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La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm) from Lena, WI
La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm)

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Farm Name: La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm)

Year Farm Established: 1946

Location: Stiles, WI

Years I’ve been farming: 67 years

Animals I raise: None, except wildlife.

Crops I grow: Vegetable gardens, flowers, rye, and pastorage.

Hobbies I enjoy: Feeding and providing habitat for wildlife.

The proudest moment on my farm: For the first time in over 60 years, bobwhite quail was sited on our land.

Pets: Just all sorts of wildlife who visit us daily.

Farm Motto: "All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well." -- Blessed Julian of Norwich

Farm Blog
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Gary - I can see that I have some tremendous competition! Your version is excellent, as always, and absolutely not - you are not disqualified because you borrowed from an existing post. I am not letting you out of this competition that easily! One glitch here - it seems that if you Google your site, comments cannot be made unless you sign up to Hobby Farms. So, if any voters are reading this - head over to http://thefarmwife.com/ and vote. PLEASE do this, as Gary probably deserves more votes than I do, and I really want this to be a fair competition! (Either that or go ahead and sign up to Hobby Farms. It's a great website and offers a wealth of great information for the farmers and non-farmer alike!)

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

04/19/2014 05:20.16 AM Report This Comment  
  The Farmwife on Listening to Your Edlers, Part III
During those ‘classes’, I was taught about a way of life that stemmed from poverty, simplicity and old adages that were more than cliché’s, they were a matter of survival – ‘Use it up, wear it out, make it last or do without’. There were times when I was admonished for buying something that I could have just as easily made for much less money. And I was gently guided on all things farm related – milking a cow, making cheese, cooking from scratch, hoeing a garden and even the best way to wring a chicken’s neck. Now, if that chicken was a tough old rooster, I was even given instructions on how to boil the…uh…Yipes out of it and use it in dumplings. And only once was I worried about being in the wrong classroom - when one of the ladies said she had to go home and do some ‘choking and rolling’. I was concerned that the woman was about to go home and take her frustrations out on her husband. Once Mrs. Dot quit laughing at the look on my face, she told me not to worry, but that the lady was just going home to make biscuits. When my look of horror turn to confusion, Mrs. Dot got that scary look in her eye and said, “Heavens to Betsy, child. Don’t tell us you use a rolling pin on your biscuits!” Um, well, not any more. I assure you.

I may know more about caring for my farm now than I did when we first moved here, but I also know that I will never stop learning something new every day. Because of that, I continually put into practice that same saying that I hated as a child. I really do listen to what my elders have to say, and more times than not, I will turn around and put those words of wisdom into practice. And who knows? One day soon I may even have Tom Puckett at my dinner table. After all, I finally learned that Tom is a ‘what’, and not a ‘who’ – it’s a brown gravy made from the pan drippings.
Catheads anyone? Tom Puckett will be coming and I think the two will be great dinner companions!

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/18/2014 08:21.52 PM Report This Comment  
  The Farmwife on Listening to Your Elders, Part II
Mr. Jasper taught us how to ‘reunite’ a first calf heifer with her baby. It took a slow approach, a soft voice and a quick step back when mama wanted to kick. If you think about it, there is a life lesson there, as well. Danny and Johnny have been a wealth of information regarding the garden. George has given us some great information regarding what will and won’t grow on our property. Mrs. Dorothy is always available with a great recipe, and Mrs. Raley was very quick to instruct me in how to catch fish and frogs, and where the best water holes used to be. Each and every lesson and story contributed to both a practical and figurative life education.

By far, some of my most fun farming ‘classes’ have come from Alona’s Beauty Shop. No matter what time you go in, there is someone there who has lived it, cooked it, eaten it, grown it, killed it and kept on walking. My favorite time to go was when Mrs. Dot was there. It was a sad day in my life when she left this earth, but I will hold her lessons closely.

It was Mrs. Dot who acted as my Country Dictionary. One day, someone mentioned that they were really craving some cat heads. Mrs. Dot saw my face turn a little green and she started chuckling. “Don’t worry, honey. She ain’t gonna go out and kill no cats. What she’s wanting is some biscuits.” As my stomach settled back down, I learned that Catheads are actually large, made-from-scratch biscuits, usually served with milk gravy – with or without sausage bits. Okay. I was good with that. But then they started to reminisce about different foods they would eat. While I was sitting there, I actually learned the best way to cook a possum. And they weren’t talking biscuits here, either. I finally had to ask Mrs. Dot just where they found those possums, and was relieved to know they were freshly caught, and not road kill. Please scroll up for "Listening to Your Elders, Part III

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/18/2014 08:13.34 PM Report This Comment  
  The Farmwife on Listening to Your Elders, Part I
As far back as time goes, stories have been handed down from generation to generation – family traditions, historical events and even in some cases, myths and legends. As I was growing up, I heard what I thought was more than my share – with the first and foremost being ‘Listen to Your Elders’. As a young teenager, some of that sage advice was downright embarrassing; especially when, as I was walking out the door, my mother would issue this age-old advice: “I hope you have clean underwear on, just in case you get in a wreck!” I’ve never been sure if that was out of concern of some ER attendant seeing me in dirty underclothes, or if it was her way of psyching me into driving very, very safely. Some of it was still almost cliché, like ‘You will catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar’. Just why on earth did I want a bunch of flies hanging around?’

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that listening to those older than me began making sense. I opened my ears and was amazed at what I was hearing. What I was actually listening to was very sage advice that could carry me through the rest of my years. When we moved to the farm, I knew that my glasses weren’t rose-colored, but there was no doubt they had a pink tint to them. As a city girl, I had a lot to learn about my new lifestyle. So as soon as I could, I knew I was going to be asking advice from those who had lived the farming life before me.
Here in the South, cotton farming has long been a way of life. My knowledge and understanding of it stemmed from what I read in my history books. But a visit with Mrs. Jack brought it to life. She told of stories of walking the rows with a sack on her back, reaching in and picking those beautiful fluffy balls. But as she explained to me, sometimes beauty has thorns. Without wearing gloves, the sharp needle-like point to the cotton bolls could rip a pickers hands to shreds in a matter of minutes. She also told me that life was the same way. I needed to have a gentle hand and wear sturdy gloves in order to avoid the stabs that life could send.
Please scroll up for Part II

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/18/2014 08:08.26 PM Report This Comment  
  Listening to Your Elders, Part III
So I've presented for your consideration my Grandma Truckey as an example of the benefits of "Listening to Your Elders." That woman suffered through a poverty-stricken, abusive relationship with my alcoholic grandfather. Still, she clung to her faith. When the old boy finally died and Grandma had that tiny house to herself, every and anyone who needed a meal and a place to stay was welcome there. Emma Truckey had little enough for herself, but what she had she shared. She told me that at times her house was full and there were home-fashioned tents for the overflow relatives out in her yard.

You have to remember that during the Great Depression times were so hard that it drove men mad. A neighboring farmer, frantic that his wife was about to deliver yet another hungry child (and obviously oblivious to his own culpability in the matter) actually drove his wife out into a winter storm as she went into labor. The poor woman came to the one person she knew who had the knowledge and wisdom to help her. She waded over a mile through the snowstorm to Grandma Truckeys' home and gave birth. Grandma sent someone to the nearest home with a phone to call the doctor and Grandma held the baby's umbilicus in her fist until he arrived to tie it off. She told me that the doctor had said that if she hadn't have held it like she did, the child would've died.

So here's to listening to your elders. From my Grandma Emma I learned that regardless of my own personal situation, in order to be a true human being, a true Christian, I need to be attentive to the needs of those around me. As I've professed before as my own personal mantra: "You cannot always have happiness, but you can always give happiness." --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/18/2014 07:59.15 PM Report This Comment  
  Listening to Your Elders, Part II
I've alluded to the accuracy of oral history. Here's a prime example. (Which I've discussed before in my blogs.") The wisest woman I've ever known was my grandmother, Emma (Lessor) Truckey. The Truckeys (Trottiers) came to New France around 1645. The Lessieurs (Lessors) came to Quebec the same year. Now Julie Murphree had said that she would not re-post from earlier blogs. I, however, have not made that promise, so now I re-post from an earlier post (If this disqualifies me from our "challenge", I here now cheerfully admit defeat, in the interests of good reading.)

