Friday, March 05, 2021

Watching and Listening to the Snow Melt

 





I was talking to a fellow old-timer the other day and I asked him what he was doing.  His answer: “I’m watching the snow melt.” I had to fess up that I’d been doing that as well.

As a kid, I always looked forward to the first snow in fall, and I was just as excited to see the snowmelt, even though it meant a lot of spring work was just on the horizon. Beyond watching the snow melt, I liked to listen to it melt.  A 20-acre field east of the farmstead on the home farm had a rather steep hill with a gulley.  Over the years, dad filled the gulley with stones that he picked from the field. The most beautiful sound was that of meltwater gurgling over the stones as the snow melted. I would often walk out there to hear what I called “Nature’s music.”

Each spring as the snow melted, it created a little stream of meltwater that ran between the house and the barn.  One year, Dad made a little waterwheel out of a cedar shingle. He placed it on the meltwater stream.  In the morning, the little waterwheel didn’t move.  By mid-afternoon on a warm, sunny day, the little waterwheel would turn rapidly, making a “flip, flip” sound that I remember so well to this day. We knew that when the waterwheel stropped turning for good, that spring work was just around the corner.

Oh, the smells, sights and sounds of spring.  Nature in all its glory.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: What fun it is to both watch and listen to the snow melt.

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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 live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 


Friday, February 26, 2021

Old Barns Attract Many

 



As a boy growing up on a small dairy farm in central Wisconsin, I spent many hours in a barn.  At the time, I was not especially attracted to the place, but I did appreciate how warm it was on  below-zero mornings compared to our cold and drafty farmhouse.  I’d come to tolerate milking cows by hand—the up-side was being able to chat with my dad, who was usually milking a cow nearby. 

Another fond memory was on a rainy day in July, crawling up into the haymow recently stacked with fresh-cut alfalfa and clover and listen to the beat of the raindrops on the barn roof. The combination of the smell of fresh hay and the sound of rain on the roof is a memory that has always been with me.

At the encouragement of others, I wrote Barns of Wisconsin, which was published in 1977.  Much to my surprise, it sold well.  The book has never been out of print.  A revised edition, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society press came out in 2010.  The publisher described the new edition this way:

Featuring more than 100 stunning full-color photographs by Steve Apps, plus dozens of historic images, "Barns of Wisconsin" illuminates a vanishing way of life. . .. "Barns of Wisconsin" captures both the iconic and the unique, including historic and noteworthy barns, and discusses the disappearance of barns from our landscape and preservation efforts to save these important symbols of American agriculture.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The barns of Wisconsin are history books in red paint, sociology with gable roofs, theology with lightning rods.

UPCOMING EVENT:

March 4, 7:00 p.m. PBS Wisconsin, watch Jerry Apps: A Farm Story

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, including Barns of Wisconsin, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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 live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 


Friday, February 19, 2021

Thoughts of Spring

 


After twelve straight days of below zero mornings, more in other parts of Wisconsin, the temperature is finally climbing, with a prediction of some above freezing days.  I remember so well when I was a kid, days similar to what we just experienced.  I also remember the first thaw when the eaves on the barn roof began dripping.

My Dad would say, “I can smell spring this morning.”  And it did feel different as I trotted out to the barn for the morning chores.  Rather than thinking about keeping warm, keeping the woodstoves going in the house, the pumphouse and the potato cellar, and shoveling snow, I could think about spring. 

Spring meant gardening.  On the farm, we always had a huge vegetable garden.   I still have a large garden at my farm.  These days, my kids, far from being kids anymore, have taken over the garden work—the planting, hoeing, rototilling, and harvesting.  They bought a folding rocking chair for me with a sign on the back that reads, “Senior Supervisor.”

I am in charge of what gets planted where, what gets planted next to each other and what doesn’t.  When to plant.  Peas, lettuce,



and radishes in the ground as soon as it can be worked.  No vining crops until the soil warms.  Things I learned from more than 60 years of gardening. 

