Spring has finally come to our corner of Wisconsin! Thought it would never happen. Actually, it's sort of more like Summer, and we simply skipped Spring entirely. The official First Day of Summer is just two weeks away, on Wednesday, June 21. After that, days will be getting shorter again, and we'll be on a long downward slide toward winter. Hope it's a really, really long, slow slide this year.
Meanwhile, the Sun really is up in the sky where it belongs. Some of us had begun to wonder. It's been making daily appearances, sometimes all day! Very pleasant change from a month or two of dreary, drizzly and cold when it wasn't stormy, windy and raining.
With the sunshine and heat of recent days, the mosquitoes may not be quite as plentiful or as hungry as they have been. While we're enjoying one of the first fine weekends of the season, we'll also get to enjoy a full moon from 8:36 p.m. on Friday night, June 9 until 6:14 a.m. Saturday.
This month's full moon is said to be a "mini moon." It will look slightly smaller than most full moons because the orb is at its farthest distance in its travels around the earth, but you may not even notice the difference.
Some native peoples in the northeastern U.S. called this moon the Strawberry Moon, because June is when wild strawberries native to the Americas ripen there. However, the Cherokees called the full moon of June the Green Corn Moon, since that was the growing season, and the Navajo called it a Planting Moon. The Tlingit peoples of the Pacific Northwest called the June full moon the Birth Moon. Among European colonists in America, the June full moon was known as the Rose Moon. Celtic-speaking people called it the Moon of Horses. It's all in how you look at it.
JUNE DAIRY MONTH
It's June, and June is Dairy Month. That's doubly true in Wisconsin, which has been America's Dairyland since 1930. There are approximately 1.8 million dairy cows in Wisconsin, 3.35 million total head of cattle if you count beef herds. Census says we have only 5.74 million humans.
Dairy farming has changed immensely over the years. My grandfather, Pa, supported himself and grandma, Ma, with a 10-cow herd, milked by hand. They never had much money, but they did have plenty of milk, cream and butter for their own consumption. They also had wonderful "clobbered milk," which was a bit like today's commercial sour cream, but a whole lot better and sweeter, especially when you put it on a slice of Ma's homemade bread and sprinkled it with sugar before eating. Good with strawberries and blueberries too. They also had their own firewood, fruits and vegetables that they raised, and chickens and their eggs, which also produced a little income.
Property taxes were $12 a year, compared to over $1,000 today on just the land.
Milking was done by hand from a three-legged stool into an open pail. Cats hung out in the barn at milking time, and generally were rewarded with a squirt of fresh, sweet milk, straight from the cow. When the pail was full, the milk had to be filtered before it went into the milk cans, which were kept cool in a big stock tank filled with cold water. When the time came each day, those milk cans were were brought to the railroad tracks by horse drawn wagon to be picked up by the milk train as it rolled by.
When Mom was a girl she and her sister spent most of their summer days watching the cows they had driven out to pasture. They had to keep them from wandering off, falling into the river, or venturing into the swamp, where the mud - or maybe it really was quicksand - was deep enough to fatally mire a cow. The barnyard had a wooden fence, but the pastures had no fences until later years. Guess they were also supposed to drive off any predators, but Mom didn't recall ever having to actually do that.
Dairy farming has changed a lot since those days, but remains a major backbone of Wisconsin's economy. One of every nine people in Wisconsin is employed in the dairy industry, which generates $43.4 billion annual income.
There were 180,695 farms with cows in Wisconsin in 1935. Today there are only 9,520 dairy farms in the entire state, but most of them are huge. Each has an average of 129 cows, but some farms count their cattle in the thousands. And 96 percent of today's mega farms are still family owned.
In 2015 there were 203 plants in Wisconsin that manufactured one or more types of dairy products, generally cheese. Wisconsin is said to have the sweetest milk because of the grass, climate and soil types, and 90 percent of that milk - 3.5 billion gallons a year - goes for cheese. If Wisconsin were a nation, it would be the fourth largest cheese producing nation in the world. Wisconsinites bring home more awards for high quality cheeses than any nation on earth.
That said, if you want to buy Wisconsin butter, read the labels carefully. Did that a few years ago and found most of it was made elsewhere. Found one named, "Wisconsin Grade A Butter." Happily bought it. Read the label after getting home and guess what??? It was made in Kentucky!