"Grandma Truckey had been born into the Lessor family, also called Lessieur. It was an important family in Canada during the French Regime. Grandma had told us grandchildren that the cathedral of St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec was built on land that had been donated by her family. The family legend says the two Lessieurs were out fishing on the St. Lawrence when a fog rolled in and they couldn't see anything. The two men prayed to St. Anne, a patron to the French from Brittany, that if they got home okay, they would give up land to build a church to her. They made it home, donated the land, and the cathedral was built. It makes for a nice story, but 35 years later, when I was doing research at the Brown County Library in Green Bay, I found a book on noteworthy French-Canadian families. Under the Lessor/Lessieur name the book related how that family had donated the land for the cathedral of St. Anne. As a lifelong student of history, I have always been amazed at how accurate the oral histories remain as they are handed down from generation to generation. This is just another example, all the more delightful because it's so close to home." Please scroll up for Part III --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/18/2014 07:55.36 PM Report This Comment  
  Listening to Your Elders, Part I
First off, there's no story teller like a Southern story teller. A cool porch under magnolia or Georgia pine trees on a breezy Summer day with an old Grandpa or Grandma who has seen it all telling family stories; that's a memory that every young person should have. I especially liked "The Cajun Cook", Justin Wilson, when he would tell stories on his cooking show. Of course, I'm partial to Justin Wilson because he reminds me of my own Pa.

Up here in the Great North, as Jim Henson of "The Muppets" fame wrote in his short-lived cable series, "The Story Teller", "the spot closest to the fire was reserved for the Story Teller." Historically, one can easily imagine nights in a wigwam or teepee during "The Moon of the Falling Snows" when tribal members of all ages gathered around the fire to hear what the elders had to tell. Later, settlers would sit close to the fireplace or stove and listen to the old men swap stories or grandmothers teach family history to the children and young women.

Anthropologists have related how the oral histories of unlettered aboriginal peoples have been found to have been tremendously accurate in their description of previous events. The memory-training techniques of "primitive" societies have been lost to us but studies done by modern anthropologists have shown that the story tellers of these peoples had an almost photographic memory. It's as if the advent of writing served as a double-edged sword. It enabled the preservation of learning for the ages, but it also rendered obsolete the skills of the bard and the oral historian. Louis Lamour referred to the rote memory skills of the Druids in his novel "The Walking Drum". Farley Mowatt, the acclaimed Canadian naturalist and writer, discussed the amazing accuracy found in the oral histories of the "First Nation" peoples in Labrador. In short, the oral memories of the ancients are found to be as accurate as the written histories of more recent cultures.

Now how does this tie in to "Listening to Our Elders"? It means that the memories, stories, and wisdom of our elders must needs to be attended. C'est-a-dire, (that is to say) listen to what the elders have to say! It's important! (Scroll up for Part II) -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/18/2014 07:42.45 PM Report This Comment  
  My Answer to "The Farmwife"
You're on Julie! Win or lose (like it matters with a good friend like you) the readers will get to read some good stories. I think we should post both our articles to each of our websites so all our readers (all 3 or 4) can enjoy them. Coming up by Saturday, (hopefully) "Listening to our Elders." --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/14/2014 06:52.42 PM Report This Comment  
  Sources IV
Well said, Gary. We have all heard that history repeats itself. If that is so, (and I believe it is), then we should be paying greater attention to our elders - their stories, their lives and even the books they've read. It sickens me to see and hear of neglect of our elderly, as they are such a rich source of history, life education, direction, joy and even a glimpse into our future. What I would give to sit down at the feet of some of the people you talk about - your parents, grandparents, Brother Dave, Cousin Billy and Mr. Wild Bill Beaudin. Being from the South, I hear a lot of Southern stories. I would love to hear their take on life in the North. So, with this thought in mind - would you care to take me up on a challenge? How about writing a piece on 'Listening To Your Elders'. I know I've done one, but I promise I won't cheat and look back on that one - except to make sure I am not repeating myself. I'll post yours on my website, and see if I can get enough people to vote on the most interesting one, and I'll even pop for a prize for one of the lucky voters from the winning side. Are you game, Gary? Or are you afraid my Southern stories can outrank your Northern ones? (Is that enough of a challenge and incentive????) :)

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

04/13/2014 11:04.16 AM Report This Comment  
  Sources, Part IV
I've been writing at length about literary sources. This final post on this subject is about the people around you. Julie Murphree, "The Farmwife" and I have felt free to use each others ideas and writings as source materials. Once again, I urge you to check out Julie's journal at www.thefarmwife.com. One of her recent posts I've copied and saved was about compassion:

"After you’ve done everything medically possible, there is nothing else you can do but to sit, offer comfort, and watch and pray. I have held baby calves in my lap while they breathed their last, or petted them and softly sung to them as they struggled to survive. I’ve been known to wrap up a chicken backwards in a towel so I could clean their nasty butt and administer mineral oil to help loosen the egg stuck inside them. And I’ve rocked some of them to their forever sleep – just so they knew just how much they were loved and appreciated."

Every Countryman and Woman can identify with Julie's sentiment. How many animals have we tried to save? How many have we lost? Sadly, how many have we ourselves have had to euthanize? The care and emotional investment we give to our animals (whether stock or pets) separates the Countryman and Countrywoman from hunters and gatherers.

In addition to fellow bloggers, I have mined innumerable ideas from the people I've grown up around. I've told you about Wild Bill Beaudin and my Pa. Both were among the wisest men I've ever known. In spite of individual flaws inherent in every man, they were both capable of looking at the world in an abstract, humorous, and philosophical way unique to French Canadians. The stories those men would tell! Some of them were actually true. I've recounted how as an eager teenager I would stay up late and hang on to every word as those two swapped tales over stale coffee late into the Autumn nights. What I wouldn't give for just one more night with those two!

So my advice to any person in search of source materials for writing purposes is to be open for stories from every person they encounter. As the Desiderata of Happiness says: "...even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story." --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/12/2014 06:21.00 PM Report This Comment  
  Sources, Part III
Last time I talked about James Herriot. This time I shall talk about Richard Adams. As I might've mentioned before, Adams fashioned the characters of "Watership Down" after British officers he had served with during WWII. I have read his autobiography. Richard Adams is, first and foremost, a lover of natural things. He, like Herriot and Grahame, idolized the nature of rural England. He was also one of the most erudite sculptors of the English language, ranking alongside Winston Churchill and Lord Wellington. (Don't take my opinion too seriously here, I am but a simple Countryman) In fact, the longest written sentence I have ever encountered, some 190 words, is in "Watership Down".

Richard Adams was heavily influenced by his father, a country doctor. Adams recounts how his father, during walks, would insist that all flora and fauna be identified by name rather than referred to as a bird or a tree, or a weed. One of my favorite pieces of "Watership Down" was Adam's description of a Summer sunset at literally ground level:

"But down in the grass itself, between the bushes, in that thick forest trodden by the beetle, the spider and the hunting shrew, the moving light was like a wind that danced among them to set them scurrying and weaving. The red rays flickered in and out of the grass stems, flashing minutely on membranous wings, casting long shadows behind the thinnest of filamentary legs, breaking each patch of bare soil into a myriad individual grains."

But my very favorite line from "Watership Down" is Hazel's exhortation to his warrior-companion Bigwig to encourage him to recover from his wounds: "Come on: it's a lovely afternoon, all sun and leaves."

