November Means Working Together (Pro-Bono)

sandhill cranes in the distance

Here it is November and we still have sandhill cranes. If you look closely in this zoomed-to-the-max iPhone shot, you see two of them enhancing the otherwise desolate cornfield. They caught my attention a few mornings ago as they gaggled away in response to another pair far in the distance. This weekend we’re supposed to get several inches of snow so these snowbirds will likely say to heck with this and take off for warmer temps.

Aren’t the migratory habits of birds amazing?

For example, for several months in autumn the sandhills gather in wetlands before heading south. These are called staging areas and here in Wisconsin there are several where thousands of cranes assemble at a time. I like to imagine this is a time of preparation and joining together of forces for the arduous journey ahead.

You probably knew migrating birds fly in the V-Formation, officially known as the echelon formation. They do this for its aerodynamic advantage, obviously. But did you know birds take turns flying the front helm of this V, a very strenuous task? And did you know the mortality rate for birds is six times higher during the migration season? Given this, isn’t it interesting that even though survival favors the selfish—those that promote their own well-being before that of others—the God-given nature of birds is to selflessly share the responsibility?

This author makes a good point when he says, “If migrating birds work together, the flock has a greater chance of having all of its feathered brethren make the long trip to their destination.”

Working together. For the good of all.

With this caring concept in mind and because November is the month of giving, let me announce it’s my season for pro-bono applications. Each year Adunate accepts two pro-bono projects for greatly reduced or no cost. These are projects I strongly support and believe will positively impact God’s creation, his people, or his ministry.

My interests include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • Children
  • Faith
  • History
  • Humanity
  • Natural Food & Living
  • Nature & Animals
  • Preservation & Sustainability

If your organization needs creative assistance in the upcoming year, click here for an application. Then, to guarantee your project’s success, be sure to click here!

Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2015. I will let applicants know of my decision in January.

Fermentation Fest Converges Once Again

Touring Sauk County for Fermentation Fest 2015

It’s been a full month, but I’m still sighing with warm reminiscings of our Octoberfest Brewery Tour. The culmination of this glorious trip was Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg, Wis. We couldn’t have had a more flavorful or beautiful encore to our week than this.

In case you’ve missed my incessant promotions—deservedly so—Fermentation Fest is an annual, 10-day blending of agriculture, arts, food and appreciation of the land. Initially one considers this a rather eclectic mix, but once you experience everything the festival has to offer it all melds together in the most appreciative of ways. I find it especially exciting because in designing the event guide, I have the honor of being part of the event’s promotional team.

Fermentation Fest, Reedsburg, WI

Disregarding the well-worn travelers, check out this stunning entryway to the Fermentation Fest Headquarters. The building is a historic railway station and it otherwise serves as the Reedsburg Chamber of Commerce.

Details of Fermentation Fest entryway, Reedsburg, WI

Yes, these are the details of the entryway. It’s a collage of wine corks, seeds and beans all converging to represent the delightful elements of Fermentation Fest. Imagine the work put into this!

Lucky 13: Elephant in the Room, by Erika Nelson

This year our schedule didn’t allow us to participate in any of the food fermenting classes but we instead did the 50-mile Farm/Art DTour. The weather was glorious, the scenery stunning and the art installments were divine. Lucky 13: Elephant in the Room, by Erika Nelson, celebrates the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s announcement to discontinue using elephants in circus performances.

Fermentation Fest's appreciation of the land

Monday is Wash Day, by Brenda Baker

There’s something truly heartfelt about art displayed in the middle of such beautiful land. With her Monday is Wash Day, artist Brenda Baker pays kudos to the “historical and undervalued part of rural life.” I live in the country. I hang clothes to dry. So of course, I loved the story-telling thoughtfulness of this piece.

Meandering roads in Sauk County, WIsconsin

Farm structures in Sauk County, Wisconsin

Sauk County, WI

With meandering backroads, rolling hillsides and idyllic farm scenes,  Sauk County is a magical place. When we came upon Amish children riding home from their one-room school, my heart simply melted.

Red Piano, Fermentation Fest, Reedsburg, WI

Stevens Signs, Rock Springs, WI

Flood, by Molly Rideout, Rock Springs, WI

Flood, by Molly Rideout, Rock Springs, WI

Art comes in many forms: Music, architecture and storytelling. This story, Flood, by Molly Rideout, really hits home, given our fragile state of human relations. Must history always repeat itself? Can we ever learn to love one another?

antique farm machinery, Sauk County, WIsconsin

You can’t celebrate agriculture without appreciating its heritage. Farmhenge, created by Harlan Ferstl and the McCluskey Brothers was an arrangement of new and old farm machinery pieces. The artistry of old iron is beautiful, isn’t it?

