Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy HolyDays!

A lovely display of our "Noella" mold which shimmers gold in the light

As  the longest day of the year approaches, it is always nice to have a reminder that spring will eventually come again. In  the world of a "caver",   cheese  "in bloom"  with it's beautiful varied assortments of microflora" (molds) will most certainly bring a smile.... but for  now, even for the cheese, it is  time to rest.
 The  temperature in the cave now  hovers just below 50F, the molds grow more slowly, the cheese  ages more slowly and I even find myself moving more slowly. This is the time to rest, rejuvenate, and allow the natural cycle of the earth to replenish our depleted energy reserves, a much easier task once the holidays have swiftly  moved passed us!

A stack of  natural mold rinded cheese waiting for their "bath".

Everyone here at LoveTree (above ground and below!) wish you all a restful and serene HolyDay Season!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Puppies, Goats, and Surprise Samplers!

 New winter hours for Pizza By The Pond!
 We will be open Sundays from 2:00pm -7:00pm!

Ahhh yes! Brrrrrrrrrrisk weather is upon us! We have hardly any snow on the ground, only about 1/2 an inch, just enough to remind us that it really is winter, as if the cold nights aren't enough! The  bellies on the goats are  a bit bigger than I would normally expect at this time, looks like we may be in for some cold weather  kidding, hopefully not before Christmas!  The goats are currently sharing their pen with our litter of Spanish Ranch Mastiff pups, which makes one ponder...would that be  a three dog or  a three goat night? Hmmm

Spanish Ranch Mastiff pup not quite sure what to make of  his new roommates, the goats.

This weekend looks to be above normal temperatures, with Sunday forecast to be over 35F! Great time to enjoy a wood fired pizza  in the Grotto!! It continues to amaze me how great food taste when it's cold outside! We don't  have enough snow yet for ski ing, snow shoeing or sledding, but it is a great time for hiking through the refuge, the land's winter wardrobe makes a fashion statement  only seen at this time of year plus you can have fun looking for wildlife tracks!

Staghorn Sumac in the refuge

We also have our Gift Box Cheese Samplers now  available!!! They range in price from $35.00 up to $110.00
We are having a little bit of coding problems on the order page of our website, but that should be rectified by the end of this weekend, until then, I am posting their selection below.

Our " Surprise  Sampler" is a selection  of  the best that the cave has to offer for that particular week and is one of our customer's favorite choices.
We are known for our "rustic"packaging with  each piece of cheese being wrapped simply  in white butcher paper, nestled in a bed of fresh meadow hay topped with a frond of northern white cedar and a brochure. We choose the cheese, you get to enjoy it!  We ship  USPS priority mail

 "Personally Yours"
The perfect size for  a single person or couple that would like to sample a  variety of 3 different cheeses each in approx. 1/2 lb. increments. 
$35.00 (plus shipping)

"More Cheese Please!"
A  variety of 3 different cheeses each in approx.  1 lb. chunks,  the perfect size for sharing with friends.
$70.00 (plus shipping)

"It's A Party!"
A delicious selection of five different cheeses each in approx.1 lb. increments... makes a great line up for a party or perfect for  the happy cheese snacking family.

$110.00 (plus shipping)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Head's Up!

Just a quick "head's up to remind everyone that Pizza By The Pond is  closed for the next two weeks due to Wisconsin  Gun Deer season. We will re open again on December 4th,  (weather pending)  If you  need cheese and are in the area just give us a call and see if we are around, otherewise please click on the "Where's The Cheese tab to see where we are selling in the Twin Cites on the weekends. Yes, we REALLY do sell outside all winter!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Still Cookin'!

