Friday, June 14, 2019

Haymaking Breakthrough



Pa bought our first side-delivery rake back in about 1947. It was an important technological breakthrough. Haymaking was hard work. Now it would be easier.

Before the side-delivery rake, we made hay like this. First Pa cut the hay with our five-foot McCormick mower pulled by our trusty team of horses. Once the hay was cut and dried for a day or so, depending on the weather and lack of rain, he raked the hay with a dump rake, a distant cousin of our new side-delivery rake.

Once the hay was raked, my brothers, Pa and I piled the hay into little bunches—sort of like overgrown cupcakes that soon appeared across the field. After another drying period, a day or so, we pitched the hay bunches on to our steel-wheeled hay wagon, and hauled it to the barn.

Arriving at the barn, we pitched the hay, into the hay mow, by hand. With three-tined forks. All of this was before 1945, when Pa bought our first tractor. And soon after a side-delivery rake and a hay loader.

Haymaking became easier. Once the hay was cut, now with a tractor-pulled mower pulled by the tractor, the hay was raked in long ropes with the side-delivery rake. No more bunching hay by hand. The tractor pulled the hay wagon—we now had one with rubber tires. A mechanical hay loader was attached to the back of the wagon. which automatically loaded the hay onto the wagon. What could be easier?

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Learn to appreciate the things that make life easier.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

July 12, 6:00 p.m. Frank B. Koller, Memorial Library, 2 US-51, Manitowish Waters. Old Farm Country Cookbook, with co-author, Susan Apps-Bodilly.

BOOKS FOR SUMMER READING;

Want a book to read this summer? Here are two more of my novels for your consideration.
Each deals with a contemporary rural issue. Purchase from your local bookstore, or 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

Cranberry Red

From Booklist:
In the fourth book in the Ames County series, Ben Wesley, an agricultural agent for the past two decades, is suddenly out of work when funding for his program is cut. He’s immediately offered a job with Osborne University, doing pretty much what he did before but charging people for his services. This makes him a little uncomfortable but not nearly as much as Cranberry Red, a new chemical developed by the university’s researchers that could have spectacular benefits for people with heart disease or Alzheimer’s. When it begins to appear that Cranberry Red has some pretty nasty side effects, Ben is faced with a difficult choice: keep his job and find a way to protect the community, or blow the lid off the secret and risk everything. Apps approaches his familiar themes (honor, the importance of community, the increasing threat to traditional farming) from a new angle, focusing on the issue of genetic modification and its impact on an entire way of life. As usual, he creates compelling characters and places them in a vividly realized setting. –David Pitt

Tamarack River Ghost

When journalist Josh Wittmore moves from the Illinois Bureau of Farm Country News to the newspaper’s national office in Wisconsin, he encounters the biggest story of his young career—just as the paper’s finances may lead to its closure.

Josh’s big story is a corporation plans to establish an enormous hog farm that bought a lot of land along the Tamarack River in bucolic Ames County. Some of the local residents and officials are excited about the jobs and tax revenues that the big farm will bring, while others worry about truck traffic, porcine aromas, and manure runoff polluting the river. And how would the arrival of a large agribusiness affect life and traditions in this tightly knit rural community of family farmers? Josh strives to provide impartial agricultural reporting, even as his newspaper is replaced by a new Internet-only version owned by a former New York investment banker. And it seems that there may be another force in play: the vengeful ghost of a drowned logger who locals say haunts the valley of the Tamarack River.




Friday, June 07, 2019

Stonefield Historic Site



Interested in Wisconsin’s agricultural history? Do you enjoy looking at early farm implements? How about the fun of visiting a 1900 replica of a farming village, along with a 1901 farmstead. Yes? Well you are in luck, because in Southwestern Wisconsin a place called Stonefield has all of these things. It’s a Wisconsin Historic Site, one of several operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Stonefield is just a short drive north of picturesque Cassville, one of Wisconsin’s several towns and cities tucked up against the mighty Mississippi River. Stonefield is about a two-hour drive from Madison, and only 37 miles north of Dubuque, Iowa.

The place is steeped in history as Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin’s first Governor, farmed some 2,000 acres here at one time. His beautiful Gothic Revival home is open for tours—it’s a part of Nelson Dewey State Park, which is across the road from Stonefield.

The State Agricultural Museum is located at Stonefield. Here you can see a McCormick Reaper, along with tools large and small that depict the state’s agricultural past. Also there are walls of historic photographs. One is of a group of men raking cranberries by hand. Something I did back in the fall of 1955.

