Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Horse-Drawn Days: A Century of Farming with Horses
By Jerry Apps
216 pages, 140 b/w and color photos and illus., 8 x 9"Buy
A Midwest Connections Pick for June 2010 from the Midwest Booksellers Association
Before tractors or steam engines arrived on the farm, horses did all the heavy work. From spring plowing to the fall harvest, the mighty draft horse powered farms across the Midwest. Relied upon to complete a multitude of tasks, including towing threshing machines and plows, hauling milk to the local cheese factory, and pulling the family buggy to church each Sunday, these animals were at the center of farm life, cementing the bond between human and horse.
"Horse-Drawn Days: A Century of Farming with Horses" captures stories of rural life at a time when a team of horses was a vital part of the farm family. Author Jerry Apps pairs lively historic narrative with reminiscences about his boyhood on the family farm in Wisconsin to paint a vivid picture of a bygone time. Featuring fascinating historic photos, ads, and posters, plus contemporary color photos of working horses today, "Horse-Drawn Days" evokes the majesty of these animals and illuminates the horse's role in our country's early history and our rural heritage.
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2011 USA National Best Book Awards
Finalist in the Animals/Pets: General Category
"'Horse-Drawn Days' adds to Jerry Apps's credentials as the 'dean' of Midwest regional writers. The book deftly combines personal narrative, folk culture, mechanical knowledge, and loving tribute to the large horses that long powered rural America. Jerry has produced an excellent history and field guide that will delight those who remember those times and those ways and will intrigue and inform those who missed out. This book belongs on every shelf devoted to rural culture and country living." —Dennis Boyer, former draft horse logger and author of "Listen to the Land"
"As a breeder of Morgan horses for 30 years, I loved Jerry Apps's accurate and highly readable history of the big-hearted animals who partnered with our forebears in feeding the nation ... from the gentle giants who hauled the plows to the plucky light horses that drew the family buggies to town. The book is plumb full of useful information as well as inklings that may well serve our future!" —Annie Randall, owner, Village Booksmith, Baraboo, Wisconsin
"Jerry Apps is a master storyteller. ... The book offers information about work horses that might otherwise be lost if it wasn't written down. It was an important time in our history, and there aren't that many people who can remember those days. And there especially aren't many people who can tell the story as well as Jerry Apps." —Jim Massey, editor, "The Country Today"
"The stories woven in with all the details help even people with no connection to the land or agriculture enjoy the [book]. It was a little shocking even to me — a farm girl — how much change agriculture has gone through in such a short period of time! It makes one wonder what the next 50 to 70 years will look like. It also better helps me understand the deep appreciation some of my family members have for their draft horse stories. As usual, Apps also conveys a pretty strong message of remembering our past and learning from all of it." —Pam Jahnke, Farm Director, Farm Report Radio
"An appealing narrative ... not only showing the value of the horse as a result of its contributions to the survival of rural farmers, but also underlining its valuable role as a member of the farm family." —J. Liv Sandberg, Equine Extension Specialist, Dept. of Animal Sciences, UW-Madison
"Jerry once again gives his readers a fencerow view of farming practices in the early half of the 20th century ... a wonderful history lesson that goes beyond the 'seasons' of working the soil and tending livestock." —Joan Sanstadt, News Editor, "Agri-View"