This coming Sunday  we will  continue to crank out amazing wood fired  pizzas from the middle of  our  wild life refuge.  The seasonal favorite "The Warmmeup"  is back on the "Specials" board  and has not failed to please!
Remember, we also have great cheese and even pizza dough available for sale during Pizza By The Pond!
The Grotto's warming hut is shelltered from the wind, allowing for a cozy place  for picnicing and visiting. If it gets too darn breezy, we will drop all of the tarps and kick on the wood burning stove for extra heat, but even so, make sure to dress warm to ensure your  comfort level especially if you want to walk about visiting the farm and animals.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Visit To Pizza By The Pond !

(a photo essay by Laura Wentz)

 I went to a dog trial in Minnetrista, Minnesota, over the weekend and came home by way of Grantsburg, Wisconsin and did Pizza by the Pond.

Before I ordered a pizza I met some of the younger guard dogs.

I watched Dave milk the cows and the goats

I met Tule and Elmo's puppies.

I had the Fresh pizza and got a Just Cheese Please to go

Pizza going in the oven.

Cows grazing at sunset.

Jenny and her family showed up too. We had a great time eating delicious pizza and fudge and just sitting around talking. Dave & Mary are wonderful hosts and if you're in the area on a Sunday, you should stop in.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baling Hay, Pup Nannies, and Whirlwinds!

Ancient old Mulberry tree, trying to hold onto it's leaves during the high wind
The past two weeks has been absolutely sublime... warm and dry,  perfumed by the aroma of leaves crunching underfoot. Glorious but brief! If I were  "in charge", I would make darn sure that Indian Summer lasted at least until Thanksgiving!
 A few days  of blustery whirlwinds stole away most of our leaves, revealing  the naked topography that was previously veiled by green. It's sort of like watching  time rewind, the plants that are still green in the wood lots are also the same plants that are  first up in the spring.

Wind rows of hay waiting for Dave  to  fix the baler before it rains again.
The good part of the windy days was that it became possible to dry some hay. Dave has become "one with the tractor seat" latelly, furiously trying to get up as much hay as is possible during this brief and  dry stretch of time.

About three weeks ago Tule, our Spanish Ranch Mastiff gifted us with a litter of 8 pups, and two days later  Setsuko, our Japanese intern, arrived. The next week, Sophie, (our British intern) joined  the fray, creating the best "puppy nanny team" known to LoveTree!!!

Tule, cleaning up the greedy little pups.
All 8 pups are robust with healthy appetites...their poor mom has to eat super quick before the little buggers take over her food dish!

A pan of pups?

It doesnt matter to the pups whether the food  bowl is empty  or not, they will make good use out if it.

Just like Autumn,  Setsuko  left before we got used to her being here! With her  command of the English language (which sometimes bordered on a "Charro" impersonation), coupled with her great sense of humor and compassion for the animals, she deftly  knitted herself into the fabric of  this farm's history. Setsuko only had a little over two weeks to spend here  before she moved on to Canada, but her whirlwind visit left us scheming for ways to keep her here, what a spitfire! We miss you Setsuko!

Friday, September 30, 2011


Fall, Indian Summer, my absolute favorite time of year, the colors are now peaking! I once turned down a consulting job because it wouldve taken me away from here during this amazing time. This season IS why we tolerate the long winters, the  bizarre weather patterns and the slippery roads.


Brilliant Fall  Staghorn Sumac
 A sudden cold snap wakes us up out of our summer daze, jarring us into the reality of change

Andy's last day at the St Paul Market before going off to college.
Just for today, I  want to stop time.  I love the autumn, but I will sorely miss the summer. The little boy will always be my little boy, although I am so proud of him as a young man.

"Holmes Lake Apple Orchard,  just down the road, open  24/7

Many beautiful changes have taken place during the last month, the apples down the road at Holmes Lake Orchard are now ready for the picking...where else can you go to a 24 hour pick your own apple orchard?

"Tule" one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs, heavy with pups.
"Tule, our Spanish Ranch Mastiff gifted us with a litter of 8 pups, photos will soon follow!

Dave was FINALLY able to beat the rain  and get some  hay up!!!