As I look out the window, with the snow still piled high, I am looking ahead.  Looking ahead to once more feeling the sun on my back, listening to bird song in the background, and watching my kids once more bring the garden to life.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Thoughts of spring bring happy thoughts of gardening.

UPCOMING EVENT: Sunday, February 21.

 Register now for PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo (Feb. 20-21) Natasha  Kassulke and I will be sharing “Setting the Stage for Successful Gardening” from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 21.

Register Wisconsin Garden & Landscape Expo (wigardenexpo.com)

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, including Garden Wisdom,  go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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 live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Cold. Cold. Cold

 


One of my dad’s favorite sayings, as the days in winter got a bit longer, and nights a little shorter, “As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens.”  That surely fits this winter.  December and January, mild.  Early February, mild. Then wham, the temperate dips below zero, sometimes fifteen and twenty below, and barely climbs into the single digits plus.  And it goes on for days.  Not just a day or two without a warmup, but days on end.

I think back to when I was a kid attending a one-room school, and walking a mile to get there.  There were weeks when the temperature each morning was below zero, sometimes twenty, even thirty, and more below.  And yet we walked to school each day, as the country school, no matter how cold or how much snow, always remained open.

I wore layers of clothing—long woolen underwear, two pairs of overalls, heavy wool socks, a wool shirt, a wool mackinaw jacket, wool mittens, a cap with fur earlaps, and a wool scarf that my grandmother had knitted.   My mother wrapped the scarf around my head several times so only my eyes were not covered.

Arriving at school, which was heated with a wood stove, on below-zero


mornings, we all sat around the stove to do our lessons.  The front of the school was freezing cold.

On the walk home, not quite as cold, I looked forward to my mother’s woodstove cooking.  She always had something special on those cold days—homemade bread, vegetable soup.  As I think about it today, I can still remember those wonderful smells coming from our farm kitchen.  For a little while, I forgot how cold it was.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Below zero temperatures must be respected.

UPCOMING EVENT: Sunday, February 21.

 Register now for PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo (Feb. 20-21) Natasha  Kassulke and I will be sharing “Setting the Stage for Successful Gardening” from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 21.

Register Wisconsin Garden & Landscape Expo (wigardenexpo.com)

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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 live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, February 05, 2021

The Quiet Season

 




On this wintery day here is something from my book, The Quiet Season:

 Winter is

a quiet season, when nature rests:

the trees and the grasses,

the wildflowers and the birds,

the animals and the pond creatures.

Winter is a time for endings and a time for beginnings.

A time to regroup and a time to reconsider.

A time to reflect and a time to revise.

A time to evaluate and a time to plan for the morrow.

Winter is a season of great beauty,

blacks and whites and grays

and a sprinkling of green from the pines,

the firs and the spruces that dot the northern regions.

Winter is a season of subtle shapes with few sharp edges

as snow blankets the land with a soft and curving cover.

Winter is a season of subtle sounds:

the almost imperceptible sound of snowflakes falling,

the rustling of bare tree branches caressed by a winter breeze,

the quiet dripping of meltwater from a farmhouse roof.

Winter is a time to listen for the silence,

when the cold tightens its grip,

turning breath into clouds and thickening the ice on the lakes,

when snow cover muffles all sound.

Winter is like a great river,

always the same but constantly changing,

each winter resembling the one before,

but each like no other.

Winter is a season that demands respect,

insists on it.

It is a season that refuses to be ignored.

Winter is a season that never leaves us.

It is forever a part of who we are,

what we believe and what we value,

and how we see the world.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Winter is so much more than snow and cold.

 

UPCOMING EVENT: Sunday, February 21.

 Register now for PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo (Feb. 20-21) Natasha  Kassulke and I will be sharing “Setting the Stage for Successful Gardening” from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 21.

