In this new edition of his classic book, award-winning author Jerry Apps shares a unique perspective on the great barns of rural Wisconsin. Digging deep as both an enthusiast and a farmer, Apps reaps a story of change: from the earliest pioneer structures to the low steel buildings of modern dairy farms, barns have adapted to meet the needs of each generation. They’ve housed wheat, tobacco, potatoes, and dairy cows, and they display the optimism, ingenuity, hard work, and practicality of the people who tend land and livestock.
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. The book explores myriad barn designs—from rectangular to round, from gable roof to gambrel, from fieldstone to wood—always with an eye to the history and craftsmanship of the Norwegians, Germans, Swiss, Finns, and others who built and used them. 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.
Blue Shadows Farm: A Novel
Jerry Apps University of Wisconsin Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3601.P67B58 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Fans of Jerry Apps will delight in his latest novel, Blue Shadows Farm, which follows the intriguing family story of three generations on a Wisconsin farm.
Silas Starkweather, a Civil War veteran, is drawn to Wisconsin and homesteads 160 acres in Ames County, where he is known as the mysterious farmer forever digging holes. After years of hardship and toil, however, Silas develops a commitment to farming his land and respect for his new community. When Silas’s son Abe inherits Blue Shadows Farm he chooses to keep the land out of reluctant necessity, distilling and distributing “purified corn water” throughout Prohibition and the Great Depression in order to stay solvent. Abe’s daughter, Emma, willingly takes over the farm after her mother’s death. Emma’s love for this place inspires her to open the farm to school-children and families who share her respect for it. As she considers selling the land, Emma is confronted with a difficult question—who, through thick and thin, will care for Blue Shadows Farm as her family has done for over a century? In the midst of a controversy that disrupts the entire community, Emma looks into her family’s past to help her make crucial decisions about the future of its land.
Through the story of the Starkweather family’s changing fortunes, and each generation’s very different relationship with the farm and the land, Blue Shadows Farm is in some ways the narrative of all farmers and the increasingly difficult challenges they face as committed stewards of the land.
Breweries of Wisconsin
Jerry Apps University of Wisconsin Press, 2005 Library of Congress TP573.U6A66 2005 | Dewey Decimal 338.761663409776
The story of the Dairy State’s other major industry—beer! From the immigrants who started brewing here during territorial days to the modern industrial giants, this is the history, the folklore, the architecture, the advertising, and the characters that made Wisconsin the nation’s brewing leader. Updated with the latest trends on the Wisconsin brewing scene.
"Apps adeptly combines diligent scholarship with fascinating anecdotes, vividly portraying brewmasters, beer barons, saloonkeepers, and corporate raiders. All this plus color reproductions of popular beer labels and a detailed recipe for home brew."—Wisconsin Magazine of History
"In a highly readable style Apps links together ethnic influence, agriculture, geography, natural resources, meteorology, changing technology, and transportation to explore some of the mystique, romance and folklore associated with beer from antiquity to the present day in Wisconsin."—The Brewers Bulletin
Have you ever wondered why Swiss cheese has holes? You'll find out in this story about a Swiss cheese maker named Casper Jaggi. Casper Jaggi was only six years old when his father taught him how to make cheese in the Swiss Alps. In 1913, Jaggi left Switzerland in search of new opportunities in the United States. Like many other Swiss, he settled in Green County, Wisconsin, where the rolling hills dotted with grazing cows reminded him of home. And soon, he'd be turning cow's milk into cheese, just as he did in Switzerland.
The book opens the doors to Jaggi's Brodhead Swiss Cheese Factory - largest factory of its kind in Wisconsin in the 1950s. Archival photos help illustrate, step-by-step, the process Jaggi and his workers followed to transform 2,000 pounds of milk in a copper kettle into a 200-pound wheel of Swiss cheese.
Jaggi was one of the many European immigrants who helped establish Wisconsin's reputation for delicious cheese. The artisan cheese makers crafting award-winning cheeses today are continuing this rich tradition in America's Dairyland.
Wisconsin has not always been the dairy state, but cheese is a notable part of its heritage. Capturing the voices of farmers, milk haulers, makers, and graders, Jerry Apps provides a rich view into the history of cheese in the state, beginning with its humble origins in farmhouse kitchens. As he explores the extraordinary diversity of cheese products, he peppers his lively narrative with obscure lore.
