Rainbows

July 23rd, 2014

This has been the year of the rainbow.  With our ridge top view and full arch of sky we are blessed to witness many a phenomenon of the heavens.  Approaching from the west are the thunderstorms, squalls, minute showers and full force blasts of weather which bring forth a whole wave of emotions; joy, fascination, panic, relief.  In many instances I have observed these storms move through mid afternoon or early evening, the perfect opportunity to spot a rainbow.

Rainbows are truly amazing, who can forget the video tape of the guy running outside exclaiming “Double Rainbow” at the top of his lungs, it’s a funny video and in many ways I can relate.  I know I’ve had my share of double rainbow moments, especially this year.  Scientifically speaking a rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that is caused by both reflection and refraction of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.  The rainbow is not located at a specific distance, but comes from an optical illusion caused by any water droplets viewed from a certain angle relative to a light source. Thus, a rainbow is not an object and cannot be physically approached (maybe..). Indeed, it is impossible for an observer to see a rainbow from water droplets at any angle other than 42 degrees from the direction opposite the light source. Even if an observer sees another observer who seems “under” or “at the end of” a rainbow, the second observer will see a different rainbow—farther off—at the same angle as seen by the first observer.  So every rainbow you see is yours to enjoy.

 

 

Winter Share Sign-ups Still Open

July 23rd, 2014

I know, I know it’s too early.  Well sorry, but days are starting to get shorter again and at Keewaydin we have shifted gears. We are beginning our fall planting season so for us looking ahead,  winter doesn’t seem so far out.  Just because it cools off though doesn’t mean your vegetable fix has to come from California.  Not only are we planting a ton of storage crops to take us through the second half of the year, we are also about to embark on our plan of building multiple hoop houses for cool, hardy greens like Spinach, Kale, and Chard.  It should make for an exciting Winter CSA option.  If you like what you have gotten so far why not pick up a Winter Share.  It’s a one time delivery that could last through those cold days ahead.

 

Some Farm History

February 20th, 2014

The history of a place is something I always love learning about.  Any time I pass a historical marker on a newly traveled road I stop to read it.  I love thinking about the lives that came before me.  The same holds true for the history of this farm that we now call Keewaydin.  This locale has been a major part of my life and I could easily imagine being the only person to have lived here.  Thankfully this farms history have been recorded by past owner like Lyford Looker.  The Looker family lived here from April 2nd 1949 until they sold the farm to my parents and moved to their new home on October 30th 1976.  Through those years so many changes happened and reading the journal entries are a real trip back in time that tells the story of how agriculture changed.  When this farm was first settled by the Drake family it was sheep and wheat that ruled the freshly tamed landscape.  Eventually after disease, soil depletion and market changes the state moved to dairy farming, this land we call Keewaydin was no different.  Today though this farm as entered a third faze of its existence, vegetable production.  Again some of these changes are market, some are the calling of the owner and some are environmental.  Stay tuned as we look back at these past lives, and this farm’s history.

 

Update: Chicken

February 20th, 2014

What does a chicken do in the dead of winter?  I think for the most part life goes on, their world shrinking to the confines of the chicken house or just outside the door.  They keep on working though, an egg a day by 47.  We hope to have over 200 birds by the end of the year so we can bring eggs to market year round.

 

 

My Sister

March 11th, 2013

 

First born of Rich and Mary’s children Jessica Ellen Haucke came into this world the day after Christmas in the year 1976.  A gift of joy for the new parents, little Jessica came out ready to take on the world and let it know who was in charge.  From day one she had a will to move mountains and a foundation of character as stable as the earth from which she came.

At a very early age Jessica became a working part of the farm.  As a four year old you would find her in the barn with mom or dad helping to milk the cows.  All the lady bovine at Keewaydin Farms had names; there was Nora, Janet, Jay and Julie, all sixty plus girls and their babies.  Jessica knew every one of them as well as their mothers and daughters for generations back.

