Friday, August 12, 2022

PICKLE PATCHES Steve Apps Photo

 


In the 1940s and 1950s, just about every farmer in our western Waushara County neighborhood had a pickle patch.  Some were as small as a quarter acre; others were as large as an acre or more.   You could tell the size of farm family by noting the size of their pickle patch, as picking pickles was an entire family project, including all of the kids.

Our city cousins wished to correct our language when they visited the farm and we told them about our pickle patch.  They tried to show their superior knowledge as they said, “These are not pickle patches.  They are cucumber patches.  A cucumber does not become a pickle until it is processed.”

            We continued to call them pickle patches.  From mid-July until early September, if the rains came and warm weather continued, we picked cucumbers two or three times a week.  We picked them in five-gallon buckets and when a bucket was filled, we dumped pickles into a gunny sack. In the evening,  after the milking was done and the cows let out to pasture, we loaded the sacks of pickles into the back of our old 1936 Plymouth and we were off to the pickle factory in Wild Rose.  The H. J. Heinz pickle factory, more correctly called a cucumber salting station, was located across the railroad sidetrack from the E. L. Knoke sawmill.

            Arriving at the pickle factory, we dumped our sacks of pickles into a big green machine that sorted our pickles into five different sizes.  Number ones were the little ones, sometimes called gherkins, and number fives were the big, wrist-size lunkers.   Payment was based on size.  Number ones paid the most money.  Number fives the least.  We waited until the sorter finished, and each size weighed.  After waiting few more minutes, we received a check for our pickles.  The pickle patch provided much needed money for our family.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS; A check in hand at day’s end helped us forget a sore back from several hours of pickle picking.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS

See my book, IN A PICKLE, for information about pickle growing.  Buy it at your local bookstore, or buy online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books. 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, August 05, 2022

Monarch Butterflies in Trouble Photo by Susan Apps Bodilly

 

I have enjoyed watching monarch butterflies flitting about our prairie every year since we began restoring these several acres to prairie grasses, wildflowers


, and a considerable patch of milkweeds.  We began the prairie restoration project in the late 1960s.  Little did I know that the lowly milkweed would become one of the important plants that we have growing there.

I was dismayed to hear, back in July, that the monarch butterfly is now listed as endangered. Its numbers are declining to a point that if the trend continues the monarch will go the way of the passenger pigeon—we will see them no more.

The monarchs we see in Wisconsin migrate each year from their summer home in the north to their winter home in Mexico.  Along its journey north of several thousand miles, it breeds multiple generations of its offspring.  The monarch is the only butterfly to fly south before winter, and return north the following spring like many species of birds.

Why are their numbers decreasing to the point that the beautiful orange and black butterfly has found itself listed as endangered?  A major reason is the disappearance of milkweeds.  In the caterpillar phase, monarchs eat only the leaves of milkweeds.  Milkweeds are disappearing due to droughts, and herbicides used to control weeds in agricultural crops. According to researchers, climate change is also affecting the butterfly’s normal reproduction, and migration.

When I first heard that monarchs had been listed as endangered, my daughter and I made a tour of our prairie.  We counted more than a dozen monarchs flitting about our large patches of milkweed.  But not as many as I have seen in other years.  The monarch is endangered.  It’s time to take some action.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Plant a milkweed.  Save a monarch butterfly.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS

See my book, OLD FARM: A HISTORY, for information about our prairie restoration.  By it  at your local bookstore, or buy online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books. 

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Midsummer Garden Report Jerry Apps Photo



For my vegetable garden friends who enjoy comparing notes with my Roshara garden operations, here is my mid-summer garden report.  The rains have come at just the right time, the hot temperatures have helped more than hindered, and the garden, in the overall, is better than it’s been compared to the past couple growing seasons. Thanks to Steve and Natasha, the garden managers, not a weed is in sight.

 As you will recall, last summer we had a bunny-wipeout.  Those pesky bunnies ate more than I have ever experienced.   This year Steve added a third wire to the garden fence.  The wire, a couple inches off the ground, has done the trick.  Not one bunny has made it inside the garden.  Could be they haven’t tried as they have lots to eat outside the garden.

