I made a solo trip to the Great Wall of China during my work trip. (Alyssa Bloechl photo)

Working journalist in China

Hi all,

There is so much going on in my little world of writing in Door County Wisconsin, but I recently had the opportunity to make that world grow. I traveled to China with a group of lovely individuals to expand and improve relations with the county’s Sister City, Jingdezhen.

So much happened. We met the vice mayor, we toured a hospital, we made our own pots and explored the outlying area of the city. I won’t waste up the space on this blog because I journaled for work throughout the entire trip!

Don’t get me wrong, there were many things that nearly prevented me from going. Exhibit A: My journalist visa. It’s a very long and detailed process when applying for a visa, but journalist visas take the cake. China also has foreign reporter rules I needed to brush up on. While there, however, the process of getting my work done was just about the same as in America.

The people in China are amazing. Many know English, so if you are alone and lost in the middle of Beijing, someone will help you with a smile. Also, if you are tall and foreign, expect random people to ask to take a photo with you. It happened to me three times at the Great Wall alone. I went with it and that made it fun.

If you do see yourself going to China, make sure to purchase a voltage step-down converter. I did, and I had cell and tablet power with no problems all week. Do not use a hair straightener with it, I thought I fried it on day two. I got lucky.

There is so much to talk about, but I’ll let myself tell you the story in my article for the Advocate! If you want to see photos and learn some interesting details about overseas travel, take a look and thank you for reading!

Alyssa’s China Journal for the Door County Advocate

I also wrote a few formal article that appeared in print and online. If you want to learn more about how Door County and Jingdezhen are sharing ideas, resources and culture, please feel free to follow the links.

Before Take Off!

Governmental Relations

Taoxichuan and the Number 1 People’s Hospital 

China Mission Accomplished

This place was so colorful and full of life, that I could have stayed and wandered forever. It was my favorite place in Beijing. (Photo by Alyssa Bloechl)

This place was so colorful and full of life, that I could have stayed and wandered forever. It was my favorite place in Beijing. (Photo by Alyssa Bloechl)

Thanks so much for following this adventure with me! I can’t believe I got to travel and write about something very important to these two communities. Thanks to my editor, president and publisher, the Sister City Ad Hoc committee and everyone in between for helping make it happen.

I cannot wait to see what happens next!

-Alyssa B.

Music and Alzheimer’s

Hi everyone! Today is a good day.

I just stumbled upon what looks like will be an amazing movie, called “Alive Inside.”

It follows the nonprofit organization, Music and Memory, which brings music to patients with Alzheimer’s. Music has been proven to awaken the minds and bodies of those with memory loss, which brings them out of their increasingly internalized lives.

Wisconsin nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been utilizing Music and Memory, and I actually had the wonderful opportunity to write a story about it when I worked with the Kewaunee County Star-News.

When I chronicled the program at an Algoma, WI assisted living home, the story reached beyond the city and into my personal life. My parents subscribe to my publications (aren’t they lovely souls?) and my Mom took the article to someone at my Grandmother’s assisted living home.

My lovely and wonderful Grandma Bev is living her life with the early stages of dementia, and my Mom is very involved in helping her though this new stage. Grandma Bev is a music lover. She has two children who became musicians, in some form, and has incorporated music into her past and present life. Bev tends to break out in song at random moments, pretty much whenever she is feeling a beat.

Point of this narration is that after my Mom took the story to her Mom’s caregivers, they began implementing the Music and Memory program into their activities. The center also used a portion of the annual Dementia Walk to fund it.

When I learned about all of this, I couldn’t have been more proud of my Mom and what we did together to create change in the life of someone we both look up to.

Thanks for reading my little self promotion.

-Alyssa B.

Here is the link to the story I wrote: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/kewaunee-county/2014/09/05/music-reignites-memories/15074703/

And here is the trailer for Alive Inside: 

Our blanket of snow on Christmas morning. (By Alyssa Bloechl)

Happy New Year and let’s hope for more cows!