With two little brothers added to the family in 1978 and 1980 Jessica became crew leader and farm director.  She would keep us on task when it came to doing our chores and was always looking out for us whether we liked it or not.  Now some of you have kids of your own, as I do, and maybe you’ve noticed a very distinct difference between boys and girls.  Aside from the obvious physical aspects there are other attributes that vary.  I think boys and perhaps even men go through life in a bit of a daze.  When we are little we bounce from event to event bonking our heads and bruising our elbows learning things the hard way, leaning too far out over the ledge or jumping into water that really isn’t deep enough or if we can’t swim is too deep.  Girls on the other hand are thinkers right from the beginning.  They take the time to analyze the situation, develop a plan and are a bit more conscious of potential bodily harm.  Jessica was constantly having to rain in her two brothers and I think thanks to her watchful eye we came out of childhood with all of our body parts and very few if any broken bones.

As we all aged I for one found myself drawn to hang out with her and I’m sure drove her nuts because I was always around.  Her friends became my friends, I went to all of her basketball games and when she graduated in 1995 I was left with one more year of school and no sister to annoy.  To this day I know I can confide in her anything.  I can present to her any sort of issue I may be having in life and she will deliver to me sound, simple advise.  Like a coach talking to her team she will give you her time, deliver her opinion, then send you back into the field of play ready to face your task at hand.   My sister has always been a person I have looked up to and who I’ve know my whole life has had my back and with someone like that in your corner you can’t help but successful.

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Seasons End

October 16th, 2012

All the trees on our hillsides have shed their leaves accept those tough old Oaks.  Wisconsin’s mountain country, it seems, is a couple weeks ahead of other places in the southern part of the state.  At the end of Haucke Lane the Keewaydin crew will pack the last CSA box of the regular season completing a twenty week journey of seasonal eating.  Through the highs and lows, the dry and heat, weeding, weeding, planting…..watering…..weeding….planting we tended our gardens.  A huge thank you to the Keewaydin crew for showing up day after day so often in a good mood ready to bend and stoop and sweat, packing boxes to fulfill our daily obligations, it cannot happen without them.  Thank should also go out to Mother Mary for tending her flock of chickens with loving care, I get a kick out of listening to her cluck and converse with her birds as if they were all sitting down around the morning breakfast table having coffee and discussing the daily plan.  “Would you care for a few bugs or some kitchen scraps to eat, how about dirt to scratch?”  “Yessss….please!  Eggs, anyone?”  Finally thanks goes out to all of you who joined us for the season.  I’ve heard from more of you this season then all the years combined and you don’t know how much that means to me.  I know that some of you CSA members both new and old will not be back next year but I still love you for giving us a try.  For those that do come back next year I promise the year will be better, more variety, more staples, more fruit, more everything.

On Sunday I returned to the farm after a week of travel that took me through the heart of the heart land, as far west as Omaha and as far east as Detroit, visiting with people working to reshape the food scape.  Every day more and more people are waking up their taste buds, choosing food grown on farms in their neighborhood by people who care about their wellbeing.  Driving back into Haucke Lane on Sunday I was filled with a mix of longing to see more and the pure joy of being back on my little slice of heaven.  I lit a fire in the Kickapoo wood stove, kissed and hugged my girls then walked with them down to Mother Mary’s home for the Packer game.  The next morning I was up early, 5 am, in the crisp darkness the stars where shining so bright you could almost reach out and touch them.  Not a sound, not the slightest of breeze disturbed the moment.  I walked the fields out to Horseshoe Point then sat and watched the sun come up.  Slowly the world around me revealed itself; there was a light fog in the valley, frost on the ground but warmth in the air.  After breathing deep the fresh morning air it was time to see the girls off to school and get the coffee brewing, another great start to a Wisconsin morning.

