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A slice of countryside charm

Folks flock to Jean and Gary Bekkedal’s secluded sanctuary near Viroqua to get away from it all.

A trip to Norway nearly 20 years ago prompted Jean and Gary Bekkedal to make a change in their farm landscape. After returning home, they decided to add a rustic cabin on their place south of Viroqua. Gary used his drafting experience gained during military service and designed an 18-by-30-foot, two-story, fashionable all-pine dwelling, which now stands a short distance from the main house.

“We hoped folks would search out a country retreat and relax for a few days, so we added a website online. In 2001, The Farmer’s Inn opened for business,” Jean says. “Ever since, it has been booked 85% of the time from March through November. There’s space for eight people. It’s fully equipped and features a main bedroom with a queen-size bed and loft with twin beds.”

Besides enjoying the area’s deep valleys or dangling a line in numerous brook trout fishing streams, perhaps the biggest prize for everyone is to reach out and witness farm life up close. The Bekkedals recently made a transition from their herd of registered Jerseys to Hereford cattle. They also have Buff Orpington chickens and two Hassling horses, Bill and Buddy. Guests can pick blackberries, scope out assorted wildlife and swap stories around an open fire pit.

“Every group who stays at the inn brings a different mindset, and the children never run out of questions,” Gary notes. “When the dairy cows were here, they wanted to know what time we milked, and my answer was, ‘Only days that end in y.’ Also, ‘What do you do if the animals get sick?’

“It’s such an enjoyable time,” he says. “Lasting relationships are formed, and we never forget them.”

Click through the slideshow to see some photos from the Bekkedal place.

Persinger lives in Milwaukee.

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