Around the Farm Table blog: Saddle up!

November 7, 2019 Susannah Brooks Leave a Comment

After a brief break, Around the Farm Table returns with an all-new episode tonight! Producer and videographer (and expert construction supervisor) Colin Crowley is back, with a behind-the-scenes look at the fourth episode of Around the Farm Table.

Leeland Witscher – farrier and Inga’s brother – leads a horse.

“Cowboy Campfire” premieres 7:30 p.m. tonight on PBS Wisconsin. Inga invites friends to the farm for a trail ride, live country music and a campfire barbecue. In the town of Dane, she discovers high-quality bourbon made from a family’s corn. She then meets Hillsboro ranchers using rodeo skills to herd cattle. Inga’s brother also visits the farm to show her how to shoe horses.

Read on to meet a few new friends who are passionate about old-time skills!

Howdy, Pardners!
Colin Crowley

When host Inga Witscher decided she wanted to make a show around the theme of a “Cowboy Campfire,” those of us on the production crew were more than happy to oblige.

Along the way, we discovered a couple things that you wouldn’t necessarily think you could find in Wisconsin: high-quality bourbon production and cattle-roping cowboys.

The Henry family – mom, dad and two sons – poses in front of their bourbon barrels.

Our first stop didn’t take us too far: the northern edge of Dane County, where the Henry family has been running a successful seed corn operation for generations. After a trip to Kentucky, husband and wife Joe and Liz Henry toured various bourbon operations and decided to put some of their corn to use in making bourbon. The result: J. Henry and Sons.

I had always assumed that bourbon could only be made in Bourbon County, Ky. As Joe told us, “The Kentucky boys would like you to believe that, but we’re proving that we can make great bourbon in Wisconsin.”

The Henry family’s barns have now been converted into rick houses for aging bourbon, and the air is filled with sweet aromas emanating from rows upon rows of barrels, stacked floor to ceiling, that hold Wisconsin-made bourbon.

Damien Mikkelson ropes a cow in the outdoor rodeo arena.

Out in Hillsboro, we found something else we didn’t know still existed in Wisconsin: real cowboys.


Matt Davison and Damien Mikkelson took Inga out on Matt’s ranch for a ride over a high ridge and through the pastures, where they showed us how they use horses and dogs to herd beef cattle.

When it came time to ride back, I saddled up myself and brought my camera with me. With one hand on the reins and one hand holding the camera, I was able to film Matt and Damien from horseback as we drove the cattle back home.

Colin Crowley, right, carries his camera on horseback to get some riding shots of the cowboys (including Damien Mikkelson, left).

Once we returned to the ranch, the film crew had a blast walking out in the mud and getting dirty while filming incredible action shots of these two cowboys roping cattle in Matt’s rodeo arena.

The show is bookended by two special guests.

To open the show, Inga’s brother Leeland Witscher shows off his skills as a professional farrier: a craftsman who trims and shoes horses’ hooves.

To close the show, Inga invited her friend Ben Stillwater and his family band to perform some country western cowboy tunes out at the farm.

When Inga asked Matt Davison if he always knew he wanted to be a cowboy when he grew up, he said, “I always said I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to lose the fun. But here we are – doing it for a living and still having fun!”

We all had a lot of fun making this episode. We think you’ll have a lot of fun watching.

Miss previous episodes? Watch current and past episodes of Around the Farm Table online or on your streaming device – any time!

All Around the Farm Table videos

Goats in Wisconsin: Watch | Read Colin’s post

Preserving the Summer: Watch | Read Colin’s post

Spring in the Driftless: Watch | Read Colin’s post

Country/Western musician Ben Stillwater showed up at the farm to perform tunes with his family band.