Jon with "Windy"
Jon, a very pleasant  young man from  Georgia (USA) has come to stay with us for a while to experience farming in the northwoods, he also makes GREAT pizzas!!! 

"Setsuko" a cheery gal from Japan  has blessed us with her presence for two weeks, and "Sophie" arrives from the U.K this coming goodness!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yes! We are open this Sunday!
It's been crazily busy here the last two weeks, we are all feeling the push to squeeze  the most out of summer. See Dave, see Dave run, run, run!
We will update soon with more photos, I just need  a new usb cord, nasty  Border Collie pup ate the  last one.
The tomatoe garden is saturated in red, the basil is creating it's own country, and the husk cherries are ever so slowly becoming ripe. And the cheese....the cheese is putting on age  and  exploding with flavor !!! It's going to be a great (and delicious) Sunday!
If all goes well today, I will be able to update with current photos of the farm and our new interns!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hope For The Future!

There's an intern in that there guardian dog "pile on"....somewhere!
Last Friday we took the three interns and our sons for a canoe ride down the upper St Croix, (the river was at  a ten year high! ) Marine (our 18 year old intern from Paris) and our son, Andy,  had the unique adventure of riding approximately  two miles down a VERY  fast river while holding  onto the bottom of a capsized canoe before we could manuever them to shore...thank  heavens for life jackets! Yup, it was definitely a memorable experience for our all of us. The next morning ( Saturday), Marine  spent the day helping me sell cheese at the St Paul Market.  As my customers greeted Marine, they eventutally asked her how her summer vacation was going at LoveTree, to which all morning that little pixie  tirelessly  answered  (with her soft breathy French accent)    "I  have had a great time on the farm!" She then would lower  her voice to a whisper while  dramatically widening  her beautiful hazel eyes and add  " although yesterday.........I almost died."
Gads!  She loved every painful wince that she could muster out of me infront of  my customers.
What a character!

Over the past six weeks we have had the immense pleasure of hosting three amazing young interns, and now, one by one, they are leaving just isnt fair. We are always excited when new interns arrive, meeting new folks is always exciting, but these three were an adventure  by themselves. We never expected to fall so much in love with ALL of them...and now they leave!

Farewell to Marine at MSP ...tears, we all had tears

Marine flew out for Pairis on Saturday after the market.

Lauren feeding the calves, more tears flowed as we said goodbye

  Lauren flew back to Syracuse this morning.

Kevin is so proud on that tractor, I hope we dont hopelessly enmbarass him with our tears when we say goodbye, and he thought that river was bad!

 Kevin is scheduled to leave for New York  next  Wednesday, (doesnt appear that he has plans for returning to China anytime soon).

Our hearts are so very heavy, we already miss them.  To help soften the "blow', Aurore (from Belgium) recently arrived, her perky and upbeat personality is truly a gift, even though she too will be leaving at the end of August.   Since she was also on  "That Gawdawful River" trip...we were afraid she was ready to leave by that  Friday afternoon, thankfully, she is a curious sort and thought it was worth  giving us another chance, as long as we keep her away from the river.

These three young adults milked and fed the cows, goats and sheep, tended to the guardian dogs, helped with fencing and worked  in the kitchen with the pizza, rode the tractor and yes, they also helped with the weekend markets.   These three were given a list of chores that needed to be accomplished, but just "how" the chores were to be accomplished was up to them. Before July, none  of them had ever met  the other, yet they worked out their differences, achieved compromises and developed an amazing  team atmosphere all on their own.
A young Chines man of traditional values who is interested in farming, an urban Parisian young woman who loves to dance and needed English immersion skills before business school in the fall, and a fiercly independent and soulful young woman from Syracuse whose main focus is conservation of our nation's forests. To these three young adults we will be eternallly  grateful, for they have renewed our hope for the future of our country, humanity  and our planet.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Duck Weed and Dog Days

