June is bursting with "specialness"

Jerry Apps
Fresh strawberry pie from berries picked in the family's patch was a favorite of Jerry Apps.

June is a very special month.

Let’s start with it being Dairy Month in Wisconsin.  A chance to applaud the hardworking farmers and cheesemakers that keep Wisconsin the number one cheesemaking state in the nation. 

Wisconsin has been number one since 1910 when our cheesemakers took the title away from New York State, which had been the nation’s top dairy state. So many great cheese varieties to try—some 600 of them. Which is most popular these days? Cheddar? Nope, it’s Mozzarella. This country likes its pizza and Mozzarella is a prime ingredient.

June has the longest day of the year, the most daylight hours of any of the months. And it also marks the beginning of summer—officially.

June is the month of fresh peas, lettuce and radishes from the garden.  Nothing tastes better than vegetables that have been freshly harvested..

For this old farm boy, June was also haymaking month. I will never forget the smell of freshly cut and curing alfalfa—no perfume comes close.

But of all the memories, one sneaks up on top. Strawberries. We had a sizeable patch of them—they were my mother’s project.

We picked them and sold them to friends, relatives, and traded for groceries with them at the Mercantile store in Wild Rose.  And we ate them three times a day. On our cornflakes at breakfast, on shortcake for lunch, and if we were lucky, in a strawberry pie for supper.

 My mother also canned strawberries—no freezing as we didn’t have electricity. We enjoyed them all winter long. When unexpected company came, she brought up from a cellar a jar of canned strawberries. Always a treat for our city relatives.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: June, a special month in many ways.

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