Friday, April 18, 2014

            A great 'farm-to-park' story

The Set-up
Being involved in the subject of our old barns for so long now it's heartening to see the too-rare stories from across the country about some of them being saved and protected for future generations. A good source to keep up on all of that is through the National Barn Alliance website.

The picture above shows me and camera in front of a barn that boasts horizontal cedar siding, (not sure why but I'll find out), which was re-built in 1936 following a fire. 

While there is an increasing energy, awareness and motivation by American people and communities to try and save ag structures and places that reach back to our early farming days, it's just such a shame that so many are being lost along the way, with their old barn stories and the stories of the family lives revolving around them disappearing as well.

As a population we're not farmers anymore, we're consumers. And the farmers feeding us, thank you very much, are about 2% of our population base.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, "Don't talk about farmers with your mouth full".

 The Story
Fortunately, there are some success stories to tell and they should be considered as gold nuggets along the way. 

Just such a story comes from Walworth County in southeastern Wisconsin not far from Milwaukee and Chicago where said County recently bought a farm of 179 acres or so to preserve as parkland. The aging owner wanted to make sure it was preserved so people could enjoy it forever.

That is very cool. And that is the barn I'm standing in front of above.

And do you want to know what the really amazing kicker is?

A river runs through it.

Oh yeah, gold.

Check out the bee hive at the top of the frame.

And the best part, for me anyway, is the fact that I get the pleasure of producing an outreach/profile video about it all for Walworth County, Wisconsin -- exxxcellent.

Here's a roadside pic of the barn as members of the Walworth County DPW went about working on the new parking lot this week -- lots of activity there right now.

And another shot, looking south, from a high spot in a field across the road which is also part of the farm. Gotta get them shots now -- planting starts soon. The river is down in the low spot on the other side of the barn, with amazing acres of woods on the other side
of it to the south.

The river behind the barn.

As Spring struggles to start, the production of the video begins and I'll keep you posted on that -- it's a heck of a story and the almost 200 acre parcel is stunning on so many levels. It's going to be a lot of fun to get this piece produced for them. I've rigged my old three-wheeler ATV (1985 Yamaha 200 shaft-drive with reverse) to carry tripod and camera so I can efficiently get around the property and five mile trail system that the owner of the past 50 years has developed.

He's quite a story, too, being a good Irishman who spent his life breeding high end race horses with countless trophies to show for it -- stay tuned for that.  

Back before Christmas I spent a lot of time creating an e-store on Spreadshirt, one of the print on demand T-shirt and clothing product sites. It's based on the American Barn Stories theme. I haven't done a great job of promoting it and haven't sold a danged thing as a result. If anyone wants to visit it, find it at Spreadshirt Shop  As of today I've had a whopping 301 visitors and no sales. Glad it doesn't cost anything to keep it out there.

I researched the whole idea before I jumped in and really didn't expect too much to come from it but wanted to take a shot and that's where it's at right now. It takes so much time to stay involved with it and stay current. Other names in that POD biz are Cafepress and Zazzle

The DVDs on the old barns shows on Amazon have been pretty idle, too. Here's a link to them through the website that connects to Amazon  Old barn DVDs on Amazon  Notice the discount when you buy all three! 

More otherwise

 I just love this pic of Art the Farmer haying with farmer neighbor Billy helping out. I'm looking forward to the days up on Art's farm this season and hope they won't be the last. This brutal Winter took its toll on him and while his tone coming out of the cold months is always down, this year it is especially dour -- will keep you all posted on him.
Alright then, that's about it for the news from this end -- all good -- more later, stay tuned and like always, thanks for clicking in!


Monday, April 7, 2014


The Story
A while back I mentioned something I'd heard about how land developers are now wanting to save old barns that would then be included as part of their new communities. 

Turns out, that's what people want, and the developers are listening. It affects their bottom line so it definitely has their attention.

In some cases the old structures are being saved and in others new communities are being created from scratch that revolve around the community's  desire to produce their own foods on their local level.

Here's a pic  showing one such place in Gilbert, Arizona, not far from Phoenix. It's from an article on the subject of Agrihoods in the New York Times, the link follows below.

                                              Wow, how cool is that?
Click here for the story =>  New York Times article

This is an amazing thing to have happen and I really believe it will sweep across our country as more people say enough already with industrialized agriculture and work to reestablish more modest systems that will work on a local scale.

Of course we have to have industrialized ag, I realize that, but for those who have the option, bringing it all back 'in-house' is a very attractive idea and it will be a lot of fun to watch it all develop. 

We, not unlike a Bachian fugue, are returning to where we began. We are going back to our roots of tending to our own food sources.

Oh, it won't be pretty as the industrial giants fight us every step of the way, but the wave of people reclaiming their food rights is here and now and growing exponentially.

Check out the link below to author David Gumpert's website where he focuses on the efforts of organized government and industry to rob us of our food sovereignty. What's happening around the country is dastardly and absolutely amazing and he is paying close attention to it all. You can find that here => We are born with food rights

His website provides tons of information on things happening around the country, with the farmers and people usually winning in court and yes, the court battles are many and pretty amazing when you pry back the veneer of it all and take a look behind the scenes. 

It seems bizarre that we can't buy a gallon of milk straight from the farm without fear of government reprisals. Some of the stories are shocking, so please do check out David's site.

Art the Farmer

Arthur has made it through this brutal Wisconsin Winter but the struggle for him ran deep. He has already planned around the potential of frozen pipes next Winter by replacing the pipes damaged this year with a product called PEX piping. It's polyethylene and can evidently freeze but not break -- it just expands until it thaws. And to help further avoid freezing, he's going to run the new PEX lines inside a PVC pipe with access at one end so as to be able to use a blow dryer etc. to thaw the pipes when necessary.

He's planning for the coming year so that's a good thing to hear. I told him I want to go back to the Heart Prairie Church with him for Christmas services again this year and he said that was a good idea, so that's a good sign.

 And there's still plenty of hay up in the mow to keep everyone in the barn happy until turnout. The target date for that is always around Mother's Day, which is Sunday, May 11 this year.

Some free press

Everyone likes a little free press now and then and I managed to work some out with the  quarterly magazine from my alma mater, University of Dayton. I sent a note about the old barns shows etc. to the Alumni Section and then we talked, and they responded with a 400 word story on it all. It was a really nice experience working with their Managing Editor, Audrey Starr, and their layout and overall piece looks great, here's a scan of the actual page. The layout through the link below is necessarily different.
Checkout the article here =>   Dayton article

That pretty much gets everyone caught up on things. More later as we move into the new season.  Stay tuned and thanks for clicking in!


PS -- And I'm just glad there will be more haying with Art the Farmer this year. I'm not ready for that to stop quite yet.