Posted on May 15, 2015
Unlike most farmers and ranchers today, Scott Laeser and Chelsea Chandler can see all their livestock and nearly every acre of their farm from their kitchen’s windows.
It’s not an expansive view. The entire farm, nestled in southern Wisconsin’s Driftless region a few crooked miles west of Argyle, is a 77-acre quilt of wetlands, prairie, woods, […]
Posted on March 23, 2015
As winter’s icy hands again strangle most of the country, I toss another log in the stove and grab the stack of old newspapers, aging magazines, and new books that has grown tall during winter travels.
The newspapers take little time. No trick to reading a two-weeks-old daily newspaper: headline… headline… recycling bin. The magazines are […]
Posted on March 10, 2015
The Progressive Farmer magazine’s February issue resembles most mid-winter issues of most U.S. farm magazines. It features stories on how to grow more corn, how to whip soybean aphids, and how to “Drain Water in the Hydraulics.”
Interspersed between these tried-and-true farm favorites, however, are three stories that mark just how incredibly diverse our farm and […]
Posted on February 9, 2015
January’s week of blistering cold was met with the blissful heat from the farmette’s two efficient woodstoves. Red oak and hickory are, after all, the July and August of wood heat both when you split ‘em and when you burn ‘em.
Zero degree cold was not common on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my […]
Posted on January 26, 2015
We didn’t know it back then but everyone on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was a foodie.
Of course there was no one named Bittman or Pollan or Waters to tell us we were foodies but there were people named Mom and Grandma and Aunt Nina whose food knocked your socks off […]
Posted on December 23, 2014
Originally published in 1994, “Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving” continues to be the most requested, most reprinted Farm and Food File column. The column inspired The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey which will be published by The University of Illinois Press in May 2015.
The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that […]
Posted on December 3, 2014
Fall’s first frost, usually a mid-October event in my adopted central Illinois, waited until the last possible monthly moment—deep into Halloween night—to finally show winter’s white face.
We didn’t so much see it coming as feel it coming. A stern northwest wind arrived before sun-up that day and built into a gale by noon. It scattered […]
Posted on October 1, 2014
The early morning wind rises with the sun from the east. Where I live, an east wind blows change. There’s a meteorological explanation for this, of course, but long before there was meteorology or meteorologists the east wind blew change.
The wind (it’s not a breeze) rattles the two black walnut trees in the far backyard […]
Posted on July 16, 2014
At the end of every fiscal year, June 30, and the end of every calendar year, December 31, readers claim this space to offer their views of my views.
Take Mike C. from Texas who, after I wrote a spring column on how climate change will affect food production in 2050, sent a parody of a […]
Posted on July 2, 2014
There’s no more comforting sound to awaken to than a soft June rain falling on a shingled roof. The patter of the light rain whispers sweet, two-word poems like “Maybe slowly” and “Rising delayed.”
On the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, a rainy June day was a treat almost as great as homemade ice […]