Many things happened since June, I’m embarrassed to see that I have not kept up on the blogging.

I’m still reporting on all that I can get my hands on over here in NE Wisconsin, and I am always hungry for the newest agricultural piece I can find.

Eli and I spent a wonderful Christmas with both our families. Our parents have snow, we don’t. Same state and no snow over by Lake Michigan. It is the worst, but our Christmas were white.

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After eating a lot of wonderful food and playing with giant spoons, we tore up the front yard with a 4-wheeler and sled. It was amazing.

As sad as it was to leave the families, we spent a special New Year’s Eve playing The Hobbit: Monopoly, enjoying local brews and watching Harry Potter back in GB.

Who would need any resolutions when you are already winning with a night like that?

I have a few, which revolve around a good friend’s upcoming wedding, some races I plan to run, books I plan to read and things I hope to write.

I wish you luck with your goals!

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Upvote for cute cow tax?

Homestead Update

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As hard as it is to express my love for my homestead farm with the big red barn, three silos and an orange brick house, it is even harder to be displaced from it. My feet are in that soil, my breath catches on that cool morning air, my shoulders are kissed by the Noon sun.

Those tractors are still like extra limbs, with their pops, jolts and life within. The crickets from outside my childhood bedroom have resided in my ears. I still hear them, singing me to sleep with a late night car passing by acting as the harmony to their notes.

My life is based working with the large black and white docile creatures very few get to behold. A new birth on the farm is a treasure, one I have not witnessed for too long.

The three people I have loved for 23 years are there, watching each other grow in the heat of the sun, tan lines prominant and hair brittle with wind.

The connection as a farmer’s daughter is tight and everlasting. No matter where I go or who I am with, the big red barn with three silos and an orange brick house will always be in my soul.

I can’t thank my relatives and my mother and father for raising me and my brother here at this haven enough. It is my paradise.

(Thanks mom, for the photos.)

Alyssa B.

15 Reasons to Date a FarmGIRL

15 Reasons to Date a FarmGIRL.

 

All of these are wonderful!

 

Other farmer’s daughters will get it.

Farrowing Crates

As a farmer, yogi, mostly healthy eater and writer, I feel it is time to talk about farrowing and gestation crates. There is a lot of false information out there showing pictures of sows (mommy pigs) in cages, laying on their sides, and this is interpreted as cruel treatment.

I did not grow up on a farm with swine, just because my old man didn’t want to raise pigs. However, I was tasked with writing a report on farrowing crates whilst in college, and I took the time to talk to a swine management professor to better understand their uses.

 

Credit: Purdue Food Animal Education Network Website

Credit: Purdue Food Animal Education Network Website

Contrary to making a pig’s life worse, as many have come to believe, these crates are actually saving lives. Yep, the lives of the piglets that is. These are safe, well ventilated crates that allow the piglets to nurse, without the danger of the sow laying on them and potentially suffocating them. The crates also help with lessening aggressive tendencies between pigs, which are more prevalent in open group pens.

These are just the basics, and there is a lot more research out there. I would suggest that if you don’t believe me, take a look at the link in the title. (http://www.ansc.purdue.edu/faen/gest%20crates.html) Also, I caution those who cry “animal abuse” to do their research or even talk to a farmer. There are plenty out there who would be willing to talk to you about their practices.

Seeking information is the best thing to do before making a claim, I have this learned the hard way.

Thanks for reading,

Alyssa B.

P.S. Info. about the UW-Platteville swine program, which has “Contact Us” links. —> http://www.uwplatt.edu/pioneer-farm/pioneer-farm-swine-enterprise

 

One of my favorite pictures of the UW-Platteville Campus

One of my favorite pictures of the UW-Platteville Campus

Platteville, Wisconsin Tornado Relief Fund

The City of Platteville, Wisconsin was recently hit by two tornadoes. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville also suffered major damages. As an alumna, I was devastated to learn about the damages, luckily no one was fatally injured. However, living three hours away and unable to help with the cleanup, it’s been hard to feel like I’m contributing or even part of the aftermath work to this beautiful community and place I consider a second home.

