A late fall sun slowly crept over the eastern horizon. The thermometer reported eight degrees this morning as I made my way from the bedroom to the woodstove that provides most of the heat for our cabin. With some crumpled up newspaper, a couple sticks of cured split oak wood, and the magic of some commercial fire starter, the old stove sputtered to life.

Looking out the cabin window to a newly piled stack of firewood, now a little snow covered, I thought about my days on the farm as a kid. This time of the year and on into the “just around the corner” winter season, we began to relax a bit. The haymows in the barn were stacked high with alfalfa, clover, and bromegrass hay.

The corn crib was filled to running over with yellow cob corn. Our wooden stave silo was filled with corn silage, and the oat bins in the granary sagged from the seasons annual threshing. The woodpile, many times larger than the one pictured here, stood ready for the long, cold winter ahead.

As I looked out the window at a chilly landscape, I thought about how much the winter season drove everything that we did on the farm. All of the work from spring to fall centered on preparations for winter. For providing sufficient shelter and feed for the farm animals. And making sure the family had shelter and food to last until spring.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: As we finished preparing for winter, we looked forward to slowing down a bit. 

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to 

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