I am made to think that out west in the great open spaces one experiences Nature on such a grand scale that it would cause a person to forget about its more intimate aspects. That is, to use the cliché, all well and good, but as a Countryman born and bred in the northern Midwest, I am more inclined to identify with Kenneth Grahame's sentiments: "...the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot.... which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime." ("The Wind in the Willows.") More on "Sources" next time. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

04/05/2014 06:05.03 PM Report This Comment  
  Sources II
James Herriot has always been a favorite of mine, as well. His blend of realism laced with humor (and sometimes downright hilarity-'flopbots' as an example) and with sadnesss often make me wish I could have walked beside him from time to time. Please don't 'divorce' me when I tell you this - I have never read Wind in the Willows! I know, my literary education is severely lacking, but I am going to fix that very soon. I'm working on collecting farm related children's books for my new granddaughter - so I can read to her when I see her, and that will be one of the very next ones I buy. Got any suggestions? Hmmm....I think I may do a post on this one. I'll work on that this week, and you can think it over and post your list - for both children and adults. As always, I know I can count on you to enlighten me and keep me from wandering too far astray!

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

04/02/2014 05:57.31 AM Report This Comment  
  Sources, Part II
Last time I was talking about source materials for reading and writing. I had mentioned Grahame, Herriot, and Adams. All three belong in the top echelon of English writers. Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" needs no endorsement from me. It is his only noteworthy work, yet for any Countryman or Countrywoman who still possess a childlike soul, it is the touchstone for farmland literature. "The Wind in the Willows" endorses the simple lives and efforts of small farmers and gardeners. The image of two companions who are safe and secure against the harshness of Winter is one that speaks to the hearts of Countrymen (and women).

James Herriot incorporates the human element of rural life. My favorite story of his is of the old farmer who had defied the odds in class-conscious England of the early 20th Century. This farmer had worked himself and his team of horses beyond the endurance of mortal man and beast and had made himself the owner of a manor normally occupied by a duke or earl. This old, grizzled farmer, in spite of his success, enjoyed few comforts and lived as he always had lived, without luxury or leisure. The only indulgence he allowed himself was the care and comfort that he provided for his team. Young Herriot was called out to the old man's property and noticed how shabbily he dressed and how gruff he was with his hired hands. Herriot followed the old farmer out to a grassy paddock and saw two ancient draft horses who acted like foals again when they saw their owner. While treating the horses teeth for age-related problems he observed that the horses stood in the hock-deep grass of the pasture, with a cold stream nearby and a shelter built especially for them to keep out of the wind. The old farmer allowed, "They were slaves when I was a slave." Later, as Herriot was about to leave the manor, a cheerful hired man informed him how the old farmer always made time during his day to bring out a few flakes of hay or a measure of feed for his retired team of horses. It was the only luxury he allowed himself, to visit his old team and provide for their comfort, even though any other farmer would have sold off the team years ago. More on sources next time. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

03/29/2014 07:33.21 PM Report This Comment  
Gary - I too, keep a list of possible topics for future use. One of my greatest sources is to listen to others - their questions, comments, ideas, thoughts. My favorite place to visit for inspiration is Alona's Beauty Shop, even though there is a lot discussed there that I can't print! :) There are times that I go to my own wish list for the farm, and am able to glean ideas from it. I mean, if I'm wishing for it, maybe someone else is too! And then, on occasion, I sneak in and see what YOU are writing about and hope to get an idea or two for my website - thanks to you allowing me to 'cheat', I've been pushed out of my writers block and been able to move forward. All I ask is that you keep writing - I am loving your own blog! The Farm Wife (aka Julie Murphree)

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

03/26/2014 04:55.22 PM Report This Comment  
  Sources, Part I
The Farmwife and I were recently comparing notes about writer's block. At the end of Winter, it is difficult to develop topics. Once the growing season begins, there are more things to write about than there's time to write it. I don't know what Julie Murphree does, but when an idea occurs to me, I add it to the file titled "Blog Topics". I find that having a store of possible topics to explore helps my confidence when I think I'm running out of subject matter.

Another great source of subject matter is the writings of others. You already know how much wisdom I've gleaned from the writings of Hal Borland. As before, I heartily encourage anyone to search their state library system for whatever books of his they can find. "Hill Country Harvest" is his best known work but any of his earlier and later works are worth reading. I discovered his writing when I stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines in the late 1970s. As a country boy, I was terribly homesick for anything that would re-connect me with the world I knew and loved before enlisting in the Air Force. Of course, I found the books of James Herriot a great source of solace, and wistful pain. But I also was inspired by the love Borland had for the cultivated farmland; the same type of land that I'd known all my life.

As for James Herriot, if any of you have never sampled his works, I would definitely recommend that you read his works in the order of publication. Don't read "The James Herriot Cat Book" or "The James Herriot Dog Book". Instead, read his entire collection. You will get an indoctrination into the mind and heart of a Countryman.

Another great source material; indeed, a literary classic, is Richard Adam's "Watership Down". It is a whimsical story of small wildlife leading their lives in the rural environment of England. You will derive an intricate appreciation of natural things living in a cultivated farmland environment.
More about "Sources" next time. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

03/22/2014 06:50.10 PM Report This Comment  
  Frydough, Part IV
My French Canadian ancestors were called "coureurs du bois", "hivernants", "engages", or "mangeurs de lard". What this all means is that the Trottiers have been a part of the life of New France and the settlement of this area for over 350 years. "Coureurs du bois" means "runners of the woods", those experienced Frenchmen who ran trade operations with the First Nations people. "Hivernants" referred to the Frenchmen who "wintered over" with the Indians. (L'hiver is French for winter). These hivernants often took on temporary native wives. Their metis children often enjoyed special status within their tribe.

"Mangeurs de lard" refers to those "tenderfoots" who couldn't provide for themselves in the wilderness and had to eat stored provisions of pork. This also meant the "engages"; young men from the French settlements and cities who were "engaged" as oarsmen for the summer months of river navigation throughout New France. They were hired for the months from May through October to paddle "bateaux" (large canoes build for bulk cargo). Their voyages originated as far east as Quebec and ran throughout the Great Lakes region (Les Pays du Haut, or Upper Country). Many of these young men had grown up on farms near the villages and had never been out into the deep wilds. Local historians Les and Jeanne Rentmeester write that "mangeurs de lard" referred to the pemmican-like traveling provision that the engages ate. This was rendered lard stuffed with shelled peas. This provided the fat, protein, and vegetable-based vitamins that the hard-working engages needed for sustenance. Hence, their definition of "mangeurs de lard".

As mentioned in my first post on this subject, Frydough was just one of many wayfaring foods eaten by my ancestors. It was quick and easy to make over a campfire, without needing the time for the dough to rise. Furthermore, it was tasty.

Again, as mentioned earlier, a small cafe' next to Lambeau Field, called "The Blind Ref" offers "frybread" on its menu. One of the owners is a member of the Oneida Nation. One day last December, as I took Eldest Brother David to a doctor's appointment, I told him about the place. Since he was having a good day, (one of his last) we swung by "The Blind Ref" and I ordered him a frybread. On the way home I had him open the tinfoil and smell the bread. He said, "It smells just like what Ma used to make!" I told him to tear off a piece and eat it. He tried a bite, tilted his head back and rolled his eyes. "Oh that tastes just like I remembered," he sighed.

Later, when David was in hospice, I offered to get him another frybread, but he said he was too weak to chew it. Nevertheless, I was happy I was able to give him one last taste of his heritage. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

03/16/2014 09:15.37 PM Report This Comment  
  Frydough, Part III
Last time I began discussing the sources of frydough. The Breton galette is only one of many. Here are some others:

"In Canada, pieces of fried dough are sometimes called beaver tails. According to Bill Castleman, a writer of books on Canadian word origins, the name referred to quick-baked dough 'especially in early 19th-century places where people might camp for one night and where there was no frying pan.'" (Wikipedia)

"Bannock, also known as frybread, muqpauraq,[10] skaan (or scone), or Indian bread,[11] is found throughout North American Native cuisine, including that of the Inuit/Eskimo of Canada and Alaska, other Alaska Natives, the First Nations of the rest of Canada, the Native Americans in the United States, and the Métis.
A type of bannock, using available resources, such as flour made from maize, roots, tree sap and leavening agents, may have been produced by indigenous North Americans prior to contact with outsiders.

