Fun For Boys.”

This book had everything a boy would want to know. Chapters included: “How to be a Ventriloquist”. I had heard about people being able to throw their voices, and here I would learn how to do it. “How to Identify Aircraft.” We were in the midst of World War II, and by reading this chapter, I would learn how to spot enemy planes, such as German Messerschmitt’s. Reading this chapter, I would be prepared to identify such an enemy aircraft flying over our farm and notify the authorities—although I wondered how I would do that with our party-line telephone.

Other chapters covered how to build things and handle a rope like a cowboy—and much more.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes it’s fun to just sit back, and think about how things were.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS AND DVDS.

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.