Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I've Been to the Mountain Top

The ancient Ocooch Mountains of southwestern Wisconsin, also known as the Driftless Region, were untouched by melting glaciers of the last ice age which flattened most of the midwest United States. Millions of years ago, before the ice age, the land was the bottom of an ancient sea, where hundreds of feet of limestone and sandstone deposits accumulated. The geology is seen in limestone outcroppings in hillside landscapes. Caves are common, often becoming temporary homes for early settlers.

The Driftless Region, surrounded by glaciated land, is an example of what most of the northern and eastern United States were like before the last ice age. It's this beautiful, fertile land my mom and her husband retired to several years ago.

They bought their 68-acre mountain home a few years before retiring, and spent many weekends and vacations renovating the spacious, light-filled house. Windows and siding were replaced, wallpaper was removed, flooring was replaced, a greenhouse was built, a high-efficiency, non-polluting wood burning stove and fireplace insert were installed, and painting was done, along with research and preparation for the active, highly self-sufficient, locavore (long before the term was coined,) retirement lifestyle they carefully planned and are now enjoying.

Their home is nestled in a clearing on the flattened top of an ancient, forested mountain.

This is a look into the forest as we climb the steep private road to the mountain top.
Mom and her husband are garden buddies and caretakers of their beautiful property. They have a huge vegetable garden on their mountain top, steps away from the deck off the kitchen and the greenhouse overlooking the back yard. They grow greens, melons, squash, broccoli, cucumbers, okra, brussels sprouts, herbs, all kinds of tomatoes, green beans, beets, sweet potatoes, peas, radishes, and lots of other delicious organic veggies. The garden is surrounded by chicken wire and low-voltage electric fencing to keep marauding wildlife out. Much has already been harvested and preserved for the winter months. Summer meals are a bounty of fresh organically-grown fruits and vegetables.
Besides the fruits growing in the garden, there are also grape arbors, berries, and fruit trees adding to the generous bounty of their fertile soil. Because of the elevation, their soil and water supply are free of chemical runoff and residue typical of most urban and agricultural land and water supplies.

Although it might be hard to tell the scale from this picture, this butternut squash peeking out from its trellised vine is huge - probably the biggest I've ever seen.A bowl of these delicious orange cherry tomatoes sits on a kitchen counter ready for snacking and salads.
Watermelons are ripening on their trellised vines.
Hopefully there will be enough remaining warm days for even more of the paste tomatoes to ripen.
I didn't make it down to their meadow this trip. It's in the meadow where a second garden grows potatoes, life-changing garlic, and onions.

A summer visit always means a care package of delicious produce to take home from the garden, and this trip was no exception.

It was here on a mountain top I spent my weekend enjoying the warmth and companionship of my mom and her husband/garden buddy. Their loving marriage is a true partnership, close friendship, and an inspiration to all who know and love them.

I had a wonderful, relaxing trip, and will share a bit more of it after playing catch up back here at home.


  1. Very nice vegetable garden indeed!

  2. 68 acres! Wow what a beautiful place to enjoy retirement! Garden looks wonderful...

  3. Everything looks dreamy, love your photos!

  4. That is one incredible looking garden! That is also a gorgeous place. I could just feel the peace oozing off your words. Your mom is a very lucky lady.

  5. Hi Tina, their garden is huge, and they grow such a nice variety of veggies. There's nothing like home grown produce.

    Hi Skeeter, it really is gorgeous there. I would love to retire someplace like that.

    Thanks consiousgardener! It's a dreamy place to visit too. And the stars at night. . . oh my goodness! Gorgeous!

    Hi Susie, it really is quite impressive. There's no way to get the whole garden into one photo - it's too big for that.

    That's exactly how it is there - very peaceful. I'm very happy for Mom that she and her wonderful husband have such a fabulous place to call home.

  6. Wow Linda! Lucky you and your family. What an amazing piece of land and the gardens are great!

  7. Linda,

    I can hear the love and respect in your 'voice' as you speak; for the land, for your parents and for what they have created. It is absolutely wonderful. It looks like an ideal place to spend time...doing what you enjoy and love.

    ...and the gardens are fantastic!


  8. Thanks for taking us to the mountain with you, Garden Linda - your mom and her spouse seem to have found their dream. I never heard about this part of Wisconsin before but Google pulls up some interesting sites on the Ocooch Mountains and the Driftless area.

