My (Sort of) Battle with a Skunk

| By Alesha Thompson, Jennifer's sister | On our mini farm in Wisconsin, we have lots of critters. Mostly our awesome tomcat, Pippin, takes care of them—mice, chipmunks, and even rabbits. But there is one critter that even Pippin can’t defeat. We know this because we will periodically smell the strong scent of skunk on him, and we’ll know he’s lost another round with a skunk. Anytime I...
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The Deer Hunt

By Richard Gappmayer, Jennifer's father My father loved the deer hunt. It wasn't just the hunt, but the social activities that went along with it. It usually turned into a big male family outing. It included my father's brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, and sons. My aunt Edith would go along with us, but she was the only woman. The preparations beforehand took many weeks and included...
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Horses on the Farm

By Richard Gappmayer, Jennifer's father In the 1930s and 40s farm tractors were available but most of the small farmers could not afford one. Some farmers would cooperate in the purchase of one and then share it. Because of scarcity of motorized equipment many farmers relied on the horse. My father owned several horses and we used them on the farm. My brothers and I spent many hours following a...
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Surgery on the Cow

By Richard Gappmayer Years ago bales of hay were secured with wire. Yes, metal wire. One of my father's cows became sick and would not eat, so he called the veterinarian. The vet thought that the cow might have been poisoned by fragments of this hay baler wire. The cow was put in a stanchion, and the vet prepared to operate on her. I don't know if he gave her an anesthetic, but she stood there...
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The Chicken Chronicles: Hatching the Beautiful Hen

By Jennifer's sister Allison Sharp Last month, I told you the sad-but-true tale of one cowardly rooster and two deceased chickens. I was particularly saddened by the death of the beautiful hen, a Polish chicken with feathers that looked like one of Phyllis Diller's hats. In the photo below, she is standing next to the cowardly rooster. Love her feathers! My husband decided to try hatching three...
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The Great Rooster Rescue

Written by Jennifer's sister, Allison Sharp. Yesterday morning, after my husband had left for work, he called me. “Have you been outside yet?” “No.” “Walk out the front door and look in the window well.” As I got out of bed and walked down the hall, I noticed that the rooster seemed especially loud that morning. He lives in the back yard with the four hens, well away from the house,...
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A Good Old-Fashioned Barn Raising–Sort Of

(This post was written by Jennifer's sister Alesha, who lives in Portage County, Wisconsin) My husband hosted a good old fashioned barn raising a few weeks ago. The only difference was that it wasn't a barn, but a high tunnel he was constructing. Have you ever heard of a high tunnel? I hadn't either. Essentially it is a very large greenhouse. My husband is a closet farmer who works his day job as...
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German POWs

By Richard Gappmayer, Jennifer's father In previous posting I have discussed experiences with the German WWII POWs. Now the war is over and it is time for them to go home. My father, my sister Beatrice, and I had developed a rapport with these men and were sad to see them leave. They were all very nice, polite men who were victims of this war just like many others. My experience with them made me...
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I’d like to save the butterflies, but I can’t even grow weeds.

Ever since I wrote "The Honeybee Sisters" series, I have been quite concerned about bees and butterflies. I canceled my pest spraying service and have been looking at flowers to plant that bees and butterflies love. One reason that monarch butterflies are disappearing across the country is because milkweed is disappearing, and milkweed is what monarch caterpillars eat. With no food source,...
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The Rifle in the Cherry Tree

By Richard Gappmayer (Jennifer's father) When the German POWs would come to work on my father's farm they would, during the first summer, be accompanied by a guard. This guard would be armed with an M1 rifle. I don't know if it was loaded. I suspect that it was not. The guard would usually walk around with nothing to do while the men were picking cherries, or he would trade war stories with my...
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