(The Cooking Channel just called tonight and will be at Pizza By The Pond  ONLY until 12:00pm
on  July 31st.!  We are VERY VERY bummed out because we wanted our customers to be part of this event. :-(    Evidently  the film crew was rerouted to another event  and had to be rescheduled for an earlier flight out.  "Pizza By The Pond" will be open at it's normal  hours of 2-8pm.  Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this may have caused you. The show (The Big Cheese) is due to be aired on the Cooking Channel in October
Relaxing on the Overlook, watching the Duck Weed grow.
No news to anyone, it's hot and muggy. The dogs know it, the livestock knows it, we know it, and the Duck Weed definitely  knows it! As is typical this time of year, the "Pond" has taken on a brilliant chartreuse green layer  of Duck Weed. Duck Weed is not to be confused with algae, rather, it is the smallest known flowering plant on the planet, it floats on top of the water and it has an amazing reproduction cycle in the warmer weather. It can regenerate itself every 16-24 hours under ideal conditions, which is evident on the "Pond". Not only is it prolific, but it is able to out compete soybean for protein, DW can produce  the same amount of protein as soybean in  one tenth the area!!!! Amazing!!! No wonder  the ducks love eating it!!!
Why arent the agricultural communities harvesting DW??? Perhaps it's because there is no money in selling the seed since it seems to "magically" appear?
Wouldnt it be  cool if we could figure out how to put "water wings" on the sheep so they could graze it as they float?

"Spanish Ranch Mastiff " pup, "Chubs"
 "Chubs" also agrees that the "Dog Days of Summer " are upon us. He is very good about conserving his energy during these warm days, so much so that you would swear that he is stuck in 1st gear, at least compared to the Border Collie pup, "Dice"

Dice, spinning circles around "Chubs"
No matter how  much taunting and pleading he does, "Dice" cant get  "Chubs" to play.
"Hey "Dice", you have some pretty cool moves, spin some more!"

As far as "Chubs" is concerned, "play" consists of just laying back and allowing "Dice" to entertain him  as he  spins circles around "Chubs"

"Dont leave "Dice",  come "chill with me!"

Unlike "Chubs", "Dice" does not have a 1st gear and is off to find a more willing play partner.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Retreat!

Hot humid  weather  is not really a big thing  when you can kick back and relax in a nice airconditioned house, but when you live in a 110 year old poorly insulated  testimony to Swedish stubborness, it can be a bit of a  creative  challenge.  We sleep with the windows open and at the first threat of sunny rays beating on the house, we hurridly run about closing them all. Losing our main shade tree  in the last storm  only  amplified the  necessity to upgrade our insulation (along with many other items!)
 During the past month we have come to really enjoy the "Grotto" down by "The Pond". It has become our own version of a summer kitchen, our own mini retreat center. Since the middle of May we have retreated to the "Grotto" to  celebrate  a high school graduation, three birthdays, Father's Day, Fourth of July, and many evening meals on a hot summer day. A nice refreshing breeze over the shaded pond always seems to cool and refresh us,  allowing us the luxury of enjoying  our own "air conditioning unit" northwoods style.
Join us this Sunday for an escape from the heat, a cool picnic under the shade trees is a quick and easy way to refresh and rejuvenate your sense of well being. If it rains, we all  gather under the shelter of the "Grotto",  enjoying the company of  each other for a spontaneous party while "The Pond " entertains us with it's backdrop of natural summer beauty. We have watched many  a storm pass overhead while tucked into the hillside  of the Grotto, knowing that if the storm did decide to become "very entertaining" we have a safe front row seat!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Did you hear the one about......

"Say, did you hear the one about the Chinese pig farmer, the Parisian business student, and the New York vegetarian????"
That's my son's  favorite phrase lately which sums up   a delightful assortment of  young adults  that are currently staying with us due to our  joining  a couple of different internship programs.