In this updated edition of a classic, Apps examines tumultuous changes in the business over the past twenty years, including the impacts of corporate megafarms and the rise of artisanal producers. Vivid historical photographs and striking portraits of modern family-operated factories reveal the delicate balance between art and science that goes into the process of turning ordinary milk into a wide variety of flavors, from the ubiquitous cheddar to sublime delicacies. Through these stories, we can come to better appreciate the remarkable farmers and producers that shaped cheesemaking into the thriving industry it is today.
Between 1933 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps, a popular New Deal relief program, was at work across America. During the Great Depression, young men lived in rustic CCC camps planting trees, cutting trails, and reversing the effects of soil erosion. In his latest book, acclaimed environmental writer Jerry Apps presents the first comprehensive history of the CCC in Wisconsin. Apps guides readers around the state, from the Northwoods to the Driftless Area, creating a map of where and how more than 125 CCC camps left indelible marks on the landscape. Captured in rich detail as well are the voices of the CCC boys who by preserving Wisconsin’s natural beauty not only discovered purpose in their labor, but founded an enduring legacy of environmental stewardship.
Cold as Thunder
Jerry Apps University of Wisconsin Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3601.P67C65 2018 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Since the Eagle Party took power in the United States, all schools and public utilities have been privatized, churches and libraries closed, and independent news media shut down. Drones buzz overhead in constant surveillance of the populace, and the open internet has been replaced by the network of the New Society Corporation. Environmental degradation and unchecked climate change have brought raging wildfires to the Western states and disastrous flooding to Eastern coastal regions.
In the Midwest, a massive storm sends Lake Michigan surging over the Door County peninsula, and thousands of refugees flee inland. In the midst of this apocalypse, a resourceful band of Wisconsin sixty-somethings calling themselves the Oldsters lays secret plans to fight the ruling regime's propaganda and show people how to think for themselves.
Cranberry Red: A Novel
Jerry Apps University of Wisconsin Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS3601.P67C73 2010 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
The fourth novel in Jerry Apps’s Ames County series, Cranberry Red brings the story into the present, portraying the challenges of agriculture in the twenty-first century.
As the novel opens, Ben Wesley has lost his job as agricultural agent for Ames County. He is soon hired as a research application specialist for Osborne University, a for-profit institution that has developed “Cranberry Red,” a new chemical that promises not only to improve cranberry crop yields but also to endow the fruits with the power to prevent heart disease, reduce brain damage from strokes, and ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Ben must promote the new product to cranberry growers in Ames County and beyond, but he worries whether the promised results are credible. Was Cranberry Red rushed to market?
When the chemical does all that the university claims it will do, Ben is relieved . . . until disturbing side effects emerge. Can he criticize Cranberry Red and safeguard farmers and consumers without losing his job, or will Ben’s honesty get him fired while his community continues to get sicker?
Jerry Apps details the virtues and hardships of rural living.
“Do your chores without complaining. Show up on time. Do every job well. Always try to do better. Never stop learning. Next year will be better. Care for others, especially those who have less than you. Accept those who are different from you. Love the land.”
In this paperback edition of a beloved Jerry Apps classic, the rural historian captures the heart and soul of life in rural America. Inspired by his mother’s farm account books—in which she meticulously recorded every farm purchase—Jerry chronicles life on a small farm during and after World War II. Featuring a new introduction exclusive to this 2nd edition, Every Farm Tells a Story reminds us that, while our family farms are shrinking in number, the values learned there remain deeply woven in our cultural heritage.
Step into the garden with writer and rural historian Jerry Apps. In this treasure trove of tips, recollections, and recipes, Jerry combines his hard-earned advice for garden success with a discussion of how tending a garden leads to a deeper understanding of nature and the land. From planning and planting to fending off critters and weeds, he walks us through the gardening year, imbuing his story with humor and passion and once again reminding us that working even a small piece of land provides many rewards.
Gardening has always been a group endeavor for the Apps family. In Garden Wisdom, readers will learn gardening basics along with Jerry’s grandchildren as they become a new generation of gardeners. They’ll devour Ruth’s recipes for preparing and preserving fresh garden veggies—from refrigerator pickles to rutabaga pudding. And they’ll savor son Steve’s beautiful color photographs, capturing the bounty of the family garden throughout the growing season.