As made by Indigenous North Americans, bannock is generally prepared with white or whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar, lard and water or milk,[10] which are combined and kneaded (possibly with spices, dried fruits or other flavouring agents added) then fried in rendered fat, vegetable oil, or shortening, baked in an oven or cooked on a stick." (Wikipedia)

"In the U.S., beignets have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine and are customarily served as a dessert or in some sweet variation. They were brought to Louisiana in the 18th century by French colonists,[3] from "the old mother country",[4] and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking, variations often including banana or plantain – popular fruits in the port city." (Wikipedia)

Obviously, I'm letting Wikipedia do most of the story telling here, but believe me, it took a lot of time to collect this information. I included the beignets especially for my friend Julie Murphree, "The Farmwife". I can certainly understand how "beaver tails" is an apt appellation for frybread, since they look alike.

"Bannock" is a Northern English and Scottish word of Celtic origin. The Oxford English Dictionary states the term stems from panicium, a Latin word for "baked dough", or from panis, meaning bread." (Wikipedia)
I love etymology! Anyway, since the Scots shortly followed the French to what is now Canada, it stands to reason they would have applied their own term to this wonderful food. One last post about Frydough next time. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

03/08/2014 07:04.33 PM Report This Comment  
  Frydough, Part II
Around here in N.E. Wisconsin "Fry Bread" is associated only with the Oneida nation. It is served at the local tribal festivities and at the Oneida Casino. Also, a small cafe that has just opened next to Lambeau Field serves it as well. Because I had known that it was something handed down from my French Canadian ancestors I would joke that the First Nations must've learned of it from the French Canucks. This, of course, is not true; a quick survey of web articles about various types of fried dough creations shows dozens of dishes from all around the world. The fry dough known to my metis ancestors came from multiple origins:

"Galette, or more properly Breton galette (French: Galette bretonne, Breton: Krampouezhenn gwinizh du), is also the name given in most French crêperies to savoury buckwheat flour pancakes, while those made from wheat flour, much smaller in size and mostly served with a sweet filling, are branded crêpes. Galette is a type of large, thin pancake mostly associated with the region of Brittany, where it replaced at times bread as basic food, but it is eaten countrywide. Buckwheat was introduced as a crop suitable to impoverished soils and buckwheat pancakes were known in other regions where this crop was cultivated, such as Limousin or Auvergne." (Wikipedia)

After I had posted that Ma had learned to make frydough last Saturday, a visit with Ma the following Sunday led me to learn that Ma had learned to make "guzzos" from her own mother, a woman of Belgian Walloon descent. Ma did say that Grandma Truckey had called them "galettes". This makes sense, since her family, the Lessarts, had originated in Bretagne (Brittany), as had the Trottiers (Truckeys). More about the sources of the "frydough" of the Metis next time. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

03/01/2014 09:15.04 PM Report This Comment  
  Frydough, Part I
Grandma Truckey (whose photo I've posted) called it "Frydough", while my Ma called it "guzzos". Around here and among the First Nations in the USA it is called "Frybread". In the course of these posts I'll be attaching definitions from Wikipedia. Both Grandma Truckey and my Ma would make it when they were baking bread. My Truckey cousins Lauren DeBlois and Pam Martinez told me that their mom, my aunt Pat, made it at that time as well. We think that both moms had learned it from Grandma. My Ma would simply take some globs of dough and put it in the frying pan with some bacon grease. (That woman cooked everything in bacon grease) We would dab lots of butter on it and eat a couple-three. Trouble was, the dough would still expand in your stomach after eating it and you'd feel soooo uncomfortable! As defined by Wikipedia:

"Frybread (also spelled fry bread) is a flat dough fried or deep-fried in oil, shortening, or lard. The dough is generally leavened by yeast or baking powder. Frybread can be eaten alone or with various toppings such as honey, jam, or hot beef. Frybread can also be made into tacos, like Indian tacos." (Wikipedia)

There's a type of fry bread (or fry dough) indigenous to every part of the world. Looks like lot's of people got the idea that putting dough in frying grease would make a wicked good-tasting product! Obviously, it wasn't exactly the most healthy of foods:

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a plate of fried bread consists of 700 calories and 27 grams of fat." (Wikipedia)

It's obvious to me that the strenuous lives that our ancestors lived did not allow time for them to consider risks to their long-term survivability. What they needed was the fat, protein and calories to allow them to survive the here-and-now. To be able to mix some flour, grease and water together and then put the resulting dough over that night's campfire was what was needed to provided sustenance to hard-working "couriers du bois" or "engages" employed to service the fur trade in "Nouvelle France" in the 17th and 18th centuries. More on the origin of "fry dough" next time. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

02/22/2014 08:08.00 PM Report This Comment  
  "The Long Journey"
To the few loyal readers who check this blog from time to time, I apologize for not keeping current. As some of you know, Eldest Brother David reached the end of his life experience last February 5th. Before that were three weeks of intense care by his (our) family and friends and David's own preparation for "the long journey" (as our native ancestors would term it). Even before that, were weeks of visits to the hospital and doctors and visits to David's home to do chores and then errands to run on the behalf of David and sweet Belle Soeur Susie.

My Ruthie, as usual, moved heaven and earth to help her in-laws and was the most important person in their lives these last two months with all that she did for them. Once again, my Ruthie made me proud and grateful beyond measure.

I'm afraid that the stress and grief of these last two weeks made it impossible for me to write; but now I'm back and finally feel creative again. The muse has beckoned again. I feel like writing. Please forgive me if future posts tend to dwell on subjects connected with my brother, my hero. He had a story to tell and I shall tell parts of it. It will help me to work through my own loss as I celebrate the things that we shared. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

02/15/2014 07:21.45 PM Report This Comment  
  The Farmwife's last post was entitled, "Teaching Your Children". For tonight's blog I now post a letter that my Punky, (Amanda) sent to her uncle, my Eldest Brother David, as he approaches the end of his life experience under hospice care. David reads and re-reads the letter and a copy of it will accompany his body as it is laid to rest.

Hey, Uncle David;
I was talking to my dad last night, and he asked if I wanted to talk to you at all over the phone, but the truth is that I'm not sure if I could make it through a phone call without crying and you understanding what I was trying to say. So, I decided to write you a letter instead.

They say that you can pick your friends, not your family, but I'm glad I got you as an uncle. I will remember many things. Maybe you never specifically taught me some things, but I will remember things that you did that taught me without realizing, just by me watching. I'll remember how to build a warm roaring fire in a wood stove to heat up an old garage or shack.
I'll remember you taking me fishing above the Stiles dam when I was a klutzy little girl, who always seemed to get the fishing hook stuck in her sock, and you would have to cut it out with a pocket knife. You might not remember taking me to the old Chicken Shack for root beer afterwards, but I do.
I'll remember how to quietly walk through the woods and notice little things like the animals and weather.
I'll remember how to hoe a garden and hand pick weeds and why back breaking work is worth it.
I'll remember how to appreciate history and why it's important to learn it.
I'll remember how to sit in a stand, drive deer through the woods, and shoot a gun. Maybe I'll never get a deer (after all, I am a Truckey), but I'll know how to do it. Remember the time you shot the ceramic connector off the power lines, and the whole clearing filled with white powder? I'll remember that.
I'll remember the birdhouses and deer stands that you used to build, and I'll remember sitting quietly, listening to you, and watching you build some of them.
I'll remember you riding your bike slowly down the road with the one handed wave as I drove by on the way to school or work.
I'll remember how to sit on a back porch and watch the last little bit of sunset hit the very tops of the pine trees while the birds sing their last evening song and the bats start to come out.
Even this letter is getting hard to write. How is it possible to put so many thoughts and emotions into one letter? I hope I managed to get across even a little bit how I feel.
I will miss you terribly, but I take comfort in knowing that you will be going to the happiest of places soon, and where you can watch over me, while I ride in my big green tractor across the plains of America over the next few years. There's a small passenger seat in my tractor that I always have open. I expect you to sit and ride with me while I'm in the fields.
I love you, Uncle David. I'll see you on the other side.

