Back in 1976 two ambitious young back to landers from the east coast of Wisconsin found a piece of land like no other. After several years of searching Elva Hetzel (she will be 100 in a couple of days), my mother’s mom, came across an advertisement in the local paper listing what would become Keewaydin Farms. The past owner, Lynford Looker, was particular about who he wanted to sell his farm to, a young family, passionate about farming and dedicated to honoring the land that he had known for over 40 years. Lynford loved his farm and would come visit every couple of years until the year he died at 95 or 6. When we were kids he would come with a metal detector and take us on hikes down into the valley where at one time there was a homestead. It was a treasure hunt, an adventure, the past revealed after vigorous digging. We found all kinds of interesting things, old horse shoes, square headed nails, tools unrecognizable to us kids, and the best prize of all, an old double barrel pistol. Lynford let us keep all our treasures which have since gone into the farms memorial library. That is kind of a joke we have around here, my mother bless her soul, has kept so many artifacts from her kids younger years and her farming years that she has almost achieve library status. As I grow older it is becoming less of a joke and more enjoyable, the beautiful thing about preserving these memories is that they add to the lore and story of life on Keewaydin. Lynford did the same, he kept a journal of activities and at some point I think in the 80’s put together a book about his life on the farm with pictures that date back to the early 1900’s. I take out that book a couple times a year, read a few pages and look at the pictures. It has helped me connect with this farm's past and to realize the legacy we leave in the trees we plant or the buildings construct, our store lives on in these creations.
Because we are a ridge top farm it seems the wind is constantly blowing and that is the meaning of Keewaydin. The Ojibwa word means the north wind or the god of the north or perhaps my favorite, the home wind. If you ever get a chance check out the beautiful poem of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in it you will find reference to Keewaydin. Here is just a small part of the poem.
” Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,
In the purple mists of evening,
To the Regions of the Home-wind,
Of the Northwest-wind, Keewaydin,
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the land of the Hereafter. ”