BAYFIELD COUNTY, Wis. – Many forget their ancestors. Some folks live as though history began with their own births. But in other cultures ancestors are acknowledged and revered as guides for everyday life and future endeavors. Even in western society from time to time the intimate role of ancestors in everyday life cannot be ignored.
The northern tip of Bayfield County is the northernmost bit of mainland Wisconsin. It juts into cold and clear Lake Superior. The land is mostly red clay with sandstone or sand from an ancient lake. The peninsula the land forms has elevation that runs down the middle of it. Some interior parts of the peninsula are a few-hundred feet above the surface of the big lake. At the top of a hill within sight of Lake Superior there is a 100-acre farm where the influence of ancestors is readily evident.
Hauser’s Superior View Farm is aptly named. From it on a clear day visitors can see shimmering blue water between islands, with the north shore of Minnesota welling up like a mountain range across the lake. The fourth and fifth generations of the Hauser family now run the farm.
“My great-grandfather moved up here about 1906,” Jim Hauser said. “They had 20 acres and then purchased more of our farm in 1910. When my grandfather took the farm over from his dad, he was fairly up in age. When my dad took it over from my grandfather he was younger, in his 50s. I was in my late-30s and my son, Dane, will be in his 30s when he takes over. In a year the farm will be transitioning to Dane.”
One wonders if ancient Hauser genes from their ancestors in Switzerland have helped them as they cultivated a farm on a hill overlooking Lake Superior.
For decades the Hauser farm has been known for fresh fruit in season. And for decades the family has shipped bare-root perennials all across the nation. Visitors come to purchase hardy plants, Marilyn’s homemade jam, fruit and cider. They come for the produce but are greeted by an ancestor’s work. That’s evident in the large red Sears, Roebuck and Company prefabricated barn that was shipped in by rail and wagon more than a century ago. The barn houses a retail store on the first floor, a viewing platform overlooking Lake Superior in the hayloft, and memorabilia of ancestors and generations of customers everywhere.
“My great-grandfather was a horticulturist,” Jim Hauser said. “He had gone to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was well-known and did seminars on growing raspberries. My grandfather graduated from Northland College in Ashland (Wisconsin). He started growing and shipping plants.
“When my dad took over, processes of growing plants changed. We used to grow a lot of plants by direct seeding outdoors. There was a lot more handwork that took a lot of time. We transitioned to starting and growing more plants indoors. Transplanting plants grown inside eliminates a lot of handwork. We transitioned to starting even more plants indoors and then transplanting outdoors when I took over.
“We started selling plants on the farm in the 1970s. Dane has started a hard-cider operation. The farm had a small orchard with some Dudleys when we came here and everybody has added to it over the years.”
Dane Hauser said, “I wanted to start the hard-cider business for about 15 years. It’s a process. We didn’t have an apple press. Years ago we pressed apples at a neighbor’s place. In the 2000s we talked about it and bought a small press. For a time we made pressed cider. Three years ago we launched our craft hard cider. It has been doing very well.”
Apfelhaus Cider is now a sought-after commodity on the Bayfield Peninsula.
“We grow that cider from blossom to bottle,” Jim Hauser said. “It’s completely produced here on our farm.”
Practically everything sold at the Hauser farm is grown and prepared there.
What do ancestors bring to the Hauser farm? Scientific knowledge and respect for the land, work ethic, business know-how and the will to innovate are clearly evident. Love for hard work is obvious in the new building housing the cider operation, a kitchen for jam-making, an office and space for a future tap room. The huge greenhouses taken down at a nearby site and reassembled at the farm are impressive. More impressive is that almost all the work, from site preparation, to hauling and leveling fill, to erecting the structures was done by the Hauser family.
During the past century local folks have learned the Hauser family produces what they sell. Plants and rootstock they sell do well because a Hauser grew them, and they don’t sell what they can’t grow. The fruit from their farm in the Bayfield Fruit Loop is fresh and everyone can see it growing on trees in the orchard.
Many people think food comes from a store. The closest they come to a person associated with that food is at a grocery-checkout counter that’s not self-service. They should take a ride in the country. If they’re really lucky they can find the way to the hills on the Bayfield Peninsula at the northernmost mainland tip of Wisconsin. There awaiting them is a big red Sears, Roebuck barn full of memories, ancestors and the produce of a hard-working family of Swiss farmers.
Visit www.superiorviewfarm.com for more information.
Jason Maloney is an “elderly” farm boy from Marinette County, Wisconsin. He’s a retired educator, a retired soldier and a lifelong Wisconsin resident. He lives on the shore of Lake Superior with his wife, Cindy Dillenschneider, and Red, a sturdy loyal Australian Shepherd.