When the Alstage Mining Company proposes a frac sand mine in the small Ames County village of Link Lake, events quickly escalate to a crisis. Business leader Marilyn Jones of the Link Lake Economic Development Council heads the pro-mine forces, citing needed jobs and income for the county. Octogenarian Emily Higgins and other Link Lake Historical Society members are aghast at the proposed mine location in the community park, where a huge and ancient bur oak—the historic Trail Marker Oak—has stood since it pointed the way along an old Menominee trail. Reluctantly caught in the middle of the fray is Ambrose Adler, a reclusive, retired farmer with a secret.
Soon the fracas over frac sand attracts some national attention, including that of Stony Field, the pen name of a nationally syndicated columnist. Will the village board vote to solve their budget problems with a cut of the mining profits? Will the mine create real jobs for local folks? Will Stony Field come to the village to lead protests against the mine? And will defenders of the Trail Marker Oak literally draw a battle line in the sand?
Before tractors or steam engines arrived on the farm, horses did all the heavy work. From spring plowing to the fall harvest, the mighty draft horse powered farms across the Midwest. Relied upon to complete a multitude of tasks, including towing threshing machines and plows, hauling milk to the local cheese factory, and pulling the family buggy to church each Sunday, these animals were at the center of farm life, cementing the bond between human and horse.
Horse-Drawn Days: A Century of Farming with Horses captures stories of rural life at a time when a team of horses was a vital part of the farm family. Author Jerry Apps pairs lively historic narrative with reminiscences about his boyhood on the family farm in Wisconsin to paint a vivid picture of a bygone time. Featuring fascinating historic photos, ads, and posters, plus contemporary color photos of working horses today, Horse-Drawn Days evokes the majesty of these animals and illuminates the horse’s role in our country’s early history and our rural heritage.
The year is 1955. Andy Meyer, a young farmer, manages the pickle factory in Link Lake, a rural town where the farms are small, the conversation is meandering, and the feeling is distinctly Midwestern. Workers sort, weigh, and dump cucumbers into huge vats where the pickles cure, providing a livelihood to local farmers. But the H. H. Harlow Pickle Company has appeared in town, using heavy-handed tactics to force family farmers to either farm the Harlow way or lose their biggest customer—and, possibly, their land. Andy, himself the owner of a half-acre pickle patch, works part-time for the Harlow Company, a conflict that places him between the family farm and the big corporation. As he sees how Harlow begins to change the rural community and the lives of its people, Andy must make personal, ethical, and life-changing decisions.
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Outstanding Book, selected by the Public Library Association
The Land Still Lives
Jerry Apps Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2019 Library of Congress S521.5.W6A66 2019 | Dewey Decimal 630.9775
“Apps is a man of ideas who is sensitive to the touch, the smells, and the feel of doing things by hand, today and a hundred years ago.”—from the foreword by Senator Gaylord Nelson
Originally published in 1970, The Land Still Lives is the first book by Wisconsin’s greatest rural philosopher, Jerry Apps. Written when he was still a young agriculture professor at the University of Wisconsin, The Land Still Lives was readers’ first introduction to Jerry’s farm in central Wisconsin, called Roshara, and the surrounding community of Skunk’s Hollow. This special 50th-anniversary edition features a new epilogue, in which Jerry revisits his philosophy of caring for the land so it in turn will care for us. This is vintage Apps, essential reading for Jerry’s legions of fans—and for all who, like Jerry, wish “to develop a relationship with nature and all its mystery and wonder.”
Limping through Life
A Farm Boy’s Polio Memoir
“Families throughout the United States lived in fear of polio throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, and now the disease had come to our farm. I can still remember that short winter day and the chilly night when I first showed symptoms. My life would never be the same.”
—from the Introduction
Polio was epidemic in the United States starting in 1916. By the 1930s, quarantines and school closings were becoming common, as isolation was one of the only ways to fight the disease. The Sauk vaccine was not available until 1955; in that year, Wisconsin’s Fox River valley had more polio cases per capita than anywhere in the United States. In his most personal book, Jerry Apps, who contracted polio at age twelve, reveals how the disease affected him physically and emotionally, profoundly influencing his education, military service, and family life and setting him on the path to becoming a professional writer.
A hardworking farm kid who loved playing softball, young Jerry Apps would have to make many adjustments and meet many challenges after that winter night he was stricken with a debilitating, sometimes fatal illness. In Limping through Life he explores the ways his world changed after polio and pays tribute to those family members, teachers, and friends who helped him along the way.
Jerry App’s farm stories open the barn door to understanding life in the country.