Cross the covered bridge and find yourself in an early Wisconsin village, complete with a cheese factory, newspaper office, saloon, blacksmith shop, railroad depot, saw mill, bank, livery stable, a one-room school, barbershop and more. Visiting the farmstead, you’ll see a farm house, dairy barn, corn crib, chicken coop, and hog house.

What a great place to relive your childhood and to bring the kids and grandkids to show them some early Wisconsin history. Go to: https://stonefield.wisconsinhistory.org/ for more information.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: When we forget our histories, we forget who we are.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
July 12, 6:00 p.m. Frank B. Koller, Memorial Library, 2 US-51, Manitowish Waters. Old Farm Country Cookbook, with co-author, Susan Apps-Bodilly.

BOOKS FOR SUMMER READING:

Want a book to read this summer? Here are two more of my novels for your consideration.
Each deals with a contemporary rural issue. Purchase from your local bookstore, or 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

Cranberry Red

From Booklist:

In the fourth book in the Ames County series, Ben Wesley, an agricultural agent for the past two decades, is suddenly out of work when funding for his program is cut. He’s immediately offered a job with Osborne University, doing pretty much what he did before but charging people for his services. This makes him a little uncomfortable but not nearly as much as Cranberry Red, a new chemical developed by the university’s researchers that could have spectacular benefits for people with heart disease or Alzheimer’s. When it begins to appear that Cranberry Red has some pretty nasty side effects, Ben is faced with a difficult choice: keep his job and find a way to protect the community, or blow the lid off the secret and risk everything. Apps approaches his familiar themes (honor, the importance of community, the increasing threat to traditional farming) from a new angle, focusing on the issue of genetic modification and its impact on an entire way of life. As usual, he creates compelling characters and places them in a vividly realized setting. –David Pitt

Tamarack River Ghost

When journalist Josh Wittmore moves from the Illinois bureau of Farm Country News to the newspaper’s national office in Wisconsin, he encounters the biggest story of his young career—just as the paper’s finances may lead to its closure.

Josh’s big story is that a corporation that plans to establish an enormous hog farm has bought a lot of land along the Tamarack River in bucolic Ames County. Some of the local residents and officials are excited about the jobs and tax revenues that the big farm will bring, while others worry about truck traffic, porcine aromas, and manure runoff polluting the river. And how would the arrival of a large agribusiness affect life and traditions in this tightly knit rural community of family farmers? Josh strives to provide impartial agricultural reporting, even as his newspaper is replaced by a new Internet-only version owned by a former New York investment banker. And it seems that there may be another force in play: the vengeful ghost of a drowned logger who locals say haunts the valley of the Tamarack River.



Saturday, June 01, 2019

Memorial Day Garden Report


For my vegetable gardening friends, my Memorial Day report. Where you garden surely makes a difference, especially in states like Wisconsin where the growing season varies greatly from south to north in the state. What you read here might be quiet different from other places.

My garden is in Waushara County, not really north, but not south either. We’ve gardened here for more than 50 years, some years great, some years so-so, and some years not so good. Never knowing what to expect contributes to the fun of gardening.

Everything is a bit late this year. Our first planting was April 28. On that date we planted early potatoes, late potatoes, carrots, radishes, peas, kale, onions, lettuce and beets. All are up and growing, except for the late potatoes, which, as my dad would say, are “cracking the ground,” meaning they were on their way but not as far as long as the early potatoes.

On May 19, Steve and Natasha set out broccoli and cabbage plants and with cool, wet weather they are doing well.

On Memorial Day weekend, (May 26) we planted sweet corn of several types, snap beans, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, late squash and 25 tomato plants that I started from seed. With cool weather, the tomato plants are a bit scrawny, but they now have lots of room to grow. My dad always said that a garden should have some flowers, so we planted a short row of zinnias and a couple rows of sunflowers.

We have a bluebird house a few feet from the garden. As we worked in the garden a pair of blue birds were busy flying in and out of the house. They, along with gardeners also know that spring has arrived.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: What would life be without a garden?

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:


June 7, 6:00 p.m. Weyauwega-Fremont Performing Arts Center, 500 E. Ann St. Weyauwega. Presentation: Wisconsin Agriculture: A History. No charge, all welcome.

BOOKS FOR SUMMER READING;

Want a book to read this summer? Here are two of my recent novels to consider.

