Thursday, November 14, 2013

How Much Does a New Septic System Cost?

Septic System Cost
Here is information for homeowners to estimate the cost of a new septic system.  I wish I had this information available to me when we were establishing a realistic renovation budget. Although the information below is applicable to Kenosha County, State of Wisconsin, and the costs are from the year 2009, it will give you an idea of the type of costs you will incur and figure out how much it costs for a new septic system.  My goal is to give you enough information to ask the right questions and receive a complete quote, avoiding extra costs you did not anticipate.

Soil Test (Mound System) $500.00

Soil Testing in location of future mound

Soil Samples

Mound System Design $325.00

State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Commerce fee $175.00

Revised Mound System Design due to changing location of Mound $200.00
*The original quote was for the design that located the new septic tanks in my backyard. I failed to make it clear that I did not want tanks in my backyard near my patio. I wanted the tanks in a more remote area to avoid sitting on our lawn chairs and smelling gasses from the tank. Be thoughtful where your septic location will be placed and make sure it is communicated to the designer. And, make sure it is a fair distance from your well.

State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Commerce fee $80.00

Kenosha County Permit Fee $775.00

Register of Deeds fee $30.00

Old Cast Iron Pipe
*The old cast iron pipe that went from the basement to the old system had to removed and replaced. The basement wall needed to be sealed with hydraulic cement inside and out and the outside coated with tar in the area to be patched. Ask if there is an additional charge for plumbing or electrical work.

Extra Heavy Tank Covers
*There is a maximum cover depth of 4 feet on the new septic tanks. If you select a location that requires the tanks to be deeper because of the pitch on the pipes, then extra heave tank covers are required. $360.00 for all three.

Floor Drains or New Drainage Pip for Water Softener
*Water softener discharge should not go into a septic system. Either utilize the existing floor drain or hook up a by-pass to another absorption system using a 4" PVC pipe. $400.00 if needed.

Abandon Old System -
*Pump existing old concrete septic tank, filling with stone, collapse tank, fill, topsoil, grade flat with contour of landscaping. Make sure this is specifically included in the quote.  Your municipality will want certification that the old system is abandoned in an approved fashion.  Inspection will take place before your new system gets the OK.

New System
*Install new system, construct 4-bedroom mound system using washed stone aggregate for the bed media above approximately 143 cubic  yards of sand. Mound is to be capped with clay fill, topped with topsoil, seeded and mulched. All topsoil over trench and tank locations is to be stripped and stockpiled, not trucked off-site. The site between mound and house is to be graded flat, with all deep rutting caused by trucks and equipment filled and graded with topsoil. Miscellaneous materials, labor and machinery charges included. Low and high voltage wire between house and pump chamber and connection to serves are included. $15,000.00

Make sure you take photos of the piping of your septic path for future reference.

Repair to Driveway
*If necessary, repair damage to existing gravel driveway. $369.00
If necessary, repair damage to existing concrete or blacktop driveway. Obtain quote.

Replacing an Old Septic System - Should I?

Should you spend money replacing an old septic system when you renovate?    

If you find yourself asking this question, you will benefit from reading about our experience.

Hey!  The toilet flushes fine.  If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Flush the toilet.  Our old septic worked just fine.  It was installed in the 1960's and the system was grandfathered, which meant we were not required to abide or upgrade to the current regulations.  As long as we kept the same number of bedrooms and only increased square footage minimally (defined by county code) we were not required to install a new system.  Yippy!  Why spend the money when it was not a requirement?  What woman wouldn't prefer to put the money toward hard wood floors and pretty cabinets vs. a septic system?  No-brainer.

But.......not so fast!

 What kind of system do you have?  How to Find an Old Septic System?

