My friend Ann and I met seven years ago at a pickling class I was teaching for the Driftless Folk School. At the time, Ann and her husband Chris had just moved to our area of Wisconsin from Arizona, looking for a quieter country home and slower-paced careers. Upon moving here, they purchased a beautiful valley property with a winding stream teeming with trout.
Over the years, they have transformed both their land and their house in amazing ways – it is always fun to see how people who have lived on the land for any significant amount of time do that.
It also makes me feel old to have been around long enough to register these changes, both on my own farm and elsewhere. And you think kids grow fast.
This past weekend, Ann has invited us to a dinner party to celebrate her graduating from an intensive wine-making course and to welcome the new Driftless Folk School work-studies, who are being hosted at Ann’s this year. Naturally, I couldn’t pass an opportunity to snap a few photos of the place I’d been admiring for years and to share them with you. I thought you might enjoy touring it with me.
I am a big fan of dining a-fresco, especially when there are tablecloths involved. I think there is something really romantic about a tablecloth waving in the breeze.
You can see hints of the Southwest in Ann’s decor.
There are solar panels on the house, and while the house is not off-the-grid, the panels generate some electricity and I think also some heat in the winter.
Then there is this neat stony path with a nicely maintained terrace garden.
I absolutely love lavender – Jacob said he’d plant some for me, but, meanwhile, I got to bring a bunch home to dry. I love cooking with it!
Ann actually has an indoor swing at her house. I can’t believe it! I’ve never seen anything like that. How fun for the visiting kids!
This is Ann’s newly-remodeled upstairs. It used to be a loft space but they have converted it into a complete floor with three very small bedrooms that all share one bathroom in the hallway. This is a really great way to fit a lot of people, and it is perfect for hosting the work-studies. If you have a large family but not a whole lot of space, I think this is a great solution. The upstairs currently sleeps five, plus..
This! This is on a balcony directly off the second-floor that I have just showed you. I love this cute option for sleeping outside.
Below is Ann’s kitchen, which has seen a number of transformations over the years:
This cool (no pun intended) built-in cooler is the newest addition. It is insulated, and works really well for certain things.
Also note Ann’s wood-fired cook-stove and oven unit. This is where Ann cooks and bakes in the winter, which also helps keep her large downstairs warm.
Ann also has two small, stand-alone induction burners – the kind you put on your countertop if you are a food blogger and need to be able to cook by your only good window so you can snap photos in good light.
They also have a small, real fridge.
And get this – the compost pail is in a drawer immediately next to the sink. You open a drawer, and there’s the compost pail!
When it comes to summertime baking, Ann uses this antique oven here. She is cool that way.
As if that wasn’t enough, here is a handmade wood-fired mud oven, which apparently makes the best pizza. The oven was built in another one of the folk-school classes. If you are in the area, YOU can learn how to build one too (although the ones they teach in this class might be slightly different).
He is what else they got going:
Meat chickens! Isn’t it a nifty summer house?
Here is the stream, by the way.
Remember how I showed you the local ridge-top landscape before? Here is what the valley landscape looks like.
Horses and a little steer.
Sauna! But Cyrus thinks it’s a playhouse.
I may or may not have helped butcher this deer here.
All the nice wood for the sauna.
A cool trellis!
And another cool trellis.
And Chris’ tractor!
A large proportion of the people I know here live on homesteads just like this one in our beautiful Driftless countryside, including ourselves.
Many thanks to Ann and Chris for letting me take photos of their home!