Shannon, at SSE, asked if we would like to stay in an old, lovingly restored cabin a few miles from Heritage Farm. "Sure", we said, and it was the best decision possible. The cabin (the history of which I must find out) is likely 1800's vintage. There is one main downstairs living room, which contained an old, wind up Victrola that actually worked. Off of that room was a tiny bathroom, tiny kitchen (both more than adequate), and stairs from the kitchen leading up to two bedrooms. But the best part was the back deck, with two comfy wooden rockers. And those rockers looked out on a lovely, large pasture surrounded by a ridge of tall trees. The pasture was endlessly entertaining and changing, inhabited by at least 40 Angus cattle, most of which were black, but sprinkled with a few red, white, and tan, with a few showing white faces. Hence Cow TV! One more thing that is most important - we were perfectly happy with no phone service, internet, TV, radio. It was heaven!
The deck was a perfect place to rock, watch the leftward or rightward movement of the cattle (often they would come up to the fence separating the property), read, do crosswords or sudoku, knit....or just close your eyes and listen. We heard all sorts of birds, including Pileated Woodpeckers, and saw a few Bald Eagles fly along the distant ridge tree line. Now and then skittish deer would appear, jump the fence and run through the field, white tails flashing. In the evening at dusk, at least 40 bats would emerge from a hole at the base of the cabin chimney and set off on their insect feast. As we continued to sit, the stars would start to show (we were facing south, so Scorpio and its red star Antares was very prominent), and a nearly full moon rose and illuminated the field in front of us. Sometimes in the evening and once in the morning we would see mists form or lift.
As the sun moved across the sky, Sue and I would shift our chairs, often relocating down to the lawn under spreading hardwood trees. And always, it was bird calls, or mooing, or the breeze...no sound of cars, or trucks, or airplanes. Each night we would climb those rather risky stairs up to the loft and settle in to a peaceful night of lovely dreams.
Sure, we did some biking, some hiking, had wonderful times at a Barn Dance thrown by John Torgrimson, the SSE director, and a lovely dinner at the home of Tom and Beth Wahlberg (Tom runs the SSE commercial seed operation). We spent time in Decorah, a thriving, lovely little town with a superb Co-Op, ice cream store (the Sugar Bowl), quilt and yarn shops....more on that later. But it wouldn't have been as special if not for the cabin....and Cow TV.
Our deep thanks to the Seed Savers Exchange, John and Pat, Tom and Beth, Shannon, Grant, Jim, and everyone else that made us feel so welcomed!