We did not have a mound system.  We had a holding tank, which by the way, was never pumped.  Newer systems typically have access lids that are visible from ground level.  My ancestors put an old cooking pot (without handle) over the access pipe and covered it with dirt.  Grass grew over it and you would never know half the back yard had a tank underground.  Had I not remembered this information as a little girl, there would be no evidence of where it was located.  Additionally, there were no county records of installing the system.  No site maps.  No permit issued.  Since there were no county records, there were also no requirements for pumping or inspection.  Not good.  This is not uncommon in rural areas where vintage farm homes still exist.  If you are looking at buying an old house, I warn you that ignoring these issues will cost you LOTS of money eventually.  Be informed and get the facts so you can make a good decision.

You will want to know:

§        where is the underground tank:  backyard, floodplain, overlapping the neighbor's lot line, underneath a shed

§        what is the size or capacity of the underground tank

§        how old is the system - does the county have a record of installation

§        are there records of the last time the tank was pumped or inspected

§        where is the access pipe located

§        where do the agriculture drain tiles drain into - ditch or creek

§        are there odors or spongy, wet areas

§        does it comply with current county code

If it's not broke, don't fix it?  Why we decided to install a new system anyway.

Landscaping.  We planned on re-landscaping the backyard.  Our plan was to install a concrete patio, a fire pit, install a concrete approach pad to the garage, move our propane gas line, and reconfigure our driveway and parking.  All of this re-landscaping went over and around the existing buried old septic tank.  Should the tank "give out" and fail with the added stress of more bathrooms and more people, all of the landscaping would have to be destroyed and replaced.  Why?  You cannot abandon an old septic tank "as is".  The cover must be removed with a backhoe, pumped clean, and it must be crushed, filled, and inspected before it is covered.  Did we want to gamble?  Did we want to face an emergency install in the middle of a Wisconsin winter?. Did we want to pay for landscaping twice?   No.

Re-Sale.  Since we owned the property for many years our septic was grandfathered. That would not be the case if we wanted or needed to sell the house in the open market.  Have you watched the HGTV channel programs on buying homes?  No one wants a home with a septic that does not meet code requirements.  Banks would not lend with code violations.  Additionally, the new owners may not be able to take occupancy until a new septic was installed.  This would be a huge obstacle in selling the house.  Not good.

The message of this story.

           Think ahead.

Read This If You Are Installing New Windows

Cracked Window Frame after Installation

It is the little things, ya know? 

Read this if you are installing new windows.

During construction, it makes sense to do a walk-through, daily if possible.  Catching problems early means they are easier and less expensive to fix.  No one wants to rip apart a finished product only to have to re-build it over again. 

We ordered Anderson double hung windows.  The interior is primed wood (highly recommend you order primed wood directly from the factory) but the exterior is vinyl.  I did not intentionally go out to inspect every window.  It didn't occur to me.  It just so happened I was looking out this particular window and noticed the crack.   It is easy enough to miss.

H-m-m-m-m-m-m.  If there is one problem window, are there more?

This crack may have occurred any time from the factory to delivery to our construction site.  It also may have cracked when the window was lifted to position, or when the contractor was nailing it in place. 

Do not accept a cosmetic repair.

You may be told that the crack is minor, only a hairline crack, but I have a counter-point.  The window had to be jarred with enough force to create the crack so after the warranty has expired, this may be the first window to loose its glass seal.  At that point, window replacement is your expense.  I requested a replacement, which was granted.

There is no need to accept damaged materials.  Stick to your guns!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Airplane Bathrooms

There is no photo or graphic that can project an image of what I am about to describe.  You will  have to use your own imagination.

I am on an airplane heading to Calgary, seat 7D, writing this note.

We are twenty-minutes from landing and the toilet has been used by every specimen of the human race.  I know this because I was one of those specimens.  The floor is dotted with wet spots of an unidentified origin and tid-bits of wet toilet paper and paper towel.  The mirror has spots and the sink has "stuff" in it.  That is what happens when lots of people use a single bathroom the size of a household furnace.

As I observe my surroundings, I frown because the soles of my shoes are now contaminated.  My goal:  quick exit.

Who is next in line?  A young woman in her early 20's - barefoot.  Yes, in she goes!  Barefoot.

