Every farm has a story to tell

Jerry Apps
Apps' farm circa 1966.

It was an old farm with an old barn and a granary that had seen better days. The farmhouse, equally decrepit had burned sending the occupants away. The farm, homesteaded in 1867 by a Civil War veteran, had provided a living for several families over the years, albeit not a very good living, the land was poor – stony and hilly and hard to work.

It was the home place, where children learned how to do chores, and lived with the simple things of life as there was no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no central heating. There were families, parents and children – working together, doing chores, feeding the chickens and hogs, milking the cows, by hand, by the light of a kerosene lantern, and children walking a mile to the country school.

There were neighbors, too, one nearly across the country road, and another a half-mile north, and still another a half-mile south. Each ready to help when a task such as wood sawing, threshing, or butchering required a few extra hands.

It’s the farm my family owns now, not where I grew up, but only two miles away. We’ve owned it since 1966. We call it Roshara – we’re located in the Township of Rose in Waushara County – thus the name.

Our farm has a story to tell. And now, as we are losing so many farms, two a day last year, we are losing so many stories. Let’s hope some of the stories are told – so we all can learn, and remember what life was like on the farm.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: As we lose our farms, we lose the stories about who we are as a people, and where we have been.

Jerry Apps

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