Register Wisconsin Garden & Landscape Expo (wigardenexpo.com)

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, including The Quiet Season: Remembering Country Winters, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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


Friday, January 29, 2021

Garden Seed Ordering Time

 



On a recent snowy, Sunday afternoon, surrounded by seed catalogs, my daughter-in-law, Natasha, and I planned our 2021 garden.  This is an annual event that we have done for years—a way to thumb our nose at winter and visit spring—at least for an afternoon.

 Our first task, what seed varieties did well in 2020, which was not an especially good gardening year. And then we began listing varieties to order. First, tomatoes:  The old standbys—Better Boy, and Wisconsin 55 made the new list.  But each year we try something new. Sweet Million Hybrid Tomato, doesn’t that sound like a winner?  We ordered it.  Another new tomato for us, Plum Regal Hybrid—it’s got a good name. And for an early tomato, we are trying Ultimate Opener Hybrid Tomato—57 days.

 We like snap beans, and Top Crop has been a favorite for years.  Last year we added a purple snap bean that turns green when cooked.  A favorite, especially for the grand kids.  So, Velour Purple French Bush bean made the list.  Black Beauty Zucchini Squash made the list.  So did Detroit Red Beets, Dwarf Blue Curled Vates Kale, Napoli Hybrid Carrots, and Peaches and Cream Sweet Corn, along with Sugar Snap Peas, Avalanche Snow Peas, and a blend of Looseleaf Lettuce varieties.   

Cucumbers: this year we are trying Fanfare Hybrid Cucumber, Goliath Hybrid Cucumber, and Bush Champion.  Radishes: Royal Purple made the list, so did Roxanne Hybrid.

Squash and pumpkins: Autumn Frost Hybrid Squash, Honeybaby Hybrid Squash, Table Ace Hybrid Acorn Squash, and Cargo Hybrid Pumpkin. 

 Finally, the special seeds: Tiger Eye Hybrid Sunflowers, and Mixed Zahara Zinnia, to add an extra little color to our garden.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Ordering garden seeds can lift one’s spirits on a wintery day.

UPCOMING EVENT: Sunday, February 21.

 Register now for PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo (Feb. 20-21)  Natasha  Kassulke and I will be sharing “Setting the Stage for Successful gardening” from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 21.

Register Wisconsin Garden & Landscape Expo (wigardenexpo.com)

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, including Garden Wisdom go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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 live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

 

 

 

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Snow Time Can Be Fun Time

 



With much of the upper Midwest covered by a decent coat of snow, the other day I got to thinking about what people do with snow.  There is a small group who curse it and wish it would go away—those able to do so, go to Florida or Arizona for winter.

Those of us who I consider true northerners have a different attitude. (The only time I spent a winter with no snow was when I was in the army, stationed at Fort Eustis, VA in 1956.) Today, true northerners enjoy snowmobiling along with downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as snowshoeing, or merely hiking in the winter wonderland and perhaps snapping a photo or two.

 When I was a kid on the farm, we shoveled lots of snow—paths from the house to the chicken house.  A path from the chicken house to the granary.  A path from the house to the barn, A path from the barn to the pump/milk house, and several more. A major shoveling challenge was the driveway from the country road to the pump/milk house so the milk hauler could pick up our several cans of milk each morning.

 Skiing, sledding, making snowmen, building snow forts, organizing snowball fights at the country school—these are fun snow memories. Kids today continue to have fun with snow.  The photo is of a snow fort that kids on our block in Madison built over several days.  It’s as tall as their house.  And what fun they had building it. 

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: So many memories of snow and how we enjoyed it as kids.

UPCOMING EVENT:  Sunday February, 21.

 Register now for PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo (Feb. 20-21)  Natasha  Kassulke and I will be sharing “Setting the Stage for Successful gardening” from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 21.

Register Wisconsin Garden & Landscape Expo (wigardenexpo.com)

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS: DVDs

To purchase Jerry’s books, several them about Wisconsin rural history, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or 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.  You also order Jerry’s DVDs from the Patterson Memorial Library, including Farm Story and Farm Winter With Jerry Apps.
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.