Over Easter weekend, we were lucky enough to visit a friend's family farm up in Wisconsin. It's only a medium-length one-day drive from KC, and we were sold with promises of forest and seclusion. And cheese. Glorious, glorious Wisconsin cheese (and beer).
We were hosted by the lovely Natalie Gallagher and her dad, the owner of the farm. We stayed in the lodge, which is a gorgeous renovated 1920s barn, essentially all made by hand by Dan.
I should mention that it's not a conventional farm. I mean, there's some cornfields nestled in here and there, but mostly this is a farm for deer hunters to go nab a trophy buck. If it's not incredibly obvious, I am not a hunter myself (in fact am mostly terrified of guns, and of giant deer - so skittish, so big), but I do really respect the way that Dan Gallagher runs Monarch Valley Whitetails. He respects the animals, keeps them wild, and the farm is totally beautiful and well cared-for. It's a really cool place, and we were lucky to be hosted with so much hospitality.
Anyway, first, here are a few images of the farm. It's huge! Hundreds of acres.
And then there's this crazy lodge. It's incredibly cozy, and really well-appointed. These are lucky hunters.
There was the AMAZING cheese as promised, courtesy of Natalie, expert in all things delicious (except vegetables/green things). We tried a wonderful brie, goudas, cheddars, a gruyere, a blue. I think I ate a block of cheese each night we were there. I don't regret a thing.
Dan has an incredible taxidermy collection as well. Kind of overwhelming, but for fans of taxidermy it was just about museum-quality. He had a story to go with each animal, and it's clear how much he values the animals, the places he has gone to get them (Tajikistan for two rams, even) and the experiences around his hunts. These photos aren't even a third of it. It is whoa.
There were live animals too, of course, including a dopey, adorable dog named Pearl, and dozens of deer, some penned for breeding, and some free-range.
I'd love to see this place in another season, perhaps fall. Thank you Gallaghers!