Each deals with a contemporary rural issue. Purchase from your local bookstore, or 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

In a Pickle

“In a Pickle, is a many-layered pleasure delivered by a master craftsman who is also, like his contemporaries Studs Terkel and Howard Zinn, a passionate student of the people’s history. As Apps engages us in the coming-of-age saga of the pickle factory manager Andy Meyer, his In a Pickle is at once a lesson in rural Wisconsin sociology, a quietly scathing indictment of factory farming, and a great read.”—John Galligan. .



Cranberry Red
.From Booklist:
In the fourth book in the Ames County series, Ben Wesley, an agricultural agent for the past two decades, is suddenly out of work when funding for his program is cut. He’s immediately offered a job with Osborne University, doing pretty much what he did before but charging people for his services. This makes him a little uncomfortable but not nearly as much as Cranberry Red, a new chemical developed by the university’s researchers that could have spectacular benefits for people with heart disease or Alzheimer’s. When it begins to appear that Cranberry Red has some pretty nasty side effects, Ben is faced with a difficult choice: keep his job and find a way to protect the community, or blow the lid off the secret and risk everything. Apps approaches his familiar themes (honor, the importance of community, the increasing threat to traditional farming) from a new angle, focusing on the issue of genetic modification and its impact on an entire way of life. As usual, he creates compelling characters and places them in a vividly realized setting. –David Pitt

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Stone Pile With Memories


When we bought the farm we have now, one of the first things I noticed was the pile of stones (see above) that stretched for 50 yards or so along the west side of the buildings, just inside of the willow windbreak.

This old moss-covered stone pile has a story to tell. The Coombes family, who owned our farm before us, never owned a tractor, so all of these stones were picked by hand, rolled onto a stone boat, and them with a team of horses toted to this place where they remain, and will likely remain as I have no intention of moving them. This old stone pile represents a lot of hard work.

I grew up picking stones as the home farm, which is some two miles from the farm we now own. Like the Coombes farm, the home place was on the terminal moraine—where the last glacier stopped. Upon melting, the glacier left behind a landscape studded with stones. Stones as large as a small car. Stones as small as marbles. Black stones and red stones. Round stones and jagged stones. With winter’s frosts the stones came to the surface each year. And each spring, we picked them, loaded them on a stone boat pulled by our trusty team of horses. We hauled them to stone piles scattered across our farm. My dad would often say, as we picked stones: “If nothing else grows on this farm, we can always count on a good crop of stones.”

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Want to build some character: spend a day picking stones.
.
ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville, with Susan Apps-Bodilly, my daughter.

June 7, 6:00 p.m. Weyauwega-Fremont Performing Arts Center, 500 E. Ann St. Weyauwega. Presentation: Wisconsin Agriculture: A History. No charge, all welcome.

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

Books To Consider Reading:

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work.

Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm

Garden Wisdom (What I’ve Learned From Gardening)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)




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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Apple Blossom Time



It’s apple blossom time in my part of the world. One of the most beautiful times of the year. When I was a kid, the folks had an apple orchard—not really an orchard but four or five trees that stood on a little side hill across the road from the farm house. If I remember correctly we had Whitney Crabs, Wealthies, Northwestern Greenings and Duchess apples. Varieties that we don’t hear much about these days. How beautiful the trees were in late May.

For some reason, the crab apple trees had the most beautiful blossoms—see the photo above. Their apples were small—my mother made apple pickles out of them. The other varieties I remember as being mostly good for apple pies and apple sauce. Tart would be too polite a term to describe how sour some of them were—at least to a kid who took a big bite out of one of them.

There is one old apple tree remaining on what had been the first farmstead on the farm we own now—going back to 1867 when the first settler, Tom Stewart arrived. He likely brought with him some apple trees from his home state of New York, always known for its fine orchards. The tree is mostly dead, but what branches remains are well over a hundred years old. I have no idea its variety. There are a few blossoms every other year.

When I was in high school at Wild Rose, the theme of our junior prom was, “I’ll be with you in apple blossom time.” So many years later, it’s once more apple blossom time.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Take time to appreciate the beauty of apple blossoms.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville.

June 7, 6:00 p.m. Weyauwega-Fremont Performing Arts Center, 500 E. Ann St. Weyauwega. Presentation: Wisconsin Agriculture: A History. No charge, all welcome.

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

Books To Consider Reading:

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work.

Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm

Garden Wisdom (What I’ve Learned From Gardening)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Dad's Garden Marker


My dad and mother held an auction and sold the home farm in 1973. They moved to Wild Rose, where they bought a little house with a big yard. Big enough for a garden. For farmers of dad’s generation, moving to town was a symbol of success.

