Friday, September 28, 2012


The autumn leaves were in full color and the day was perfect for hiking, so what else to do but put on a pack and head outdoors? Actually, it turned into more than just a short stroll through the woods, since I decided that I should hike one of our local trails, through maple covered hills and past small lakes formed by the glacier of the last ice age, until I arrived at Wisconsin’s highest point – Timm’s Hill. In all, it would be about a nine mile hike.
On another hilltop near Timm’s Hill a local man has constructed a prayer chapel, which he leaves open for visitors who are looking for a quiet place for prayer and meditation. It was for those reasons that I also went there, as well as a bit of studying a portion of the Bible that I have been reading lately.
I then went off into a spot in the woods where I settled down to spend the night on a bright, moonlit night. The golden leaves of the trees seemed to become even more gold in the moonlight. The hike ended up being a pilgrimage of sorts. I am thankful to have had the opportunity and that the Lord has allowed us to live in such a peaceful place.
Hill of Beans Coffee Shop
On the way to the top of the hill I stopped at my uncle and aunt's coffee shop for a piece of pie (raspberry cream cheese - two thumbs up). The coffee shop is part of a resort that they run, which is on one of the small lakes in at the foot of Timm's Hill.
Bass Lake
Timm's Lake
There are two of these lakes, Bass Lake, which is in front of my uncle's resort, and Timm's Lake. On the photo of Bass Lake, you can see the tower on the top of the hill. This is TImm's Hill, Wisconsin's highest point (alt 1951 ft). Not that impressive you say? That's good, we are not trying to impress anyone, but just calmly enjoy the quiet beauty.

Prayer Chapel
Inside the Prayer Chapel
 It was after climbing the tower that I went up the the prayer chapel. Some years ago, Vivian woodburned perhaps a dozen verses on the beams of the prayer chapel.


"Your going to the woods camping alone?"
He looked at me with astonishment.
In fact, if I could discern the tone,
It was meant as an admonishment.

"Do you not think it a little strange,
Your only companions trees and stones?
I'm quite certain that you could arrange
To bring someone, so you're not alone."

I replied to this bit of advice,
But knew he would not understand.
"A companion is usually nice,
But on this trip something else in planned."

"You may not agree with my choices.
If you must, just consider me odd.
But at times I want to hear no voices,
Except to hear the clear voice of God.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalm 46:10)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Many of you who have been following this blog, or our e-mail letters and postal letters over the years have occasionally heard me speak about our little farm in Wisconsin. After living mostly overseas for the past 20 years, Vivian and I are now again settled into that farm.
For a change of pace in blog posts, I thought it might be nice to give you a little tour.

I should first show you a photo of our house. Our home is about 135 years old (as close as we can tell). It is made from hand-hewed, squared logs. When we first bought it and when we were renovating it, we tore down several layers of differing kinds of paneling that the residents had installed over the years. When we came to the very last layer, we found that they had used newspaper to seal the logs. The newspapers were from the 1880's, a German language paper that was printed in Milwaukee for all of the recent immigrants of the time.
In the photo you can see by the lawn in the front how dry it as been here this year. However, we are not nearly as dry as many parts of the country.

Of course, every farm must have a barn. Here is ours. It has some structural problems that I will need to fix, but you can see that I put a balcony on it where we can sit. I am not sure why I did this, but it is pretty nice. I must like to sit on balconies, since we also have two of them on our house.

Our little farm only has three cows so far. Perhaps you read my earlier blog from some months ago (in April - City Boy Farmer) that told of an unfortunate loss we had of some baby calves. Only one of those survived, and that one we are raising for beef. Recently however, I bought two more beautiful pregnant cows that run heavy to the Scottish highland breed. These are wonderful cows and so tame they eat grain out of my hand. Their names are Agnes and Effie. The calf from earlier this spring is named Jerry.

 Here he is standing in front of the little byre where the cows can find shelter during cold or wet weather, although the highlanders mostly do not use barns,even in the coldest weather.

This is a project that I am working on in my spare moments. The boys and I disassembled an old log out-building on the farm where I grew up and I am now making it into a little Finnish-style sauna. It is a work in progress, but we hope to be able to take a sauna this winter. We didn't need it this summer, as many days were already quite sauna-like.

Here is a photo of my hammock. I am not ashamed to say that I took more than a couple of naps here on some hot, summer afternoons.

I must also like these old log buildings, since our garage is also an old building that I moved onto our property many years ago. It was the house on a nearby abandoned farm, but it has made a very nice garage for us. Vivian also has her art studio on one end of the building.

This is our blacksmith shop. It has a coal-fired forge inside that I bought years ago at my uncle's farm auction. Part of the front wall is on hinges and lifts up so the blacksmith can stand outside under a cover while firing the forge inside.

We have chickens too. They have just begun laying eggs and I built them a coop for the winter.  Does that white one look like she is outside of the fence to you? I think so.

We finally found a nice little puppy. Her name is Tilly (Matilda). She is an Australian herding dog (blue heeler) and a little active right now, but she is calming down and learning not to jump. She is calm around the cows, which is good, but you can see that she always wants to play with the cats. We have four of those. I think Vivian calls this one "sweetie pie." One was named "tiger striped head" by our grandsons, there is a gray one whose name I do not know, and the mother cat I call "the old bat," because she is like a crabby old lady.

Other features of our farm are a pond that is down in the valley. We once made a water slide from the top of the hill down into the pond, but that is no longer there. But I pump the water up to water the garden. 

Of course, no tour of our farm would be complete without a photo of the trebuchet. You don't know what a trebuchet is? It is difficult for me to imagine anyone living in the 16th century and not know this (or wait a minute, what century is this? I sometimes lose track when I am on the farm).

So, there is a short tour. There is more to see, but this is enough. Stop up some time and sit on our porch for a visit. Vivian and I hope to be mostly here for a good long time.