You are invited to pull over and ponder a while.
A little bit northwest of Madison WI the countryside is dotted with transitory art carrying whimsical doses of environmental consciousness that goes down easy. This year’s Farm Art D’Tour makes you think even as you smile. It’s a combination of 40 art works, attractions, local vendors, and instructive field notes (on subjects like local soils) spread out over 50 miles of country roads in bucolic Sauk County Wisconsin.
Even this hidebound conservative who grew up pouring atrazine on his Captain Crunch wouldn’t miss it — which you will if you don’t do the ride by Monday 10-10-22.
The Farm Art D’Tour is sponsored by the delightfully named Worm Farm Institute, based in Reedsburg WI. (As far as we could tell, no Randy Quaid, no Cousin Eddie.)
The Lovely Lisa, equipped with the D’Tour’s colorful and instructive map, served as navigator. This time around, we did not attempt to visit all 40 stops to better enjoy those we did see. We’ll share just three.
The first was located just west of Prairie du Sac on the Prairie Road farm of the Steuber family, who have been farming there since 1851. Hundreds of small ceramics resembling fairy goblets “show” (in the words of the guide map) “how the fungi world beneath our feet teems with energy & communication, intermittently gracing us with its presence above ground.” Behind the installation, exploded milkweed pods mimicked the ceramics with pointillist artistry.
Subtle as that display, the next one just up the road hit an 11 on Lisa’s Wow meter: The CarbonEra Cafe. Thought it was a Culver’s as we approached. A restaurant complete with checkered cloth-covered tables. Even menus encased in the familiar protective covers found in almost every restaurant. Soup of the Day: “Move Your Money Minestrone. A hearty, life-supporting soup strengthened by investing your dollars in a renewable, sustainable future.” Told you there was an agenda — not that the Werkes disagrees with it; the challenge is getting there without impoverishment.
Blink and you’d miss the hamlet of Witwen. Eyes wide open you’d still drive past some real history. Set well back of County Hwy E is a still-active faith revivalist summer camp, with buildings dating to 1918. Straight out of John Boy’s Waltons! Sawdust covers the floor of the barn-like meeting house. Tent revivalist meetings were held here as far back as 1853. The property has been in the Sprecher family since 1922. It’s dotted with “artist-built mobile farm stands.” (More history here.)
We rested on a bench contemplating the music of burbling Honey Creek that runs through the property before setting out for a ride through the Baraboo Range to the north. On the way through the valleys we observed farmers taking advantage of dry weather to begin the field corn and soybean harvest. Crops look very good! Capped off the day with pie (cherry for Lisa and peanut butter for Blaska) at the Eagle Inn in Prairie du Sac before heading to the comparative chaos of Madison.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: One other thing: we saw “Be Kind” yard signs everywhere. Not that we necessarily disagree with that sentiment either, but …