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Growing Food

October 9th, 2012

In 2003 I was living in Winter Park Colorado and had been there for around eight years.  In the winter I would work various ski resort jobs and in the summers do a mix of jobs in Wisconsin, Michigan or Colorado.  One spring in my early twenties I began work at what I consider the only real world job I have ever held.  It was the local lumber yard and I was a load builder, truck driver and eventually supervisor of the yard and delivery crew.  My name is Yon Yonson I come from Wisconsin and I work in a Yumber yard 'der……or Colorado!  It was at this job that I began to seriously contemplate a life on the family farm.  I would day dream about gardens full of colorful food and a pantry full of hearty goods.  I devoured books on organic gardening and tried to figure out how to write a business plan.  I love the dreaming and planning part of farming probably as much as the actual growing.  Humans are amazing creatures in our ability to take dreams and make them reality; all the varieties of plant and beast have come from human interaction with what was at one point something wild.  Breads, beer, liquor, cheese, the list goes on, these all came from people tending to life year after year while at the same time dreaming about how they could do it better when the cycle came round again.  Now it is our generations turn to play a role in the game of dreaming then growing, over and over again until we pass the ’ It continues, ‘On Feb 8, 2013, AGA member Caesars Entertainment contacted PokerStars and provided to market it the Rio casinos in Vegas. torch on to the next group of foodies.  Our growing game this year at Keewaydin found us finally adding that first patch of asparagus, I learned how to bud graft apple trees and have planted three of them in the ground, started a raspberry patch from plants collected out of my aunts garden that I hope to spread over the next 10 years and topped the year off by planting several thousand Chestnut and Hazelnut trees from our permaculture friend across the ridge.  These perennial plants are in addition to the rhubarb patch that we planted last year and Sunchokes that have gone from a row in one of our fields along Haucke Ln to filling the entire field.  Our CSA season has two more weeks of deliveries before it wraps up but that doesn’t end our growing season.  With a hoophouse full of spinach and another soon to be planted in chard and kale the growing continues and is complimented by carrots, beets, celeriac and winter squash tucked away in storage bins so that even as the gardens shut down and we moving into dreaming about next year we will be fueled by the fruits of our past labor.

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Growing up a Dairy Kid

October 2nd, 2012

How many of you attended 4H on a regular basis, anyone?  Go ahead raise your hands.  Okay great, so how many of you were members of the Register Holstein Association and would spend your Saturdays on some farm with a group of kids you vaguely knew learning how to judge a quality milk cow?  Anyone show any cows at the county fair?  How about use dairy farming as an excuse to not do your homework?  Oh the endless activities and excuses available to dairy kids.  Its fun looking back on the life my brother, sister and I lived growing up on a dairy farm.  Of course growing up you don’t realize how different a life it is until you’ve been out in the world.  I can remember coming back home for the first time from College at UW Whitewater and really taking it all in.  The view, the darkness…..the smell, it had all been here my whole life but it was like I was experiencing it for the first time.  Over the years I would bring friends with me to the farm rediscovering again and again through their eyes this place I now call home.  In my college days we would pack in the car and hop on interstate 90 to Madison, then take a major 2 lane highway west.  After an hour or so we would come into Richland Center, the last outpost before you were in the wilderness.  Right outside of town you would find yourself on a lesser traveled highway, then a county road, and finally a gravel road leading to Haucke Lane.  By the time we hit the gravel road it was usually dark and some of the newbies who hadn’t been to the farm yet would voice a bit of concern, like “Who’s going to hear me scream?”  NO ONE, HA, HA, HA……oh just kidding you’ll be fine.  Once the new day broke and the world around them opened up it was all good, there would be fresh eggs for breakfast, fruit from the garden, maybe a glass of raw milk if they were gutsy and plenty of land to stretch their legs.