One of the first things my dad at his new place was to find some scrap lumber and build the garden marker pictured above. He was moving to town, but he was not giving up gardening. He was 73 years old at the time. Soon the area behind the house was a vegetable garden. But the area wasn’t large enough. Dad wanted to grow pumpkins and squash and melons besides all the other vegetables. So I said he could have a fourth of our big garden that we had at my farm, which was only four and half miles from Wild Rose.

So, year after year, that little wooden marker scratched two grooves thirty-inches apart in the soft garden soil in Wild Rose, and my equally soft sandy-loom at my farm. As the years passed and dad moved into his 80s, I could tell how he was feeling by the amount of space he wanted in the garden at my farm.

By the time he reached 90, he was content to only work in his town garden as he called it. But work it he did, until six weeks before he died at age 93. All the while, he marked the rows with this little wooden marker. I use the marker to this day in my garden. It brings back a lot of memories.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Memories come in many packages.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
.
.May 13, 6:30 p.m. Verona Public Library, 500 Silent St., Verona. CCC Story in words and pictures

May 14, 12:00 Noon, Sequoya Library, Madison. Simple Things

May 18, 10-2:00 Dregne’s, Westby, Book Signing.

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville.

June 7, 6:00 p.m. Weyauwega-Fremont Performing Arts Center, 500 E. Ann St. Weyauwega. Presentation: Wisconsin Agriculture: A History. No charge, all welcome.

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

Books To Consider Reading:

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work.

Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm

Garden Wisdom (What I’ve Learned From Gardening)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Advice From a Dandelion




• Never apologize for being one of the first to celebrate the arrival of spring.

• Remember that small can be beautiful.

• Be proud of who you are and what you can do—even though some may despise you.

• When you are stomped on, knocked down and criticized, answer without anger, but with your usual bright face.

• Deep roots can help assure a worthwhile life.

• Be proud of your heritage. I trace my relatives to the ancient Romans.

• Sometimes it only takes a spot of beauty to add a little joy to one’s day.

• Love the little children as they love me, often bringing a bouquet of my yellow flowers to their moms on Mother’s Day.

• Treat me with respect. I, like you, have a purpose in life.

• There is goodness in everything—look for it and applaud it.

• Do not stop being beautiful because some may think you do not belong where you are.

• Even under the harshest of conditions, remember who you are and do your best.

• Being of help to others, sometimes if only in a small way, should be a major purpose in your life.

• On the path of life, one is not wrong and the other right, we are just different.

• Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us has our own special beauty.

• Don’t be envious of those who appear to have more than you do. Be proud of what you have.

• Do the best you can with what you’ve got.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: There is much to be learned from a dandelion.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
.
May 9, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library (Rescheduled because of weather), Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

May 11, 2:00 p.m. Arcadia Bookstore, Spring Green. CCC story.

May 13, 6:30 Verona Library, CCC Story

May 14, 12:00 Noon, Sequoia Library, Madison. Simple Things

May 18, 10-2:00 Dregne’s, Westby, Book Signing.

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville.

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

Books To Consider Reading:

Simple Things: Lessons From the Family Farm

Garden Wisdom (What I’ve Learned From Gardening)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Garden Time


Finally, the wait is over. It’s time to begin planting the vegetable garden. We are late this year. A couple of weeks ago snowbanks still stood near our garden spot, a little melt water oozing from their sides. Central Wisconsin had a major snowstorm on April10-11—around the time when I usually planted potatoes. And then it turned cold and the snow remained, and remained. Winter is an arrogant season. It likes to come visiting in November, and then like a relative who doesn’t know when to leave, it sticks around until April. What other season gets to stay for five months?

But now, it appears spring has arrived, and the last snowbank has given up in the face of high 70s temperatures for a few days. My little tomato plants, happy under a “glow light” should be in good shape for transplanting after Memorial Day. Never before. Old Man Winter always has a few nights below freezing to throw at us well into May. This year I have six different varieties. Old favorites like Big Boy and Early Girl, and Wisconsin 55. And ones I never heard of, but boast tomatoes as large as softballs. We’ll see.
Seed potatoes are ready for planting—Kennebec is my favorite. So are onion sets—yellow ones do best. And then comes the peas, lettuce and radishes. And cabbage and broccoli plants. Cool weather crops.

So, “hip, hip, and hurray.” It’s time to find the garden hoes and the row marker and get at it.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A vegetable garden offers benefits that go well beyond the good food produced.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
.
May 9, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library (Rescheduled because of weather), Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

May 11, 2:00 p.m. Arcadia Bookstore, Spring Green. CCC story.

