Unlike many of my past articles where we were traveling here and there and everywhere, this post tells part 1 of a 2 part story where the travelers came to us, to learn more about us and our area of the world. You see, from September 13-20 the Madison club of the Friendship Force International hosted 20 visitors, 10 from Winnipeg, Manitoba and 10 from Santa Barbara, California. I believe I’ve told you about Friendship Force in previous posts but here’s a recap. Friendship Force is a non-profit cultural exchange organization founded in 1977 by an acquaintance of President Jimmy Carter to explore the world, learn about other cultures through home stays and promote peace between peoples of the world. There are about 350 clubs in 58 countries. Clubs “exchange” in other words, both travel as ambassadors and host members from other clubs. We hosted two ambassadors, Karolyn Hanna and Linda Williams both from Santa Barbara. The Madison exchange directors planned many activities to help the members learn more about Madison and Wisconsin. So join us on a two-part verbal and photo tour of the fun we had hosting our new friends.
After meeting the ambassadors at the airport, we had just enough time to help them get settled in our home before we headed off to Vilas Park for the welcome potluck. There we met all the ambassadors and hosts and enjoyed lots of good food. One person remarked that Friendship Force should really be called Feeding Frenzy! Here’s a photo of people lining up for food.
The next day we headed north of Madison to Baraboo and the Wisconsin Dells. First we stopped at the International Crane Foundation whose mission is to work worldwide to conserve cranes and their habitat. The Crane Foundation is the only place in the world where there is a complete collection of the 15 species of cranes. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and regaled us with stories about their work with the cranes. The following are some photos from the Foundation, I highly recommend this stop on any tour of Southern Wisconsin. In the spirit of full disclosure, the second photo is a picture of a painting in the visitors center! Realistic isn’t it!
After lunch in Lake Delton, we headed into the Wisconsin Dells and a boat tour of the Upper Wisconsin River. It was a beautiful day and the ride and stops on the river were fantastic. Below are some photos from out excursion.
This photo is of the famous Stand Rock, the most legendary of all the Dells rock formations. It is said to have made the Wisconsin Dells famous because of the skillful photography of H.H. Bennett. The photos he took soon spread across the nation and drew people from all over to vacation in the Dells. Note the dog jumping between the rocks.
That evening we attended a home hosted dinner with other hosts and ambassadors as a way to meet others. Here we are enjoying the hospitality of Bob and Lucy Lasseter.
As we set out early the next morning for DeForest, Wisconsin, we told our guests that the first part of our day was going to focus on sex, cow sex that is! You see ABS is a worldwide leader in the artificial insemination of livestock. It has been in business for 75 years with it’s headquarters here in Wisconsin. Our tour guide Lindsey, showed us the labs and explained the process of preserving, distributing and marketing bull semen. Then we were off to a barn where we watched the collection process. For most observers, this was the first time they were exposed to the concept of artificial breeding which has made a big impact on the supply of meat and milk around the world through superior genetics. It was very interesting to observe and hear their comments, this from a farm kid who studied Animal Science in college. Here are a few photos from our stop at ABS, no photos were allowed inside the buildings or of the bulls.
Our second stop of the day was at the Hinchley Farm near Cambridge, Wisconsin. This is a working dairy farm with 120 milking cows plus calves and replacements. They raise most of their own feed, corn, corn silage, and haylage. They also have goats, sheep, chickens, geese, and ducks. Tina Hinchley was our tour guide, one of the most passionate people about farming and agriculture that I’ve ever met.
We started off with a pleasant lunch with ice cream, of course, for dessert! It is a dairy farm after all. Then Tina loaded us into tractor pulled wagons for a tour of the farm, we stopped where they were building a 100,000 bushel grain bin for corn, the outdoor cow shed , out to a corn field, then a walk through the stanchion barn where she milks 120 cows twice every day, year around. After everyone had a chance to milk a cow, we headed out see the baby calves, to collect the eggs and experience the small animals. There were photos opps galore of ambassadors and hosts holding the chickens, petting the goats and sheep, and watching where they stepped! It was a great tour and enjoyed by all.
Can you believe we did all this stuff in just a couple of days, not only did we see and do fun things, we got to know and interact with folks from other places and make new friends. Watch for next week’s article where I’ll show and describe the rest of the hosting experience.
Until next week, may the Force be with you!