Clearview Nursery, Weston, a walk through natural wonders. How life changes. In my younger days, a two hour drive to work in the Washington, DC area was normal. Now that I live in Wausau, driving ten miles out Schofield Ave. into neighboring Weston seems like a laborious undertaking. That is, until you get to the Clearview Nursery at 6414 Schofield Ave, Weston, Marathon County, just a stone's throw north of Hwy 29. Actually, my wife found it. She insisted I come out and partake of the beauty and hospitality, so I did. It's November 3, 2010, winter is any day now, and we won't break out of it until sometime in April if we're lucky. I shot these photos on July 10, 2010. Enjoy them through the winter and get psyched up for your spring and summer plantings. Be sure to visit Clearview Nursery if you can. November 3, 2010.
Jentzch Mink Farm, Medford. I was on my way home from a professional rodeo near Medford and spotted what I thought was an odd looking farm complex, most surely a design I had never seen. So I stopped, and learned this was the Jentzch Mink Farm. The US is the fifth largest producer of mink in the world. It turns out Wisconsin is the number one mink producer in the US. Cold climate is great to produce fur bearing animals with thick coats, so mink farming is concentrated in the northern states. The high-altitude sections of Utah rank number two behind Wisconsin.This is the first such farm I have seen. I’ve done a bit of research and have a few photos. July 11, 2011
LedgeStone Vineyards, at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment. I was visiting southeastern Wisconsin and decided to make my way back to Wausau through Fond du Lac City and DePere. I made my way up Hwy 32/57 on the east side of Lake Winnebago, the weather was not smashing, on and off drizzle. I happened upon, of all places I had not expected, a vineyard and winery, LedgeStone Vineyards. I was about eight miles south of DePere. It is at the foot of the southern section of what is known as the Niagara Escarpment, known as “The Ledge” in Greenleaf. July 22, 2012 updated July 30, 2012.
The Nasonville Dairy, "A family tradition of quality. "I've passed by the Nasonville Dairy Retail Store on Hwy 29 many times. You cannot miss that bright yellow building! Heading our of Wausau, it's a few miles past the Abbotsford exit. Last May, I decided to stop in an have around. I had to stop by again in September to educate myself on the roles of the equipment. September 19, 2010.
Marinette Marine, the Freedom combat ship and the lighterage cargo system. In mid-June 2007, while traveling through Marinette, Wisconsin, I came across Marinette Marine Corp., part of Manitowoc Marine Group, while it was building the first of the Navy’s USN Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Freedom. Back then, there was much to learn, and the construction site was closed, though visible form the other side of the river. Since then she has been launched and is on active duty. This report takes you from our first visit in 2007 through multiple updates to June 2010.
Minocqua's Little Brick House, and more. An argument can be made among people from Wisconsin that going to Minocqua in northern Oneida County is simply wading into mobs of tourists from Illinois and Indiana, and, of course, who wants to do that? I had been kind of like that. I had been there before, really only to drive in and out, through some very heavy traffic. But we had a beautiful day on September 6, 2009, and I decided, well, I'm going up there to see how "bad" it is. I have to tell you I had a wonderful time roaming around the town. January 24, 2010.
Schuster's Playtime Farm, and its Centennial Round Barn. A fellow named Craig "The Rooster" Roost introduced me to a project he undertook at Schuster's Playtime Farm at 1326 Hwy 12 & 18, in Deerfield, Dane County, east of Madison --- He rebuilt a cupola on an old round barn that was in a state of disrepair but has been undergoing preservation renovations since about 2001. I decided to drive over. It turns out, there's a lot of history behind round barns in general, and this one in particular. November 10, 2009.