Sue helped with garden harvest the other day.  She picked a bunch of green beans, several heads of broccoli, more zucchini than she could carry, some beautiful onions, and the first ripe tomatoes of the season.  She also, being a school teacher who knows how to give grades.  She offered the following grades for the garden at this point in mid-season.

Green Beans: A; Broccoli: A; Cucumbers: A; Zucchini: A; Potatoes: B; Onions: A;

 Cabbage: B; Radishes: C; Peas, C-;   Purple Beans: C; Tomatoes: A; Sunflowers: A; Squash: A; Pumpkins: B; Early Sweet Corn: B+;   Late Sweet Corn: C-;    Kale: A; Lettuce: B-; Carrots: B.

This year’s garden is a perfect example of what warm weather and sufficient rain will do for a good garden.  This year’s garden is also an example of when the weather reaches the 90s too early in the season, the cool weather crops such as peas and lettuce suffer.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Each year gardening is the same.  Each year gardening is different.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS

My book, GARDEN WISDOM is available at your local bookstore, or buy online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books. 

 

 

 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Never Curse The Rain Steve Apps Photo

 

NEVER CURSE THE RAIN.  Photo by Steve Apps

“Never curse the rain.”  I’ve never forgotten my father’s words.  On a rather rare, rainy day in summer, when one of my brothers or I would complain that we couldn’t do what we wanted to do, he would say these words.  He meant them, too.  Our sandy, central Wisconsin farm needed all the rain it could get.  Limited rain meant no crops.

The entire family had memories of the dust storms that rolled across western Waushara County in the late 1930s.  I remember them.  The sky was an eerie, reddish color.  The sun not able to peek through the dirty dust that filled the sky from morning to night, and sometimes all night if the wind continued to blow.  The fine, powder-like dust sifted into the house, too.  Sifted under the windows and around the doors.  My mother was forever cleaning dust from the dishes, from the furniture and everywhere else in the house.

            When the rains came, and they did in the 1940s, we once more had crops to feed the cattle and sooth our souls. I will never forget rainy-days in July, after the barn’s hayloft was filled with alfalfa and clover hay.  When the morning chores were done, and the cattle let out to pasture, Pa, my two brothers and I would crawl up into the hay mow and sprawl out on the fresh hay and listen to the rain drops pounding on the barn roof while smelling the wonderful aroma of freshly stored hay.  As I think about it today, it was akin to being in a massive theater with the sound all around us, plus the smell of fresh hay. When the rain let up, it usually meant a time to go fishing.  Another reason I looked forward to a rainy day.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: For most farmers, rain can make the difference between success and failure.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS

My book, NEVER CURSE THE RAIN, is available at your local bookstore, or buy online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books. 

 

 

 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Burdock: Weed and More

 

When is a weed more than a weed?  Yesterday, on my daily walk, I saw a huge burdock plant growing alongside the trail.  Oh, how my father despised burdocks.  He placed that tall, miserable weed, as he called it, right up there with bull thistles, which he hated with a passion.

I stopped to look at the burdock plant (arctium).  Could it be as bad as my dad had me believing? I had watched him pull burdock burs from our farm dog many times.  And cussing the plant with every bur he pulled loose.  I pulled a good many Burdock burs from my pants over the years as well.  But as I looked at the plant, I wondered.  Could such an attractive plant be all bad?  

After a bit of research, I found some interesting information. First burdock is native to both Asia and Europe and was accidently introduced to North America in the 1600s.  Burdock was the inspiration for the hook-and-loop fastener, Velcro.  According to what I read, a Swiss inventor, George de Mestral in the early 1940s, was pulling Burdock burs from his dog, and he was struck by how well the bur worked—and voilĂ ,  he came up with the Velcro fastener.

Burdock, historically has served as a food—both roots and shoots are edible, as well as a medicine. In Asian cuisine, burdock root is usually sauteed in a pan with soy sauce and sesame seed.   Burdock flowers and leaves and be used to make tea.  The roots can also be used as a medicine.  Supposedly, burdock root is a liver detoxifier, aids digestion, is anti-inflammatory, as well as a diuretic and treatment for eczema.