So there you have it—my favorites of the Farm/Art DTour. You can see more beautiful shots posted by some of the 20,000 festival-goers who made this year’s Fermentation Fest the biggest and best yet. Check them out here!

Our previous Octoberfest stop: Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company

Our Vanishing Wisconsin Barns

Jefferson County, Wisconsin barn

Not like I’ve ever mentioned it before, but my work gets me out of the office in so many interesting ways. Like this past weekend when my husband and I roamed the countryside in search of the perfect “weathered, red barn” to illustrate an author’s article (more in the upcoming Fermentation Fest event guide).

In the meantime, here are some of the glorious barns we founding gracing our area of rural Wisconsin. This, my cover photo, I shot from a farm near Lake Mills.

Jefferson County, Wisconsin barn

First, let’s go back and start with…my barn!

Shot from the hill below, the cornfield is hiding the two eras of our barn’s foundation—the original fieldstone built in the second half of the 19th century and a cinder block addition built in the 1940s. According to a visitor from Old World Wisconsin, the original barn is a Pomeranian German style of architecture.

And yes, those are lightning rod balls. It’s amazing how they’ve survived generations of thunderstorms and young boys’ BB guns.

Old Wisconsin dairy barn

Here is my neighbor’s barn. It’s an example of what was old and new back in the 70s, when farmers added pole barns to their existing barns in order to increase their dairy herds.

As history goes, Wisconsin was “America’s breadbasket” before it was its dairyland. In the 1860s, however, an infestation destroyed the wheat industry and farmers were challenged to take on something new—dairy farming. Taking the barns they previously used for threshing, farmers raised them up and built a foundation underneath to house the cattle. Thus the “barn hill” was born, a landscaped incline had by nearly every historic barn in south central Wisconsin.

Jefferson County, Wisconsin farm

Such a pretty roadside view! Note the gambrel roof of this and my neighbor’s barn, compared to the gabled lines of mine. According to state historian Jerry Apps, the gambled roof became popular because it allowed for more hay storage under the eaves. I’ve always favored the gambrel as a traditional dairy barn, but interestingly, in this area we found more gabled roofs like ours.

Old barn in Farmington, Wisconsin

A few miles down the road from us is the corner community of Farmington and this very unique barn. Imagine the hay that was loaded through these doors back in the day.

Wisconsin dairy barn

Here’s an idyllic dairy scene! Located near Lake Mills, this obviously doesn’t fit my requirements for a weathered photo. From the road, this barn looks like it may have a poured concrete foundation, making it a much newer barn than others in the area.

Small barn in Jefferson County, Wisconsin

I think this one is the cutest, little thing ever. Old, yes. Weathered, no. Back in the day, farms had a multitude of small buildings in addition to the main barn. This barn is located near Milford and may have served as a granary or to house small livestock.

Weathered barn in south central Wisconsin

We wanted weathered? Well, here it is. This barn, now forgotten and without purpose, embodies the vanishing of our heritage as we once knew it. Maintaining old barns is horrendously expensive so they are left to decay. Paying taxes on them seems counterproductive, so they’re often torn down. My husband and I were amazed at how few farmsteads actually still have barns.

Old Wisconsin dairy barn

When one recognizes the brilliance of a barn’s architectural form and the stories it has to tell, even the old and weathered maintains an artistic beauty.

Fachwerk Barn, Watertown, Wisconsin

Okay, folks, here’s my last photo. No, this barn isn’t red. And no, I can’t use it for my project. But it’s a weathered treasure and it’s on our farm. This is a pre-1850 Fachwerk barn, a German style of timber frame, or half-timber, originating from northern Germany. According to those in the know, there are many barns and homes in this area of southcentral Wisconsin built as Fachwerk but now covered with siding. My husband uses this barn for his woodworking shop, where in my opinion, he crafts with the same heart men did long ago as they hand-hewed these beams.

So, what can we do to preserve our barns? What new purposes can we find for them so they don’t stand empty? Organizations such as the Wisconsin Barn Preservation Program are working to address these issues. And, of course, watch for Fermentation Fest‘s upcoming event guide. There will be many such interesting articles!


Gratitude of Great Proportions

Building at Pabst Brewery, Milwaukee, WI

Two weeks ago I went with friends to the Christkindlmarket in Milwaukee. It was a super fun time. Just so you know, the market pictured in the link is from Nuremberg, Germany, not Milwaukee—our Milwaukee market was at the former Pabst Brewery, a community of 25 well-worn corporate and manufacturing structures like the one pictured above. Even though our market wasn’t of Nuremberg standards, it was fascinating to see the buildings that make up this historic district.