Incidentally, the flavor of Wisconsin milk is said to come from our hay and grass. Many Kentucky horse breeders buy hay from Wisconsin farms. It's said to have more nutrition and their horses like it better than hay (alfalfa) from anywhere else.
With June Dairy Month come June Dairy Breakfasts, which became a Wisconsin tradition starting in 1970. This year, the Oconto County breakfast is on Sunday, June 11, hosted by Rockledge Farms, 7407 Tower Drive Road, Lena. Activities include farm tours, educational tent, ice cream making, petting zoo, Badgers Bouncers, Live Band, peddle tractor pull, and more.
Menu includes all you can eat scrambled eggs with cheese and ham, pancakes, sausages, yogurt, apple slices, cheese, milk, orange juice, cheese, ice cream sundaes, coffee and water. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children over age five.
Mark your calendar for the Marinette County Dairy Breakfast on Sunday, June 25, at Golden Ridge Dairy, Inc. at W7419 E. 18th Road, slightly south of Crivitz. More about this closer to the date.
WORM RACES AND OTHER FUN
When Summer comes, days (and nights) in TIMESland are filled to overflowing with fun things to do. A nationally famous travel writer visiting here said that winters are so wicked in northern Wisconsin that come spring the party starts and doesn't end until Deer Season. He was right.
We not only have beautiful forests, lakes and streams, with lots of fish and natural sand beaches, we also manage to find some strange things to have fun with. Last week in Athelstane there was a contest to get a bug splatter closest to the bullseye on motorcycles. Hog wrestling and outhouse races will come later.
On Wednesday, June 14, the Wausaukee Area Library is holding is second annual Worm Race, starting at 10:30 a.m. Worms, squirt bottles and racing tracks will be provided. Prize ribbons will go to first, second and third place winners in each division. Worms may be taken home by their coaches. Snacks will also be provided. Forms are available at the library to register for the race and the summer reading program. All ages are welcome and this program is available free of charge. Contact the library at 715-856-5995 for more information.
On Saturday, June 10, Marinette County Conservationist Greg Cleereman, who recently became head of the county's Land Information Department, will lead a free bird watching walk through the trails of Harmony Arboretum from 6 to 8 a.m. Good walking/hiking shoes, binoculars, and insect repellent are recommended. The program starts in the pavilion next to the parking lot; some binoculars and bird guides will be available.
Harmony Arboretum is located seven miles west of Marinette, half a mile south of Hwy. 64 on County E, and is open year-round.
Last weekend was Free Fishing Weekend in Wisconsin, when you could fish without a license. This coming weekend, Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11, Michigan returns the favor. Fish all you want, state resident or not, on inland or border waters, no license is required. However, all other fishing regulations still apply, so you'd probably better get a rule book, look them up online, or ask a resident fisherman.
This coming weekend Porterfield Country Fest activities start, Oconto County celebrates Copper Fest, and there's lots more.
And don't forget to plan something special for Father's Day on Sunday, June 18.
CONCERTS IN THE PARKS
Peshtigo's weekly Bands at Badger on Wednesday evenings kicks off its summer season with The Sapphires entertaining from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Concessions open at 5 p.m.
Check local listings for free park concerts in Wausaukee, Crivitz, Marinette, Menominee and more, in addition to Peshtigo. There are also movies in parks, flea markets and farm markets everywhere.
School is out for the season. Never sure who is happier about that - the kids or the teachers, who are both freed from daily duties in the classrooms.
Teaching has changed a lot in the last 145 years if these old rules really were in effect back in 1872, when they are said to have originated in a school district somewhere in this nation. Educational requirements for teachers were somewhat minimal, and many of them in small rural districts were very young and inexperienced.
These teachers often handled all 12 grades in a single classroom, and part of their pay was lodging in the homes of students on a rotating basis. They not only had to teach without benefit of today's technology, they generally were also responsible for janitorial duties if these rules are true.
Here are the rules:
1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the daily' session.
3. Make your pens carefully. You whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
5. After 10 hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of this earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honest.