“Even with the all the hard work, we had more time (perhaps we took more time) to enjoy what was all around us: nights filled with starlight, days with clear blue skies and puffy clouds. Wonderful smells everywhere—fresh mown hay, wildflowers, and apple blossoms. Interesting sounds—the rumble of distant thunder, an owl calling in the woods, a flock of Canada geese winging over in the fall.”
In this paperback edition of a beloved Jerry Apps classic, the rural historian tells stories from his childhood days on a small central Wisconsin dairy farm in the 1930s and 1950s. From a January morning memory of pancakes piled high after chores, to a June day spent learning to ride a pony named Ginger, Jerry moves through the turn of the seasons and teaches gentle lessons about life on the farm. With recipes associated with each month and a new introduction exclusive to this 2nd edition, Living a Country Year celebrates the rhythms of rural life with warmth and humor.
Jerry Apps explores the history 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, Apps takes readers back through 178 years of Wisconsin fair history, covering everything from horsepulling and calf-showing contests to exhibit judging to the roar of gasoline engines powering the midway rides. He evokes the sights and sounds of fairs through the ages while digging in to the political and social forces that shaped the fair into an icon of our rural heritage. Illustrated with vintage and modern photos and 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.
In this combination memoir and craft book, award-winning author Jerry Apps shares the next phase in his life story begun in Limping through Life and Once a Professor. Beginning with a boyhood surrounded by storytellers, Jerry takes readers along on his path to becoming one of the Midwest’s best-known and most revered writers. In characteristic no-nonsense style, he shares the joys, disappointments, and frustrations of the writing life and describes the genesis and creation of many of his best-known books. In recounting his nearly six-decade writing career, Jerry provides an insider’s view into the creative process, delving into sources for ideas, research strategies, and guidelines and essential tools for writing. Along the way he recalls his relationships with publishers, editors, TV producers, librarians, booksellers, and others and shares a scrapbook’s worth of stories—some funny, some heartwarming, a few of them harrowing—from the road. A book for book lovers!
Growing up on the family farm, Jerry Apps learned from a young age that water was precious. The farm had no running water, a windmill pumped drinking water for the small herd of cattle, and Jerry and his brothers hauled bucket after bucket of water for the family’s use. A weekly bath was considered sufficient. And when it rained, it was cause for celebration. Indeed, if ever the Apps boys complained about a rainy day spoiling their plans, their father admonished, "Never curse the rain," for the family’s very livelihood depended upon it.
In Never Curse the Rain, Jerry shares his memories of water, from its importance to his family’s crops and cattle to its many recreational uses—fishing trips, canoe journeys, and the simple pleasures of an afternoon spent dreaming in the haymow as rain patters on the barn roof. Water is still a touchstone in Jerry’s life, and he explores the ways he’s found it helpful in soothing a troubled mind or releasing creativity. He also discusses his concerns about the future of water and ensuring we always have enough. For, as Jerry writes, "Water is one of the most precious things on this planet, necessary for all life, and we must do everything we can to protect it."
Old Farm: A History
Jerry Apps Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013 Library of Congress F587.W35A77 2008 | Dewey Decimal 977.55704
One of the Midwest's best-loved authors tells the story of his land, from the last great glacier that dug out its valleys and formed its hills, to his own family's 40 year relationship with the beloved farm they call Roshara. In this quiet but epic tale, Apps describes the Native Americans who lived on the land for hundreds of years, tapping the maple trees and fishing the streams and lakes, as well as the first white settlers who tilled its sandy acres, plowing the native grasses that grew taller than their teams of oxen. For all their work, the farm proved tough to tame. Hardscrabble farming methods and hard luck often brought failure.
"From land that provided only a marginal living for its early owners, this place we call Roshara has provided much for my family and me," writes Apps. He and his wife and their children have cared for the farm not so much to make a living as to enhance their lives. Apps chronicles the family's efforts — always earnest, if sometimes ill-advised — to restore an old granary into living space, develop a productive vegetable garden, manage the woodlots, reestablish a prairie, and enjoy nature's sounds and silences. Breathtakingly beautiful color photographs by Apps's son, Steve (a professional photographer), highlight the ever-changing beauty of the land in every season and hint at the spiritual gifts that are the true bounty this family reaps from Roshara.
Central to Apps' work is his belief that the land is something to cherish and revere. Like Aldo Leopold before him, Apps sounds an inspirational call to readers to preserve wild and rural places, leaving them in better condition than we found them for future generations.