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

01/25/2014 09:37.17 PM Report This Comment  
Gary: Once again you have searched and located the very heart of the matter. We have been blessed with our neighbors. As the new comers, they have willingly showed up to help us, without being asked. We have often been able to return that favor, and have celebrated that we could. It's sad to think that so many people don't have a clue who their neighbors are - and consequently, don't know what they are missing. I do wish we (us and you and Ruthie) could be neighbors, but that would mean y'all have to move South. I have no desire to live in a snow bank taller than my house for four months out of the year!!! :)

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

01/22/2014 06:26.59 AM Report This Comment  
  Neighbors, Part IV
So here's the reason that I've posted at length about neighbors. Just over a month ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I was sitting in my Ma's room at the nursing home with my sister, Mother Superior Donna, when my cell phone rang. Eldest Brother David, thinking that I was at home next door, called to tell me that his wife, (ma Belle Soeur Susie) had slipped on the ice and was crawling to the house. Obviously, they needed help. My immediate response was to call my Ruthie and get her and Andrew to over there to help, (my Ruthie is about the best person I know when it comes to handling a crisis). I then got a hold of Big Brother Tommy as he was driving home from Green Bay.

When I got to David's house, there were my Ruthie and my son Andrew, Tommy, neighbors Lisa, her son Tanner, and Rob Gehring, along with the rescue squad that they had summoned. My Ruthie had brought blankets in order to keep Susie from shock and while Tommy, Andrew and Tanner stayed with David in the house; Ruthie, Lisa, and Rob kept Susie calm and reassured. I helped them get Susie into the ambulance and my Ruthie rode along with her to the Emergency Room. Rob went inside the house to reassure David that everything was going to be okay.

That evening, David's son Matt came to spend the night with his dad. I stayed as well because I knew how to drain David's chest tube. As I messaged my daughter Amanda (Punky) in Nebraska, "We'll stay up late telling manly stories, and in the morning, I'm making waffles!"

In the days and weeks that followed, Rob Gehring, and his wife Beth, an RN, stopped by frequently to check up on Susie and David; and Lisa, her husband Tim, and Tanner, came by daily to clean the house and do errands. My Ruthie of course, was there everyday to do whatever was needed.

What I want to relate here is that while my gravely ill Eldest Brother David was weeping with helplessness as he watched the love of his life Susie being helped into an ambulance, his family and neighbors arrived in droves to help him and his wife in their need. It made me proud to be among such people! David and Susie had helped so many people during their lives and now they got to see how many people cared about them. Neighbors; where would we be without them? -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

01/18/2014 08:07.12 PM Report This Comment  
  Neighbors, Part III
I had been talking about how neighbors are so important in the lives of Countrymen and women. In times past, that is to say, during the era of Prohibition and then later, during the era of depleted deer populations, you simply did not bother the neighbors too much. Oh sure, if you needed something, you might send over an innocent kid to ask for some sugar or flour. (Sugar was especially available among the neighbors during the moonshining era) But you didn't get too curious. If you saw smoke rising from the neighbors' backyard or heard a gunshot after dark and then saw the lights on in their garage, you knew enough to mind your own business. Oft-times your circumspection was rewarded with a cut of venison or a jug of home brew.

In the early '80's, when some new yuppie neighbors moved into the old Marlowe place across the road, I was mildly chagrined when my Pa told them, "Well, we won't bother each other too much." That changed soon enough when they warmed up enough to us so that the husband, a pharmaceutical salesman, would bring over free high blood pressure medication samples for Pa to use and his wife would feel comfortable to call me over to check out the property if she heard a sound outside while her man was out on a road trip. (Please make no humorous surmises as to that. As a true Countryman, I would respect and protect that housewife as if she were my own baby sister.)

Years later, as neighbors left and others came in and built their own homes across the road from La Ferme Sabloneuse, we slowly began to realize that the times have changed, and that instead of being one isolated homestead among a few others, we were now three homesteads living as part of an almost suburban community of people who wanted to enjoy living out in the country. More about this reality next time. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

01/11/2014 07:22.42 PM Report This Comment  
  "The Happy Place"
Tonight's blog is a break from the "Neighbors" series. This is because tonight beckons the incursion of the worst Winter cold front since 1996 (which I remember only too well). Last year about this time I had posted a number of entries about "coziness", and the feeling of being warm and secure against the worst that Winter has to offer. Tomorrow will bring an Arctic (or more correctly), a Siberian high front which will by Monday night, send temperatures down to 25 degrees below zero. So now I shall talk about one's "Happy Place", c'est-a-dire (that is to say), the place where each of us would love to go to in order to find solace and happiness in the face of dire extremity. A Facebook contributor I follow, Christine's Favorites, provides wonderfully restful scenes that appeal to soulful people. I can easily imagine myself ensconced among the pillows, bolsters, and comforters in front of a cheery fire as I drift off to the land of Morpheus. (In other words, to the more practical among us; I would love to go to sleep in a comfy bed in front of a good fire.)
Whenever I find myself awake at night, I put myself in a "happy place". I imagine either that I'm bedded down in front of a good camp fire with the wind moaning through the pines overhead or that I'm some furry creature, rabbit or rodent, nestled down in a warm and cozy den with food close at hand, watching the snow fall outside my burrow. Childish? Maybe. But when I can hear the Winter wind rattle the chimes outside our bay window in the middle of the night it puts me in a comforted state of mind.
During last Winter's coldest snap I had quoted Hal Borland on how "Man is a natural fire-tender, has been since ancient times.man being". So by now you know just how much I love a good woodstove fire. A few days ago Eldest Brother David, who, as I mentioned, is in very poor health, asked me to put in a replacement piece of stovepipe in his basement. With the help of David's son Matt, and under the old man's supervision, I replaced the pipe, cleaned out the box stove and then built a good fire. My son Andrew had come over in order to do some other tasks and when he came down to join us, the four of us sat around the stove. Much like the story I had told last year at this time, the four of us warmed ourselves, and then moved our chairs backwards at intervals as the heat became more intense. Eldest Brother mentioned (more than once) how much he enjoyed sitting there with us. David and I told the younger two stories about fires past and after they had listened respectfully for awhile, our sons departed and my brother and I were left to attend the fire ourselves. I do not know what the future holds for Eldest Brother, or indeed, for myself; but my Ruthie, in her instinctive way, observed that God must be granting David some time to experience special moments as his life experience comes to a close. Neamoins, (nevertheless) I treasure this fire-tending moment.

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

01/04/2014 08:28.16 PM Report This Comment  
  Neighbors, Part II
Last time I was talking about when we were building our garage. I mentioned how our friend and neighbor Chuck stepped up once again to help us out. I must also mention my cousin Billy Younger who also helped us out more than once. Now cousin Billy possesses superhuman strength. That's the only way to describe it. He, and his brother Raymond, are the two strongest men I know. Back some years ago, when Raymond was building our garage, Billy came walking by and just naturally pitched in and did whatever Raymond told him. I never saw two brothers work so well together, (unless it was me and Eldest Brother David). The only difference is that the Youngers are crazy-strong and David and I are the exact opposite.

Again, some years ago, after a Sunday Mass on a snowy morning, we came back to Ma's to see that the newspaper lady had gotten her sub-compact car stuck at Ma's mailbox. Of course, as David, myself, and one or two others stood about and debated how to get her out of the ditch, we saw Bill's pickup drive up. Immediately, we all smiled and stood back as Billy strode up to view the situation. Despite the paper lady's remonstrations, Billy bent over and grasped the right fender of the little car, straightened up, and single-handedly lifted the vehicle out of the snow and back onto the hard-packed road. That the fender of the car crumpled under the strain is beside the matter. That Billy did the job all by himself is what we Truckey's brought away from the experience.