E-wwwwwwwww.  I stare at the bathroom door in disbelief.  What would ever posses someone, an adult,  to go into an airplane toilet barefoot? This is contrary to everything my mother taught me about bathroom etiquette and procedures in a public place. 

Think of this girl the next time you shoe shop.  And yes, she'll probably live to 95 unlike the rest of us who carry those little hand sanitizer packets.

Recipes - Special Request

My Favorite Recipe Book

This tired old worn book has seen better days.  It needs duck tape but I'll have none of that dull gray duck tape for this book.  No-sir-ee.  It needs a special color, probably red or yellow, to coordinate with the flowers on the front.  This book is one of my prized possessions and I'll tell you why.

I purchased this blank page book years, years, and years ago for the purpose of keeping recipes of exceptional tasty food that was served by family and friends in their homes.  These recipes tie me to my friendships and family as much as the recipe itself.  Handing down recipes from friend to friend and family to family says I enjoyed being a guest at your table.  I loved what you served and I cherish the time you took to make something special for me.  Memories of a joyful special time.  Being invited for dinner for a home-cooked meal is the ultimate compliment.

I grew up in the 1950's and 1960's and my family did not eat out.  There was no need.  Our table always had ample delicious food.  My goodness, Dog N' Suds was the only restaurant I knew about until I was in high school.  Our "restaurant" was grandma's house, my aunt and uncle's house, and neighbors.  And, it was always pot luck which was the best tasting dish of the lady who brought it.

I'll share just a few recipes today that will come in handy when you expect company or if you need something for a dish-to-pass.  I'll add more later.  Don't expect organic, fat-free, low-calorie, recipes in my collection.  I want the "real thing" even if it means a small portion.   You know, it isn't all about the food.

Coconut Cheese Ball

3-8 ounce packages of cream cheese
1/2 small jar Major Gray's Chutney (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Coconut, shredded

Blend softened cream cheese with other ingredients except coconut.  Shape into a ball. Roll in coconut.  Serve with salty crackers like Trisket crackers.

HINT:  This makes a generous recipe.  I usually make several smaller balls, enough for an appetizer at a party.  They defrost fine.  Nice to have on hand for unexpected company or card club.

Bok Choy Salad

1 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped, white part only
1 head of Bok Choy, chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1 bunch of green onion, chopped
1 stick butter
1 pkg of Oriental Ramen Noodle Soup
1 large package of slivered almonds
3/4 cup of sunflower seeds

3/4 cup salad oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Melt butter in pan and toast noodles and almonds.  Color should be light brown.  Set aside to cool.
Mix salad ingredients.  Sprinkle Ramen Noodle flavor package into salad.  Toss.
Sprinkle crunchy noodle and nut mixture.
Add dressing.  Toss.  Serve immediately or noodles will get soggy.

NOTE:  This is always a big hit.  Very tasty. 

My favorite 1960's Ladies Luncheon Menu recipes and photos can be viewed on the link below in my website.

Ladies Sandwich Loaf, 7-layer Jell-O Salad and Champagne Dessert Recipes

Spicy Zucchini Boats

4 small zucchini
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Cayenne Pepper
Chives, Chopped

Soil salted water and blanch zucchini with skin on.  Put in ice water ASAP.  Cool.  Cut in half lengthwise and hollow out like a boat.  I use a melon-ball tool.
Combine cheeses, pepper and chives.  Stuff boats
Bake 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until the top cheese browns slightly.  OK to broil.
Serve hot.
NOTE:  Very nice side dish but you can also eat this for main meal if you want something lite.

Hot Cheese Dip

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise

Mix.  Pour into small oven-ready baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Should be bubbly.  Serve hot with crackers.  Triskets work well.

NOTE:  I know this is high calorie but oh my goodness, it is tasty!