When Jerry Apps was growing up on a Wisconsin farm in the 1930s and 1940s, times were tough. Yet most folks living on farms had plenty to eat. Preparing food from scratch was just the way things were done, and people knew what was in their food and where it came from. Delicious meals were at the center of every family and social affair, whether it be a threshing-day dinner with all the neighbors, the end-of-school-year picnic, or just a hearty supper after chores were done. As Jerry writes, "For me food will always be associated with times of good eating, storytelling, laughter, and good-hearted fun."
Inspired by the dishes made by his mother, Eleanor, and featuring recipes found in her well-worn recipe box, Jerry and his daughter, Susan, take us on a culinary tour of life on the farm during the Depression and World War II. Seasoned with personal stories, menus, and family photos, Old Farm Country Cookbook recalls a time when electricity had not yet found its way to the farm, when making sauerkraut was a family endeavor, and when homemade ice cream tasted better than anything you could buy at the store.
“I never wanted to be a professor,” writes Jerry Apps in the introduction to Once a Professor. Yet a series of unexpected events and unplanned experiences put him on an unlikely path—and led to a thirty-eight-year career at the University of Wisconsin.
In this continuation of the Apps life story begun in his childhood memoir Limping through Life, Wisconsin’s celebrated rural storyteller shares stories from his years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1957 to 1995, when he left the university to lecture and write fulltime. During those years Apps experienced the turmoil of protests and riots at the UW in the 1960s, the struggles of the tenure process and faculty governance, and the ever-present pressure to secure funding for academic research and programs.
Through it all, the award-winning writer honed a personal philosophy of education—one that values critical thinking, nontraditional teaching approaches, and hands-on experiences outside of the classroom. Colorful characters, personal photos, and journal entries from the era enrich this account of an unexpected campus career.
The Quiet Season
Remembering Country Winters
“As I think back to the days of my childhood, the frost-covered windows in my bedroom,
the frigid walks to the country school, the excitement of a blizzard, and a hundred other memories, I realize that these experiences left an indelible mark on me and made me who I am today.”—From the Introduction
Jerry Apps recalls winters growing up on a farm in central Wisconsin during the latter years of the Depression and through World War II. Before electricity came to this part of Waushara County, farmers milked cows by hand with the light of a kerosene lantern, woodstoves heated the drafty farm homes, and “making wood” was a major part of every winter’s work. The children in Jerry’s rural community walked to a country school that was heated with a woodstove and had no indoor plumbing. Wisconsin winters then were a time of reflection, of planning for next year, and of families drawing together. Jerry describes how winter influenced farm families and suggests that those of us who grow up with harsh northern winters are profoundly affected in ways we often are not aware.
The Ringling Brothers began their business under the most modest of circumstances and through hard work, business savvy, and some luck created the largest, most famous circus in the world. They became wealthy men, one 50 cent admission ticket at a time.
Ringlingville USA chronicles the brothers' journey from immigrant poverty to enduring glory as the kings of the circus world. The Ringlings and their circus were last studied in depth over four decades ago. Now, for the first time, the brothers' detailed financial records and personal correspondence are available to researchers. Jerry Apps weaves together that information with newspaper accounts, oral histories, colorful anecdotes, and stunning circus ephemera and photos, many never before been published, to illuminate the importance of the Ringlings' accomplishments. He describes how the Ringling Brothers confronted the challenges of taxation, war, economic pressure, changing technology, and personal sorrows to find their place in history. The brothers emerge as complex characters whose ambition, imagination, and pure hucksterism fueled the phenomenon that was the Ringling Brothers' Circus.
A photographic diary of a small Midwestern farm and the family who’ve made it their home
In Roshara Journal, father-and-son team Jerry and Steve Apps share the monthly happenings at their family’s farm in central Wisconsin. Featuring Steve’s stunning photos and fifty years of Jerry’s journal entries, Roshara Journal captures the changes—both from month to month and over the decades—on the landscape and farmstead.
The Apps family has owned Roshara since 1966. There they nurture a prairie restoration and pine plantation, maintain a large garden that feeds three generations, observe wildlife species by the dozens, and support a population of endangered butterflies. In documenting life on this piece of land, Jerry and Steve remind us how, despite the pace and challenges of modern life, the seasons continue to influence our lives in ways large and small. Jerry explains that his journal entries become much more than mere observations: "It seems that when I write about something—a bur oak tree, for example—that old tree becomes a part of me. . . . Writing takes me to a place that goes beyond observation and understanding, a place filled with feeling and meaning."