We’re now past Thanksgiving but I’m still thinking about these buildings. Maybe because over the holiday weekend we started a major renovation ruckus in our house (I always say we so I sound involved, but really I mean my husband—more on that another time). Or maybe because lately this has been the harsh, wintery scene out my office window. Anyway, I’ve been wondering what it was like to work in these cavernous warehouses back in the day.

Warehouse at Pabst Brewery Complex, Milwaukee, WI

From 1844, when the brewery was founded by Jacob Best, until 1996, when the Pabst line was contracted out to Stroh Brewing Company in LaCrosse, thousands of hardworking Milwaukeeans spent the majority of their days in buildings similar to these. Wouldn’t you think it must have been super cold in winter? And hot in summer? It must have been dirty, laborious and sometimes unsafe. And yet for over a hundred years the heart of Milwaukee’s culture was this neighborhood of Cream City Bricks, now blackened with production and time.

Pabst Brewery Complex sign

Pabst Brewing Company is now owned by a Russian beverage distributor and, sadly, is no longer headquartered in Milwaukee. But one of the many gazillion obscure things for which I’m thankful is that the high architectural and historical integrity of these buildings has not been lost. They haven’t been demolished and replaced with characterless, poor construction.

In 2006, Joseph Zilber’s investment group Brewery Project LLC purchased the complex for $13 million and is renovating it for residential, office and retail use. It’s called The Brewery. The old Mill House, aka Building 21, is now the Brewhouse Inn & Suites and Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub. Don’t these sound like a fun places to visit?

Office building at Pabst Brewery Complex, Milwaukee, WI

So, even though I’m totally thankful I get to work from home in a warm, toasty office, I do sort of fantasize moving my office to this building. Isn’t it the most Gothically gorgeous thing ever?

A Recap of Fermentation Fest 2014

Adunate's design work for Fermentation Fest

Six months ago when I traveled to Sauk County to meet Donna Neuwirth and the Fermentation Fest planners, winter was only beginning to leave the land. Everything was stark, barren and brown. Back then we were just planting seeds of ideas for the festival’s promotional materials and the fruition of this project seemed so very far away.

Two weeks ago, I was once again in Sauk County, this time for the big event. As my husband and I drove through the countryside I couldn’t help contemplating this full cycle of seasons. Just as I’d seen my Fermentation Fest project from start to finish, so I was seeing Sauk County’s agricultural season from start to finish. I feel really blessed to be part of these rural rhythms.

Fermentation Fest Corn Maze

This year, my husband and I did the Fermentation Fest Art D’Tour,  a 50-mile, self guided extravaganza through the winding backroads of Sauk County. Along the way was this corn maze, complete with meditative phrases to serve as guides. We wound our way through the field to a lookout with an over-the-corn view of the scenic hillside.

Fermentation Fest Corn Maze

I did say meditative, didn’t I?

Tractors at Fermentation Fest

For many people, a lineup of tractors is beautiful art. There was a great exchange of stories going on at this stop.

“Is that an F-20 over there?” I overheard a woman ask. “I learned to drive on one of those.”

Drift, Fermentation Fest

Drift is a large-scale floating sculpture that, according to the artists, “functions both as an autonomous intervention in the landscape and a site for exchange with residents and visitors.”

Standing inside this gently rocking raft and looking to the sky through its pieced seams was quite mesmerizing. I started thinking I’d should lay down and float through the dreamy pond just like Lady of Sharlott (or should I say Anne of Green Gables).

Frermentation Fest food vendors

We’d be driving along and suddenly out of nowhere a Roadside Culture Stand would appear. These mobile food stands are works of art in themselves. So are the products they were selling.

Harvestore Bandshell, designed by John Shimone

A Harvestore silo turned serendipitous stage—is this cool, or what? The Harvestore Bandshell was designed by photographers John Shimon and Julie Lindemann, and staged a variety of Pasture Performances. We missed Shimon’s We Go From Where We Know, but enjoyed hearing this guitar trio instead.

What a beautiful day to stand in a farm field and listen to music!

Invasive Species, Fermenation Fest

As the afternoon wound its way down, our last stop was this old, abandoned farmhouse. It’s part of the artwork called Invasive Species, by Isabelle Garbani. Her colorful leaves crocheted from plastic shopping bags are shown creeping along this beautiful house. They’re “slowly choking it with their invasive growth,” according to the artist’s statement, just as our world is being invaded and choked by synthetically produced plastics.

You can’t see it here, but this house has great architectural lines and original character. I was so happy to see a building permit in the window and signs of restoration work inside.

The best way to wrap up an inspiring Art D’Tour is a dinner at the Food/Drink D’Tour. Which we did. What a tasty evening of culinary delights, put on by the finest foodies the region has to offer.

This is something I want to do all over again next year. Sauk County in spring—I’ll be back!