Mexican Chicken Lasagna

1 - 16 oz. jar of mild salsa
1 - 16 oz. jar of medium salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 10 oz. pkg dry lasagna noodles
2 cups nonfat or low fat cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Pour both jars of salsa into large saucepan. Add the pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.  Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions and drain well.  Pat dry.  Combine the cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, and chilies; mix well and set aside.
Lightly coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.
Arrange half the lasagna noodles in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over the pasta, then half the cooked chicken, then half the salsa.  Spread half the shredded cheeses on top.  Repeat the layering step., ending with the shredded cheeses.
Bake, covered at 375 degrees about 45 - 60 minutes - until bubbly.  Let stand uncovered for 10 minutes before cutting.

NOTE:  This can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator, unbaked,  until you are ready to put it in oven.

Lemon Square Bars

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon peel, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
confectioner's sugar for garnish

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees
Mix flour, butter and 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar.  Press into ungreased 8 inch square pan, building up 1/2 inch edges.  Bake in preheated over for 20 minutes.

Beat remaining ingredients until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Pour over hot crust.  Bake 25 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched.

Cool.  Cut in squares.  Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

NOTE:  This tastes best when you use real butter for the crust. 

Olive Dip

8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 small can of chopped black olives
1-1/2 teaspoon granulated beef bouillon
4 Tablespoons for water

Soften cream cheese so it is easy to beat.  Boil 4 Tablespoons of water and add beef bouillon.  Mix until melted and blended.  Let cool and add to cream cheese.  Add olives and refrigerate.  Serve with potato chips.

NOTE:  I have been making this since the 1970's.  If you love black olives you will love this dip.  It is a nice alternative to French Onion Soup mix chip dip. 

Scalloped Broccoli

1 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4-5 cups of fresh broccoli or frozen, chopped and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 Tablespoons minced onion
2 eggs, well beaten
buttered bread crumbs

Mix ingredients; sprinkle breadcrumbs or top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. 

Cream Cheese Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

8 oz. package of whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
1 package of Duncan Hines Devil's Food Chocolate Cake Mix with instant pudding (see box)
Cup cake papers

Mix cream cheese, sugar, egg, and salt until creamy and fluffy.  Then, stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop this mixture into a third-filled cupcake batter.  Add a little chocolate cake batter on top of the mixture to cover it.  Bake according to the directions on the cake box.

Curry and Sweet Pickle Tuna Salad

7 oz. can tuna, drained and flaked
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pinch of garlic

Mix everything except tuna.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  Mix with tuna.  Set in refrigerator and serve cold on bed of lettuce.
NOTE:  This is a nice change from the standard tuna salad.  We love it.

Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers

12-16 oz. plain oyster crackers
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Original Ranch Salad Dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4-1 cup of salad oil

Combine Hidden Valley Ranch mix and oil; add dill weed, garlic powder and lemon pepper.  Pour over crackers, stir to coat.  Place in warm oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

NOTE:  These are so-o-o-o-o good but eat them when you are staying home.  I would avoid serving at a party unless your guests don't mind the garlic.

French Salad Dressing

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salad oil

Put all in blender and blend well.  Adjust any seasoning if necessary.

Lime Cottage Cheese Jell-O Salad

1 small package lime Jell-O
1 cup hot water
1 cup pineapple juice
1 small can crushed or chunk pineapple
1 small carton cottage cheese
1 cup of whipped cream or Cool-Whip

Mix all ingredients together, varying amounts of pineapple, cottage cheese, whipping cream, according to taste.  Put into a pretty mold or dish.  Refrigerate, preferably overnight, until set and serve cold.
NOTE:  My mother made this for all the holiday's, bridal or baby showers and ladies luncheons.

Seven Layer Bars

1/2 cup butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 can (3-1/2 oz.) sweetened coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 package ( 6 oz.) chocolate chips
1 package ( 6 oz.) butterscotch chips
1 cup nut, chopped

Melt butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan in the oven.  Watch carefully so it does not burn.  Add each ingredient in order, layering.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
This is very easy - and fast.  You don't even need a mixing bowl!
People love this - especially the guys.