The Handcrafted Furniture Co. of Wausau, Marathon County, is one each marvelous place to buy top-quality furniture at reasonable prices. I have bought multiple pieces there, ordered to my specifications, and I will tell you that they are heirloom quality, period. The company was established in 1987 has its store on 6th St. and Bridge in East Wausau. The company also has a manufacturing plant in the Wausau West Industrial Park. It usually has anywhere from 5-9 workers and sales between $1 to $2.5 million annually. The company is owned by Steve Woller, who incidentally, is mightily involved in hot air balloons. September 6, 2009
New Glarus, a "Little Switzerland" in southern Wisconsin. I am not usually a fan of "theme cities," but I am a fan of this one, New Glarus, Wisconsin. Settled in the mid-19th century by 108 Swiss immigrants from canton Glarus, Switzerland, these pioneers built their town to where it is a fun and relaxing place to visit, a town that brings back great memories of my many visits to Switzerland. Perhaps what I like the most are the many small businesses here hosted in old buildings that have retained their magnificent historic character. I'll give you a tour of the town and focus your attention on some of these businesses. October 3, 2008
Bear Valley Perennials. We visited Bear Valley Perennials in August 2007. It was a mecca of floral wonder. It has since been sold, and when we visited in September 2008, well, the beauty of the work was gone. Enjoy the photos of the natural beauty of what this place was, truly a magnetic attraction. We found it driving west on Hwy 60 out of Sauk City in southwestern Wisconsin, and turned to the north and spotted it on the corner of Durst Rd. and Hwy 130. If you are in the area, stop by and see what shape she’s in. August 7, 2007, updated September 28, 2008.
Cannon Valley Percherons and the Olson Century Farm. Most often while driving around Wisconsin we see machinery and men ploughing the fields of the state powered by combustion engines. While sliding down the Cannon Valley of southwest Monroe County, we spotted machinery and a man ploughing the fields with two horses and a puppy. We would learn the horses are Percherons, a special breed originally from France, a majestic and powerful breed able to take on tough jobs such as ploughing and memorable jobs such as drawing a marriage carriage. We met Jim Olson and Lady and Sandy and Jim was kind enough to put his team through a routine for us to watch, photograph and enjoy. June 23, 2008.
Justin Trails Resort. I've grown aggravated with hotels. For a recent trip, we stayed at a B&B, Justin Trails Resort, outside Sparta in Monroe County. As the owners say, this is a "healing refuge for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation for our guests." When you stay at Justin Trails, you stay at a well-appointed working farm nestled in the hills of Monroe County with tons of trails and a with a vista that is simply remarkable, from any compass heading. By Ed Marek, editor. May 18, 2008.
Flambeau River Papers, Park Falls. Park Falls in northern Price County boasts that it blends nature with industry. This story will most certainly underscore the truth of that. This is a story about economic activity in progress, where a paper mill central to a town's economy was closed, a group of local investors and businesspeople took the bull by the horn to re-open it, and took the next step, reaching "one rung higher" to invest in and pursue new technologies that have the potential to make the plant energy self-sufficient and enable it to produce new kinds of ethanol fuels to sell. This company among the only ones embarking on this road. There are plenty of unknowns and risks, but their road is filled with excitement and great, perhaps even endless possibilities. This is an outfit worth watching, and a town and area worth visiting. By Ed Marek, editor. February 1, 2008.
Shihata's Orchard and Apple House. Shortly after pulling out of Prairie du Chien on Highway 27 N, we spotted a sign telling us to turn to the left to Shihata's Orchard. Having driven through Missouri and Illinois, we were eager to get a pumpkin, but we insisted on a Wisconsin pumpkin, so we took a hard left on Limery Road. It was morning, there was a pretty heavy overcast, but nonetheless a beautiful setting. This is what is so neat about Shihata's: it is situated in the beautiful setting of Crawford County's location in the heart of the Upper Mississippi bluff country, with landscape very remindful of the lower sections of the Appalachians, having a very rustic appearance and terrific vistas. We came in to get a pumpkin. By the time we headed out the door, we had a whole bunch of apples, Honey, vidalia onion relish, acorn squash, butternut squash, and, oh yes, a big pumpkin. And we had some moments to really enjoy life. October 23, 2007, updated May 11, 2011 after second visit.