In the tradition of Bernd Heinrich in Maine, Barry Lopez in the Canadian Arctic, and Aldo Leopold just an hour down the road in Baraboo, Jerry and Steve Apps combine observation, experience, and reflection to tell a profound story about one place in the world.
Jerry Apps University of Wisconsin Press, 2021 Library of Congress PS3601.P67S48 2021 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
No matter what Reader’s Digest would have you believe, C.J. Anderson wants you to know he’s no hero. Broken and reeling from the untimely death of his parents, the young vet with PTSD begins working a small farm plot at the suggestion of his grandfather. As the land yields its first crops, C.J. begins to heal and contacts a few wounded Army friends to join him in Settlers Valley. They build a collective of sustainable farmers who called themselves the Back to the Land Veterans. Their progressive ideas and neighborly spirit are welcome by many in the tight-knit town. But others would much rather things stay exactly the way they were, thank you very much. When a series of tragic events hits the valley, will neighbors come together, or will the town fall apart?
In this eminently readable story, Jerry Apps delves into the heart of small-town America. Reckoning with timely problems and opinions that divide us, he shows us the power in restoring our relationships with nature and our communities.
In this collection of thoughtful essays, Jerry Apps reflects on the “simple things” that made up everyday life on the farm—an old cedar fencepost, Fanny the farm dog, the trusty tools used for farmwork, the kerosene lantern the family gathered around each morning and evening. As he holds each item up to the light for a closer look, he plumbs his memories for the deeper meanings of these objects, sharing the values instilled in him during his rural boyhood in the 1940s and 1950s. He concludes that people who had the opportunity to grow up on family farms gained useful skills, important knowledge, and lifelong values that serve them well throughout their lives. Apps captures and shares those things for people who remember them and those who never had the benefit of living on a small farm.
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.
This new addition to the Badger Biography series for young readers features the story of the young Ringling brothers of circus fame. The book tells the inspiring story of the seven sons of German and French immigrants who were guided by their dreams to escape poverty through hard work and ambition. These entrepreneurial brothers moved with their parents to Baraboo, Wisconsin where their fantastic circus adventure began. With no circus experience, the brothers tackled one of the riskiest businesses of the time. Each brother contributed his unique talents to make their enterprise successful. The Ringling Brothers were admired for their technological innovations, strategy and devotion to education. They were also esteemed for their genuine appreciation of their audience.
Plum Falls, New York, 1840s: Dismissed from Harvard Divinity School for his liberal views, Increase Joseph Link arrives home with a heavy heart. He gives up his dream of becoming a minister to settle for life on the farm, until the day he is struck by lightning and hears a voice telling him to rise and speak. Heeding that voice, Increase becomes a preacher, advocating for environmental protection and the end of slavery and war. His growing band of followers calls itself the Standalone Fellowship, and they accompany him on his move west to Wisconsin, to a place of better land and opportunity.
Link Lake, Wisconsin, 1852: Preacher Increase Link and the Standalone Fellowship settle near a lake that they name in his honor. Increase’s gifted tongue calls people to his mission to protect the land: “Unless we take care of the land we shall all perish.” To finance the fellowship activities, Increase sells his special cure-all tonic—fifty cents per bottle!
Inspired by actual events that took place in upstate New York and Wisconsin in the mid-nineteenth century, The Travels of Increase Joseph is the first in Jerry Apps’s series set in fictional Ames County, Wisconsin. The four novels in the series—which also includes In a Pickle, Blue Shadows Farm, and the forthcoming Cranberry Red—all take place around Link Lake at different points in history. They convey Apps’s deep knowledge of rural life and his own concern for land stewardship.
In 1910, when Olaf F. Larson was born to tenant livestock and tobacco farmers in Rock County, Wisconsin, the original barn still stood on the property. It was filled with artifacts of an earlier time—an ox yoke, a grain cradle, a scythe used to cut hay by hand. But Larson came of age in a brave new world of modern inventions—tractors, trucks, combines, airplanes—that would change farming and rural life forever.
