Old Farm: A History

Overview

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 ...

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Old Farm: A History

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Part stewardship manual, part memoir, and above all a consideration of the intangible power of a few buildings on a patch of land, Old Farm blends instruction, reflection, and whimsy (giant zucchini, anyone?) to give us a record of the past that is vital to the future. Jerry Apps has a historian's eye and a storyteller's heart — count me among his legion of grateful readers." (Michael Perry, author of Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and Truck: A Love Story)
 
"Jerry Apps' latest is a wise and wonderful book. Read it. Listen to the voices you will find here - a remarkable combination of farmstead nostalgia, Leopold-like descriptions of ecology, and the clear message that the land can speak to you if you are wise enough to listen." (Ben Logan, author of  The Land Remembers)
 
"Jerry has cultivated a sense of connectedness with the land — the ultimate human experience: enjoying and learning one's place in the natural community." (Nina Leopold Bradley, founder and director, Aldo Leopold Foundation)
 
"In 1970 Gaylord Nelson wrote that Jerry Apps, 'talks of a purity and a simplicity of existence that, for most of us, is lost forever. The lush green hills and the lone-standing farms are disappearing under the cities and ribbons of asphalt as we jostle together and every year, find less room to breathe. Perhaps we cannot return to the Apps cabin at Roshara, or to Thoreau's Walden, but we can affirm our own reverence for the land by doing something to protect it.' Nearly four decades later these words hold true — perhaps truer than ever as our natural places face increasing pressures from development and climate change. Jerry Apps reminds us that an appreciation for the outdoors contributes to a richer life; his Old Farm is a heartfelt call for stewardship." (Tia Nelson, executive secretary, Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands)
 
"Old Farm neatly fits more of rural Wisconsin between its covers than a whole shelf full of books. Its message of honoring the land and passing it on in better condition to those who follow is more important today than ever." (Bill Berry, author of Future of Farming and Rural Life in Wisconsin)
 
"What Aldo Leopold did for Sand County, Jerry Apps has done for Roshara. Combined with Steve Apps beautiful photography, Old Farm: A History is a loving portrait of place calling all of us to respect and value the land we live on, not only for ourselves, but also for all those who will follow us." (LaMoine MacLaughlin, Editor, The Hometown Gazette, Clayton, Wis.)
 
"Apps, author of numerous books about rural life and history, teams up with his photographer son to document the history of Roshara, a Wisconsin farm purchased by his family 40 years ago. But the history of the farm doesn't begin there; it begins about a century earlier, when a Civil War veteran took advantage of the Homestead Act to settle on a parcel of untamed and unfriendly land and turned it into a place to raise a family. The book, then, isn't merely the story of family farm; it's a story of farming, and of family. Lavishly illustrated with photographs — both contemporary and historical — the book explores the bond between people and their land. Apps writes about his family farm lovingly, describing its flora and fauna and telling us about it the way we might tell a friend about some special and essential part of our lives. A beautiful blending of words and pictures." (David Pitt, Booklist)
 
"In Wisconsin, a love of nature, respect for the land and its ongoing relationship with man have produced some of the giants in conservation, from John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Gaylord Nelson. It might not be premature to add highly acclaimed local author and UW professor emeritus Jerry Apps to that distinguished list. He and his talented photographer son, Steve Apps, have collaborated with clear vision, careful research, exquisite photos and loving memory to tell the story of 65 acres of cherished family land the call 'Roshara.' They trace it and its various inhabitants from the last glacier, through First People, surveyors, settlers and their own family's 40-year history. The book is a gentle, inspiring, deep breath of fresh Wisconsin air. It will be a welcome gift this holiday season and a worthy companion to Leopold's Sand County Almanac and August Derleth's Wisconsin: River of 1,000 Isles" (Gary Knowles, Dane County Lifestyles)

2008 First Place in the Outdoors Category from the Council for Wisconsin Writers
2009 Gold in the Best Regional Non-fiction - Great Lakes Region Category from Independent Publishers Book Awards
2009 Winner in the Nature Category from Midwest Independent Publishers Association Midwest Book Awards
2009 Gold in the General Non-fiction Design Four Color Internals Category from Chicago Book Clinic Book Awards
2009 Bronze Award in the Environment Category for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870206368
  • Publisher: Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Publication date: 3/29/2013
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 344,248
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Apps is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of many books on rural history and country life. His nonfiction books include Horse-Drawn DaysBarns of WisconsinEvery Farm Tells a Story, and Living a Country Year. He received the Council for Wisconsin Writers' 2007 Major Achievement Award and the Wisconsin Library Association's 2007 Notable Wisconsin Author Award. Jerry was born and raised on a small farm in Waushara County, Wisconsin.
 
Steve Apps is an award-winning photojournalist with twenty-three years in the newspaper industry. As a Wisconsin State Journal staff photographer he has covered a wide range of assignments including the Green Bay Packers and University of Wisconsin–Madison sports. He enjoys documenting Wisconsin and in particular photographing at the family farm in Waushara County.

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