Royal Purple

What does April hail showers bring?

Early planting always a challenge

Chris Hardie, Contributor May 1, 2022

Our topsy-turvy spring weather so far this year has not inspired ambitions of gardening, but the show must go on. At least that’s what my wife Sherry told me recently when she decided it was time...

Chris Hardie

The disappearing work ethic

Chris Hardie, Contributer April 24, 2022

I was having a conversation recently with a crop farmer who remarked that she was enjoying the calm before the storm. It was early April and in just a few days she and her husband would be busy with...

Chris Hardie drills into a maple tree before setting the spile.

Maple season brings back sweet memory

Chris Hardie, Contributor April 17, 2022

Moving back to the country 16 years ago brought me back to many tasks and chores I experienced as a farm kid, but it also gave us the chance to try some new activities. One of them was raising pigs...

This bear sow and her two yearling cubs came out of hibernation near Black River Falls in good shape. (Photo courtesy of Bill Quakenbush.)

Bears awaking a sign of spring

Chris Hardie, Contributor April 3, 2022

Even when the icy grip of winter keeps holding on, there are signs of spring around us. One sure sign for me was when my animal waterer that froze at the end of January finally thawed. It’s a relief...

Little Creek during the last few hours of winter. The stream is fed by dozens of springs along the valley on Chris Hardie’s farm. (Chris Hardie photo)

A moment of reflection as spring arrives

Chris Hardie, Contributor March 27, 2022

I said goodbye to winter on a bright and crisp morning with the sounds of geese flying overhead. Life seems to be a series of busy moments linked together by the relentless onslaught of time. It’s...

Threadbare might be one way to describe Chris Hardie’s t-shirt from June Dairy Days 1994. (Chris Hardie photo)

‘He doesn’t throw anything away’: Frugal fashion fans respond to Hardie column

Chris Hardie, Contributor March 13, 2022

Ralph Lauren needn’t be concerned, but it appears my predilection for old clothes is a fashion trend shared by others. My recent column about wearing clothes until they fall apart found favor with...

This icicle was created by a dripping rain gutter outside Chris Hardie’s back door.

Appreciating the science and beauty of icicles

Chris Hardie, Contributer March 6, 2022

There are marvels all over the world, but sometimes one need only look out your back door to find new ones. In my case, it is literally outside my back door where a section of rain gutter was dislodged...

A Wisconsin historical marker on a wayside south of the peak tells the story. (Chris Hardie photo)

Story of Decorah Peak reveals rich history

Chris Hardie, Contributor February 27, 2022

History and geology sometimes come together to tell fascinating stories, such as the rocky outcrop just outside of Galesville known as Decorah Peak. Standing 1,161 feet above sea level, Decorah Peak...

Chris Hardie dons a shirt worn in his youth that he still wears today.

Don’t throw it out, wear it out

Chris Hardie, Contributor February 20, 2022

I pulled some old clothes from the closet the other day because I had some chores to do. Chore clothes have always been old clothes to me. Once I’ve put a T-shirt, shirt or a pair of pants through...

The Franklin Store in 2021, now used as a residence. (Chris Hardie photo)

Reader memories fill in details on general stores

Chris Hardie, Contributor February 13, 2022

The small general stores that served our rural communities have all nearly vanished, but they certainly have left behind vivid memories. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the general stores located in...

Buckets filled from a hydrant are carried 182 steps to water animals after the waterer froze.

The sound of winter

Chris Hardie, Contributor February 6, 2022

If below-zero temperatures had a sound, it would be this: the clang of an iron maul striking the frozen apron of a manure spreader. Our recent cold snap — we dipped close to 30 below zero in my neck...

Two bare spots in the snow indicate deer beds in the woods. Deer can bed down for hours or even days if the conditions warrant. (Chris Hardie photo)

The annual urge to hibernate

Chris Hardie, Contributor January 30, 2022

It’s always this time of winter with the cold and snow that the prospect of hibernation seems pretty darned attractive. After all, I have a lot of hyperphagic practice already in place by the additional...

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