The lowly, often despised, burdock has an interesting positive history—including the inspiration for Velcro that we all take for granted today.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Be careful about dismissing a plant as a weed before you have more of its story.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS


My latest book, MEET ME ON THE MIDWAY: A HISTORY OF WISCONSIN FAIRS, is available later this month. You can order it at
your local bookstore. order online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books. 

 

 

 

Friday, July 08, 2022

Meet Me on the Midway: A History of Wisconsin Fairs

 

With Wisconsin county fairs in full swing, I’m pleased to announce that my newest book, Meet Me on The Midway: A History of Wisconsin Fairs is available in a week or so.  It is the story of fairs from their inception going back thousands of years when a fair was partly a religious celebration, and partly a place for buying and selling goods.   The Romans brought fairs to Northern Europe in 200 BC and the emigrants to this country brought the idea for a fair with them.

  A publicist from The Wisconsin Historical Society Press, my publisher, wrote the following about the book:

            Meet Me on the Midway shares the stories of county and state fairs in Wisconsin.  From their earliest incarnations as livestock exhibitions to today’s multitude of exhibits and demonstrations, grandstand entertainment, games and rides, and competitions of all sorts.  Drawing on his extensive research, interviews, and personal experience as a 4-H leader, county extension agent, fair judge and lifelong fairgoer, Jerry Apps takes readers back through 178 years of Wisconsin fair history, covering everything from horse pulling and calf showing contests to the roar of gasoline engines powering the midway rides.  From cream puffs to carousels, he evokes the sights and sound of fairs through the ages while digging into the political and social forces that shaped the fair into an icon of our rural heritage.  Featuring the voices of exhibitors, judges, volunteers, and visitors, Meet Me on the Midway vividly captures the thrills and cherished memories of these beloved annual gatherings.

I


I think you will enjoy reading this book.  I had a great time researching and writing about these Wisconsin treasurers.  The book brought back many memories.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Let’s celebrate one of rural America’s oldest institutions: The County and State Fairs.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

 MEET ME ON THE MIDWAY: A HISTORY OF WISCONSIN FAIRS, is available later this month. You can buy it at your local bookstore. order online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books. 

 

 

 

Friday, July 01, 2022

Fair Time Herman Apps Ribbons, Steve Apps Photo

 


.

               My dad, Herman Apps, was a great lover of fairs.  He showed cattle at the Waushara County Fair in the 1920s, driving them along a dusty road the eight miles from our farm to the fairgrounds in Wautoma.  He followed his small herd of Holsteins with his team of horses and a wagon load of hay for the cows while they were at the fair.  He slept on the hay load at night.  He won many ribbons and was quite proud of his small herd of cattle.  He also showed his team of horses, but I don’t remember him saying they won any ribbons.

               When I talked with him about the fair, he said it was one of the most fun things of his life.  While he was at the fair, my mother was home taking care of the calves, chickens and hogs, and all the other chores that needed doing on the farm in those days. Not only did Dad enjoy showing his cattle in the show ring along with other Waushara County dairy farmers, of which there were many in those days, he became close friends with his competitors.

               I asked him what else he did at the fair—besides taking care of his cattle and showing them and his horses in the show ring. “Well, I didn’t have much money,” he said.  “But I did wander down the Midway on occasion.  One thing I remember was the sideshow at the fair, which attracted long lines of people.”

               “Tell me more,” I said.

               “There was a small tent with a big sign outside that read ‘See the horse with its head where its tail ought to be, 25 cents.’  Who wouldn’t want to see that?”

               Dad paid his quarter and went inside the dimly lit tent where he saw a big Belgian draft horse backed into its stall. The horse’s tail was against the manager—it’s tail where its head ought to be.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Fairs are for learning, meeting new friends, having fun, and much more.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

 My newest book, MEET ME ON THE MIDWAY: A HISTORY OF WISCONSIN FAIRS, is available later this month. You can buy my books at your local bookstore. order online from the Wisconsin Historical Society bookstore, https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/books, bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering, or contact the librarian: barnard@wildroselibrary.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby, visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books. Order a book from them by calling 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.  If you live in northcentral Wisconsin, stop at the Janke bookstore in Wausau (phone 715-845-9648).  They have a large selection of my books.