Built by Wisconsin pioneers
Emily's Ten Oaks Ranch located at the corners of Hoepker and Portage Road (Pumpkin Hollow), in the Madison, Wisconsin is the former Ten Oaks Ranch owned and loved for over 30 years by the late Emily Keebler. Emily was an outstanding horse woman whose knowledge touched many. As a breeding and boarding facility, for many years it was an outstanding and active facility. Unfortunately, after battling serious for many difficult years, Emily was not able to run the facility as she had in the past, and visitors passed the farm and watched its slow decline, mirroring the life of Emily as she too found her physical health descending.
After Emily, our family decided to purchase the farm and restore it to its former beauty. We feared someone would tear down the buildings and the home Emily had loved. We are honored to have the privilege to bring it back, it is a task that is not for the faint of heart, but a labor of love. We have completed many projects, yet more remain! It seems that when one project ends, another begins!
During one of those projects, while repairing the roof on the farm house in 2010, we were quite surprised to find that underneath the layers of shingles was an original cedar shake roof that had been installed with hand hewn nails. Beneath the roof boards we also discovered an old medicine bottle, remnants of a carpet bag and a handle from a tool. All of these discoveries led us to realize that the home was much older than we had originally considered it to be. This prompted our continuing search to find out as much history as we could about our beloved farm house.
We turned to the Sun Prairie Historical Museum and quickly discovered that the land was listed as federal land in 1831 and we believe it was purchased at or around that time. Wisconsin officially entered statehood in May of 1848. In 1852, the organization of the Town of Burke, where the farm is located, as an independent town was complete.
We know that in 1852 Sylvester Dunlap and his wife Elinma purchased the farm at Pumpkin Hollow. We are uncertain and still researching to see if the home had been built prior to this, or if in fact he built the home for his family homestead. We do know that during the time that the Dunlap's owned the farm, they constructed a second home located on the Hoepker Road entrance of the property. The home was built between 1860 and 1861. In 1861 the Dunlaps also secured an additional 40 acre parcel attached to the farm. Mr. Dunlap, originally from New York, was noted as a Wisconsin pioneer. He kept a store in the Town of Burke for four years, was one of the largest farmers in the county, served as the Democratic county assessor for 11 years and raised his family on the farm where he resided until his death on December 8, 1902. His wife Elinma continued lived at the farm until her death on July 4, 1904. The Dunlap's son, Edward, then still resided on the farm until 1906, when he moved to Sun Prairie.
J. Strand was the owner of the property from 1911 until it was sold to Eli Osbourne in 1942. During this time we believe that the second home on the property was destroyed or demolished. Interestingly enough, during our removal of dead trees on the property, our excavator turned over remnants of a building. At the time we believed it to be an old farm building but now know that it is the old home and is buried in the exact location noted on the old plat maps,
In 1942, Clarence J. Hoepker purchased the property but did not reside there. A tenant, Levon McDougal, resided on the property. In photos, the farm looks much as it does today at that time. There was a corn crib that is no longer on the property, but we did uncover the cement base and now have our fire pit located on it's old foundation. There were also two silos we removed after discovering damage that was too extensive to repair and posed a threat of collapse if not demolished. The farm remained a Hoepker farm until 1976 when it was purchased by Emily.
We decided to open the farm to anyone to tour, free of charge. We love to share the story of Emily's Ten Oaks Ranch and to teach people about our crazy assortment of fur and feathered friends. It is our thought that if people had felt they could stop in, that maybe the farm would have remained a happy and beautiful place and had not shut the world and Emily away, but gotten to know and love her the way we did. It may have improved Emily's life somehow. I am grateful we had the opportunity, however short, to be there at the end of Emily's life and get to know and love her.
We were elated to complete the WinWood Barn project in 2013 and hosted a wedding for a friend at the farm. The project was a combined effort of our family, friends and the skill of Aaron Larson of Encompass Construction who brought our vision to life. The large barn window at the peak of the barn is actually in the framework of the old hay door. It allows the sun to filter in beautifully and fill the barn with sunshine. The lofted section is not original to the barn, and is constructed from old beams in a farm that was demolished in Berlin, WI. There are also the few original floor boards that were in the barn, and wood we reclaimed around the farm from a shed in disrepair. Our son, Albert, constructed the bar top out of reclaimed pallet wood with the help of our daughter, Jade.
The majority of the wood fencing on the property is constructed of reclaimed telephone poles milled into fence posts and rails. There is old galvanized metal on many wall and ceiling surfaces that is reclaimed from a variety of places. We try to recycle as much of the old wood we have reclaimed into our various projects.
In the summer we are blessed to enjoy the hot bed zinnias, sun flowers and other beautiful flowers in addition to organic vegetables grown on site by our favorite gardener, Mary. We also have pumpkins all over the property in the fall provided by our friend Jim from the Prairie Pumpkin Patch.
And of course, there are our fur and feathered friends! We love our organic eggs that our chickens produce! The other less hard working friends include our ducks, goats, pigs, rabbit, kangaroo, buffalo, and equine friends.
Through us we see Emily's memory live on!
The Wood Family ~ Joe, Megan, Jade and Albert