When Horses Pulled the Plow is Larson’s account of that rural life in the early twentieth century. He weaves invaluable historical details—including descriptions of farm equipment, crops, and livestock—with wry tales about his family, neighbors, and the one-room schoolhouse he attended, revealing the texture of everyday life in the rural Midwest almost a century ago. This memoir, written by Larson in his ninth decade, provides a wealth of details recalled from an earlier era and an illuminating read for anyone with their own memories of growing up on a farm.
“From the ring of the ax in the woods, to the scream of the saw blade in the mill, to the founding of many of Wisconsin’s communities, Jerry Apps does an outstanding job bringing Wisconsin’s logging and lumbering heritage to life.”—Kerry P. Bloedorn, director, Rhinelander Pioneer Park Historical Complex
For more than half a century, logging, lumber production, and affiliated enterprises in Wisconsin’s Northwoods provided jobs for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites and wealth for many individuals. The industry cut through the lives of nearly every Wisconsin citizen, from an immigrant lumberjack or camp cook in the Chippewa Valley to a Suamico sawmill operator, an Oshkosh factory worker to a Milwaukee banker. When the White Pine Was King tells the stories of the heyday of logging: of lumberjacks and camp cooks, of river drives and deadly log jams, of sawmills and lumber towns and the echo of the ax ringing through the Northwoods as yet another white pine crashed to the ground. He explores the aftermath of the logging era, including efforts to farm the cutover (most of them doomed to fail), successful reforestation work, and the legacy of the lumber and wood products industries, which continue to fuel the state’s economy.
Enhanced with dozens of historic photos, When the White Pine Was King transports readers to the lumber boom era and reveals how the lessons learned in the vast northern forestlands continue to shape the region today.
In these times of technological innovation and fast-paced electronic communication, we often take nature for granted—or even consider it a hindrance to our human endeavors. In Whispers and Shadows: A Naturalist’s Memoir, Jerry Apps explores such topics as the human need for wilderness, rediscovering a sense of wonder, and his father’s advice to “listen for the whispers” and “look in the shadows” to learn nature’s deepest lessons.
Combining his signature lively storytelling and careful observations of nature, Apps draws on a lifetime of experiences, from his earliest years growing up on a central Wisconsin farm to his current ventures as gardener, tree farmer, and steward of wetlands, prairies, and endangered Karner blue butterflies. He also takes inspiration from the writings of Aldo Leopold, Annie Dillard, Henry David Thoreau, Sigurd Olson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Richard Louv, and Rachel Carson. With these eloquent essays, Jerry Apps reminds us to slow down, turn off technology, and allow our senses to reconnect us to the natural world. For it is there, he writes, that “I am able to return to a feeling I had when I was a child, a feeling of having room to stretch my arms without interfering with another person, a feeling of being a small part of something much larger than I was, and I marvel at the idea.”
"I'm embarrassed to say I thought I knew anything substantial about Wisconsin agriculture or its history before I read this book. 'Wisconsin Agriculture' should be required reading in history classes from high school to the collegiate level. It makes me thankful that Jerry Apps has such a sense of commitment to Wisconsin's agricultural heritage--and to getting the story right." --Pam Jahnke, Farm Director, Wisconsin Farm Report Radio
Wisconsin has been a farming state from its very beginnings. And though it's long been known as "the Dairy State," it produces much more than cows, milk, and cheese. In fact, Wisconsin is one of the most diverse agricultural states in the nation.
The story of farming in Wisconsin is rich and diverse as well, and the threads of that story are related and intertwined. In this long-awaited volume, celebrated rural historian Jerry Apps examines everything from the fundamental influences of landscape and weather to complex matters of ethnic and pioneer settlement patterns, changing technology, agricultural research and education, and government regulations and policies. Along with expected topics, such as the cranberry industry and artisan cheesemaking, "Wisconsin Agriculture" delves into beef cattle and dairy goats, fur farming and Christmas trees, maple syrup and honey, and other specialty crops, including ginseng, hemp, cherries, sugar beets, mint, sphagnum moss, flax, and hops. Apps also explores new and rediscovered farming endeavors, from aquaculture to urban farming to beekeeping, and discusses recent political developments, such as the 2014 Farm Bill and its ramifications. And he looks to the future of farming, contemplating questions of ethical growing practices, food safety, sustainability, and the potential effects of climate change.
Featuring first-person accounts from the settlement era to today, along with more than 200 captivating photographs, "Wisconsin Agriculture" breathes life into the facts and figures of 150 years of farming history and provides compelling insights into the state's agricultural past, present, and future.