May 13, 6:30 Verona Library, CCC Story

May 14, 12:00 Noon, Sequoia Library, Madison. Simple Things

May 18, 10-2:00 Dregne’s, Westby, Book Signing.

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville.

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

Books for Thinking About Spring

Old Farm Country Cookbook (With more rhubarb recipes)

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)

Ringlingville USA (All about the Ringling Brothers Circus. Plan to summer trip to Circus World Museum, in Baraboo.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Rhubarb Means Spring Has Arrived


It’s wasn’t the first robin spotted on the partially snow-covered yard, not the first flock of Canada geese winging north, not even the first dandelion showing its yellow face on the south side of our old farm house. None of these impressed my dad that spring had arrived. It was when rhubarb was ready for eating—that’s when spring had finally made it to our farm.

First thing that dad did when the rhubarb stalks had grown a bit was to cut an armful and dump it on the big kitchen table. “Time to make some rhubarb sauce,” he would say with a big grin on his face. I absolutely hated rhubarb sauce. My brothers didn’t like it either. But Pa was firm. “You’ve got to cleanse your system from winter,” he said. Whatever that meant.

So we ate rhubarb sauce. In case you might want to “cleanse your system from winter,” here’s my mother’s recipe.

Rhubarb Sauce

3-4 cups of chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup of water or less.

Put rhubarb pieces in a medium cooking pot. The sauce will bubble while cooking, so be sure your pot is big enough. Add the sugar and a bit of water to help the sauce start cooking. Start over a medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer as soon as it begins to bubble or boil. Keep uncovered and stir frequently so the sauce doesn’t stick to the pot. Let simmer until the rhubarb cooks down, about 25 minutes. Let cool, and then refrigerate.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: It is spring when rhubarb once more appears.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
.
May 9, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library (Rescheduled because of weather), Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

May 11, 2:00 p.m. Arcadia Bookstore, Spring Green. CCC story.

May 13, 6:30 Verona Library, CCC Story

May 14, 12:00 Noon, Sequoia Library, Madison. Simple Things

May 18, 10-2:00 Dregne’s, Westby, Book Signing.

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville.

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

Books for Thinking About Spring:

Old Farm Country Cookbook (With more rhubarb recipes)

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)

Ringlingville USA (All about the Ringling Brothers Circus. Plan to summer trip to Circus World Museum, in Baraboo.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Barns from the Sears Catalog


Everyone over age 60 remembers the Sears & Roebuck catalogs that offered anything one could possibly want from clothing to books, from farm equipment to furniture and much more. The last Sears Catalog was spring/summer 1993. Fewer remember that you could also order a barn from the Sears & Roebuck, “The Book of Barns” catalog. (One could also order a house from a Sears catalog, but that’s a topic for later).

I am looking at a 1919 Sears barn catalog that offers several types of barns, all pre-cut and ready to assemble, .Everything was included in the package, rafters, posts, door frames, windows, siding, truss lumber, studs., roofing shingles. Even already ready-made barn doors. .All the pieces arrived at your nearest rail depot, ready for assembly, with instructions on how to do it.

A popular model, the “Country Gentlemen Modern Barn No. 1007,” was offered in sizes from 32’ wide x 32’ long ($1,049) to 36’ wide x 104’ long ($2,836). The catalog copy read: “.For the dairyman, for the horseman, or for mixed farming, this building is equally useful”

The “Pride of the Farmstead, Modern Dairy Barn No. 2054,” was available from 30’wide by 32’ long ($1,195.00) to 36’wide x 146’ long ($4,592). “No dark corners in this dairy barn. Many long windows provide an abundance of light. Right here the first requirement of sanitation in a dairy barn has been carefully considered. The windows are equipped with sanitation shields; a quick chance of air may be made by lifting windows back into these shields. No direct draft touches your stock.”

You could also order a milk house, chicken house, corn crib and hog house from the barn catalog. Many of these buildings can still be found on farms around the country.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: In its day, Sears & Roebuck offered about all that a farmer needed in its catalogs.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
.
May 9, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library (Rescheduled because of weather), Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

May 11, 2:00 p.m. Arcadia Bookstore, Spring Green. CCC story.

May 13, 6:30 Verona Library, CCC Story

May 14, 12:00 Noon, Sequoia Library, Madison. Simple Things

May 18, 10-2:00 Dregne’s, Westby, Book Signing.

