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Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days [NOOK Book]


In his bestselling Every Farm Tells a Story, Jerry Apps brought color and detail to the dreams so many of us have of simple rural life. Here, in his signature style, he spins warm-hearted tales about growing up on a Midwestern dairy farm in the 1940s--stories that make his country year our own.

Wearing his hard-earned wisdom lightly, Apps tells a tale for each month of the year in the heart of the country, and adds aphorisms and the occasional...
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Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days

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In his bestselling Every Farm Tells a Story, Jerry Apps brought color and detail to the dreams so many of us have of simple rural life. Here, in his signature style, he spins warm-hearted tales about growing up on a Midwestern dairy farm in the 1940s--stories that make his country year our own.

Wearing his hard-earned wisdom lightly, Apps tells a tale for each month of the year in the heart of the country, and adds aphorisms and the occasional recipe for good measure. We skate with him on a frozen pond on a moonlit night. We watch him drive the hired mans Model T touring car at the age of 10, recover from polio by driving a tractor during disking season, and learn to ride bareback on a pony named Ginger.

Whether shooting off firecrackers on the Fourth of July or suffering through "potato vacation" or overcoming stage fright at the annual Christmas program, Apps is a delightful companion, teaching us a gentle lesson as he learns. By turns witty and profound, his book reaffirms our nations rural heritage.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher, May 25, 2007

“The meat of this new book is lovely stories about being a country boy, contemplation about the ways of nature and sage dollops of advice, sometimes delivered with gentle, dry humor. From his thoughts for May: Do nothing in haste, except running away from an angry dog.”

WisconsinStateJournal (Madison, WI), July 1, 2007

“Jerry Apps, the UW-Madison emeritus agriculture professor, is one of the people who define Wisconsin, not only for those from other states, but also for those of use who are natives.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610600606
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 762,811
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Jerry Apps is a professor emeritus of agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     8
Introduction     10
January: Memories of Winter     14
Thoughts     24
Ma's Chili     26
February: Grandpa Witt     30
Grandma's Molasses Cookies     38
Thoughts     39
March: The Old Mill     46
Kidney Bean and Hamburger Casserole     55
Thoughts     56
April: Henry and His Model T     62
Thoughts     73
Rhubarb Crisp     81
May: An Unhappy Memory     82
Thoughts     95
June: Ginger     102
Thoughts     110
Strawberry Pie     113
July: The Fourth at Silver Lake     118
Ma's Banana Cake     125
Thoughts     126
Leaf Lettuce Salad     126
August: What About This Weather?     134
Thoughts     142
Creamy Cucumbers     144
Homemade Tomato Soup     147
September: School Days     150
Thoughts     159
Zucchini Bread     160
Cooked Rutabagas     167
October: Potato Vacation     168
Thoughts     178
Ruth's Applesauce     181
November: Preparations for Winter     186
Thoughts     198
December: Christmas Program     206
Thoughts     219
Ma's Oyster Stew     223
About the Author     224
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Many of us, whether we live in a city or a small town, are searching for the simplicity that was once a part of country life. I grew up on a farm during a simpler time. The days were long and the work was hard. We had no electricity, indoor plumbing, or central heating-conveniences we have long since taken for granted. Though it may have been a simpler time, it was certainly not an easier time. I'm often asked, "Weren't you miserable every day of the year, as you worked by the dim light of a kerosene lantern, hiked a mile along a country road to a one-room country school, walked for hours behind a team of work horses, and were lucky to get to town for a couple hours on a Saturday night?"

Some of that life was difficult, especially in the dead of winter when the temperature skidded to twenty below zero and the only warm place on the farm was in the barn with the cows and horses. Farm work could also be boring, especially to a kid: picking cucumbers, hoeing potatoes, husking corn by hand. Other work was exciting and fun: working on a threshing crew, driving a new tractor, and hauling grist to the mill for grinding.

Even with the all the hard work, we had more time (perhaps 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.

Our family-I had two brothers-was very close. We worked together, lived together, and played together. We depended on each other and cared for each other. We were alsoclose to our neighbors, even though some lived several miles away. We helped them; they helped us.

Many of the thoughts in this book come from growing up and living in the country and knowing farmers and small town people. As a kid, I especially enjoyed the stories told around wood-burning stoves, shared during meals in threshing season, or merely swapped over the back fence. Other ideas come from my present farm near Wild Rose, located a few miles from where I grew up.

My father was a great storyteller as well as a country philosopher. He had only a sixth-grade education, yet he was full of words of wisdom and one-liners that had deeper meaning. Pa also had a deep appreciation for nature and the outdoors. He was keenly aware of the changing seasons and all the new smells, sounds, sights, and tastes.

I begin each month of Living a Country Year with a memory from my childhood days on a small central Wisconsin dairy farm during the years just before, during, and after World War II. After the stories, I include some personal outdoor experiences, country aphorisms, and even an occasional recipe.

A few years ago, I was signing copies of my book Country Wisdom at a local bookstore. A young woman with two boys, probably eight and ten years old, stood in line. When she got to my table, she said, "Could I talk to you afterward?" I said, "Sure." This had happened to me before, and usually it meant the person had found an error or misspelling in my book or they disagreed with something I had written.

When I finished signing books, the woman and her boys came up to my table. She introduced them to me, and I shook their hands. I braced myself for what she had to say. "We live in the city," she began. "After we bought your book, every weekend we would travel to one of the nearby county parks. My husband, the boys, and I would read from your book. Then I would ask the boys what the words meant. We had a wonderful time helping our sons understand the ways of country living and the beliefs and values associated with it."

I was without words, an uncommon thing for a writer. I muttered, "Thank you."

My hope is that readers will find Living a Country Year another doorway to understanding life in the country, that they will find some enjoyment in these stories and gain some idea of country ways. And perhaps they will see their own busy lives from a new perspective.
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