. The first to arrive was "Kevin", a bright and energetic young man from China, who LOVES raising pigs but wants to learn about sheep and how to work Border Collies.
The only  problem we have with this extremely well mannered fellow is that  he is, well...extremely well mannered! We are constantly  having to tell him to ease up on himself, he works too hard.

Kevin and "Dice"

Marine arrived a week after Kevin, wide eyed and extremely good natured, our student from Paris. She wants to live in a different culture for a month while she is  immersed in English in preparation for her business studies at the universtiy. She has spent her entire life in the city, and wants a new adventure. She likes the animals but really wants to learn how to  make pizza for her family. She also has a surprising sense of humor...

The day Lauren arrived in Minneapolis  from Syracuse she took a taxi straight from the airport over to the Kingfield Farmers market where Dave was selling cheese. She jumped right in and proceeded to amaze Dave with how comfortable she was at the cheese table,  it was immediately clear  that the customers really took a shine to her. How could they not? She has a smile the size of Lake Superior!! Lauren is contemplating majoring in mycology or possibly forest pathology.

Three amazing young adults, we are truly blessed with their presence for the next month!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pizza By The Pond Is Open on July 3rd, inspite of Friday's "Big Nasty"!!

Fourth of July weekend kicked of with a big nasty wind   and storm, Really??? I mean, was that REALLY  necessary???
Geeeez!! That super nasty"big evil wind' did not leave us unscathed, it did take down  one of our 150 year old maples and a few other trees, but hey, now we have some decent wood for the Pizza fire!
Thankfully the power is now back on and the roads are cleared, it's  time to count our blessings and  enjoy each other's company and great pizza! 
Besides, I did not  hand knead 90 lbs of pizza dough  (by candlelight) for nothing!!!
Weather forecast for Sunday promises  to be sunny and calm...we can use more of that around here !

Thursday, June 23, 2011


My front yard looks like the Amazon. The hay field is chest high,  the back yard is a sponge, and the lakes, rivers, and streams are fully recharged!
One very soggy llama
As a farmer it is considered VERY bad form to curse the rain, and after an eight year drought in this little corner of Wisconsin, I will refrain from doing so, I just wish there was some way we could share this moisture with Texas.

Fortunately for us, the weather is forecast to be great for this weekend for
Pizza By The Pond!  "The Eddies" are going to be singing for their supper starting at 5:00pm and the "Milking of the Sheep" is due to start at approx  6:00pm .

Dave milking while under the watchful eye of one of our goats
Bring a  kite! Bring a mitt and ball! Bring a spirit of adventure!  Lots of fun outdoorsy things to do, or just kick back and relax and watch the wild bird population....or maybe milk a sheep or goat!

We have new "bottle babies" including  three  June calves and a couple of goat kids, three more cows are left to calve.

The big guy on the far left is actually two weeks younger than the other two...the boys named him
"Sir Loin"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day!

No better way to celebrate Father's  Day than a relaxing  day in the country topped off with a fantastic wood fired pizza! Pack your favorite beverages and picnic gear  and get ready to relax  with a fun game of ladder golf, horseshoes, or take in a hike in the  wildlife refuge. Dont forget to bring along  baseball mitts,  Frisbees, kites or whatever other lawn games etc you may have in mind.
Dad  can also enjoy visiting with the resident animals (sheep, goats, cows and llamas), and maybe even milk a sheep (or two!)
There are 8  small "old fart" fishing lakes within two miles of LoveTree where Dad can sink his line, or easier yet,...just a little over a mile down the road is a cool little fishing spot where the Trade River enters into Little Holmes Lake. This is where  the locals  like to simply drop their line from the roadside bridge, makes for a quick, easy, and fun excursion.

Fishing spot at the bridge over Trade River on Cty Z
If you are more interested in  a weekend "getaway", then check out our links to the left of this  column. We have listed the local state parks, horse parks, and even our favorite B&B  (Smoland Prairie Homestead) to get you started in your quest, along with many other areas of interest. Have fun exploring the possibilities of this unique glacial region of Wisconsin!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A June Bug,Locust, And Bulls!