June 1, 10:30-3:00, Speaking at 1:30. Stonefield Village, Cassville.

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

Books for Thinking About Spring

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some of spring recipes)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)

Ringlingville USA (All about the Ringling Brothers Circus.)<.Plan to summer trip to Circus World Museum, in Baraboo.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Remembering the Civilian Conservation Corps


My newest book, see cover image above, is dedicated to the thousands of young men who joined the CCC during the Great Depression of the 1930s. These young men came from the cities, from Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee, from small towns like Pine River and Tomahawk, and from farms, too. They represented a generation of young men who, through no fault of their own could not find jobs because there were no jobs.

Starting in 1933, many of these forgotten young men signed up for a new government program dedicated to conservation. It became known as the Civilian Conservation Corps. Its mission was simple: put young men to work on the land.

The organization of the CCC looked impossible, for it specified that three governmental organizations work together: The Army, The Department of Interior, and The Department of Agriculture. But it worked. And it worked well. These young men planted trees, built windbreaks, introduced contour farming and erosion control, developed state and national parks, fought forest fires, developed tree nurseries, help build fish hatcheries, and much more.

I was a little kid when one day some CCC boys arrived at our farm. They were looking for gooseberry plants (Ribes genus) to remove, as these plants were host to White Pine Blister Rust that was devastating white pines. I also remember when CCC boys developed the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery including the beautiful wall along Highway 22 at the fish hatchery entrance.

THE OLDTIMER SAYS: As the CCC boys saved the land, they saved themselves.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

April 7, 1:00 p.m. Woodson History Center, Marathon County Historical Society, 10 McIndoe St, Wausau, WI. Launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

April 11, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

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

Books for Thinking About Spring

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some of spring recipes)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Remembering the Sears, Roebuck Catalog



I am a collector of Sears, Roebuck catalogs. I refer to them often, especially when I’m trying to remember what life was like back when I was a kid. Now, with the Sears, Roebuck’s catalog long gone, and many Sears’s stories closing, I am doing some reminiscing. I dug out a 1940 Spring and Summer catalog (cover picture above). I have an original, and what fun it is to page through it and see what life was like in the last year of the Great Depression and just ahead of World War II. The 1940 catalog had 1,042 pages.

Some featured items. A cast iron and steel “efficient coal-wood” cook stove--$42.95. A David Bradley “Steel-Frame,” four and ½ foot cut, horse-drawn hay mower--$69.90. A David Bradley horse-drawn “power dump steel hay rake”--$34.90. A ten-inch, horse-drawn walking plow--$13.75.

In the women’s clothing department: “Young and Carefree Fashions…The Story of 1940”: Blouse--$2.98, Skirt--$1.98, complete outfit--$4.79. “Slim-Waisted” dresses--$3.98 to $5.98. “Health Arch Shoes, Walk Every Step in Comfort”--$1.98 a pair.

For the men: “For spring the bright idea is gabardines in stripes.” A two-piece suit--$18.95. Hat--$2.95. Shirt--$1.49. Socks—25 cents. Shoes--$5.00.

For book lovers, four pages of books. Two pages of Holy Bibles, ranging in price from $1.00 to $4.79, one with a genuine leather cover. Two pages of everything from a Webster’s Dictionary ($3.50) to “straight-shooting” Zane Grey novels for 69 cents each. Anything you would ever want or need on these catalog pages.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Want a window on the past? Page through an old Sears, Roebuck Catalog.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My “Telling Your Story” Writing Class at The Clearing in Door County is set for July 19, 9-4. Call 920-854-4880 if you are interested in attending. The class usually fills, so you may want to reserve a spot sooner than later.

ANNOUNCEMENT: In April—my newest book available: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (A History of the CCC in Wisconsin.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

April 7, 1:00 p.m. Woodson History Center, Marathon County Historical Society, 10 McIndoe St, Wausau, WI. Launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

April 11, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

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

Books for Thinking About Spring

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some of spring recipes)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)









Saturday, March 23, 2019

Spring on the Way


(Woodcarving by Everett Eckstein)
The Cardinals are whistling. The robins are back, singing their hearts out. The sandhill cranes and the Canada geese have returned. All looking for spring. The snow is melting, leaving behind dirty snow piles here and there that struggle to remain but slowly give way to a trickle of melt water that oozes away from them.

The maple sap is running. I watch a squirrel, in the maple tree in our yard treating itself to the sweet sap. The days are longer, the sky seems bluer, and the breeze has less of a cut to it. The other day as the afternoon temperature hung in the 40s, a school age youngster walked along—wearing a T-shirt. No parka. No cap. Rushing things a bit I might say. But we northerners are like that.