So the following Summer another cousin, Mark Younger, called us and said that he was gathering any able-bodied neighbors the next Saturday to put up the framing for his house. This meant that several strong bodies were needed to lift up and hold in place the framed wall 2 by 6 studs while he nailed them into the floor. Even though David and I weren't exactly "able bodied", we were available that Saturday so we moseyed on down to Mark's place. Now David and I knew that we couldn't lift much; so when Billy Younger showed up we both got the idea of making sure that we were on the same wall that he was lifting. As all the men stood around and jack-jawed, David and I followed Billy around to make sure that we were on each side of him when folks finally got around to lifting. It didn't take Billy long to notice us tailing him like cleaner fish around a shark. When he realized what we were up to, he sort of sighed and rolled his eyes. Billy glanced at the both of us with disgust when we finally lined to do the framing and as his two cousins groaned with feigned effort, he raised the entire wall pretty much by himself and stood there like Atlas as David and I leaned against the wall and rested. More about neighbors next time. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

12/28/2013 07:59.07 PM Report This Comment  
  Neighbors, Part I
Neighborliness is something that historically has been attributed to rural and farming communities. One has only to watch episodes of "Little House on the Prairie" or "The Waltons" to see examples of this. To be honest, the ethnic neighborhoods in cities like New York and Chicago can also boast of possessing the same neighborliness that we Countrymen boast of. In short, when people of good will live in the same locality they tend to look out for each other. It is one of the sadder aspects of our increasingly fast-paced urban and suburban society that citizens no longer feel obligated to do this.

When I was a boy, I noticed that my Pa went out of his way to help the neighbors. He would let our neighbors to the south help themselves to the surplus from our gardens. He would also mentor the local young men who had no father figures in their lives. He taught a few how to fish Splinter Crick or how to hunt. As I might've mentioned before, we never had to worry about the local toughs vandalizing or stealing Truckey property because they felt a debt of honor to that friendly old Frenchman.

After I grew up, I followed my Pa's example of neighborliness. I was also the recipient of many acts of neighborliness Chuck Wellens, who worked for the local Electrical Co-op, helped put in the electric hook-up to out trailer back in '86. When I inquired how much to pay him, he answered, "You're just gonna piss me off to ask that." As Chuck was, (and still is) a powerfully built man, I acquiesced. Fifteen years later, when we were building a garage, Chuck wired the electrical hook-up as well. I remembered not to even broach the subject of reparation. Some six years later, when I retired from the Navy Reserves, Chuck was surprised when I invited him and his wife Melissa to the my retirement ceremony. Well duh! More about neighbors next time. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

12/21/2013 07:15.45 PM Report This Comment  
  Thanatopsis (meditation upon death)
Now comes the ending of the year; where light and life dims to its nadir, and one can only hope against hope for a new year of renewal. It is not for nothing that at this time of year, all cultures seek to remind themselves that the Sun will return and dormant life will spring once again. "All that tread the globe are but a handful to the tribes that slumber in its bosom." -- William Cullen Bryant. Various peoples throughout history would light bonfires at this time to express defiance in the face of darkness and to express hope for yet another Spring.

The oft-unspoken, yet overriding thought at the Winter Solstice is of death. We humans are the only beings who are aware of our own impending demise. As a result, we are moved to fear it. As Shakespeare so eloquently described it in Hamlet's Soliloquy, "_ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause."

We who are Christians are promised everlasting life; yet instead of being a cause for joy, our faith causes some of us to dread what they believe is a final judgment. Dies Irae, Day of Wrath, is a hymn that describes this sentiment: "Day of wrath and doom impending." Yet even this hymn returns to the theme of forgiveness:

"Ah! that day of tears and mourning!
From the dust of earth returning
Man for judgment must prepare him;
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them thine eternal rest. Amen."

Regardless of one's personal beliefs, the following verses from William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis" holds true:

"As the long train of ages glide away, the sons of men, the youth in life's green spring, and he who goes in the full strength of years, matron and maid, the speechless babe, and the gray-headed man shall one by one be gathered to thy side by those, who in their turn shall follow them."

As for me, while I think that I could find comfort in the Naturalism of Bryant, I, as a Catholic Christian, believe in something more. I quote the thoughts of a fellow Christian, Elizabeth McGloin Browne, who was moved to express this about death and loss: "Since the loss of my twin sons and dad in the same year (2011), I no longer think of those who have died and say "I loved them". Instead I think and say, "I love them". It is current and ever present in my life."

This defines my beliefs as well. "Death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:56) Keep the faith, my friends. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

12/07/2013 08:01.12 PM Report This Comment  
  Another Late Autumn (Part II)
Author's note: Please scroll down for Part I.

No wonder we humans can vicariously sense the exertion it takes to fly. At this time of year we also feel the necessity of storing energy (fat) for the stark months ahead. As my Facebook friend, Michael Thomas Merren observed: "Fall comes and we are drawn to the cozy warmth of the hearth fire and heavy meats." One friend had described her aching to fly with the migratory birds during Autumn. I replied that I felt more in tune with tunneling creatures who gathered and stored instead of migrating and who were able to rest warm and cozy below the frost line among stores of nuts and seeds, lying in beds of dried grass and down.

For us humans, as I'd described a year ago, we feel the need at this time of year to hunt for or slaughter the proteins and fat that we will need from wild game or domestic animals. It is cold enough to store meat and also cold enough for our bodies to sense the need for added fat. It is not for nothing that Thanksgiving has become a feast day for us to overeat and grow fat at the threshold of Winter. We will need it during the months to come. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

11/30/2013 07:20.37 PM Report This Comment  
  Another Late Autumn, (Part I)
It's the last day of November. I consider this the last day of Autumn, though oft-times there's snow on the ground by this time. I've grown to love this time of year as well. The bare brown earth shines with its own dull gleaming, free of foliage. The wan sunshine of the November afternoon reveals a land awaiting sleep under the snows of Winter. Ice is beginning to form along the edges of ponds and lakes. The photo I've posted is another excellent one taken by my Ruthie of the Stiles Flowage just a half mile away. The last migratory birds gather together in the face of the coming cold. Last week I heard the call of the Sandhill Cranes as they flocked in order to begin their journey South. They, I think, are the last of the true migratory birds to leave. The robins, still present, will stay until there are no insect carcasses to feed upon, and go as far South as they need to in order to find bare ground. At the present time, many Canada geese "winter" here, where before they would "summer" here. The presence of a permanent population of geese indicates that the shores of the Bay and the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay has become an "overlap" area of migration. Almost every day I will see skeins flying to the cornfields north of the city and every lake and large pond around here (including the Flowage) will have a flock or gaggle of geese settling down come nightfall.

In the many years that I've delivered mail in Green Bay I've noticed that a large population of ducks winter in the city as well. There are many little streams and creeks that still flow unimpeded through the city: Duck Creek, Dutchman's Creek, Beaver Creek, the East River, Baird's Creek, and some others that have no name. Every clear evening during the late Autumn and throughout the Winter I will see a flock of small ducks hurtle skyward right after sunset and make a long circuit outward and then back to their nightly roosting site along Beaver Creek behind some apartment buildings. My guess is that they do this in order to increase their heart rates and body temps before settling down for the cold night. Now anyone with a soul has wondered what it would be like to fly. I've always imagined how joyous it would be to ascend quickly over the tree tops and then glide over a warm, green meadow. It is only now that I've gotten older that I started to consider just how much work it must be to physically thwart gravity. Hal Borland agrees: "Flight requires more energy than the most strenuous of normal human activity. . . . If I had to eat as much as a bird eats I should consume fifty to eighty pounds of bread, meat and vegetables every day....to convert all this food into energy, all birds have very high rate of metabolism." (Please scroll up for Part II)

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

11/30/2013 07:14.50 PM Report This Comment  
  Deer Season (My Favorite Hunt)
A year ago I wrote how late Autumn had its own particular beauty. This year is no different. The latest photo I've posted is another view of La Ferme Sabloneuse taken by my Ruthie. Even in late Autumn, this place is full of life. At the bottom of this little valley, the deer will bed down during the afternoon in order to sleep in the warm sunshine and then move north and then west through Eldest Brother David's pines and on to the neighbor's hay field. Just last week, as I was raking leaves at the homestead, Ruthie came over to take some photos. As I hauled a load of leaves down into the valley, Ruthie saw three deer run through our property and west across the road. Two hours later, as I drove westward on Caldie Road, I saw those same three deer later that evening in Caldie's hay field. The other day my Ruthie, ever observant, saw a plump doe in our front yard greedily sampling mushrooms. I checked with a knowledgeable naturalist who told me out of some fifty species of 'rooms, about thirty are edible for deer, and that they know instinctively by scent, which are good and which are poisonous. I just hope this doe decides to come out next week during hunting season.