    Going to Grandma's house must be like stepping into a painting!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. Oh, I'm back just for the right post. It's THAT special place. Waking up every day and seeing just one of those breathtaking views must be the greatest gift those two garden buddies could have... ;-)

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.

  10. This is a beautiful place to spend one's retirement! Like most retirees I know, though, your Mom and husband obviously aren't sitting around watching TV! Their vegetable garden is very impressive and shows a lot of TLC. How lucky you were to spend a weekend relaxing with your family here, and to take home such yummy produce.

  11. What a wonderful place. I am so hungry just reading about all those delicious fruits and veggies.

  12. What cities do they live near? Sothern Wisconsin is beautiful, isn't it? I like to visit the Wisconsin Dells, so much beauty arund there.

    I'd love a nice care package like that, YUM! It sould like you had a good time.

  13. Hi Shirley, you're so right - it is an amazing piece of land. I'm glad it's not too far away from me. It's always a joy to visit, both my parents and their beautiful home.

    Hi Gail, aw, that's so sweet of you to say.

    I really love going up there to visit. Each time I go, it seems I come away with an even greater awe for the wonderful home and life they've made for themselves.

    It's always fun to check out the garden - they're always trying something new and different.

    Hi Annie, thanks for coming along! My parents are truly living their dream.

    That region of the country is very interesting. I understand it also spreads into neighboring states, including part of northern Illinois.

    It's beautiful there at every time of year. . . cold in the winter though!

    Hi Violet, nice to see you back from your travels to THAT special place! :~)

    It really is so beautiful up there at their place, and so peaceful.

    I think they pinch themselves sometimes, and feel very grateful to be living their dream retirement, and in good health, to boot!

    Hi Rose, nope, they don't watch much tv! They have quite an active lifestyle. They do spend plenty of time relaxing though. They do a lot of reading, have lots of lively conversations, have lots of other interests besides their beautiful home, have great friends and a loving family they spend time with, volunteer in the community. . . nope, not much tv-watching going on there!

    I'm so glad I had a chance to get up there during warm weather, and hope to go back for the fall colors!

    Hi Lisa, it surely is a wonderful place!

    And the food. . . well, let me tell you! Mom made delicious meals with their homegrown produce, and with local, organic grains, butter, milk, eggs, homemade yogurt, grass-fed, organic, local meats, homemade breads and jams. . . Everything is homemade.

    It's almost like being a kid again, keeping Mom company while she cooks, and helping with the meal preparations and cleanup. She's always been an awesome cook.

    Hi Cinj, it's funny, they don't really live near any cities! It's all small towns, and farmland in any direction. Madison's the closest city, but it's not very close.

    I went to the Dells once from their place - it sure is beautiful there. I didn't really want to do the amusement stuff, just wanted to ride the ducks and see the Dells, and they didn't dissapoint. There are similar rock outcroppings in the hills around my parents' area. I remember lots of lichen, ferns, and some small wildflowers growing in crevaces in the rocks at the Dells. So beautiful. Hope they get those Ducks up and going again after the damage there from the rain.

  14. Beautiful photos and lovely tribute to your mother. You have been obviously blessed with her 'Green Thumb':)

  15. Linda, sounds like you had a wonderful trip and the garden was wonderful!!

  16. Thank you Joey! Yep, I do think my own green thumb has been passed down through the generations in our family.

    Hi Sherry, It's always a pleasure to visit there, and a bonus during the growing season since it can be hard for me to get away from my work this time of year. I'm glad it's close enough to me for a quick weekend visit.

  17. Linda, it all sounds so wonderful and oh, those beautiful veggies... I love it and thanks for sharing them. Isn't it nice to get away to a completely different environment and then the added bonus of spending time with your mom and her husband... not to mention getting to take home some of the bounty...
    I admire the way they planned out their retirement and are now living the dream.

    Great photos too.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  18. Just wonderful - what a paradise! My husband and I dream of owning more land someday, but leaving most of it wild and undeveloped. What a wonderful garden.

  19. Hi Meems, I just love it there. It was really nice to get away. My girls and I may visit again in the next several weeks if they can stand to have me back again so soon! ;~)

    Hi Amy, I hope your dream comes true one day. My parents are living proof that with carful planning dreams like this can and do come true.

  20. Lovely photos of the region and of the wonderful veggies. Man, I wish I knew your mom and her husband. If anyone needs an inspiration of a loving marriage that's a true partnership and close friendship, it's me! ;-)
    ~ Monica


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