Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out with the Ossian Senior Hospice residents, my mother included, to Doug and Mary Lou Egeland's beautiful acreage by Ossian, for a picnic and fishing. Arriving this perfect summer day, the Ossian Boy Scouts were ready with fishing poles to help those who wanted to fish.
It wasn't long and the fish began biting. With the help of the scouts, the residents were excited to reel in catfish, bass, and sunfish. Inside the gazebo, some of the ladies converged for lemonade and the opportunity to watch the others fish. Lenny Cramer, native of Ft. Atkinson, was the first to catch a fish, and a big catfish indeed! He shared his secret to success, telling us he uses the smallest hook he can find, as he proudly hung on to his catfish for a photo. The excitement was infectious, and soon everyone was watching and laughing at the sight. Some of the ladies fishing screamed with delight as they reeled in their catch of the day, making the others burst into laughter just like they were school kids again. To witness the pleasure of these young-at-heart "kids" made the trip special for everyone involved. It was also nice to see the young and old interacting and learning from each other.
Later, as the residents had their picnic lunch, many of the boys took advantage of the time to get some fishing in for themselves. Fun was had by all!
Talk about scenic! The tranquility of the landscape is abound with a gazebo, fountain, cabin, lighthouse, picnic shelter, small goldfish ponds, bridges, patios, waterfalls, landscaped flowerbeds, and more. We were able to wander through all of it after the group finished with their (as always tasty) lunch. Especially great were the homemade cookies!
The couple who owns the property enjoys sharing the peaceful feeling their landscape provides, and shares with other groups on a regular basis. Besides hospice groups, they have had garden tours, weddings, class reunions, birthday parties, neighborhood parties, family reunions, company parties, Red Hat group, garden clubs, church services, anniversary parties, car cruise clubs, motorcycle groups, camping groups, wedding photos, senior, photos, family photos, and even prom pictures have been taken at the beautiful site. Just remember, this is a private home, and you need to call and ask permission to take photos. It is not open to the public.
The Egeland's bought the farm in 1995, and did extensive work on the 1930's house. At the same time, they put in a three acre pond and a half an acre silt basin above it. They have continued toadd to their landscaping. Mowing the large, ten acres of landscape takes about 25 to 30 hours. This year they have hired help, but in other years their daughter Amy has helped her mother, Mary Lou. Amy also help her folks with the maintaining of other landscaping as well as the nursery. "We also began to sell and transplant large hardwood and Spruce trees for customers after our hobby of planting trees got out of hand," laughed Mary Lou.
The Egeland's started out as dairy farmers, but transitioned to a drainage tiling business more than thirty ears ago. Their farm made the "Prettiest Farm in Iowa" section in the June/July issue of Our Iowa Magazine in 2010. But they are so much more than that! They generously enjoy sharing their little slice of heaven, because they love to see other people enjoying it, consistently opening up their home to others, even though they could have the place to all themselves.
This was a special day for the hospice residents, and created memories they will be sure to talk about for a long time. I can imagine all of the "fish stories" that will be told to family and friends! We truly have some wonderful people who go out of their way to help in Northeast Iowa, from Mary Lou and Doug Egeland, to the hospice staff and volunteers who go that extra mile with their spare time and patience, to get everyone outdoors and situated. Not to mention, bringing food and drinks, and to the local Boy Scout troop, who took the time before school started, to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. This is what makes our region so special: the people.