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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > NovDec 2018 > Fruits + Pheasants

Fruits + Pheasants

On a neglected family homestead, a farmer creates a thriving orchard and pheasant farm.

When I returned to my family’s 100-acre Wisconsin farm after more than a decade of living in the Los Angeles suburbs, I had a few plans. One involved finally planting an apple orchard to succeed the aging and dying trees we’d harvested from when I was a teenager. The other was to finally raise a real crop of pheasants, beautiful birds that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources allowed residents to raise without a special permit.

Each year living in Southern California, when late winter rolled around, I’d get spring fever right on cue: that irresistible urge to find photos of baby farm animals, buy a few starter plants at a nursery or walk barefoot in the grass. I had seed and hatchery catalogs delivered to my apartment mailbox. The problem? In Los Angeles, those months were frequently 80 to 100 degrees, there was hardly grass to be found, and the balcony of my condo could handle only one or two pots of flowers. This was definitely not a place to raise pheasants or plant an apple orchard. When it came time for the 2,000-mile, cross-country road trip back to Wisconsin, I wondered what it would be like to return to the farm. I was about to find out.

tOM reichner/ShutterStOck
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November/December 2018