She's here! On June 3rd we had the first calf of the season and she is a lovely brindle named
June Bug! Her sire was a Scottish Highlander and the  mama cow ( aka "Roundhead" ...Dave named her) is showing promise of being  a fabulous milker! She is half beef breed crossed to a jersey (dairy breed) so we really didnt expect too much in the way of production, in fact we werent even figuring on milking her, but the way she has developed we thought that she just  looked too good to pass up. She has been "fresh" (dairy term for coming into milk) for less than 3 days and she is already milking 5 gallons of milk a day on GRASS ONLY!!!! No grain whatsoever!  Many dairy men would scoff at the lowly amount of 43 lbs of milk per day, but we are thrilled. It is so creamy and the butterfat is decidely jersey influenced since it is bright golden orange in color.. YUM! It's going to make great cheese!

San Marzano Tomatoes all mulched and loving the heat!
We've gone from a very cool and wet spring to record breaking temps in just a few days, we hit 100F here yesterday BLECK!  Tonight the temperature is supposed to drop to 44F! Crazy weather!  The San Marzano tomatoes  in  our pizza garden  shot up close to six inches in  just over the last two days during the heat spell, thanks to the compost and mulch they never even needed to be watered during the high temps! I topped dressed them with compost and then mulched them in old sure made the difference in how they fared in the heat.  I planted them alongside of a mesh fence this year, hope it works well  as a trellis.

Wild Honey Locusts Blossoms
Lilacs cant  hold a candle to the thick sweet perfume of the wild honey locusts blossoms which surround our home. It was their lingering fragrance  that  made the past few days  of sweltering heat bearable. I hope to harvest a bunch of the blossoms tomorrow  for "Wild Honey Locusts Ash". I really do cook them down to the  point of ash, and then I dust certain cheeses with them. The ash attracts some very cool molds and adds a very nice hint of flavor.

It appears that no farm is without it's  bit of "drama". Our two bull calves, "Freddie" (the brown one) and "Rib Eye" were having their fair share of  it today. It seems that "Rib Eye" who is obviously bigger and more heavily muscled than lighter framed  and all around smaller Freddie, decided to be a bit of a "bully". Now you know where the term "bully " comes from!
Poor Freddie  didnt  even paw the ground, he just humbly lowered his head, waiting for the pending impact.

You can notice by comparing the two photos how much "Rib Eye's"  overall heft shoved Freddie back by quite a few feet! Not to worry! There is one great leverage that mother nature endowed our little underdog with, and that is the world's great equalizer....

Horns!!!   Freddie has horns, Ribe Eye does not.  Little Freddie has him on the run...yes, life is good !

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lazy Day

The wind has finally slowed to a mild breeze, it is a gorgeously,  lazy day!  Every critter on the farm seems to have shifted into low gear as they enjoy the peace and calm of this tranquil day. Even the vat of cheese seems to be sleeping  as it slowly knits into a curd. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The chickens softly clucked their way across the yard  as their guardian ,Candace, quietly looked on, she has never been one to steal Peter the Rooster's thunder.

"Dobby" and "Yoda" 

 As I left the cheese room I heard a commotion int the barn, it "app ears" that  the kid goats were upset about  something.Hmmm. Upon further inspection, the yearling  calves were not where they were supposed to be and were, upsetting the goats greatly......

Shame, Shame.....

"Freddy",   and  "Blossom"...

Guilty as charged!!!                                            

The beasts go back to their pens, and ......the pups get bored 

They get tired of watching their "aunt" watch "her " chickens,  and the chickens wouldnt off they go to explore the barn.

 Ahh yes, lets wake up big sister, chew up a hose and make a general mess of sense in taking the blame...we'll just go back to sleep and.....

simply blame it on the chickens!!!!!