By Myrt Sieger
Yes, my husband, Tom, had yearned to own a little country spot in the Driftless region of western Wisconsin, but after years of casually scouting the countryside together, and aging in the process, I never thought it would come to fruition.
Little did I know, he was continuing to peruse digital sites for just the right spot.
Being retired, he had an itch to escape the city where we resided in downtown Madison for better than a decade to get his hands dirty and work the land. In absolute fear that he would make me permanently move to a rural local, I thought I’d better start taking this idea seriously and joined the search so I could have a say in what might become.
And then one day it happened — he quietly found a small cabin on a 12-acre parcel and suggested we take a drive. By then he had a sense of what my expectations were — within 60 miles of home, a tiny space too small to live in full time yet with basic comforts for short-stay use, preferably situated on a ridgetop to afford beautiful views and near a neighbor in case of an emergency.
It all seemed rather unlikely. But before you assume that I wasn’t a party to this idea at all, let me say that I, too, have always had an affinity for the natural beauty of the Mississippi River Valley and bluff terrain having grown up there. It is just that I feared being a distance from the amenities of the city, away from close friends and an airport to jet off to our grandchildren afar.
As you can now guess, we found our spot! Grant you, this little 420-square-foot cabin on 12 acres of rolling farmland was in a mighty sad state of repair.
The cabin not so much, but the land so overgrown and with livestock overuse, we couldn’t even walk the property. The realtor assured us there was a good size pond “out there” as the plat map indicated. So the venture began.
Five feet of nasty dense weeds had to be cut, large cattle and hog wallows had to be filled, and animal pens had to be removed just to carve a yard for ourselves. Never having heard of a brush hog, this mighty piece of equipment was used to forge new paths. Beyond the paths we found pine groves, the pond and more. Clearly hundreds of invasive bushes would need to be removed to truly meander the property and enjoy the views.
In sum, the blood and sweat required in removing fences, unearthing farm debris and land-clearing has been the most difficult, exhausting and ultimately rewarding work we have ever done. And doing it together, all the better!
Now three years later, as we peruse our gardens, feed the fish, catch a fleeting deer cross our path, admire the many different types of birds and sip a glass of wine while watching the sunset, life is pretty darn good. We are doing our best to reclaim this spectacular piece of land and in the midst, the grandkids have expressed during their visits, “Can we live here forever?”
Who would have ever thought … .
Myrt Sieger and her husband, Tom, grew up in the La Crosse area and are enjoying trying to restore prairie on their 12 acres near Rockbridge.