Blue Vista Farm, "a taste of heaven". Eric Carlson and Ellen Kwiatowski are the owners of the Blue Vista farm in Bayfield, Wisconsin. They say this: "This land is more than just fruit and flower plantings, a beautiful old barn and remarkable view. Something unexplainable comes together in this spot to create an unforgettable experience. Over and over again, customers tell us that they feel like they are in heaven and we feel that way as well. We consider ourselves privileged to be caretakers of this land and we want to share it with you." It can't be said any better. September 26, 2007.
Halvorson's Fisheries on Lake Superior. When you visit Cornucopia on the north side of Wisconsin's Bayfield peninsula, protruding out into Lake Superior, if it's painted green, it's part of Halvorson's Fisheries. Phil Moy, writing for the the April-May 2001 issue of Lake Superior Magazine, commented then, "We must not take the fisheries of Lake Superior for granted; they are a gift that must be nurtured and cherished." That certainly holds true for Halvorson's. August 11, 2007
American Buffalo are actually Bisons, and Wisconsin farmers are raising them. If you are heading east out of Ladysmith on Route 8 toward Tony in Rusk County, and you are paying attention, you will see a bunch of bison grazing off on the right. It turns out that Wisconsin ranks 10th largest in the nation as a bison producing state and number three in the total number of bison producers. That said, the industry is small and done as an "extra duty." But it can be profitable. April 29, 2007.
Willow Wood Lodge, wilderness on the Tomahawk and the Willow Flowage. Our visits to the Willow Wood Lodge astride the massive and wild Willow Reservoir-Flowage and Tomahawk River introduced us to a neat geographic learning experience and plenty of fun recreational opportunities. We also saw first hand what a small dam can do to a low lying region and how it can harness the enormous power of regional watersheds. December 20, 2006.
Fox Run Equestrian Center. We happened across this equestrian center in early August 2006, and spotted a young woman training with a darn good lookin' horse and a trainer out in the paddock. As luck would have it, we bumped into a great story, an uplifting one that will make your pitter-patter go heart-heart. October 19, 2006, updated with some new photos April 14, 2007.
Robbins Sports Surfaces, White Lake. This is an amazing world. You all probably know that. But while "bumming around" Langlade County on a typical "get-lost" ride, we came into the very small and quiet town of White Lake. Quiet, maybe, but packed with great logging industry history that led the town to manufacture the very finest in contemporary sports flooring. October 3, 2006, updated with great old-time photography, October 19, 2006.
Oak Ridge Vineyard and Weggy's Winery. Richland County in southwest Wisconsin has landscape that knocks your socks off. Last winter, we came across Oakridge Vineyard, the creation and home of Weggy Winery, up in the hills. Having always thought of Wisconsin as beer country, it never occurred to us one could develop a vineyard well enough here to bottle wine. Well, they're doing it here. We went back in the summer. In our winter photos, you'll get a great feel for the expanse and beauty of the country. In the summer photos, you'll fall in love with the vines and grapes. August 4, 2006
Iron Corral Exotic Animal Farm in Viola, a fun learning experience: Breeding of exotic animals is a fascinating and rapidly growing business in the US, especially as agriculture is becoming tougher and tougher and small farmers especially are looking for alternative pursuits that would employ their land and their equipment and enable them to maintain their homes. It is also a good pursuit if a farmer has marginal land for traditional livestock and agriculture. Sandy and Joe Cano run one in Viola in Vernon County, and are pioneers in the field. April 19, 2006
Dupont Cheese, Marion. Seemingly in the middle of no-where pops up Dupont Cheese.
Virtually on the "corner" of County C and highway 102, in a very rural area we later found out belongs to the town of Marion, in the northeast sector of Waupaca County.
It had a retail outlet in front, so in we went. April 4, 2006
Adamski's Sugar Bush. This is the time to think "maple syrup." Pancakes. Waffles. On the veggies. The barbecue. Or how about on your coffee cake or cereal. Now we're cookin'. So meet the Adamski's Sugar Bush of Antigo, Wisconsin. We bumped into the family at work in the field and at the sugarhouse. They made our visit a lot of fun. We arrived unexpectedly, they did know us at all, but their hospitality, grace, and eagerness to teach made for a great afternoon. March 29, 2006