I do not know if I will hunt this year. If I don't, it will be the first time since I was in the Air Force. Eldest Brother David will probably not hunt for the first time since he was in the Air Force some 45 years ago, due to health problems. These problems are related to the heart surgery he'd had a few years ago. He had had that surgery in the Spring. I remember his son Matt helped me plant his garden and that Summer, as he recuperated, he would sit in a lawn chair in the garden and weed by hand. That Autumn, during deer hunting, David felt well enough to sit in his stand next to the giant Oak tree in his field in back of his house. We did a drive from the South on a Sunday afternoon and as it got dark we heard a shot from David's position. When I got there he showed me where a fat yearling lay dead almost 100 yards away. Since Eldest was about all done in from the excitement and exertion, I dragged the deer to the Oak, drove David's pickup truck down there so I could use it to help me hoist the animal and used the truck lights for illumination as I field-dressed the deer. Later, as David rested and gloated in the passenger's side of his little old Ranger truck, I drove him and his deer to get it registered and then to the safety of his garage. I never got a shot that year, but I was happier and prouder to help him with his deer than if I had gotten one myself. You know, as I write this, I'm starting to think twice about not hunting this year

If I do hunt, I will spend the afternoons on the sandy hill (my own backyard) overlooking the "Valley Garden". Hopefully, any bedded-down deer will climb the hill as the sun sets. I will also keep my cell-phone handy in case Ruthie calls me to announce that that doe has come back to the other side of the hou

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

11/23/2013 07:40.53 PM Report This Comment  
  Making Hay
So, Gary, with all this experience you have with hay, does that mean you'll be here next summer to help Randy with ours???

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

11/22/2013 07:03.01 AM Report This Comment  
  Making Hay, Part IV
I posted two photos on Facebook; one taken by my Ruthie of round hay bales in Oconto County, and another file photo showing giant rectangular bales. (This second one was taken in Perch, France, home of my Trottier ancestors) Round bales compress hay more than square bales and can be left in the fields, or stowed outdoors, especially if they are wrapped to repel moisture. Square (rectangular) bales must be stored under cover. Larger square bales, "maximizing the amount of hay which is protected from the elements" (Wikipedia) are what we are seeing more frequently here in NE Wisconsin. The advantage of small, square bales is that they can be individually handled by one person. The other advantage is that if the bale is rotting, it can be disposed of with relatively little hay loss. The disadvantage, conversely, is that it is labor intensive. A typical hay making crew of my experience is one person on the tractor, with another one on the hay wagon. Back at the barn there was one person (usually the youngest or a female) unloading the bales onto the elevator, and one (or preferably two) up in the mow. When the wagon-load of hay was unloaded, the "mow crew" then headed out to the field to exchange wagons with the baling crew. When the mow crew had to wait for the baling crew out in the field to finish their load, there was usually some good natured joshing about how slow some people worked. When the baling crew finished first; it usually meant that there was time to doze in the shade of the hay wagon until you heard the drone of the approaching smaller tractor pulling an empty wagon.

Large bales, square or rolled, meant less manpower. One person, with a baler and Bobcat, could bale and then store a day's harvest all by himself. I'm certain that it's more efficient, but I miss the haying crews; lying in the shade next to the barn while waiting for the next load of hay to be brought in from the field or lying in the shade of the hay wagon out in the field waiting for the next empty wagon to come out from the barnyard. Regardless of the size of the bales or the method of haying; it was a good feeling at this time of year to know that there was enough hay stored by to last all through the winter and well into the following spring. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

11/16/2013 06:37.25 PM Report This Comment  
  Making Hay, Part III
When I was a kid, a roundhouse punch was referred to as a "hay-maker". This alluded to the roundabout sweep of a scythe as a Countryman reaped a crop. As we all know, the "Grim Reaper" carries such a tool as he collects his grim harvest. Of course nowadays, like topping a stack, using a scythe has become a lost art, except for the Amish. I wish I would've asked my Pa to show me how it was done. I've used the scythe each year to cut the previous year's asparagus growth and to hack down the Cow's Cud that grows along the road and driveway. Try as I may, I am unable to master the smooth technique of the old masters. Those old farmers would have an oblong whetstone sticking out of their back pockets and at intervals they would whip it out, spit on it, and quickly sharpen their scythe. I know that those wizened men would usually work themselves to death by their 60s, but still, I envy them.

At La Ferme Sabloneuse, we still use the McCormick hay mower to cut hay. I've re-posted a photo of my Pa as a younger man on the mower and posted another one from about 15 years ago of Eldest Brother David and I on the same mower. We had two such mowers when I was a kid. Pa took the parts of one and used them to renovate the other. I remember that he needed an end piece for the blade and made me call Lon's Implement and ask if they had such a piece for a 1903 McCormick Hay Mower. I think that you already know the answer. Not to be deterred, as the saying goes, Pa simply took the brass door plate of a common household interior door lock system, filed an edge to it, and bolted it to the mower. I remember that a few years ago, David had to revisit the rusting hulk of the junked mower for more parts for the one still in service. In addition to the banner hay making year of 1970, I remember in 1988 we harvested a huge crop of hay using the same implements and transported a haystack via the tractor and hay-wagon to a neighbor's who had three horses. A few years later we cut another big crop and allowed a neighbor to come in with his baler and harvested 85 standard bales of hay.

From that time til now, farmers have switched to giant rolls of hay and then to giant rectangular bales. More about this when I finish up my series on Making Hay. -- Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

11/09/2013 06:54.24 PM Report This Comment  
  Hay Making, Part II
From a little research on the web, I can tell you that McCormick produced a hay baler in 1874. I remember from the the later writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder that a steam-operated baler was used to produce 250 lb bales, using a crew much like the wheat threshers of that time. I once talked with my uncle Oliver Shallow who lived to be almost 90. He told me how he used his favorite team of horses to work with a steam-powered baler in the '20s. What I find fascinating about Uncle Oliver is that in his lifepan, and that of his son, Oliver Jr.; farming evolved (or devolved, depending on one's viewpoint) from subsistence farming to the corporate farming that we see today. Uncle Oliver was born in 1900, farmed with horses to a greater or lesser extent until around 1950, and when his eldest son, Oliver Jr, (born in 1927) married and started his own farm in the late '40s, ol' Oliver gave his son a team of horses as a wedding present.

Most people around my age grew up handling the relatively small bales that could be man-handled onto a hay wagon and then stored in the hayloft. I say "relatively small"; actually they were more than heavy enough for me when I was in my teens working for a dairy farmer in Couillardville, halfway between Stiles and Oconto along the south bank of the Oconto River in the 1970s. The most skilled and strongest of the crew worked up in the hay mow, where temperatures could get up around 110 degrees. To be able to plan and fit several thousand rectangular bales puzzle-perfect, 40 feet high, in a barn's loft is the work of a true craftsman. Such a task was way beyond my ken. The best job was to be on the hay wagon, stacking it one bale at a time. I loved standing on that wagon, knees slightly bent in order to sway with the slow rocking of the baler as it processed each bale. High on the rolling hills overlooking the Oconto, with the High Summer breeze cooling my scrawny, sweaty torso; I could look down and see the seagulls below combing the river, drought-shrunken in the Summers of the mid '70s. I could look up and see the giant cumulus clouds, snow-white and bereft of moisture during those Summers, feeling a drop of ten degrees whenever the wagon passed under their shade. Looking around me, I would see a kestrel fluttering over the windrows, looking for field mice scurrying away from the noise and disturbance of the machinery, and then folding its wings and dropping to the ground to collect its prey. God, I loved baling hay! I understood how later innovations like hay rolls and Bobcats and giant bales saved labor and made it more profitable; but like the scythe-wielding hay makers and stack-toppers of the previous generations, I rue the passing of an era. More about Making Hay next time. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

11/02/2013 07:25.43 PM Report This Comment  
  Making Hay, Part I
Having never taken an Agriculture course, I won't pretend to educate anyone about hay making. I can only tell you about my own limited experience. Hay is simply grass and other suitable plants cut and dried in order to be stored for use as fodder (and bedding) over the winter. Grasses, like Timothy, orchard grass, and rye grass or even wild grasses are suitable. Legumes, such as alfalfa and clovers, have even more nutrient content, and are preferred over grasses alone.