Hot Blue Cheese Dip

7 bacon slices, cooked crisp and diced
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic cloves
8 oz. whipped cream cheese at room temp
1/4 cup half and half
4 oz. Blue Cheese crumbled
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 Tablespoons chopped smoked almonds (I use smokehouse brand)

With electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add half and half.  Blend.  Stir in bacon bits, blue cheese, garlic, and chives.  Transfer to a 2 cup baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake until heated - about 30 minutes.  Sprinkle chopped almonds on top when you remove from the oven.
Serve with baguettes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How To Build a Picket Fence

Something is missing.  Our yard needs a little pizzazz.

I know this sounds silly but everything is  I've always wanted a wooden picket fence and since we have a farm house and a barn, I thought a picket fence with a garden would be a nice touch.  Yeh, that's it!

Here is what my garden looks like July 2013

The End Result

I want to show you a picture of the end result of my picket fence project, hoping it inspires you to proceed on building one in your own back yard.  Building a picket fence is more than a three hour project but it won't take you all summer either.   My tips and hints should save you time and money.  I have included a materials list, a budget and how many hours it took to build. 
Happy gardening!!

What did I learn about planting vegetable plants in my raised boxes?

  1. As you can see, don't plant two tomato plants next to each other. They get too big.
  2. Don't plant a yellow squash plant (one with big leaves) so close to the tomato plants.  They compete for light, space and water.
  3. Yes, I really needed the four feet walk space.
  4. There are pepper and parsley plants in-between the squash and tomato plants.  Poor things.  They can't grow much in the shadows of the other big plants.  Of course, the weeds have no problem!
  5. Stake and tie up your tomatoes as they grow.  If you wait until they start to fall over, you have problems.
  6. I underestimated how big the plants would grow.  Next year - I'll have a different planting plan.
  7. I need mulch on the walk path.

Hot Tip on Staking Tomato Plants

I can't take credit for this tip.  My neighbor Scott had a perfect solution - one that he uses on his tomato plants.
On one of the tomato plants you will see four black stakes positioned in a square.  (Next spring I will place these stakes in the ground when the plants are young.)  As they grow, wind twine around the four corners of the stakes.  When the plants grow taller, add another row of twine.  The plant will not fall over from the weight of the stems or fruit and the plants also have air and light vs. placing twine around the plant like the tomato plant to the left.  You learn some new every day!

How to Build A Picket Fence

I'm excited to start this project but Tom raises an eyebrow as I describe my next bright idea for decorating the outdoors.

Here is my plan:
1.  Purchase two raised garden beds.  Click here for my blog post.
2.  Plant variety of vegetables and herbs.  Click here for my blog post.
3.  Round-Up grass.
4.  White wood picket fence (no PVC for me!) and a gate.
5.  Add a few trellis irons for a pretty clematis to add color and texture to the backdrop view.
6.  Finish with mulch.
6.  Wha-La!  Picture perfect.

Size of Garden

The fence area shown below is 24' long x 12' wide.  I have plenty of room but I don't want a garden too big that is too much work.  Really?  Did I just say that?

24' x 12' wide
raised garden beds are 5' x 5'
In this photo, the Round-Up is starting to kill the grass and the fence frame has been installed.
The area around my raised beds is about 4 feet with an extra foot at the end.

The Picket Fence

Generally, picket fences are 36" high.  They are sold in panels with a gothic decorative top at Home Depot, Menard's or Lowe's.  This sounds O.K. except I do not want gothic tops.  I want the traditional pointy tops.  Picky.  Picky.  And, to be honest with you, I am not convinced the 36" high fence panels were going to look good for the size of my garden.  The 36" looked a little too "cemetery-like" for my taste.

Now what?  Making custom picket boards would be cost prohibitive.  I mean....really...I could buy vegetables at the farmers market for the next 20 years!  I found a very good reasonable price alternative.  Greenes Fence Company of Cleveland, Ohio makes a pointy top picket fence in wood, sprayed white, 2 foot high, in 15 foot long rolls.  Cost:  $19.97 per roll.  I bought the last 6 rolls at Lowe's.

