Sunday, July 29, 2007

Door County Dairy Farms

Oh well, didn't get into the Penninsula Art School show this year. I'll try again next year. Can't imagine a better way than to paint my way across America. This trip will pave the way and I'll know where the spots I want to paint are. Maybe take a little extra time upfront so I can get more painting done. Get back to Door County and paint some of the farms before they disappear to developers.

After the reception at PAS. Betts and I went out to Bleys Tavern and got to know the locals. Met Tony Palezsh (don't think I got that right). Tony was born and raised here on one of the dairy farms. He operates an excavation business. I learned all about installing septic systems. Great stuff, sounds like they have as many or more regulations here as we do out west. Curious thing out here is that the Penninsula has very little topsoil and alot of sand stone base rock so quite a few septic systems have to be 'heap leach' systems.

The tavern was something out of a Walt Whitman poem, one room, pool table and juke box at the crossroads, with a baseball field in a corn patch stretching to the horizon. Could have been right out of the movie, Field of Dreams. Folks still suck cigarettes inside the tavern. Wonder how long that will hold out. Washington passed a law you can't smoke in public buildings or private establishments and smokers can't be nearer than 25' from the entrance of a building.
Drinks were incredibly cheap. 1$ beer on tap and $3 shots. Been a long time since I had a Pabst Blue Ribbon. Needless to say, Tony and I got to talking about personal stuff. He was an orphan raised by a Penninsula farm family. "Got to tinkin' dat I might just well write da Catlic sisters down Green Bay, ta see if de ol dame would have me. Turns out I went from da youngest to the oldest of de fambly." says Tony drawing off a filtered camel. Now he's got brothers and sisters. "Days plumbers too. Must be in de blood. Go figure." Bout that time, pool cues start clattering on the floor and the big Swede bartender, about 289 lbs of nice guy yells cross the counter, "Don't mind ye hevin some good time but ye better keep dem sticks at attention ya yayhoos." He's got a T shirt says he's a volunteer fireman. We share with him that the fire alarm went off the other night in our room and he says, " O det right, heard about dat, must have been over to Hanks place. I just rolled over when I got the call and went back to sleep. Figured it was jest one of dem dam new alarms. Dey go off from the humidity all the time. " I could tell he was a bit perturbed by these faulty systems. Gotta say though, I'd welcome a volunteer outfit like his what with the big shoulders and his friendly red cheeked mug he could pack a whole family out of a burning building, no problem.t

It was about sundown and the full moon was coming up across the corn fields. Took about 100 pictures with my digital picture machine. Drove around taking snaps of some of the best looking farms I've ever seen. Land O' Lakes farms. Serious milkers. Tidy as a pin. I'm impressed with the crops they grow on this thin soil. Gotta be some hardy souls. Dairy is about the hardest most dedicated work on the planet and these folks have been doing it for generations. Hope they can hold out. What with the developers paying big bucks for the land and most farms gobbled up by corporate interests I imagine the lifestyle is in jepordy like so many other natural resourced based lifestyles. Tony has a nephew that's going organic, hoping that nich market can keep the lifestyle going.