Before European settlement, Southwest Wisconsin was a mixture of prairie, oak savannah, oak forest, and wetlands. Fire was a major influence on the plant and animal communities. This ecosystem gave us the beautiful, deep topsoil that makes our farm and many others in the area so productive. As the area was settled and agriculture expanded, farm fields replaced prairies and wetlands and more forest grew up without fire to set the trees back. Plant species from Europe and elsewhere were introduced and changed the landscape further, giving us the mixture of forest, grassland, farmland, and wetlands we have today.
While much of our farm has been either cultivated or grazed for nearly 150 years, one small, steeper hillside has never been plowed and only periodically grazed. That has left us with a beautiful and unique remnant prairie, which hosts many native species that are much less common now. One important focus of our farm is maintaining and improving this prairie remnant and the other land on our farm that is not actively cultivated.