9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
Students in that same district reportedly had some rules that could and should be in effect today, except the one about firewood. They were:
1. Respect your schoolmaster. Obey him and accept his punishments.
2. Do not call your classmates names or fight with them. Love and help each other.
3. Never make noises or disturb your neighbors as they work. Be silent during classes.
4. Do not talk unless it's absolutely necessary.
5. Bring firewood into the classroom for the stove whenever the teacher tells you to.
6. If the master calls your name after class, straighten the benches and tables, sweep the room, dust and leave everything tidy.
If strawberries aren't ripe yet, they soon will be. Lilacs are finally in full bloom, so it can 't be long. There's nothing quite like a fully ripe strawberry, picked fresh from the plant, still warm from the sun. You can only get that if you pick your own. But if you can't do that, locally grown strawberries are also too delicious to miss when the short season gets here. Farm markets abound.
We Wisconsinites love our cheese and dairy products, and we know how to use them to bring out the best in other foods. June Dairy Month gives us a good excuse to indulge in the rich flavors we enjoy year round anyway. For example, you can't do better than a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with sliced, sweetened locally grown strawberries.
The Cheese and Burger Society has contests to find the world's greatest cheeseburgers. The sky's the limit. Here are two of their recent winners:
THE RHINELANDER: As usual with cheese burgers, grill or fry the beef patty, butter and toast the buns, put on the cheese and then the meat patty, and add the toppings, in this case, Wisconsin Butterkäse Cheese, Beer Mustard, Smoked Ham, Sautéed Onions, Frisée (or Leaf) Lettuce, and a Pretzel Bun
THE HONKEY TONK: Again, fry or grill the burger to the doneness you like. Toast a Sesame Seed Burger bun, and on it put Wisconsin Brick Cheese and then the beef patty. Then add BBQ Sauce, Peppered Pork, Onion Rings, Boston Bibb Lettuce, and Mayonnaise.
Veggie Pizza with Parmesan Herb Cream Cheese
Makes 16 pieces.
1 package Crescent rolls
1 large egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
8 ounces Wisconsin cream cheese, softened
1 cup (about 4 ounces) Wisconsin parmesan cheese, grated, plus additional for garnish
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon milk
6 spears thin-stalked asparagus
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shelled peas
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a cookie sheet and on it roll out the Crescent roll dough. Press to bring out to edges, leaving a bit of a rim around the edges. Lightly brush with egg and water mixture. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and cool completely. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, parmesan, garlic, basil and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add milk and stir mixture until creamy and evenly combined. Carefully spread cheese mixture in even layer over puff pastry, except rim.
Trim ends of asparagus and chop on the diagonal into about half-inch slices. Blanch in small pot of boiling water 30 seconds. Drain immediately and cool. Scatter asparagus, radishes, peas, green onion and carrot over pizza. Garnish with additional grated parmesan. Slice into squares and serve.
STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM CAKE
No need to tun on the oven. Just assemble, freeze, and bring out proudly at serving time.
1 quart strawberry ice cream
20 vanilla sandwich cookies
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cake (10.75-ounces), cut into 1/2-inch slices
16 ounces fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 quart vanilla ice cream
Let strawberry ice cream sit 15 minutes at room temperature.
Lightly grease a 10-inch nonstick springform pan and wrap the bottom with aluminum foil. Add cookies to food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add melted butter and pulse until well blended. Press mixture into bottom and slightly up sides of prepared springform pan. Spread strawberry ice cream evenly over crust. Cover ice cream with pound cake, cutting pieces to cover as much as possible. Freeze 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine strawberries, sugar and orange juice in heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring often. Transfer to heatproof container; cover; refrigerate to cool completely. Let vanilla ice cream sit 15 minutes at room temperature. Remove cake from freezer and spread cooled strawberry sauce over pound cake, leaving a 1-inch edge all the way around. Top with softened vanilla ice cream and spread to cover evenly. Return to freezer for 4 hours. Remove from freezer and let sit 10 minutes; transfer cake to serving plate. If desired, garnish with fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries.
Thought for the week: Lord, You have blessed us with a wonderful land, filled with milk and honey. Thank You for the sunshine and the flowers, and yes, for the rain; and for the birds and the bees and the butterflies. And, by the way, the bees and butterflies seem to be having a hard time right now. Please do something, or help us do something, to keep them coming around so our food and our flowers will continue to grow. Amen.
(This column is written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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