Hay is a part of every Countryman's and woman's life experience on the farm. Just a few weeks ago my Ma, in the clutches of late stage Alzheimer's, was watching "Jeopardy" with me as I made my nightly visit at her nursing home. The clue was the photo of the fuzzy head of a legume grass and Alex Trebek stated, "This legume was named for its proponent's first name." Ma probably didn't catch Alex's words but when she saw the photo, she immediately said, "Timothy!"

It was Timothy Hansen who lent his name to it. I now quote Wikipedia: "Timothy-grass was unintentionally introduced to North America by early settlers, and was first described in 1711 by John Hurd from plants growing in New Hampshire. Hurd named the grass "hurd grass" but a farmer named Timothy Hanson began to promote cultivation of it as a hay about 1720, and the grass has been known by its present name since then. Timothy has now become naturalized throughout most of the US and Canada." Leave it to farmers to be familiar enough to name an important crop after a fellow farmer's first name!

Up to the time of Ma's childhood, hay was stacked in the field or stored loose in the upper loft of barns. In her time the art of "topping a stack" in order to shed rain involved an experienced and skilled farmer. Such a haystack could withstand a winter of weather until it was moved in to feed livestock. Outside of the Amish, I don't know of anyone who could "top a stack" nowadays. The year when we made our own giant haystack for the pigs next to the barn in 1970 we covered it with a tarp. The photo I've posted is of our hay field with the original smaller stacks. Later that year Eldest Brother David led us in putting each stack onto the hay wagon and we slowly built the big one. The second photo is of Ma standing in front of the hay wagon. More about hay next time. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

10/29/2013 08:03.08 PM Report This Comment  
  Requiem of a Garden
It was almost a year ago to the day that I wrote a blog about cleaning up the home garden. On this day I did almost the exact same things that I had done a year ago. As I went over last year's entry, it reminded me that one year in a Countryman's or woman's life resemble all the others. Still, as I had mentioned last year; each year in a Countryman's is a life cycle in an of itself. This year, a warm, early Autumn has allowed some garden crops to remain active beyond their normal lifespan. I was able to harvest cucumbers and peppers into October. Even today, after several cold nights, some of the bean and pepper plants were still green, as if "flash frozen". The day dawned bright and sunny and I had my Ruthie take some photos for me. The first one I think says "a thousand words" about the end of the year's gardening. The second photo is the view from where I put my chair out in the sun in order to rest. As I mentioned in my last entry, I love the deep, wine-red burgundy of our Oaks. By the afternoon, there were snow flurries and as I spaded over the last of the raised beds I was glad to be done with it all and have it ready for Winter.

I also found time to pick the last of the winter apples from my semi-dwarf tree at the northeast corner of the backyard. I had bought two of these trees 26 years ago, the first Spring after Ruthie and I settled on our piece of La Ferme Sabloneuse. I had went with a friend who had bought the same type of tree for his front yard. His house is on old, rich farmland where today they grow sod, which tells you how good the soil is. His trees today are georgeous. I made the mistake of planting my trees on the northern lip of the sandhill which makes up my property. One tree died after several years of struggle, but the other still hangs on, stunted, with a scabby trunk. Still, once I had transplanted dozens of Norway pines on the northern face of the hill, and they grew large enough to act as a windblock and heat reflector; that little tree started and continues to produce a fine crop of winter apples. They taste best, crisp and sweet, after several frosts. I saved the best for my lunch for the next week, and gave the rest to my brother to dole out sparingly among his deer stands.

Getting the garden ready for Winter makes me feel sad, because it spells the end of the warm weather. But it is also a relief, or at least a sense of completeness. It's at this time a Countryman and woman makes a summation of the growing year, with an assessment of successes and failures of that year's gardening, and plans for the next's. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

10/26/2013 06:14.48 PM Report This Comment  
Gary, if I didn't know better, with all the 'talk' about porches, I would swear you had some Southern boy in you! Porches are a way of life, and another room in our Southern homes. Although I don't have one yet, I will - about 14' deep and clear across the back of the house (if I don't wrap it around, too) and a line of rockin' chairs from can to cain't! Preserve that piece of Southern heart, my friend. And I'll save you a rockin' chair!

Come visit me, The Farm Wife & Paradise Plantation.

10/22/2013 07:39.01 PM Report This Comment  
  The Moon of the Falling Leaves
As the title says, this is "The Moon of the Falling Leaves". Last month I had said that there were two Harvest Moons this year. My Punky, Amanda Truckey, is spending more that 12 hours a day this week honoring the moon, so to speak. She is helping to harvest the soybean crop in Nebraska and next will be harvesting corn. I don't know if the full moon helps them at all since all the tractors and combines have super-powered floodlights but its still nice to think of my daughter operating her big John Deere as the orange Harvest Moon rises over the horizon.

Again, as mentioned last month, the First Nations didn't regard this moon as one of harvest, although the Abenaki called September "The Corn Maker Moon" and the Ojibwe and the Menominees called it "The Rice Moon". As for October, the Abenaki called it "Penibagos, The Leaf Falling Moon". The Ojibwe (Chippewa, or most accurately, Anishnaabe) called it "Binaakwe-giizis, Falling Leaves Moon".

And so it is the time of the falling leaves at La Ferme Sabloneuse. The smaller Maple saplings have already lost their leaves. I was hard pressed to find one or two today to mark for transplanting next week, for what the Farmwife calls "Passalong Plants". The "Great Maple" or "The Truckey Tree" as our good neighbors call it, is in full color, though already the grass under it is carpeted in red. This next week will see wind and rain and I know that I will see the leaves fly. It is sad, I know, but I love it all the same. In recompense, our Oaks will turn a deep wine-red and almost purple and retain most of their leaves for almost another month. I love raking leaves in the wind, walking along my mail route among the blowing leaves in the wind, and going out for night forays with the late Autumn moon plowing through the scudding clouds with leaves rattling and scurrying in the wind. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

10/22/2013 07:23.47 PM Report This Comment  
  Porch Sitting, Part IV
And so it was on a beautiful Autumn day that I was putzing around outside. I loaded the wheelbarrow with rotting muskmelons and other detritus from the home garden and hauled it out to one of the deer hunting towers that Eldest Brother David had built. I dumped the wheelbarrow and as I was traversing the valley between David's property and my own, I looked over at his house. At first I couldn't tell if I was seeing an old, red clay flower pot sitting on his porch table or the side of David's tanned, weather-beatened face as he sat on his porch chair. Neither object would be capable of much in the line of movement. I stared for a good while. Then, the clay pot waived a tanned hand at the end of a blue, denim-clothed arm and I recognized it as belonging to my brother.

Never being one to pass up an opportunity for some "porch sitting", I left the wheelbarrow and strolled up to David's porch. In the old days, when I was in my 20s, I would forego walking around to the porch steps at its north end and instead, clamber over the railing and onto the porch. That day, feeling spry under the warm October sun, after a moment of hesitation, I did it again. Puffing a little from the exertion, I found a chair on the porch and talked with David and Belle Soeur Susie for a half hour. Finally, I returned to my wheelbarrow and my work.

Porch sitting; it is a true and venerable country past-time. Only a true countryman or woman can appreciate its nuances. --Gary

Come visit me, La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm).

10/19/2013 06:18.29 PM Report This Comment  


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