My farming passion is vegetable but I hold on to some fond memories of being a dairy kid.  Letting the cows out on pasture for the first time in the spring was always a sight to see.  They’d kick up their heels and run like crazy teenager cows stopping abruptly to take in mouthfuls of fresh grass, and then do this hop kick jump thing with all four feet leaving the ground on their way to the next mouthful.  This would be repeated until the girls ran out of energy or became content with their lot in life.  As a young kid I would curl up in the manger surrounded by a bunch of cow muzzles munching fresh slices of hay, in the winter they would let off great billowing clouds of steam from their nostrils that would fill the barn.  Another was watching my brother play the game of how long can he ride on the back of that cow, it turns out it kind of depends on the cow you choose.  Oh the stories dairy kids can tell go ahead just ask, I’m sure they would be willing to tell you all kinds of funny or gross stories, just be ready cause it’s probably going to be something you would never even imagine possible.

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How Keewaydin Farms Got its Name

September 26th, 2012

Back in 1976 two ambitious young back to landers from the east coast of Wisconsin found a piece of land like no other.  After several years of searching Elva Hetzel (she will be 100 in a couple of days), my mother’s mom, came across an advertisement in the local paper listing what would become Keewaydin Farms.  The past owner, Lynford Looker, was particular about who he wanted to sell his farm to, a young family, passionate about farming and dedicated to honoring the land that he had known for over 40 years.  Lynford loved his farm and would come visit every couple of years until the year he died at 95 or 6.  When we were kids he would come with a metal detector and take us on hikes down into the valley where at one time there was a homestead.  It was a treasure hunt, an adventure, the past revealed after vigorous digging.  We found all kinds of interesting things, old horse shoes, square headed nails, tools unrecognizable to us kids, and the best prize of all, an old double barrel pistol.  Lynford let us keep all our treasures which have since gone into the farms memorial library.  That is kind of a joke we have around here, my mother bless her soul, has kept so many artifacts from her kids younger years and her farming years that she has almost achieve library status.  As I grow older it is becoming less of a joke and more enjoyable, the beautiful thing about preserving these memories is that they add to the lore and story of life on Keewaydin.  Lynford did the same, he kept a journal of activities and at some point I think in the 80’s put together a book about his life on the farm with pictures that date back to the early 1900’s.  I take out that book a couple times a year, read a few pages and look at the pictures.  It has helped me connect with this farm's past and to realize the legacy we leave in the trees we plant or the buildings construct, our store lives on in these creations.

Because we are a ridge top farm it seems the wind is constantly blowing and that is the meaning of Keewaydin.  The Ojibwa word means the north wind or the god of the north or perhaps my favorite, the home wind.  If you ever get a chance check out the beautiful poem of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in it you will find reference to Keewaydin.  Here is just a small part of the poem.

” Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,
In the purple mists of evening,
To the Regions of the Home-wind,
Of the Northwest-wind, Keewaydin,
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the land of the Hereafter. ”

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Frosty Morning

September 18th, 2012

Well it happened last night, our first frost!  Can you believe it, I know we live in Wisconsin and this is the kind of thing that happens this time of year but really, already?  This morning I hiked around the farm as the sun slowly gained momentum in the eastern sky, crisp still air filling my lungs and puffs of steam trailing me as I exhaled.  I was trying to see, before I had to hit the road, whether frost had touched Keewaydin ridge, but without enough light to relay my eyes I left it up to my hands.  The grass was drenched in dew and a heavy fog had nestled in the valley below us.  Since this was the first of the near frost mornings my hand were as unreliable as my eyes, the grass felt cold, maybe crunchy, but I couldn’t be sure.  Like the first really hot days of the year the first cold mornings usually feel colder than they are, after a string of cold strong enough to kill the green these upper 30’s will feel like a heat wave.  Funny how that works, I have to admit I got use to those upper 80’s, lower 90’s towards the end.  As I continued my walk around the tomato field on the horseshoe piece, past the old dead elm that no longer exists except for in family lore, and back to the house it was still not quite light enough to really tell.  Oh well, I couldn’t delay my departure any longer, off farm duties called me away and so I came to the conclusion that we had made it through unharmed, after coming home at the end of the day I think that is true.  I did however see some patches in the valley once it was light enough to really confirm.  That ghostly white now sparkling in the first rays of morning sun and while it didn’t linger long at those spots I’m sure it reminding us of what’s to come.

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