• Fran O

    It’s Time to Count Our Blessings

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on November 14, 2013

    Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is just around the corner. Families and friends everywhere are gathering to share great food and celebrate the good things in each of our lives. It’s also a good time to re?ect back on the year and count our many blessings. That may seem hard in a year plagued by a cold, wet spring and summer drought, but there are still plenty of reasons for Wisconsin farmers to be grateful in 2013. Weather woes Farmers across much of the state battled cold…

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  • Fran O

    State Fair Was a Record-Breaking Success

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on September 12, 2013

    Ideal weather with mild temperatures, low humidity and very little rain no doubt helped boost attendance at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair, but diverse ag and educational exhibits, big-name entertainment, great carnival rides and a wide variety of food were the main reasons the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair tied an attendance record that dates back to 1969. More than 1 million people – 1,012,552 to be exact – attended the 11-day fair from Aug. 1-11 in West Allis. That's…

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  • Fran O

    The End Of An Era

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on August 11, 2013

    This summer was a lot like any other for my family with most of July and the first week of August focused on preparing for and attending county fair and state fair. But unlike other years, this was the last county fair and state fair my sons will show at. My twins, Matthew and Nathan, are 19 and will turn 20 in November, so their 4-H and showing careers have come to an end. They began showing registered Holstein dairy calves at the Fond du Lac County Fair in 1998 when they were…

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  • Fran O

    It's Time To Install Central Air

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on July 15, 2013

    My mother always cautioned, "Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it!" I think all of the rain we have received this year is a direct result of too many of us wishing and praying for rain much of last year. I think we must have prayed a little too hard – that's my theory at least. According to Bill Bland, University of Wisconsin Extension soil and water conservation specialist, Wisconsin will get warmer and wetter in years to come, so get used…

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  • Fran O

    The Challenges of Gardening are A Lot Like Farming

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on June 25, 2013

    Flower gardening or vegetable gardening is as much of a challenge this year as trying to plant corn or soybeans and harvest first-crop alfalfa! The cool, wet spring has now given way to a hot, wet summer. With all the rain we have gotten and continue to get, it's hard to keep up with the weeds in both my flowerbeds and my family's vegetable garden. Last year, the problem was a lack of moisture and too much heat. I watered and watered and watered and still I don't think my…

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  • Fran O

    It's Spring! Get Out And Grow Something

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on May 28, 2013

    I've loved flowers since I can remember. While cut flowers are nice, I admit I get more enjoyment out of watching flowers bloom and grow in a flower bed or flower garden. I'm no expert at flower gardening -- I am learning as I go. In my flower beds, located on the south and east sides of our house, I grow my favorite perennial flowers and plants -- roses, irises, tulips, daffodils, jonquils, peonies, purple cone flowers, black-eyed Susans, mouse-eared coreopsis, hydrangeas, tiger…

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  • Fran O

    What A Difference A Year Makes

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on March 25, 2013

    A year ago, we were basking in 80-degree temperatures in Wisconsin on the first day of spring – double the normal high temperature of 40. On the first day of spring this year, we were greeted with a low temperature of 5 degrees in east central Wisconsin and the high temperature barely made it above 20 degrees – half the normal high for the first day of spring and 60 degrees below what we had in 2012. Only in Wisconsin could you have temperature swings that great from one year to…

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  • Fran O

    Believing Spring Is Just Around The Corner Takes A Leap Of Faith This Year

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on March 8, 2013

    When it comes to spring, seeing is believing this year. Maybe it's because we have had 60 days of snow so far this winter and between 60 and 70 inches of snow in many parts of Wisconsin. When the weatherman says warmer days are on the way I say, I'll believe it when I see it! I know the calendar says spring is less than two weeks away, but looking at the endless piles of snow makes it hard to truly believe spring will arrive in Wisconsin on March 20. I will admit, today is…

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  • Fran O

    A Life Well Lived

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on February 4, 2013

    On Jan. 31, I attended the funeral for a longtime friend Roger O'Leary Rebout, who also happens to be my husband's first cousin. I met Roger in 1979 before I knew my husband. Roger was already a successful farmer by then. During my 34-year career in journalism, Roger became one of my top news sources. If I needed his reaction to a new farm bill or I wanted to find out how crops were faring in his part of the state during a drought, or I wanted to know his thoughts on historically…

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  • Fran O

    Farm Meeting Season Is Just Around The Corner

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on December 12, 2012

    Pretty soon you will be taking down the tree, packing away the decorations, eating your last Christmas cookie and ringing in the New Year. That can mean only one thing – farm meeting season is just around the corner! January traditionally is the height of the farm meeting season in Wisconsin. I'm not sure why that is, but I think Extension agents, agribusinesses and farm organizations figure farmers have little else to do in January besides chores, reading farm magazines and…

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