I have been in contact with the University Communications Director, Paul Erickson, and he told me they are working on setting up a relief fund for the university soon. I did find a Facebook page for relief awareness in Platteville and Madison, here. Like the page to stay on alert about the relief efforts.

Also, the City of Platteville, has started a relief fun at Mound City Bank, information here. Mound City’s contact information is here.

I hope that my fellow alumni, friends, family and people who love and care about Platteville will take a minute and help out. I’ll update when I have more information.

Thank you,

Alyssa B.

P.S. This is UW-Platteville’s website where you can see what the campus was like before all of this happened. http://www.uwplatt.edu/

UPDATE: Another relief fund to donate to families of Southwest Wisconsin tornado damage.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here is the link for donations directly set up for the University. Thank you!

Forever Pioneers.

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Dairy Month Pups

Who’s farm isn’t complete without its dog? I know the Bloechl’s isn’t! Share pics of your farm pup so Cas can see his buddies! #JuneDairyMonth

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Barn Quilting

Over the Easter holiday, I wanted to take the opportunity of surprising my parents with their 25th anniversary present. I have been plotting this gift for this monumental milestone for over a year.

So a bit of background. Wisconsin 29 between Green Bay and Wittenberg has quite a few gems that deserve recognition, they litter the highway with rustic color and design. Barn quilts are the emerging farm identifiers that now adorn many barns in the area.

I may not be entirely sure if this string of quilts is part of a program or if there are a lot if loving people who care about the farmers, but they sparked inspiration into me.

With the help if Pinterest and a handy boyfriend, I was able to create Bob and Marsh their very own barn quilt.

It took a few days of priming, taping and painting, but with some patience and ease of hand, I created this…

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It is going to take some time for Papa to get it up, but I supplied the 2x4s needed to make a frame and coated the wood in a weather proof coat, so once he has a minute in between planting and cutting hay (hah!) it can go right on up.

I know Mom was very excited about it and Dad kept his emotions to himself, but I was hoping it could be something for them to remember the last 25 years farming together. I hope they remember why the industry is so important, but to also recognize they have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of.

Happy 25th Mom and Dad, you are the most supportive, encouraging and loving parentals Nathan and I could ask for.

If you aren’t near northeasten WI, Google search “Shawano County Barn Quilts” for a peak into what I’m talking about. Also, barn quilts are made of wood, not cloth, if you didn’t get that.

-Alyssa B.

A half-share from Sleepy Hollow Farm, submitted by owner Suzi Sevcik.

Community Supported Agriculture

I’ve been geeking out for the last two weeks when I discovered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Kewaunee County. I got so pumped, I wrote a story about it in the Star-News.

It is a way to bring locally produced, fresh and home-loved fruits, vegetables, chicken, eggs and more to your table. From being literally cooped up in an apartment since last June, I learned that your own garden space is hard to come by. We moved in too late to do a community garden, and our urban garden was a major fail.

CSA, however, takes local farmer’s produce and puts it on your table. You pay for 16-18 weeks of fresh food upfront and each week you pick up your bag of food. If you are lucky, your farmer will add recipes and tips for processing the food so none goes to waste. But, if not, a quick search will give you the info you need.

Eli and I are considering getting into partnership with one of the Kewaunee Co. farmers. All of them are non-certified organic farmers. No certification because they would rather teach their members about where and how the food is grown rather than spend a lot of money on the government certification process.

Here are the three I wrote about: Sleep Hollow Farm, Lotto’s Lazy Acres and Clario Farms.

I think this is awesome and the point of the article was to get the word out about this type of farming, because it is not very well known in the area. Let me know your CSA experiences, I know it is very popular in the Madison area.

Oh, and if you want to read it, here! CSA in Kewaunee County

Thanks for reading,

Alyssa B.