Old World Wisconsin

I’m notorious for getting lost. Notorious. Which is why I’m the driver and Brian’s the navigator. That’s just how it’s always been! But to give you a little frame of reference for my complete and utter lack of direction…While I was interviewing in the Twin Cities and Madison during 2004-2005, Brian would know to keep by his phone until I reached my destination. On more than one occasion I’d frantically called him, completely lost, name off the streets I was passing and some how he’d figure out where I was and get me to where I needed to be! It worked, but I’m not gonna lie – I love the GPS on my phone today! It was essential for this Wisconsin-to-Arizona trip, despite my initial little detour.

And here I am. Still lost. An hour behind “schedule”. Taking my sweet, sweet time as I make my way to Minnesota on a “short cut” a friend had recommended. Usually, I take the interstate from Wisconsin to Minnesota, but this seemed like a more direct route. Regardless of the detour, it was absolutely the more worth-while route to take!


This leg of the journey brought me into the heart of Wisconsin farm country. And that was a hard drive for me to go through. While the hills and fields were absolutely gorgeous, the farms, buildings and homes were run-down and in some cases abandoned. Like so:

Photo credit: The above farm photo is from the National Scenic Byways Program.

And seeing farms and farming communities in that type of despair was really hard. My parents continue to work the farm I grew up on, we have a 135-year old farm in the extended family, I was twice a dairy princess and I showed a hog at the Minnesota State Fair more than once. Yes, farming is part of how I was raised. And to see farm after farm abandoned or left in disrepair was unsettling. I know how hard farm families work to make ends meet. I know what the land, the buildings, the history means to farm families. And to see that disappearing, abandoned even, is absolutely heartbreaking.

I just feel that there has to be something more that could be done with the materials. Maybe if we had more places like Dell’s Architectural Antiques or more uses for reclaimed lumber. I don’t know. There’s a lot of history just sitting out there in the fields of Wisconsin weathering the test of time.


How about you? What has your family done for work? Is there a line of work that carries through from generation to generation? Have you ever seen a main industry abandoned in the community and/or within your family? If so, what changed? What does your family do now?

About Sara

Sara Hefty (B.B.A. and H.H.C.) teaches workaholic women how to have it all and flourish without burning out, binging or being spiteful. As an expert in transformational health coaching, she holds women accountable for letting go of unwanted weight, being brilliantly nourished, grounded in truth and feeling confident, happy and playful every single day.

As a woman with her own weight loss story, wide-ranging family heritage of cancer, and a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Sara’s appreciation for convenient nutrient-dense food, personal growth, inspiring design, financial responsibility, and social entrepreneurship led to her “Pursuit of Ownership: Health, Home, and Legacy” model of heart-on-fire-hot empowered living.

Sara is the founder of PROJECT LUX and SaraHefty.com. She currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with her husband Brian and hound-dog Raja.