By Shane Peitscher –
With our kids having a fall break, Jenn and I set course for a long weekend trip to southern Wisconsin. Being fans of the New Glarus’ Spotted Cow, we figured it was our turn to make the beer run. With New Glarus Brewing Company only being distributed in Wisconsin, demand for Spotted Cow has remained high on the light gray market.
Always looking for a unique experience, we land on a Bed and Breakfast that features 1950’s era campers to stay in. They are set on a working, small scale farm. Eccentric with farm nostalgia, count us in.
From the Quad Cities, we follow the Mississippi River north and deviate west once we hit Wisconsin. The drive is easy and beautiful, with fall turning over its colors. The only car complaint is of no WI-FI, a good reminder of the benefits of this type of trip.
The bed and breakfast, Circle M Market Farm, is a short drive from New Glarus. Kriss meets us and promptly gives us a farm tour. Here we meet the cast of characters that will fill our weekend. While tempted to lay out an exhaustive list of all the players and the role they played, I think it best for you to come and create your own experience.
After my daughter, Lana, has made sure that every cat had been handled and compared, we arrive at our camper. Quaint and cool, it has all the kitsch we wanted. Kris gives us tailored suggestions for our weekend. She has the tender ability to give all that is wanted and nothing more, available but not overbearing. We unpack while the kids retake roll call on the cats. Once settled, we join Lana and William on the farm. I break away from the phone for the afternoon and just focus on being present. There is literally always something going on if you look.
The Great Pyrenees dogs are looking at you with forlorn expression, impossible not to pet. This cat has a crooked tail, that one is the boss. The goose stays near the ducks, why? The herding dog rounds up the pigs when we get close. A beautiful brown cow mingles with the sheep. Watch where you step! The goats “maaa”, their rectangular pupils worth inspection. Chickens pick the grasses with granite colored feathers ruffled in the breeze. And again the cats. What a beautiful sight; My daughter hunched over her corral of cats instead of a tablet!
We head into New Glarus for a little recon and dinner. In town sits Puempel’s, a tavern wrought with history. Murals over 100 years old adorn the walls, preserved and cherished. The atmosphere is laid back and unassuming. A patron attempts to get a dollar bill to stick to the ceiling by thumbtack. The 4th try is a success, bringing a roar from the rosy cheeked crowd gathered around the antique bar. Chuck, the current and only 3rd owner of Puempel’s, informs us that these dollars all end up in local charities. Fitting for a tavern with such history, Chuck is more curator than bar owner. He understands the history of this place, referencing Otto (the bar’s second owner) as “everything you would add if you were building the perfect grandfather.” Prior to being chief story teller of New Glarus history, he was a kid that lived across the street from the tavern. We drag our feet leaving Puempel’s, feeling like we had visited a different era of Wisconsin life.
The weather chases us back to the farm. We peruse books in the shared space and discuss the attention to detail of the decorum. At our own pace, we retire to our campers, boys in one bed, girls in the other. Giggle fits come on as the lights went out, a last rush of excitement over this new place we have discovered.
We are quick to rise and my hunt for coffee is short-lived. Kriss has breakfast prepared and waiting. Grain waffles produced by a neighbor, rich gravy from this very farm. Another neighborly contribution, an egg cooked your way. I wish I would never feel full.
We are free to help with chores as much as we wish. We feed the dogs and the sheep. While filling buckets from the grain cart, the sweet smell of animal feed brings back fond memories of my youthful experiences on the farm. Feeling grateful that my children get a similar experience, the animal sounds fire off as we approach. They know what those buckets hold! We don’t track the time but it disappears on us. Jenn and I contemplate if we could start a bed and breakfast like this in our area. We are intoxicated on the simple life. But Jenn brings up a great point. Kriss has left the romantic part of the farm to us, but has hidden away most of the grit. There are no vacations when you own a farm. We leave with gratitude in our heart, thankful that there are places like Circle M’s that still exist.
Circle M Market Farm
Kriss and Shannon Marion
1784 County Rd. H
Blanchardville, WI 53516
By Shane Peitscher –