A few years ago on one of our many trips back to Wisconsin I made my in-laws drive me around the central-Wisconsin countryside so I could take photos of barns. I Say “made” because as I recall, my father-in-law feigned annoyance and bewilderment at such a request, but I know he loved every minute of it. Anyway, I have something of an obsession (Fetish? Love?) with old barns. Part of it I think is growing up without horses and seeing barns without any animals and wondering why the hell you would have all that property and a barn and not have any animals. But I also really just love the thought that these structures are so old and have a history of their own, they supported a way of life, of family and of farming. And they are a part of the landscape that is disappearing. There is a barn that was on Hwy County P in between Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point that about a year after I took a photo of it, was torn down. There was nothing built in its place, I don’t know why it was torn down, but it made me sick.
It’s not that Oregon doesn’t have any old barns, we do. But for the most part they are not nearly as old. Nor do they have that charming fieldstone foundation. And there are far fewer in Oregon than what I see in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a barn.
I love barns so much that we held our wedding at one. The old barn, originally built in the 1870’s was brought down by a tornado in 1993, in 1997 the family began rebuilding the barn as a type of healing after their son died. The place has since sold, it still hosts weddings, but the people who owned it, who rebuilt the barn, and who treated us like family when we were married on their property, have moved on. During the wedding they opened their home to us and made our wedding feel like the party I wanted it to be. I’m sure the new owners are perfectly nice people, but the former owners were absolutely saints in my eyes. I don’t know if you’ve ever planned a wedding, but it can be incredibly stressful, especially planning it 2000 miles away from the actual venue. Their Wisconsin friendliness and hospitality did not disappoint and I will be forever thankful we not only had our wedding in Wisconsin but also at the Cedar Hill Barn.
I’m not from Wisconsin, but with all of my husband’s family there and with how much I have visited in the 10 years since we’ve been together, I definitely feel like it is a home away from home. Partially because the people there really do make you feel welcome and loved. When I worked on the ranch in Arizona, one of the guests found out I was dating Dean and that he was from Wisconsin. She cooed and told me that people from Wisconsin were the best people, that you couldn’t find better or nicer people. I thought she was just being trite. It turns out she was right. If you are feeling low, or not part of a community, seriously, just go visit Wisconsin. I guarantee a stranger will chat you up and befriend you before you know it. I should know, I’m not that friendly or chatty with strangers and people still manage to draw me out there.
I actually think it gives more credit to my love for Wisconsin that I’m not from there, of course people brag about where they live or where they’re from. But I’m neither and I definitely have a special place in my heart for Wisconsin. Right about now I figure my sweet mother-in-law is wondering why in the hell I don’t live there if I love it so much. (I did steal her son away to Oregon for the last decade).
Snow. Lots of Snow. And Ice. And lack of mountains, or ocean, or high desert. I’m not a huge fan of the geography of Wisconsin, I mean, the rolling hills are nice, but I like a little more drama in my landscape. And there are some other more practical reasons, like my career being established in Oregon. Nothing personal about your landscape Wisconsin, it is beautiful; it just doesn’t quite meet my needs.
I like people from Wisconsin so much that I joined a couple of their horse forums. Actually it was the first horse forum I joined outside of Oregon. I figured they would be gentle with me if they didn’t like my blog posts or writing. And by gentle, I mean they just wouldn’t say anything. Luckily they did like my funny little writings and boosted my courage to join some other forums that were a little more intimidating (read: east coast forums).
So if you’re from Wisconsin, thanks for being so damned friendly! If you’re not from Wisconsin and have never been, go! They have awesome lake side communities, cabins, rolling hills, cheese factories and they make Pabst Blue Ribbon. I’m just going to repeat those last two points: You can get fresh made cheese and beer, what more do you need to know?
If you’re curious, you can see the website for where we were married here
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