Sunday, June 29, 2008


Thoreau once wrote, "The bluebird carries the sky on his back." I would add, "and the sun on its breast." I watched a busy bluebird pair out my back window this morning, flitting in and out of the house we built for them a couple years ago.

We have many bluebird houses at our farm. We've placed them several yards apart for the half-mile that separates our farm from my brother, Don's place. Rather than a fence, we define our boundary with bird houses. What a joy it is from early spring through the summer watching bluebirds and tree swallows--the latter in greater number than the former, but equally fun to watch.

The Old Timer says: "Take a child for a walk in the woods. You'll both see more than either expected."

Coming Events:

Barnes and Noble Madison West. Wednesday, July 9, 1:00 p.m. "Who Was Casper Jaggi?"

Circus Camp, Mazomanie. Thursday, July 10, 12:00 noon. "The Ringling Boys and Their Circus."

Barnes and Noble Wausau. Saturday, July 12, 11:00-2:00 PM. IN A PICKLE and more.

Farm Technology Days, Greenleaf, WI Wednesday, July 16, 12:00. "Stories From The Land."

Farm Technology Days, Greenleaf, WI Thursday, July 17, 11:00 AM "Stories From the Land."

Garden Tour and Book Signing, Governor's Mansion, Madison. Thursday, July 17 4:30-6:00 PM

Monday, June 23, 2008

Garden Produce

I pulled my first radishes from the garden a couple weeks ago--big red ones. Each with a bit of personality that was muted with a spot of salt. Not like those wimpy radishes from the supermarket with no kick whatever.

I sow carrot seed in the same row as the radishes and with the radishes pulled the carrots are growing wildly--happy to be on their own I suspect.

Last week I filled a bowl with fresh cut leaf lettuce and spinach leaves. What a treat.

The Old Timer says: "Always nice to know where your food comes from. Even more special to grow it yourself."

Want some help in writing your own story? Consider looking into the one-day workshop I offer at The Clearing in Door County. It's from 9-4 on Saturday, September 13. The fee includes a catered lunch. Call 877-854-3225 for details, or check

Monday, June 16, 2008


When I was a kid, I hated hoeing. Just when I thought we'd caught up with farm work and might go fishing, Pa would say, "Potatoes need hoeing." It seems the potatoes always needed hoeing. In those days we grew three or four acres of potatoes and it would take my dad, two brothers and me several days to do the job. Row after long row we hoed, stopping only long enough for dinner and maybe a drink of water now and then from a Red Wing jug kept under a shade tree on one end of the potato patch.

I'm still hoeing. Only now I enjoy it. I hoed my garden yesterday morning. It took me an hour and a half--I'd done the potato rows the previous day. The birds were singing, the sky was a deep blue, a slight breeze blew from the west and tree swallows circled above their birdhouse a hundred or so yards away. I could smell the freshly turned soil and I could immediately see the results of my work.

Funny how a few years--quite a few years--changes one's perspective on a once boring task.

The Old Timer says: "Teach your children to hoe. Never can tell what they might do with the skill."

Coming Event: Saturday, June 21, 1:00 p.m. Stanley Historical Society, Stanley, Wisconsin. "The Lighter Side of Country Living."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Gone Fishing

My twin brothers and I went fishing last week. The first time the three of us have fished together for more than forty years. Gone was the fierce competition I remember. Who caught the first fish, who hooked the largest fish, who could brag about the most fish? Now it was mostly storytelling. Remembering earlier fishing days when we were much younger, recalling fishing trips with our father, marveling at the beauty of the lake and the splendor of the day.

And realizing that fishing can be much more than catching fish.

The Old Timer says. "Find some time to go fishing."

Coming Events:

Tuesday, June 17, 12:15 p.m. Wisconsin Historical Society Museum (on the Square in Madison). A brief history of Wisconsin cheese making with the story of Casper Jaggi: Master Cheese Maker.

Saturday, June 21, 1:00 p.m. Stanley Historical Society. "The Lighter Side of Country Living."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Weather Talk

Growing up on a farm I remember how critical weather was to everything we did. Dad knew many of the weather sayings, some are familiar to most people, some not.


Red sky in the morning, sailors take warming. (Rain coming)
Red sky at night, sailors delight. (Nice day tomorrow)
Rain before seven, stop before eleven.
No dew in the morning, rain within 24 hours.
Ring around the moon: major chance in weather coming.
If among the clouds, there is a patch of blue sky large enough to make a pair of Dutchman's britches, clear weather is on the way.
April showers bring May flowers.
Rain in May is a barn full of hay.
Rain in June is a silver spoon (Meaning the crops would be off to a good start with ample moisture on our sandy soils.)

The Old Timer says: "Enjoy the wind. Feel it. Embrace it. But always respect it."

Coming Events. Saturday, Book signing, June 7, 1-3PM, Waldens, West Town Mall, Madison.