I remember one time when we were visiting the U.S’s southernmost city, Key West, FL in February and the temperature had dipped into the low fifties. The natives were wearing down jackets, shivering and complaining. I wondered what they would do with 20-below zero.

Those of us who have lived our lives in the North, where the snow piles high and the temperatures dip low, appreciate spring. Maybe it’s because we know we have once more survived winter. But maybe there is more to it. Maybe we, although we likely would never admit it, like winter and all of its misery and unhappiness, because we know spring is coming with new growth and new hope. And we like the changing seasons. I know I do.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Spring, the season of rebirth, the season of hope.

ONLINE Book Club: April one is the start date for my next” Jerry apps: Stories from the Land internet book club.” The book we will be discussing is BLUE SHADOWS FARM, another novel in my Ames County series. Go to www.jwappsauthor.com for a description of the book, an audio excerpt, how to order the book as well as some discussion questions.

ANNOUNCEMENT: In April—my newest book available: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (A History of the CCC in Wisconsin.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:
March 25, 6:00 p.m. Johnson Public Library, Darlington, WI, 131 East Catherine St., Darlington, WI. Never Curse the Rain.

April 7, 1:00 p.m. Woodson History Center, Marathon County Historical Society, 10 McIndoe St, Wausau, WI. Launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.
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

Books for Thinking About Spring

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some of spring recipes)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)








Saturday, March 16, 2019

Rosemaling


I knew next to nothing about rosemaling until I married my Norwegian wife and discovered that both her sister, Pearl Johnson, and her brother, Clarence Olson did rosemaling. (Clarence painted the plate pictured above.) For others who may know little about this interesting Norwegian folk art, I did a little digging. Rosemaling, or rose painting, goes back to a love for the rose flower. I thought this special folk art surely must have ancient roots in that Scandinavian country. But as ancient art forms go, rosemaling didn’t get started until the mid-1700s. Woodcarving and textile arts are much older.

Before rosemaling came along as a way of decorating often dreary rural Norwegian homes, colorful woven fabrics were used to brighten up homes during the cold, dark Norwegian winters. By the early 1800s, rosemaling—usually done on wood—could be found on plates, tables, cradles, beds, and chests. Anything wooden was a rosemaling candidate.
Rosemaling styles varied from Norwegian district to district. The Rogaland and Hordaland areas appear to have done the most in creating distinctive local styles.

During the second half the 1800s, a vast wave of Norwegian emigrants arrived in the United States, many in Wisconsin. They brought with them items decorated with Rosemaling. But then the art of rosemaling was left behind. That is until Norwegian emigrant, Per Lysne (1880-1947) arrived in Stoughton, WI. During the Depression years of the 1930s, when he was out of work, he once more began doing rosemaling painting. And once more this ethnic folk art took off. Today, workshops are held. Competitions take place. The art of rosemaling is alive and well and flourishing.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Even those of us with sauerkraut backgrounds can learn from Norwegians.

ANNOUNCEMENT:

In April—my newest book available: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (A History of the CCC in Wisconsin.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

March 25, 6:00 p.m. Johnson Public Library, Darlington, WI, 131 East Catherine St., Darlington, WI. Never Curse the Rain.
April 7, 1:00 p.m. Woodson History Center, Marathon County Historical Society, 10 McIndoe St, Wausau, WI. Launch of Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin.

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.

500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

Books for Thinking About Spring

Living a Country Year (Check writings about spring)

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

Old Farm Country Cookbook (Try some of spring recipes)

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)







Friday, March 08, 2019

Making Wood--Again


With the snow piles ever taller and the wood pile ever shorter, it was time, as Pa would say, to “shoulder our axes and head to the woods for more fire wood.” We’d hitch the team to the bobsled, and plow through the snow in search of a dead oak tree or two. It was a bit difficult for me to tell the difference between those trees alive and those dead . To me, they all looked the same in winter. But Pa could tell the difference.

Soon I was on the other end of a crosscut saw—Pa had first notched the tree with an ax. There were no fancy gasoline chain saws in those days. Cutting down a tree was hard work, but on the positive side, it kept one warm on a chilly, winter morning.