Construction Must Be Sturdy

The goal is to have a nice straight fence, one that is secure and tight to withstand the Wisconsin winter winds, snow drafts, and the occasional bump with the riding mower.  It's time for me to recruit the help of my neighbor, Scott.  He is the master at building and fixing anything.

"Hey, Scott, do you have a minute?"

In this video Scott explains how to build the fence support.

18 support posts are spaced approximately 51" from the center of each post.  This includes the gate that will be built and installed in the front.  Holes were dug with a hand post hole digger and posts were secured with quick-set concrete.


I stained the fence frame with two coats of solid white latex stain.  Why stain and not paint?  Paint chips.  Stain slowly fades into a nice worn vintage patina.  Less maintenance.

The Best Tip I Ever Received From My Painter

I'll pass on the THE BEST tip I received from my painter, Jay Madisen.  He said, "when using latex paint or stain, brush out as much of the paint or stain as possible, wrap tightly in aluminum foil, and place in the freezer.  The next morning when you want to continue the job, let thaw for a few minutes and you are ready to paint.  No clean up until you are done with the project."  Yes, it works.

Attaching the Picket Fence to the Posts

In this video, Scott shows how to attach the picket fence to the support posts.

Crooked Picket

Be aware that the picket fence rolls are not perfectly constructed from the manufacturer.
H-m-m-m-m-m.  You can see this one is not aligned with the post.  If you don't fix it now the problem escalates.  Don't get ahead of yourself.

This view shows how the wire sits at the top of the horizontal support board.  This assures the fence is level.

Scott attaches the picket fence one section at a time.

The end result of all the hard work is a nice straight, sturdy fence.


  • Coming soon. 

How much did the materials cost?

  • $220.00 Materials:  Lumber, nails, one gallon of stain, brush, 6" slide bolt for gate, 2-8" hinges for gate, 4 iron trellis, black gloss paint, rebar rods.

How much time did it take Scott?   38 hours

  • select and pick up materials and unload
  • cut lumber, rip rails, build and notch posts
  • cut 2" off of posts and build fence panels
  • layout post hole placement
  • dig post holes, level panel sections and set sections in cement
  • fabricate gate and screw on hinges and latch, and attach gate to fence
  • nail on picket fence sections
  • rework metal trellis, connect two, add rebar for strength and added length 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Strawberry Picking in Wisconsin

I live in a neighborhood that was known as Berryville which is located near the shores of Lake Michigan, Somers Township, Kenosha County, Wisconsin.  Whew...that was a long description!  It was a small community of about 300 small family farmers that were very successful growing strawberries on our sandy soil.  In the late 1800's and early 1900's thousands and thousands of berries were picked, brought to the railroad a half mile away and shipped to the Milwaukee and Chicago markets.  My neighbor, after retirement, decided to resurrect the area's claim to fame and he established Berryville Farm.  Every year, usually during the first several weeks in June, people from all over come to Berryville Farm for June bearing strawberries.

My neighbor, his wife, and son commit 24/7 to strawberries in early June.  In this photo above, Berryville Farm proudly displays two awards presented by the Kenosha Farmers Market for "the heaviest strawberry" and the "the tastiest strawberry".  Norm is very particular about selecting the very best strawberry types which produce the best berry for his customers.  Strawberries in Wisconsin are the best!

This is a BIG field of strawberries!
Why the orange flag?  If you pick in that particular row, you place the orange marker at the place you left off.  That tells the next picker where they can begin picking.  Clever?  Yes. 

Straw is placed in-between the berry rows as it reduces weeds but it also keeps the berries clean from dirt.  Most important for all of us pickers, the straw is soft and keeps our knees free of dirt while we bend and pick, bend and pick, bend and pick!  O-o-o-o-o my back!  Yes, you can buy pre-picked berries but then you could not snack as you pick!  Poor Norm, I am sure I ate some of his profits! 


I will remove the green leaves and place each berry on a cookie sheet, whole.  In the freezer they go until they are totally frozen.  I then place berries in zip lock bags and during the winter I have fresh berries for smoothies or strawberry desserts.