With the tree down, the next step was chopping off the smaller branches with an ax, and sawing the larger limbs with the saw. Limbs of any size we loaded on the bobsled, and hauled them and the trunk to a place near where the mostly diminished wood pile stood. After three or four loads, Pa would announce, “That ought hold us until Spring.”
He then got on the party-line phone to the neighbors and invited them over for a wood sawing bee. They used a circle saw, much like the one pictured above. It was a loud, dangerous operation especially for those working closest to the saw, as there were no safety guards.

After a few hours of wood sawing, the wood pile had once more reached a respectable size. After an early supper, the neighbors returned home, and we were left with the job of splitting the larger pieces into manageable hunks. Not the worst job on a cold, late winter day.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Keeping warm meant making wood, lots of wood.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
In April—my newest book available: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (A History of the CCC in Wisconsin.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

March 25, 6:00 p.m. Johnson Public Library, Darlington, WI, 131 East Catherine St., Darlington, WI. Never Curse the Rain.
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

Books for Thinking About Spring

Roshara Journal (Our Town of Rose Farm through the Seasons)

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

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

Cold as Thunder (A look into the future)

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder: www.jerryapps.com)







Saturday, March 02, 2019

Selecting Vegetable Varieties



My daughter-in-law, Natasha, and I put together our seed order for the 2019 garden season. We started with tomatoes—one of our main crops. We set out about 75 tomato plants each year. But which varieties should we choose this year? A few choices were easy. We’ve planted Early Girl, Big Boy, and Wisconsin 55 varieties for several years. But we are always looking for something new. So many tomato choices. We looked at Box Car Willy, and Cherokee Purple. We considered Mortgage Lifter and Saucy Lady, and Jersey Devil and Big League Hybrid. Beautiful pictures. Creative names. We settled on Plum Royal, Mt. Merit and Giant Oxheart.

On to the sweet corn varieties. Who could pass on Sugar Buns? We ordered it. Then there was Spring Treat and Bodacious Yellow, along with Trinity Bicolor, Cuppa Joe Bicolor, and Sweetie 82, Pay Dirt and American Dream—a pass on these. But we did add Peaches and Cream to our list.

Cucumbers. Two pages of cucumber choices. We looked at Muncher, Straight Eight, and Summer Yet. Then on to Summer Dance and Sweeter Yet. We chose, Little Leaf, and Goliath Hybrid “Plant produces loads of dark green fruit up to eight inches long.” We’re looking forward to “loads” of cukes.

We ordered green beans (Top Crop), and carrots (Nantes), beets (Detroit Supreme), Kale (Russian), Lettuce (Salad Bowl) plus peas, radishes, pumpkins, and squash especially zucchini. Kennebec is our choice for potatoes. We purchase onion sets, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi from a garden center.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: So many ways to enjoy gardening. Selecting seeds from a seed catalog is but one way.

ANNOUNCEMENT: In April—my newest book available: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (A History of the CCC in Wisconsin.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

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

March 10, 2:00 p.m. Jerry Apps: One-Room School on Wisconsin Public TV.

March 25, 6:00 p.m. Johnson Public Library, Darlington, WI, 131 East Catherine St., Darlington, WI. Never Curse the Rain.

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)
.The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. (Preorder, www.jerryapps.com)







Saturday, February 23, 2019

Snow, Snow, Snow


It’s been a winter for stories. Snow. More snow. Then another 12 inches to top what has already fallen. The snow piles grow to the point that we wish for longer handles on the snow shovels—and more liniment for sore backs.

I’m reminded of the snowy days of my youth, when we walked a mile to the country school. One winter day while we were in school, a blizzard blew in, cutting visibility to zero and piling up snow beyond knee deep in little time at all. By three p.m., the fathers began arriving, walking of course because no one drove much in those days. The dads gathered around the big wood burning stove in back of the school, warming up and sharing snow stories of their youth. They had come to school to accompany their kids home, to make sure they didn’t get lost in the blizzard.

My little brothers and I only had a mile to walk—some of the kids had more than two miles. At four o’clock, when school ended for the day, we set out for home. Pa made sure we were, as was said in those days, “all bundled up” as we headed north. Pa wearing his six buckle boots walked first, making a trail, making sure we continued heading in the right direction through the driving snow. Brother Darrel followed in his tracks, then brother Donald, and I brought up the rear—to make sure everyone kept going, and nobody got lost.
Winter stories are never forgotten.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Winter in the north demands respect. Sometimes we forget.

Announcement: In April—my newest book available: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin: Nature’s Army at Work. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (A History of the CCC in Wisconsin.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

March 3, 1:00 p.m. McFarland Historical Society, McFarland Municipal Bldg. Topic: Simple Things: Lessons 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 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)